Like so many people during the covid-19 crisis, I was laid off in March. Unlike so many – I haven’t been making sourdough bread (yet!) but I have been making courtesy masks. I started off with a number of different possible patterns – trying five different ones out, and finally settling on two patterns that I merged together and altered to give more room between my lips and the fabric.
This was the best design for both my housemate and myself, and I had a good supply of round elastic cord for ear-loops. I also tried ties, but ultimately with long hair… I hated them for me. Others seem to like them which is awesome though, and they’re definitely more adjustable for a variety of faces/heads.
Once I made five for her (two shaped, and three of the pleated style which she also really liked) and five for myself (all shaped) I posted them on Facebook and I had a friend ask if I’d be willing to make some for her as well… and then another… and another… and another…
So suddenly I was spending 6+ hours per day making fabric courtesy masks instead of much of anything else! I even put off applying for federal income assistance (since it’s not like anyone else is hiring right now…) because I was so busy sewing.
In all honesty – it was exceptionally good for my mental health. I had something to DO with my time – other than endless Netflix binging, and felt like I was ‘doing’ something practical and useful too. I also had some friends ask for larger and smaller versions of the shaped mask, so I did those too, making them all up in fabrics I already had – mostly leftovers from quilting or sundresses, etc. The lining was new fabric though – a super tightly woven cotton off-white that presses wonderfully and washes up really crisp.
Of course, with all of the fabric masks – there are caveats.
- This fabric has been deemed the best for home sewers – but don’t replicate medical procedure masks.
- The fabrics have been pre-washed, but still should be laundered with like colours because dark and red dyes can still run.
- While I haven’t exhibited any symptoms, and practice frequent hand-washing, all of the masks should be washed before wearing.
- The elastic in the ear loops WILL break down over time with heat, sunlight, etc… that’s just a nature of the material – but they should last long enough to get us through the worst of this (and are replaceable).
- The all-fabric masks (no elastic, just ties) theoretically can be microwaved. This is the same material I use in my ‘Magic Bag’ type hand-warmers, etc… but they should of course be supervised, and I don’t make any claims about microwaves and virus’ (but you can look that up yourself if you’re interested…)
- These masks should be changed every 20-30 minutes to avoid being saturated with breath/moisture, and thus making them much less useful… so for quick trips to the grocery, articles I’ve read suggest each person should have at least three… one to wear, one in your purse (etc) as a backup, and one in the laundry. Of course, if your grocery trips are longer… you might need more.
I ended up making a LOT of masks for others, and then made more for myself as well. In one day I visited the hardware store twice, the post office, the pharmacy, and the grocery store… and I used up all five of my masks without any spares. Since I’m not going to work or typically gone out more than once a week, I also haven’t been doing laundry nearly as often as usual, so I ended up making three more masks for myself to get around this challenge (though I don’t anticipate many more 5-mask days!)
While it hasn’t been made mandatory here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada yet – I’ve heard that in some cities (largely in the USA) that going out to any place where there are other people requires the use of one of these fabric masks. A huge difference from the beginning of the pandemic when people were really unsure a fabric face cover could make a positive difference! Luckily, because I’m not working I don’t need to take transit anywhere… but that for certain is one place I’d be wearing them!
After I’d made some for myself and housemate, and the few friends who asked right away… I still kept making masks – offering them for sale in my Facebook shop. They’re priced at a ‘cost recovery’, plus a little bit for my time. They’re available for local pickup, or through mail (plus S&H of course – but a small order will ship by lettermail so it’s pretty cheap within Canada). I accept payment by e-transfer, but can also do paypal (plus the 3% paypal fees).
The shop shows the current availability – what’s shown here in my blog may not represent what’s currently available when you view it.
Click here to visit my Facebook shop.