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For Your Community: A resource for quilt shops making face masks

Homemade face masks

Being in a global pandemic has thrown countless variables in the air. Last week $5 trillion were wiped from the global stock market alone. Businesses have seen growth slow to a trickle as they’ve been forced to shut their doors and lay off employees. Families are stuck inside their homes, afraid to be in public for fear of either getting or spreading the coronavirus. But, one fact remains true: quilters are helping their communities.

Even with doors closed, quilt shops are filling a void in this nation by making much needed face masks for both the general public and medical personnel.

That’s why American Quilt Retailer started For Your Community. This Facebook page is designed to be a one stop resource for quilt retailers across the country leading the DIY face mask movement.

Face Mask Patterns

If you plan on making face masks for a specific hospital, make sure they will accept the face mask you are making. For Your Community includes different patterns that the American Quilt Retail community has used.

Different patterns call for different supplies, but the quickest and most widely accepted face mask that we’ve seen used is one layer of quilting-quality cotton for the outside of the mask, one layer of flannel for the inside, and 1/8″ elastic for the straps (1/4″ elastic works as well). Note, you don’t need to pre-wash the fabric. If elastic is in short supply, you can make fabric straps, or buy hair ties and use them as elastic. Extra large work best as they are a little longer. And keep in mind that male first responders will be wearing these masks, too.

We’ve heard of some folks lining masks with vinyl for extra protection, but some nurses have said that makes it harder to breathe. Likewise, we’ve seen patterns with an open side to allow a filter to be inserted. This makes it harder to wash the masks, so check first to see what type of mask your recipient prefers.

Face Mask Distribution

We have heard of instances where a hospital won’t accept the masks to distribute to nurses, but if a nurse brings in a homemade mask they are encouraged to wear it. Therefore, you may need to distribute the masks to nurses directly. We’ve been able to contact nurses and have had a nurse run out to our car to pick up a batch of masks. Other hospitals are more flexible and you can bring them right in to the ER. Check before you deliver.

Those in need of masks are encouraged to post in the page so they can be paired with a local quilt shop.

Mask Kits

Some quilt shops, like this one in St. Paul, MN (check out that line!), are making quilt mask kits that include a printed pattern and supplies. A half yard of cotton, a half yard of flannel, and 4.66 yards of elastic can make 12 masks.

And this mother/daughter pair helped to sew over 20 masks for donation! Talk about a great way to pass the time (and not to mention, some bonding too).

Protect Yourself and Others

If you’re going to collect masks, we recommend having a daily deadline so people know when to drop masks off by. To continue social distancing, leave a bin outside your work place. And lastly, encourage donors to leave the masks in a ziploc bag to ensure they remain clean.

And of course, maintain six feet of distance when delivering face masks. Fight the good fight, but remember the burden is still on all of us to flatten the curve.


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