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I read somewhere yesterday that the best material to make masks is with vacuum cleaner bags.
I think that is considered a non-woven barrier, which is definitely the best, but it's not efficient to make an entire mask out of that material. It's more efficient to make a reusable fabric mask with an opening to insert a non-woven barrier. The barrier can be discarded after use, and then sanitize and re-use the fabric mask.
 

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We (recruited my wife) to sew a bunch of mask. We are taking to a research lab I’m associated with, autoclaving and donating to a local hospital.

Requirement here, if you enter a medical facility you have to be wearing a mask. These are what are masks will be used for.

Colleagues of mine got their research lab certified by the cdc to do testing. They are asking for volunteers like myself to take shifts to run the RNA sequencing, positive v negative testing. They want to run this lab 24/7, so they want lab people to run six hour shifts. I have not made a commitment yet. They sequencers that can get six hour turnarounds, next day results.


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Good for you!!

Do you have a pattern that you could share? What material are you using?
So, there are a number of different patterns, depending on what the hospitals near you are looking for. There is a deaconess pattern (named after the first hospital that requested these online in Indiana), which is like a surgical mask. I'm making n95 mask covers, which are designed to be worn OVER the N95 masks as a first barrier, so the N95 itself will last longer. I like the N95 cover because it is versatile; it can be used like a surgical mask as well. There are also masks that can accommodate non-woven inserts to improve the filtering effects of the mask, but I think those might be a little too complicated for me, and they are only useful if the wearer has something to put in as a filter.

If you want patterns or want to make masks, or help in some way, search for the "Million Mask Challenge" group on Facebook. Actually, I will link to it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/millionmaskchallenge/learning_content/

This started as a local DC-area group to coordinate and match mask donations with hospitals and other health care facilities that were looking for them, but it's grown much larger now, very quickly. And they are looking for help, and not just people who can sew. They need people to help with the coordination efforts and tracking requests and mask donations... people are donating materials, too, so those donations need to get to sewers... There are also patterns, video tutorials, and other resources there.

Here is the main Million Mask Challenge website: https://millionmaskchallenge.com/

The material itself has to be 100% cotton, tight knit. I'm using flannel for the back because it works as a better barrier than regular cotton fabric (I only do it on the back because that's what the instructions said, but also because it would be too hard to breathe with 2 layers of flannel). The straps are supposed to be 1/4" elastic, but that's impossible to find right now, but I was able to find 1/2" button-hole elastic on Amazon, which I've cut down the middle through the button holes. (Because it's button hole elastic, I can cut it like that and it won't fray). A lot of people are making bias tape or lengthwise binding to create ties for the masks in lieu of elastic.

I'm hoping I can make enough masks to use up all the elastic I bought, and in the time window while they will still be useful. I've gotten a bit frustrated because I have one of those mini ironing boards, and it is TOO SMALL for all the fabric I need to press, and the measuring and cutting is taking a LONG time. I have ordered a fill-size ironing board, as well as a fabric cutting board and a fabric cutter (it's like a pizza wheel cutter, but for fabric, for people who don't know), and that should speed up the process quite a bit.

Unfortunately, my roommate decided that this week is perfect to do some small renovations in the kitchen, and I was using the kitchen counter to lay out, measure, and cut the fabric, so I need to figure out something else, since I just finished up sewing everything last night which I had previously cut :/
 

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I think that is considered a non-woven barrier, which is definitely the best, but it's not efficient to make an entire mask out of that material. It's more efficient to make a reusable fabric mask with an opening to insert a non-woven barrier. The barrier can be discarded after use, and then sanitize and re-use the fabric mask.
My boyfriend made me about 20 masks out of vacuum cleaner bag material. They are not pretty or all that comfortable but they are the best material to block the virus. He added a soft strip to the top to make sure they don't slide up my nose or rub my skin too much. He spent all weekend designing the perfect design and then making them. He thrives on a challenge!

As I've been telling all the people making me and my coworkers masks, there is really no way to accurately express our gratitude. Thank you just seems too small. But Thank you!!!!! <3
 

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My boyfriend made me about 20 masks out of vacuum cleaner bag material. They are not pretty or all that comfortable but they are the best material to block the virus. He added a soft strip to the top to make sure they don't slide up my nose or rub my skin too much. He spent all weekend designing the perfect design and then making them. He thrives on a challenge!

As I've been telling all the people making me and my coworkers masks, there is really no way to accurately express our gratitude. Thank you just seems too small. But Thank you!!!!! <3
Listen, I'm just glad that I can DO something. I'm not a doctor or a nurse, so I'm not taking care of sick people. I'm not on the front lines, or working in a grocery store making sure that people have enough food, or anything else that is essential. I live far away from my elderly relatives, so I can't help them, either. This is a situation in which it is pretty easy to feel helpless and out of control over what is going on.

So this is something I can DO. This is something that I can do to help to fight the spread of this virus, and maybe what I'm doing will help save some lives. There are many things that I can't do, but I can do this.
 

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Listen, I'm just glad that I can DO something. I'm not a doctor or a nurse, so I'm not taking care of sick people. I'm not on the front lines, or working in a grocery store making sure that people have enough food, or anything else that is essential. I live far away from my elderly relatives, so I can't help them, either. This is a situation in which it is pretty easy to feel helpless and out of control over what is going on.



So this is something I can DO. This is something that I can do to help to fight the spread of this virus, and maybe what I'm doing will help save some lives. There are many things that I can't do, but I can do this.


Call up the hospitals and see if they can get you some autoclave bags. See your masks and put them in there.


