With the world in crisis and many of us on lockdown, I wanted to see if my sewing skills could be put to use while I have all this spare time. Making costumes and reading books was going to be my plan but after watching the Last Week Tonight segment talking about the desperate need for personal protective equipment, I felt I had a responsibility to try and help.
So I joined my local facebook Covid-19 Support group and put up a photo of a mask I had made based off this tutorial as well as this tutorial . Both styles allowed for filter pockets and wire for fitting which based off my research was very important.
I was aware what I had made could not compare to a surgical mask but my hope was, based off my reading of studies that what I was making was of some benefit.
Little did I know, there was more than mild interest, there was urgent, desperate demand. Messaged flooded in, my inbox was over run, a care-home needed 50, another needed 60, a nurse needed 6, a social worker 2, a cancer patient, a front line worker, a supermarket worker.
I'll admit the first thing I did was cry. How had this country failed so badly to prepare and protect people.
Then I got to work, for years like most seamstresses I had hoarded a number of fabrics, thankfully in this case I had a stock of cotton fabrics that I could begin with straight away. I had to create a order list and limit how many masks I could send to any one company to try and spread the what I had around the most "fairly".
I got requests for both style masks, headbands for nurses, laundry bags and medical scrubs as well. With the fabric I had I decided to focus on masks and headbands for the moment. (But after a week of doing nothing but those Im looking to make a few sets of scrubs to break up the boredom of doing the same thing over and over)
I simply didn't have the time to answer every message I got, i've still not even dealt with 1/10 of them so i created a short video explaining the masks I was offering, how to wear them and costs. TO help me save time and clear confusion, I filmed a quick video to send.
I started working on masks and headbands right away, day in and day out. I ran out of supplies and funds quickly when I friend messaged me and asks if they could "sponsor some masks" . Which gave me the idea for Adopt a Mask
The idea is, for £5 you can adopt a mask for a frontline worker.
When you do this you are also asked to include a message of hope and thanks that is included when the mask is sent out.
I also am sending a small pack of sealed sweets with the mask as a sugar boost.
On this page I included donation links, (including an amazon wishlist of supplies to equipment to make construction easier or things I'm running out of) to help pay for materials and postage costs.
The feedback has been very very kind and I am so very grateful to those who have supported this, from individuals to companies throwing in extra fabric with my orders.
My deepest wish is to close this page one day. Or to turn it into a page for other items people need even out of pandemics ( like medical syringe bags)
I try and update the page with how many masks I make a day, normally I post at 1am, which shows how late I'm staying up every day
The biggest challenges I have faced with this project are my own physical limitations, supply and dealing with demand.
I have had to make hour reminders to get out of the sewing chair and stretch, had to be reminded to eat. Thoughts of ways to speed things up or my next days to do list have kept me awake at night, pain in my back from hunching. Ive had to have friends contact me and remind me to take care of myself lest I be of no use to anyone. A hard but important lesson, So instead of over doing it I am trying to be kinder to myself, though it is hard when the need to so great.
Next is supply, getting the materials with a over worked postal system is slowing things down, I don't know if it helps, but I made some customs stickers at home to marks my masks as Personal Protective equipment, my hope is that helps get them to their new homes faster.
And lastly demand, it would be so easy to say to everyone who messages me, i will take care of you all! But I don't want people to miss out on getting masks form anyone else because they are waiting on me to work through my monster list, so I am limiting my requests until I complete masks and make space.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
There are many ways you can help.
Firstly and most importantly. Keep quarantine. Wash hands, maintain social distancing.
You can make your own masks! Experienced sewers may prefer the links I provided above but for some simple and non sew options, check out this article
If you sew, knit or 3d print look into your local COVID-19 Support groups, there are a number of items you can help make!
3D printed Surgical Mask Strap Remix: Used to take strain off workers ears from wearing masks all day. A free download of the print file can be found HERE Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help and advice on this project! I will be also sending some funds from ADOPT A MASK to help buy 3d print filament. SO please support us today!
KNITTED Surgical Mask Strap: Not gonna lie, I know NOTHING about knitting, all I know is the yarn needs to be able to withstand HIGH washing temperatures for sterilisation .
Headband with Strap hooks: Any headband pattern will do, there are many many styles online to pick from! Just make sure once agin you choose fabrics that can be washed at high temp
Scrubs: If you have any good resources please let me know
- Many workers need BRAND NEW short sleeve t-shirts, as they are changing so often during the day, if you have any look at contacting your local groups and hospitals.
- Donate to ADOPT A MASK: Check us out here for donation information
- Contact your local COVID craft groups, see if they could use funds! Or if you have spare fabrics, buttons, elastics you could send please consider sending them on!
- Food hamper for hospital workers: Consider putting together a hamper/gift bag of sealed food, snacks, treats, drinks to leave with hospitals for break rooms.