Editors note – As we all struggle with Covid-19, we look to do what we are able to. Here at Winning Agent we’re grateful to share the personal story of how one of our people, Becca, is doing what she feels called to do; making masks for those that need them. We appreciate Becca, and applaud her for what she is doing. I hope it inspires you to think of something that you are able to do for the better of our community and world. We’d love to hear about it. As always, we here at Winning Agent appreciate you – stay safe, Rich
The COVID-19 crisis is taking over nearly every aspect of our daily lives. I’m a content writer for Winning Agent by day, but I’m also a (very amateur) seamstress with a closet full of fabric and a sewing machine that’s been dormant since Christmas. So when local organizations began asking for help, I jumped into action, along with tens of thousands of other men and women who have spent hours sewing cloth masks.
Making and Donating Cloth Masks
At first, I made masks for local healthcare workers who needed added protection when they weren’t around sick patients. Then, I sewed masks for a local youth homeless shelter, where I volunteer regularly.
I’m also a military spouse who is actively involved in the Air Force community. When the Department of Defense required active-duty servicemembers to wear cloth masks on base, an entire group of military members jumped into action. A few thousand Airmen are still on duty every day at our location, meaning we needed to make a few thousand masks, fast.
Over the course of a week, military spouses, members of the local community, and local alterations shops got to work creating fabric masks that will prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Thousands of yards of tan, brown, and black fabric. Hundreds of hours of work. And by the end of the week, nearly every servicemember on base had a hand-sewn fabric mask.
More Cloth Masks are Needed
But there is still much work to do. Hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities are requesting fabric masks so they can save much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for those working with infected patients. There’s even some concern that the hardest-hit areas may run out of PPE, and will be forced to use cloth masks as a last resort.
And now, the CDC recommends all Americans wear a face covering when out in public.
Realtors and other professionals who need cloth masks don’t have to wait. They can make masks using common household fabrics. Those with a sewing machine can follow one of the dozens of face mask patterns that have popped up online recently. I’m sharing my pattern and my process with you, so you can create a mask that will keep you, your clients, and your loved ones safe.
How to Sew a Cloth Face Mask: A Step-by-Step Guide
Sewing a cloth mask isn’t difficult if you have the proper materials and some basic sewing skills. (If you need some no-sew ideas, click here!)
There are many patterns available online, but I used the tutorial and pattern from Million Mask Challenge and Sew It Online. In the video tutorial, it has a pattern that includes a nose wire for better protection and an inner pocket where you can add even more filtration if desired:
Here’s how to make them:
1. Prepare Your Fabric
Not all fabrics are created equal. Use a 100% cotton fabric, tightly woven. Flannel fabrics work well, too. Steer clear of knits and other loosely-spaced fabrics as they won’t contain droplets as well. Cotton t-shirts or sheets will work if you don’t have access to other materials.
Pre-wash and dry your fabric before you begin. Then, iron your fabric and cut into manageable sections.
2. Cut Your Fabric
Print the templates from the YouTube video (in the video description). I used cardstock for more durability. Then, pin to the fabric and cut out both the front and back pieces. You can fold fabric multiple times to speed up this process if you’re making numerous masks.
3. Sew Simple Seams
Start by folding over the raw edges at about 1/8”-1/4” and sew to create seams. This will keep your masks from unraveling later.
4. Sew Sections Together
Begin by sewing the front sections of the outer layer together, followed by the inner layer.
Then, open the outer and inner layers, turning them right-sides together. Clip with quilting clips or pin in place. Sew along the top and bottom edges, leaving a gap for the inner pocket.
5. Add the Nose Wire
The nose wire allows each wearer to form-fit the mask for better protection. If you have garden wire, use it! But I only had paper clips, which I unfolded and sewed in place. Use a zig-zag stitch and sew along the nose seam.
Turn the mask right side out after the wire is in place.
6. Add the Elastic or Ties
Now, it’s time to add straps to secure the mask to the face.
The video suggests 1/8” – 1/4” elastic, but many stores are now out of elastic. Instead, I used 2mm hair ties purchased from a local dollar store. You can also create fabric ties out of strips of material or make “t-shirt yarn.”
Start by folding over the ends of your mask. Because I used hair ties, I inserted the elastic band first, then carefully sewed down the seam. However, if you use fabric ties, you’ll sew the seam first, then use a safety pin to guide your tie through the pocket.
7. Admire Your Handiwork!
And voila! Your mask is finished. Start to finish, each mask takes about 15-20 minutes once you learn the process. Now you can make masks for yourself, your staff, your clients, and your family and friends.
However, these cloth masks do not filter out the COVID-19 virus, so it’s essential to continue social distancing, hand washing, and isolation whenever possible.
Stay safe, and stay well!