Thursday, March 26, 2020

Masked Shoppers

It's hard to know what the best practices are during this pandemic, but we keep adding to our armor. This week I made "surgical" masks for us to wear when we go out, which for us is the grocery store and that's about it.

I found instructions on Youtube, and dug through my scrap box to find supplies. I read online what the best materials were and although cotton was recommended, I did find a chart that showed the filter quality that was the very best, aside from the official N95 masks, was vacuum cleaner bags.  So I make my masks with a layer of vacuum cleaner bag between two layers of cotton fabric. 

I didn't have any quarter inch  elastic, but I had some wide elastic, so I cut lengthwise slices off of that. I think it will hold.  I didn't want to go out shopping and I also knew that JoAnn's was already completely out of quarter inch. Making masks is the new thing. 

I made mine first, and made mistakes and fumbled around, but I got it done. Then I made one for Tom, and then one for each of my family members.  Everybody gets their own color.

My machine did not like sewing through all the the folds on the side, so my stitching looks pretty pathetic, but they work. 

Jill picked hers up yesterday, and we'll deliver Jake's tomorrow. If they never wear them that's OK. But they have them. 

So today we went grocery shopping, armored with latex gloves and masks. We got up early to get to the store at 7:30 for the Seniors special hours. This week the store was not crowded at all and the check out lines were minimal and marked off. We found everything we needed, plus some things Jake needed but couldn't find in the city last weekend. 

We will be making a delivery to Jake tomorrow, a chance to take a drive. Yay!  Jake is still working.  This morning we communicated via texting, and I got this photo. 

He is surveying stream banks on the upper Skykomish River, self isolating out in the semi-wilderness. King County want his company to keep working, so I guess his job is "essential". It's a relief to know both of my adult kids still have an income, at least so far.  

But back to the masks. I didn't like wearing mine, and my glasses kept steaming up, but I managed. The pattern I followed doesn't have a wire to bend around the nose to prevent gaps. I thought that might help with the steaming up problem, so I engineered a solution. I used seam binding to make a pocket to feed thin wire through. 

And that's how I have been occupying myself lately.


  1. Nice work on the masks. :) We don't go in stores anymore:)

  2. Oh my gosh! You and I really think alike. I wrote a post very similar to yours that will go up on Monday. I tried making that surgical mask version today. It was trial and error. I also made another kind a few days ago, but I find my glasses steam up too. The wire didn’t help me. I’m going to try another pattern tomorrow and will add it to my post on Monday. And wow you had the vacuum HEPA filters? Awesome! We have bagless vacuum cleaners here. Darn!

  3. I'm glad to see your innovative and useful masks. I have a couple I bought for some reason long ago that I never used, but so far I have resisted using them, I'm not sure why. Yesterday when I went to the co-op during senior hours, there were some very interesting masks being used, including a gas mask.

  4. Well, that's a good way to occupy your time. I can not understand why thee are not masks. They are simple to produce and they could turn out millions of them in no time.

  5. Tape the top of the mask to your skin with one inch medical tape. That's what the medical personal do, no fog.

  6. Aren't you clever. Hope you solve the fogging solution. Lin seems to have a good answer. We have to think out of the box these days. I have some I bought months ago to use when dusting and mowing. They aren't the good ones but I hope do the job.

  7. me too made 5 of them before my machine broke down. i'm not a seamstress so they weren't fancy. discovered than plant ties like twist ties on bread work great for the wire-bet you have lots for your gardening. i went to the eye doctor and was the only one not wearing a mask-didn't want the others to think i had the! it's a scary world out there now.

  8. Bizde maske kullanmaya başladık. Gerçekten gerekli ama aynı zamanda da çok sıkıcı.

  9. How ingenious of you, creating such good masks. I have some masks from long ago and may have to wear them if forced to go pick up groceries. The vacuum filter idea is a great one.

  10. Aren't you clever with the wire. I have been making these for others as they are being requested. I don't have the materials I just have the machine and some thread. There is a group of women from a few different churches that have banded together making 'kits' for others to sew. I wonder how many have been made???? We will find out because they are keeping track. I am a slow sewer. I usually only do hems and sew up ripps. ha... I found that I can make these masks. It feels good 'doing' something. I have done all I can in the garden until I fill pots. Of course the weeds are responding to the warmer weather so I guess I could weed. Never ending weeding. ha...
    It is good to hear that your kids are still working. That is helpful.


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