How you can make masks for health care workers in need

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

One question that gets asked quite a bit during this coronavirus outbreak is, “How can I help?” While practicing social distancing guidelines, regularly washing your hands and avoiding touching your face are the best ways to help mitigate the spread of the virus, there still remains a nationwide shortage of protective gear for health care workers on the front lines, including gloves, gowns, face shields and glasses.

Both Bonner General Health in Sandpoint and Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene have appealed to the community to help them make masks to help protect their staff during this pandemic.

Erin Binnall, community development manager for Bonner General Health said sewing face masks will help keep their health care workers safe during this outbreak.

Binnall shared a quick guide on how you can make a face mask and where you can drop off finished masks.

Mask made by Lynn Pietz.

What you will need: 

• Cotton fabric. Tight weave like quilter’s cotton – two (2) 9-inch by 6-inch pieces. Light-colored fabric is preferred over dark-colored, as it shows soiling. Use two layers of tightly woven cotton, no flannel. Please prewash/preshrink fabric as it will be going through a commercial wash/dry.

• Rope elastic. Beading cord elastic will work (you may also use 1/8” flat elastic) Cut the elastic 7 inches long and tie a knot at each end. Don’t knot the flat elastic.

Instructions:

1. Put right sides of cotton fabric together.

2. Starting at the center of the bottom edge, sew to the first corner, stop. Sew the elastic with the knot out in the corner. A few stitches forward and back will hold this.

3. Sew to the next corner, stop, and bring the other end of that same elastic to the corner and sew a few stitches forward and back.

4. Now sew across the top of the mask to the next corner. Again, put an elastic with the knot out.

5. Sew to the next corner and sew in the other end of the same elastic.

6. Sew across the bottom leaving about 1.5- to 2-inches open. Stop. Cut the thread. Turn inside out.

7. Pin three tucks on each side of the mask. Make sure the tucks are the same direction.

8. Sew around the edge of the mask twice. Be sure any fabric design is placed horizontally.

For a full tutorial, please search “The Turban Project” on Google (note, they use flannel fabric, but cotton fabric is preferred for both layers).

If you are unable to obtain elastic, double-wide bias tape (1/2-inch wide) can be substituted. Sew the mask sandwich above without elastic. At step 8, sew around the mask once, and then sew bias tape along each side, leaving 16 inches above and 13 inches below the mask for ties. This will mimic a type of surgical mask with ties.

Anyone interested in joining a list of people with info, materials and patterns, send name and email to [email protected]

Finished masks can be accepted at the front entrance of BGH between the two sliding doors. Please don’t go in the hospital. There is a clipboard to sign your name and a box to place masks inside.

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