Mask Adventures

So…Yesterday morning I told you that I had a plan.  I was going to do these things…
-I am doing an inventory of my tops that need to be quilted.  I am going to see what has backs and what needs backs.  I’m going to make some plans for all of them.
-I am going to do the general cleaning today to rid the house of childcare related germs.  I’m also changing the sheets on my bed…also dust for cobwebs.
-I am going to cross stitch for at least an hour.
-Put some audiobooks on hold

Guess which things I did??

ZERO of them.  I slept in and then got settled in on the computer.  About then Kelli called.  She was getting off of her overnight shift at the hospital.  She had a rough night.  Supplies are dwindling.  Moral is tough.  Everyone is dealing with anxiety about the whole situation.  The worst???  Protocols are changing.  Previously if a nurse didn’t follow all of the proper gowning and personal protection when they went into a room with an at risk patient, they would have been written up.  Now they are told, do the best you can with what we have.  That’s scary.

This was sent to me by one of the kids.  It’s written by the infection control doctor where the girls work.


Kelli was really upset.  It’s hard as mom hearing your kiddos be upset when there really isn’t much you can do.  We ended up having a conversation about Georgia.  Jason is going to need to start field work as soon as it dries out…His family is all involved in farming.  We decided it might come to a point that Georgia needs to just live with me for awhile.

That’s the truth of what it’s like for nurses right now.  Tough, hard decisions are being made about protecting their families and keeping their job.

The conversation turned to masks.  A week ago we were joking about people making homemade masks…today, it’s not a joke.  My niece post something on Facebook about the hospital in Cedar Rapids Iowa asking people to make masks.  You can find more on that story HERE.  Kalissa read my nieces post and commented, “My mom is making some(masks) today. I wish people could understand that this is an absolute last resort and everything we know about PPE(person protective equipment) is completely and totally irrelevant at this point. This is rock bottom.”

Kalissa wrote a blog post to explain the usage of Personal Protective Equipment HERE.  Please read it.

I know the homemade masks aren’t what they really need.  Nurses know the homemade masks aren’t REALLY what they need.  We know they need the good ones…the N95 masks.  But people, they aren’t able to be gotten.  None…zero.  So what can we do?  Do the best with what we have.  So, today I ….made masks.

I followed this tutorial.  There are tons out there.  The hospital recommended this tutorial.

I did change the tutorial I used slightly.  The first hurdle I had was bread ties.  I needed bread ties.  I don’t keep them.  My siblings and I used to laugh at my dad….he was born in 1920, went through the depression and saved too many things.  Bread ties was something he had an abundance of.   There was always a butter dish on his counter filled with twist ties…oh how I wished I had them.  But you know what??  My dad died in 2007.  When we cleaned out the house, I took these bags.  I put them in with my stuff.  At the time we lived at the farm…then we moved to town.  The bags came with me….


and so did the twist ties that were in the box!!  Yahoo.  Thanks Dad.  (I’m almost embarrassed I hadn’t used them before now)  Oh well.  I needed them now.


The tutorial calls for putting the twist tie in like this.  The problem I thought is that that it then isn’t secure.  I know these are going to be washed.  I wanted the twist tie to stay in place.


So after I put it in, I measured 3 3/4″ over and tacked it in place.


The sewing machine doesn’t mind sewing through it at all.
The other alteration I did was make ties instead of elastic.  I could never find enough elastic for all I need to make so decided ties it was.

I only got four done.  I have more started but stopped there to make sure they were okay for what the girls needed.

Here is Kalissa with one on.  She has a N95 mask on.  She is wearing my homemade masks over her mask.  Previously there were unlimited amounts of masks.  If she was in a patient room and blood splattered on her mask, she got a new mask.  They can’t do that anymore.  They get one mask for the whole shift.  Now she can wear the homemade mask over her mask.  If it gets obviously contaminated, she put a new homemade mask over her good mask.


I’ve been trying to make them in some fun prints.  There are male and female workers so I’m tried to make some gender neutral ones.

All in all Kalissa is happy with them.  I asked how many to make…I suggested 100 and she said YES…I asked Kelli and she said, just keep making them mom.

Kalissa put out a post on Facebook and said I was making them.  A local hospice care gal contacted me and asked for about 40 or more.  So…I’ll be making masks for quite awhile.

It certainly wasn’t how I intended to spend my time off…but if there is something to do that I can help, I’m going to help.

If anyone wants to make some masks with me, you are more than welcome.  These will be washed and reused again and again so it’s important to make them with quality products.  If the care workers near you don’t need them, my girls will welcome more.  Right now they are lucky and still have a limited amount of N95 masks.  I’m afraid those will run out and the girls will have are these homemade ones.  In that case, they are going to need to change them even more often.  The need is REAL!!

If I miss a blog post,  no worries.  Imagine me in the sewing room working away like a factory worker assembling masks.  Thanks to so many of you who have sent fun fabrics.  It is being put to use in these masks.

I know these masks aren’t all the girls need.  I know they need MUCH better equipment, but what is a momma to do.  My girls are fighting a war and I can’t send them into battle with nothing.  So I’m making masks.

42 thoughts on “Mask Adventures

  1. Deborah

    My daughter is a nurse too. So far their supplies are okay but they have had to store things more securely. She works on a surgery unit but might have to float somewhere else if the needs become more intense. It is a hard time for a mom to see someone your love unable to self-isolate.

    The pattern supplies list a .3 micron filter. What is that?

    Praying you all stay healthy.

  2. Paulette

    Deborah, if you follow the link above (the one that says HERE), re the Cedar Rapids Hospital, it says the hospital will supply the filters and the type of tape the pattern suggests. I wondered that, too, until I saw that blurb on the other link.

