Making Masks

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Who would have thought masks would become a necessity in this day and age? I have always associated masks with medical professionals or something that should be worn when you needed to but now it is a big part of our lives. Masks protect ourselves and others from the virus. I apologise for sounding like the lead character in a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel but the last few months have felt like we are part of someone’s improv class, simply making it up as we go along.

Lockdown has been bleak and boring and now putting masks on feels like a chore; not because there is something wrong with them but because it was not part of our daily routine before. The blue masks have started to signify negative connotations more than the positives that come with protecting ourselves. So, I decided to make my own mask! Following guidelines from experts on how best to make an effective mask, I set out to buy fabric that could help protect me and others. After some thorough research, we realised quilter’s cotton would be the best way forward as it is a light and durable material. Although not perfect, it filters out small particles pretty well. Other options included pyjama material or cotton t-shirts but since my mother is a craftswoman, she had a lot of leftover quilter’s cotton which felt wise to use up. 

Making a mask is not hard at all if you have a sewing machine, but it can also be hand-stitched! If you google ‘home-made masks’, you can find free downloadable patterns on Etsy or Pinterest for either method. Since we have a machine, we decided to go for a design that can easily be pulled off on a machine as the stitches are neater and can be hidden better (this is my OCD kicking in). We found a really easy one where we just had to use the pattern as a stencil to trace out the shape and then simply stitch the material. We found elastic bands can be used to hold the mask in place but if you want, you can even attach a cloth string that you can tie. I prefer the elastic because it’s quicker and easier to put on but the cloth ties meant I could adjust it for when I wear my prescription glasses.

It is up to you how you want to do it, which hopefully makes this entire process more fun! From drawing out the template to stitching everything, it took less than two hours and in the end, we had some very adorable masks to wear. I do want to say that it may take you a longer or shorter time depending on who is making the masks and how good they are with a needle and thread!

I must add, as much as these masks provided me with enough protection (with social distancing), I still wear surgical masks underneath for extra protection in case I am walking into a heavily populated area. These masks though are stylish and allow me to make a statement: plus, with everything going on, we ought to have a little fun, right? In making our own, we are leaving more surgical masks for those who are fighting on the front line who need them more than we do: so it’s our small contribution to making life a little easier for everyone. If you are struggling with making masks, there are many small businesses on Etsy who will happily make a mask to suit your needs and desires, and this way you are also supporting small business owners whilst joining the cute mask community! 

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