Face Masks – to sew or not to sew?

Being involved in the sewing community you could not have missed all the face masks that are being made across the globe. As soon as people learned about the mask shortages, sewists didn’t hesitate and wanted to contribute by starting to sew face masks, glad they could provide help using their sewing skills. This is very heartwarming, seeing people put their love and energy into helping others this way!

Of course I also wanted to jump into it right away myself…but honestly was hesitant at first. I had been reading such inconsistent and varying opinions from people. How safe was this? I was worried that we would provide something that could be seen as a ‘false safety’ and therefore create dangerous situations. The more I read the more I was lost. There are a lot of experts, but there are also a lot of opinions from people that are non-experts….

Cutting bias tape for fabric ties

Cutting bias tape for fabric ties

Fact is that face masks do not protect against Corona. It’s also clear that home sewn masks cannot replace a FFP (Full Face Protection mask, class 1,2, or 3). However most experts say they are better than nothing when it comes to preventing the spread of the virus! I realize that due to the shortage, there are people that work in the front line, where there are no medical masks available. Like for example nurses that provide home care for elderly or other people that are at higher risk.
I also read that some doctors are wearing the homemade fabrics over surgical masks, trying to prolong the coveted masks’ limited life spans!
Just after all this reading and contemplating I got a personal request from the sister of a local doctor (so a pretty close connection). This doctor requested the home sewn masks for her patients. I was so happy to hear that I could actually help her!  After that, a new request came from a nursing home.
So, I’m convinced now! I believe that we can help!
When it comes down to making the choice between no protection or a home sewn mask, the choice is easily made.
Going through my fabric storage and bindings bin, while home schooling the kids, I started contributing making face masks.

folded and pressed bias strips of fabric

folded and pressed bias strips of fabric

Maybe you are reading this…and you find yourself in the same situation…contemplating….then I hope this little post helps to convince you to check with your local community and hear what’s needed. Perhaps you can help and make a difference!
If you live in Holland and wish to contribute by sewing masks. You can check the requests per area via this Facebook Page.

Please note that there are a lot of patterns going around, which can be pretty confusing.
This is an officially approved pattern by the federal government service (FOD) in Belgium (written in Dutch).
Important is that we stitch pleats (for a better fit) use 100% cotton (so they can be washed at 90 degrees Celsius), with tie-straps instead of elastic (most elastic can’t be washed at 90 degrees Celsius) and provide an opening to (re)place a filter. I learned that vacuum bags have shown good results.

Taking all this in consideration, we, as a sewing community, can provide a very welcomed product.
Hope to have inspired you!
Stay well!

❤️ Rosie

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