Connecting local sewists with the healthcare community

Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do I know I have the right materials in my stash?
    Current instructions are calling for tightly woven, prewashed cotton (quilting cotton will do), prewashed flannel if you have it (for filling), either narrow flat elastic or elastic cord OR self fabric ties (ties are probably better because they are adjustable), and, if you are making shaped masks, you will need a nose piece (see below).

  • I don’t have the materials at home. Where can I get them?
    You can purchase locally from stores listed below or order online. JoAnn Fabrics is now offering curb-side service if you order ahead.

  • I know how to sew but I don’t have a machine. Where can I get one?
    Ask friends and neighbors if they have any old machines in their closets. As long as it can sew a solid straight stitch, you’re good. If you can’t get your hands on one, then pair up with someone who does have one and offer to cut out fabric pieces or make a run to the fabric store for supplies (for front porch drop offs). JoAnn Fabrics is now offering curb-side service if you order ahead.

    If you are really at a loss, you can sew the masks by hand. Make sure they are sturdy enough to stand up to repeated washing though. You could also cut metal strip nose pieces for people that are making the shaped masks. See instructions.

  • Where do I take them when I have a bunch of them made?
    We need to minimize traffic at the hospitals. Click on the DROP OFF SITES button at the top of the page to find a drop location near you for the style of mask you made.

  • But fabric masks are not sterile. Can they really be used?
    At this point, due to extreme shortages, the CDC is loosening it's guidelines and allowing healthcare centers to use fabric masks.   It's better than going without.   In some situations, the fabric masks can be used over top of the approved sterile masks to extend their lifespan.   In other situations, the fabric masks will be the only thing available. They can be washed and reused.   Be sure to prewash your fabrics before making the masks, thoroughly wash your hands before working on them, clean your sewing area, and pack completed masks in plastic bags or boxes with lids for delivery.   Healthcare centers will be washing them before use.   If you are sick or have potentially been exposed to someone who is sick, please wait until you are recovered and out of danger before sewing masks!!

  • I sew slowly. How can I make masks faster?
    Making one mask at a time is not very productive. In quilting there is a technique called “chain piecing” in which the same seam on a number of blocks are sewn one right after the other without lifting the presser foot or snipping the threads between each one. Once you have your mask pieces cut out, you can stack them up in order and sew them together in stages using the chain piecing technique. There are any number of YouTube videos showing how this works.

    You can produce masks even faster if you team up with someone who is good at cutting (either at home or via front porch delivery). They can cut the fabric pieces and stack them for you, freeing you up to just sew. Make sure you choose someone that can cut relatively precisely, though. The more precise the pieces are cut, the easier the masks will sew together. Using a rotary cutter and a cutting mat will significantly increase both your speed and precision in cutting out the pieces.

    Consider making all one size at once. If you are trying to make a combination of Large- and Medium-sized masks, for example, it is easy to get the pieces confused and that will slow you down. Sew all Large masks one day and all Medium masks the next day. Or just sew all one size and eliminate the problem all together.