Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Sometimes you just need to make something with your hands

In a recent article in the Lancet, a researcher suggested it would be "rational" for healthy people in self-isolation to wear a face mask if they need to leave home for any reason.

An appeal to make surgical masks arrived in my in-box this week. I had no intention of ramping up a production line at home, especially because I doubt that I can make a hospital-grade mask. I wouldn't want my mask to give someone a false sense of security. But in a pinch, it would be better than nothing.

The basic idea is that you make an outer envelope from woven cotton. The cotton is lined with a couple of layers of non-woven material, whether interfacing or batting. This kind of fabric is less permeable than woven cotton. 

So you want something that will block the passage of a microscopic virus, but still allow the user to breathe. You're also looking for a washable product, so that it may be re-used. Apparently the material used to make vacuum cleaner bags is very effective.

Mostly I relied on the first of the video links, below, for my instructions. I also made a few modifications:
- I zigzag-stitched some flexible wire to the upper edge of the finished mask. You can use floral wire, or the "twist-tie on a roll” available at the hardware store. This allows the wearer to mold the upper edge over the bridge of the nose. 
- I shortened the elastic to 6” for women.
- I made a mask for a 2-year-old that was cut about 6” x 6”, rather than 9" x 6”. Instead of elastic, I used some cloth tape (4 lengths of 12”) so it could be tied into place. The child wasn’t at hand for measurements but the mask fits quite well.

I chose cotton fabric suitable for each of the recipients, and cranked out a dozen or so. Yes, it was all rather morbid. Still, the activity was diverting, and let me feel I was doing something useful.

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