My paternal grandma, Mamaw, talked often about her time working as a riveter in the airplane factory during WWII. She really was a “Rosie the Riveter!” My grandpa served in the war and she did her part on the home front. I always listened to her stories with such interest and asked questions because it really fascinated me this whole idea of aiding in a war effort from home. It never occurred to me that I would see in my lifetime a similar “home front” effort, but that’s pretty much what we have going on right now. The “war” is COVID19 and everyone is doing their part to fight it, whether it be the frontline workers (nurses, doctors, scientists), the supporting workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, essential retail workers), or the home workers (social distancing to flatten the curve, sewing protective masks at home, making hand sanitizer from scratch). It’s a crazy world right now!!
Today, for the first time, I felt like I really had a small glimpse into Mamaw’s life during the war, as I stood at my sewing machine sewing face masks. I started sewing one for myself, knowing I was going to the grocery store tomorrow, but after realizing how easy the whole process is, I sewed a couple more. I’m not sure who they will go to ~ nursing home? Hospital? Doctor office? But I’ll find somewhere to donate them after I sew up a few more. I have lots of scrap fabric, so this seems like a good way to use it up and do my part to contribute to society right now. We’ve been social distancing for 3 weeks now, and we’ve fallen into a groove with that. Time to step up my war efforts now!
If you would like to make your own mask, or make some to donate, here is a very simple tutorial. Make sure your fabric is tightly woven cotton ~ when you hold it to the light, you should not see light through the fibers! Linen is an example of fabric that is NOT tightly woven.
- 2 pieces of fabric, each 9 inches by 6 inches
- 2 pieces of fabric, each 2 inches by 36 inches
- sewing machine
- Put the decorative sides of your 9×6 fabrics together (you want the wrong sides facing out on both sides) and stitch along the 9″ side, making a “tube” with the 6″ sides open. Turn right side out and iron flat. Set aside.
2. With the long strips of fabric, you are going to make “bias tape” ties for the mask. Fold the fabric in half length wise (decorative sides facing out) and iron flat. Unfold the fabric and fold each side of the fabric in to meet the middle crease line. Iron sides so they stay folded. Then fold the fabric in half again length wise and iron flat. Repeat for the second strip of fabric.
3. Going back to the 9×6 fabric rectangle, you are going to put 2 pleats in the fabric, essentially ending up with a 9 inch by 3 inch rectangle. Holding your fingers on either side of the rectangle about 2 inches from the top, grasp the fabric and make a small fold about 1/2″. Pin to stay in place. Move down the mask and make another pleat. Pin in place. Your rectangle will now be about 9 inches in length by 3-3.5″ width.
4. Open up the bias tape you created and align the middle of it with the middle of the short side of the mask. Fold the bias tape back over the mask, catching it in the fold. Pin in place.
5. Starting at the top of your bias strip, sew all the way down, through the mask in the middle, and continue to the end of the bias strip. *If you want a finished end of the bias tape, open up the fabric, fold down the top, and refold over so the edges are finished. It’s not necessary but looks nice. **I back stitched a couple times over the mask part just to make sure it was secure with the ties.
Repeat sewing the other side of the mask and bias tape strip.
Remove the pins and you are finished!
Once you make a mask, you’ll see just how easy it is!