Fabric Surgical Masks Information
Thank you for your interest in sewing fabric surgical masks for healthcare personnel caring for patients.
Your time and talent can greatly impact our ability to care for our community members and help ensure our safety as we do. Fabric masks offer the benefit of being able to be washed and re-used. Still a large supply is needed, as each healthcare worker will need to change their mask several times during their shifts, as the mask becomes soiled or damp – for maximum protection.
We aren’t worried about looking stylish – but we are concerned about functionality. Non-matching fabrics, thread, binding strips are just fine – but a well sewn mask with no frayed edges or missed seams or “holes” is important.
In order to make sure the masks are safe and as effective as possible, we ask that you consider the following:
It is most helpful to use a standard pattern to ensure proper fit and function. Please use the following patterns. They are most similar to our current products.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the mask need a pocket?
We would like for the mask to have a pocket so that Owensboro Health (not you) can insert a filter if needed. If the masks you have made thus far do not have a filter, we have and will continue to accept them and use them. Please see mask construction guidance and suggestions in the instructions provided above.
I cannot find elastic anywhere; what can I do?
Locally stores have depleted their stock. Many sewing groups are sharing elastic but also using pony tail holders and scrunchie pony tail holders instead. You can also sew ties on the mask and should be 16” in length.
I can sew but I do not have the materials OR I can’t sew but have materials; how do I connect to someone so I can help too?
The Daviess County Extension office, The Owensboro Area Quilters Guild, the online Facebook group-OWLS Owensboro Women Over 50 Friendship group and many others have been sewing and communicating with one another. They would be happy to provide information to you.
What are the best fabrics to use?
- Recommended fabric for the outer portion of the mask includes heaver, non-stretch fabric such as denim, duck cloth, canvas, twill, or other tight woven fabric.
- Recommended fabric for the inner lining and filter pocket can be other cotton, cotton-blend non-stretch fabric. It can be thinner and softer, but again recommended minimal or non-stretch.
- Must be laundered in HOT water prior to sewing to prevent future shrinkage.
- Polyester or other less breathable fabric will not work as well, due to moisture produced when breathing.
- If using denim or other fabric that is being “recycled”, please be sure it is clean and in good shape. Worn or dirty fabric will not be protective.
- Elastic should be in good shape, with plenty of stretch and of an appropriate size to fit over the ears. 1/16 inch round cord or 1/8 inch braided work best.
- If elastic is not available, fabric ties can be sewn on the mask. There will need to be 4 ties (one tie on each of the 4 corners). Ties should be approx. ¼ inch in width, sewn in such a way that there are no frayed edges, and long enough to be tied into a bow on the top of the head (for the top corner and behind the head for the bottom corner).
How is Owensboro Health using the masks?
We will be using the cloth masks for situations where a surgical or N95 mask would not be required. This extends the supply of our disposable surgical masks for those times when procedural care is required. While we are not out of our current supply of surgical masks we know getting new additional masks will be difficult because the national supply is running out. The fabric masked could be used over the surgical masks to keep them from getting soiled and extend their use.
Where do I bring the finished masks?
Please see the two drop-off locations listed above the FAQs. Enclose finished masks in a sealed Ziploc bag.
What happens if Owensboro Health receives more than it needs?
If we see we have an excess in masks, we will be donating to other entities who might need them.
There are hundred of individuals sewing to help healthcare workers as we face the challenges of COVID-19 together. The following are helpful hints shared by seamstresses and sewists which may be useful to you.
- Front and back need to be different colors; in a hurry, easy to tell which is front.
- The 9x14 pattern has no pocket for filter. Pleats can be used in lieu of pocket and works.
- Adding 1.5” to the cheek piece adds additional shielding.
For more information, please email Debbie Zuerner Johnson at Debbie.Johnson@OwensboroHealth.org.