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I think that is considered a non-woven barrier, which is definitely the best, but it's not efficient to make an entire mask out of that material. It's more efficient to make a reusable fabric mask with an opening to insert a non-woven barrier. The barrier can be discarded after use, and then sanitize and re-use the fabric mask.
My boyfriend made me about 20 masks out of vacuum cleaner bag material. They are not pretty or all that comfortable but they are the best material to block the virus. He added a soft strip to the top to make sure they don't slide up my nose or rub my skin too much. He spent all weekend designing the perfect design and then making them. He thrives on a challenge!

As I've been telling all the people making me and my coworkers masks, there is really no way to accurately express our gratitude. Thank you just seems too small. But Thank you!!!!! <3
It is all of us who should thank you and all health care workers on the front lines right now. Thank you for your bravery and dedication!
 

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Call up the hospitals and see if they can get you some autoclave bags. See your masks and put them in there.
Then the masks won't be reusable. The point is to make masks that can be sterilized and re-used multiple times.

There's organization to all of this. The hospitals and health care centers are telling us what they want, and we're making them. If I did what you said, my masks wouldn't get used.

I'm a little cog in a much bigger machine!
 

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Then the masks won't be reusable. The point is to make masks that can be sterilized and re-used multiple times.



There's organization to all of this. The hospitals and health care centers are telling us what they want, and we're making them. If I did what you said, my masks wouldn't get used.



I'm a little cog in a much bigger machine!


They tend to give these homemade masks as one time use to patients who show up to hospitals with non-COVID 19 related incidences. This lowers nosocomial infections. They are not nearly as effective for PPE for medical professionals in closer proximity to patients. These homemade mask helps hospitals preserve the more protective gear for the professionals. So, they are much needed.

Plus they can re-autoclave them after use. It just saves them time.


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I wish I could sew! I have my mom's sewing machine and I do not even know how to thread it! Ugh! I wish I had paid more attention to mama sewing and let her teach me.
Karole, it's easy! You can find videos online that will walk you through threading the machine and getting started. I mean, I'm relying on myself to recall sewing skills I learned back in middle school... I did occasionally sew some through high school and in college, but it was still those basic skills from 8th grade.

I feel dumb admitting this, but I went out and bought a new sewing machine so I could do this. Eighteen years ago, I had an entry-level sewing machine that was stolen when someone robbed my house. (The police officer said there is a huge market for stolen/used sewing machines, who knew?) So for Christmas that year, my mom bought me a used, refurbished sewing machine that was MUCH better than the one that was stolen. (I really just want to replace the exact one that I'd had, but my mom had other ideas.) It has so many dials and bells and whistles that I had no idea how to work it, and it had no manual, and there wasn't as much stuff on the web as there is now, and I didn't know anyone who sewed who could help me. (And I also had a lot of other stuff going on in my life, so I just didn't have the motivation to figure all that out.) Fast forward to now. I've never used that sewing machine, though I still have it, and I'll bet the gears are all seized because they haven't been used, and I still don't know how to work the damn thing. I realized that if I was going to do this, I needed to just buy a new entry level machine, because I wasn't going to use the other one--I needed to make this as easy more myself as possible. And Joann Fabrics had all their machines on sale... so I got a nice machine for a little over $100, a little better than a beginner machine but still simple enough that I'm not intimidated.

I used a YouTube tutorial to learn how to thread it and wind a bobbin, and there are so many helpful videos online. The Facebook group (Million Mask Challenge) has tutorial videos that walk you through how to make a mask. It's a beginner level project. You could do it!
 

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I feel dumb admitting this, but I went out and bought a new sewing machine so I could do this.
That's not dumb that's AWESOME!!! My boyfriend did the same. A coworker heard he had done that and made me a bunch and she said "that's the most romantic thing I've ever heard!!" and got all teary. I hadn't thought of it that way but she's right.

Again, to all that are helping...thank you!!!! Yes, I'm on the front line, but I can't do my stuff without help from everyone!!!!
 

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I wish I could sew! I have my mom's sewing machine and I do not even know how to thread it! Ugh! I wish I had paid more attention to mama sewing and let her teach me.
It's easy. There are you tube videos for just about every brand of sewing machine. I think that each manufacture also has teaching videos.
 

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Then the masks won't be reusable. The point is to make masks that can be sterilized and re-used multiple times.

There's organization to all of this. The hospitals and health care centers are telling us what they want, and we're making them. If I did what you said, my masks wouldn't get used.

I'm a little cog in a much bigger machine!
I wonder if they could be made to insert the vacuum bag filter? Then it can be taken out and thrown away before the masks are washed & sterilized.
 

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I wonder if they could be made to insert the vacuum bag filter? Then it can be taken out and thrown away before the masks are washed & sterilized.
They can! There is a pattern for masks that have a pocket for a non-woven barrier.

I'm not making those right now because I can't use the flannel for those, because the mask will be too thick with the flannel. Once I finish up with all the fabric I have now, I might switch up what I'm doing. The pattern for those is a little more complicated, but I'll feel more comfortable making those once I finish what I have.


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They can! There is a pattern for masks that have a pocket for a non-woven barrier.

I'm not making those right now because I can't use the flannel for those, because the mask will be too thick with the flannel. Once I finish up with all the fabric I have now, I might switch up what I'm doing. The pattern for those is a little more complicated, but I'll feel more comfortable making those once I finish what I have.
When you get the pattern for those, could you post it? I'm thinking of making masks.

Two of my nieces work in hospitals. One is a nurse and the other is a PA. One here in NM and one in FL. They have each been issued one N95 mask and have been told that they have to use that one, over and over. I've very concerned.
 

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Wife has been making some masks.
She ran out of elastic so I braved Walmart for her to pick some up.

None to be had. Couldn’t believe it.

Rest are going to have to have ties.
 
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