I’m a little late to the sewing club when it comes to doing my bit to help the community sewers who have been sewing scrubs for the NHS or PPE for key workers, however in a way this feels like it’s just the start of something. The new normal ahead of us seems to heavily rely on social distancing supported by our own handmade PPE, such as face masks. Originally, I had wondered whether it was worth starting to sew face masks so late into this pandemic, but one Sunday when we were watching the daily briefings, it was mentioned that they were looking into making face masks compulsory on public transport, and now advising to wear them where social distancing was not possible, Mark and I discussed that we could make our own. Off he went into the world of Google research on the recommended composition of face masks.
At the time of writing this, the WHO recommended that if possible, a 3 layer face mask with a polycotton outer, polypropylene lining and cotton inner is the ideal combo. Before we knew it, we had ordered 10m of black elastic, some polypropylene pillow protectors (the best and cheapest way to buy this stuff for any one interested!) and Mark had dug out some old t-shirts. We had the famous bedsheets for the inner lining as these had the highest cotton content and I’d found some patterns on the internet. I sent the family a message to see if anyone else wanted them and before I knew it I had a few “orders” to process.
Fast forward a week as I was busy making the pyjamas, and I had put together a face mask with 3 layers. I’d had to adjust the pattern as the one I was using was made to secure the elastic to, however I knew that we would want to have the elastic adjustable as people’s face shapes would differ – there is never a one size fits all. Therefore I extended the pattern by 1.5-2cm at the straight edge to allow me to stitch an opening for slotting the elastic through so that it could be adjusted and tied to suit each person.
I’d dropped one of my work colleagues a message to let her know I had started a blog and that face masks were my next project, and she had asked if I was taking orders. When I had made one, I offered them to a few people if they wouldn’t mind donating an amount of their choosing to a charity. Everyone of course agreed (because you’re all fab!) and I decided to nominate the Trussel Trust.
I chose the Trussel Trust because Furlough leave has made me think a lot about my situation and the circumstances that others find themselves in. We talk a lot about challenging times, but for some those are a million times more challenging than others. I am extremely lucky at this stage to be included in the Furlough scheme, and to be able to still afford to pay my bills, no matter how mentally tough this has been, and I can’t help thinking about those that have perhaps not been so lucky. Either through redundancy or other things out of their control, there are people who are struggling to make ends meet and who still need to provide for their families. It made sense to try and raise even just a little bit more money to help more families get through as best they can with support from a charity like this.
I started with some floral and denim blue designs, but then when I was asked by another work colleague for three more for her brother, I went raiding Mark’s shirt collection as he had shirts that he had worn maybe once or not at all that would make for great more subtle designs. I’ve ended up now with a small face mask “range” – floral, patterned and plain designs, cream or black linings, all with polypropylene linings and adjustable elastic, and have managed to raise around £70 so far just for these few! As I started to send them to people, I even went so far as to make a care instruction leaflet, as the polypropylene is maximum of 40 degree wash, needs a low steam iron and cannot be tumble dried! I really enjoyed packaging them up and sending them knowing that they were going to be put to good use and were made for a great cause!
My plan is to continue to put some more together should anyone else want them. Mark and I still have travel plans booked for September which look to be going ahead, so knowing the new normal as it stands, we know we are probably likely to need our own set of masks to take with us to protect ourselves and others.
A thank you to www.treasurie.com for the face mask pattern and tutorial until I managed to get into the swing of making it. It’s a great pattern that gives a good covering and really easy to make even with the adjustments.
Stay safe everyone.