I take this the global pandemic that is Covid-19 very seriously. I am also privileged enough to be able to stay at home, have a little free time here and there, AND just happen to know how to sew. Of course, it follows that I can (and should) make some much needed masks to help out in some way. Most of the craftspeople and artists I know and follow are doing the same – turns out that our talents suddenly seem quite practical in light of the circumstances.
Thankfully I have been cultivating a fabulous fabric stash for the past decade… you may call it fabric hoarding but I now call it pandemic preparedness.
Earlier this spring I put out the call to my friends, family, and former students on Instagram to see who needed a mask and the response was overwhelming. Over the next 4 weeks I made and mailed over 150 masks. While I did not charge anyone for the masks or shipping, thanks to the generosity of a few special people I received enough donations to cover all the shipping costs, buy additional elastic and thread (which took almost 2 months to come in – it is apparently the new toilet paper), a new blade for my rotary cutter, and much needed replacement sewing machine needles (which you don’t realize you need until you snap a few!).
I was very moved by the kindness of my husband’s aunt and a friend who collectively gave me enough elastic to cover all of the first 150 masks made. When all was said and done I had used up about 75% of my own fabric as well as lovely batik fabric graciously sent to me from a friend and mentor in Texas.
When I finally ran out materials I thought I would just call it a day. But the need is still there. I still have the time. My sweet cousin, Susan, offered to send some of my aunts quilting fabrics to me so I could continue with this endeavor.
My aunt Carolyn passed away last May (above in black). She was a crafter and exceptional quilter. She had a fabric stash even bigger than my own! If she was still with us, she would have undoubtedly been the first one sewing masks for our medical workers and those in need. I can think of no better way to honor her memory than to keep going with this effort. I will continue to make masks now with her fabrics and the new elastic until my supplies run out (which should be awhile).
Would you like a FREE mask? While I offered the first masks I made for free to all – the next masks I make will only be free to medical professionals and caregivers as well as anyone who is actively participating in protests for racial equality. Black Lives Matter. Let’s work together to end to the systemic racism that is pervasive throughout our society.
Do you need an affordable ($5) mask? While many people are selling washable fabric masks online, you can request a mask from me for just $5 each (shipping included).
For more info or to request/order masks please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with “MASK REQUEST” in the title
I am honestly tired of making masks even though it is not at all hard. But, this is important and because I CAN still do something to help, I need to do it. You can too! Even though the pandemic has been going on for what seems like FOREVER and you may likely feel like it’s “too late” to start making masks, there is still a huge need and your efforts would be very welcome.
If you have the ability to do so, make masks using one of the many tutorials online – pick something conducive to your skill level, time, and availability of materials. Covid-19 is not over and the coming fall could see sharp spikes in numbers during cold and flu season.
Many groups are currently seeking mask donations for communities at risk such as the Navajo Nation which is in desperate need right now as the community with the highest risk in the US (even more than New York). Online many at need healthcare workers are using the hashtag #GetMePPE in the hopes of donations for more PPE (personal protective equipment). The hashtag #findthemasks also attempts to help connect makers with the right donation locations. Business Insider also rounded up some of the ways you can help get masks where they need to go. It can be overwhelming and hard to discern the validity of some organizations. You might try weneedmasks.org to find places in need – just do your research.
Although it might take more “leg work” (i.e. phone calls) you can also look for local places in your area that need masks: call retirement homes, hospices, your local hospital and rehabilitation centers, the children’s hospitals, community meal services, departments for child and protective services, etc. Even your local post office and grocery clerks could benefit from your donations.
(Sorry to my wonderful email subscribers who receive this post 2x – I didn’t quite understand the new posting process and just realized that it went out at an earlier edit!)
You are such an inspiration to me. I also made masks for 45 friends and family members. I might bring out the sewing machine again, being moved by your posting. Deanna Jay Chu Nim
Thank you Deanna, I really appreciate the encouragement and support. It means a lot. I am impressed by your own efforts – good work! I hope you’ll break out your sewing machine again – even just for a dozen masks. Every little bit helps. 🙂 Stay safe.