Like many parents, this past week was a struggle. The hardest part - by far - was homeschooling my three kids. They were just too anxious and disoriented to sit down and focus on the worksheets that their teachers had sent home, and it all felt so flat and inconsequential with everything happening in the world.
It took a few days, but I let that expectation go (for now). Instead, I focused on slowing down with them, and leading them into activities that we wouldn't have had time for when things were normal. I thought of this as an opportunity to explore something new, and take deep dive with them.
My sewing machine has always been an object of curiosity in our house, probably because the kids weren't allowed near it. So, of course, the first thing they wanted to try was sewing. It was amazing how quickly they learned, and how much fun I had watching them. I probably wouldn't have had the patience (or time) before...so it was actually really nice.
I came across a post on facebook about hospitals running out of masks, and nurses re-using the ones they have. PPE (personal protective equipment) is scarce, and that's scary. Forbes published an article calling all sewers to help by making masks for healthcare workers, after the CDC issued a statement with guidelines on how to re-use masks and even improvise with bandanas.
So, our sewing lessons switched from scrunchies to masks.
The washable and reusable cotton masks are made with an adjustable wired piece so that it fits much closer to the contours of the nose, and includes a pocket for a filter for added protection. The filter pocket makes all the difference, and while it makes these a bit more complicated to sew, it allows the user to place a non-woven filter inside the mask to increase the effectiveness and safety. While these are not ideal for healthcare workers on the front lines - by any means - they are better than nothing, and it appears that we are in "last resort" territory for many healthcare workers.
The plan is to make as many of these as we can, and donate them to hospitals who are accepting them until the supply chain catches up.
There is NO SUBSTITUTE for the N95 mask. N95 masks are the best protection against COVID. However, surgical and fabric masks can prevent larger droplet transmission from asymptomatic providers who may unknowingly carry the virus. These are for lower-risk settings and not intended for direct care of COVID patients. They can also be used as covers for N95s, as hospitals are requiring providers to re-use a single N95 mask for days to weeks.
If you sew, and would like to help, here is a link to a video tutorial on how to make a similar mask.
Back to sewing!