  3. Chris

    If you have a grocery supply store , they will have large boxes of bread wires. They are generally boxes of 2000

  4. Sherrill

    A gal today posted on Nextdoor that her hospice/home health group couldn’t find masks so 3 of us said we’d make them if they wanted them. Of course they wanted them; definitely better that nothing! So we’re aiming for 100 this weekend.

  5. Sue

    fyi- a different tutorial I saw used a pipe cleaner zigzagged in if you don’t have bread ties available. Thanks Jo for the tutorial. My daughter is an NP and is in the same situation as your daughters. I’ll be making masks too this weekend! We mamas need to protect your babies!

  6. Pingback: “What is PPE and Why Do Nurses Need It?” – The Pink Shoelaces

  7. Terri C

    What width and length did you make the ties? I’ve been asked to make some. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Donna T

    Jo I am an American living in the Czech Republic. We have been required to wear a mask even when walking outside or face a fine. I made two for my husband and me in Mickey Mouse print. I also have Hello Kitty and Frozen fabric that I may use. My husband was the one who suggested I use fun fabrics! Stay safe!

  9. Ruth

    There’s a tutorial on Turban Head Project – on Bonnie Hunter’s website. It uses 1/4″ elastic and I found it very easy to follow.

  10. Janet R

    My daughter is an ARNP and is able to work remotely for part of her job, which helps. I may be making masks, too. Both of my granddaughters work in food service. All of them are constantly around people – very scary!

    Jo, it’s great that you are making masks and supporting your daughters. We must all do what we can to get through this.

  11. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, thank you for showing us the way. I like your idea of using fun prints. Keep up on taking care of yourself and the family. You are all in my prayers.

  12. Judith Fairchild

    You’re going to get tired of me posting on this subject for filters in the masks would coffee filters doubled or tripled in the cloth masks help keep people safer. Or the webbing in sanitary pads.

  13. Jo Post author

    I’m using solid print fabric. The ties are 20″ long. I cut them at 2″ and folded them in half to sew them.

  14. Sheila Hornyak

    I read you can use ponytail elastics instead of ties. maybe ask your daughters if they would prefer the ties or elastics.

  15. Renea

    Trying to open the tutorial you used but it won’t open for me. I was thinking wired ribbon might also work if you don’t have twist ties which I do not have

  16. Kim LeMere

    Thank you for posting the links for making these and I pray your daughters stay healthy and safe, what a crazy time we are living in. I like the idea of using bread ties and or pipe cleaners, clever.

  17. Suzanne

    How will they sterilize these? Do they need to be boiled? Is hot water and Clorox in washing machine ok? Air dried in the sun or dryer? Thank you for sharing this.

  18. Alice Inzeo

    What do you use for .3 micron filte, if you are not sending the mask to a hospital that will put in the filters in

  19. DebMac

    I saw they are using floral wire and pipe cleaners. Also using lightweight fusible interfacing as a filter. My sister is a nurse so I am making some for her as she has asthma. I plan to make several different types and see what works best. Her hospital put travel limitations into place over a week ago and I fall 10 miles outside them so we agreed I will drive up and throw them into her yard. We got a giggle out of that.
    Jo, when you said you tacked the wire down ; am I right in that you dropped your stitch length and just sewed across the wire in several places? That was the best idea I came up with when I was making plans last evening.

  20. Elle

    I started work in surgery back when we still wore cloth masks. They are better than nothing. Yes quilters, please sew.

    I think Ponytail holders are too short and will be too tight, uncomfortable on the tender skin behind the ears. 6.5″ of elastic is about what standard loop masks have.

    Thanks to all who are sewing. I am making them this weekend for a dialysis unit! (I am newly retired and worried for my staff and my friends).

  21. Gayle Shumaker

    Jo on this mornings news the N95 masks for the building/farm industries have been approved by the FDA to be used in the medical industry through 2024. Please let your girls know for their hospitals. They can get a hold of building supply stores, contractors, farm supply and even farms and ask for their supplies. Also discussed was washing masks.

  22. Nance in Reno

    Jo, what do you think of maki g one ling tie (maybe 36″) instead of two 20″ ties and run the tie ends up the mark so there is no tie at the neck and just one tie at the back if the head. Think it would be easier to NV ake and put on, but maybe two ties makes a tighter fit

  23. Nance in Reno

    Yikes, hate autocorrect. Sorry
    Making one long tie.
    Up the mask.
    Back of the head.
    Easier to make and put on

  24. sewhappy

    I am making them for a local hospital. I like the idea of the tie. I will pass that along. Elastic is getting hard to find. I have been told, Twist ties can be found in the gardening sections of hardware stores. Also bulk food stores might able to help you out. Happy Sewing.

  25. Dot

    At least one hospital has said that they prefer ties, because they will last longer than elastic when the masks are laundered or sterilized. Also, many of us have fabric, but no elastic, and can’t get to a fabric store. I think two ties are probably needed to keep both chin and nose covered.

  26. Beth T.

    This situation is so frightening, Jo. My niece is an Emergency Department nurse in a hospital in the Seattle area. She currently has 2 N95 masks; one which she is reusing over and over, and one which she is keeping as her last resort. As you know, this is totally against protocol, but it’s the best she can do, there on the front lines. I am worried about her, and I know she worries about her patients, about the possibility of cross-contamination. I’m going to start making masks for her to wear on top of her N95, so she can trade those out to reduce that risk at least. This is like Third World medicine; I never thought I would see this practiced in our country. It is shocking. Thank you for sharing your tutorials.

  27. Judy

    My son is an ER doctor and his girlfriend is an ER nurse and he just told me yesterday that they will be running out of supplies soon. I can’t even imagine working in a hospital without having access to the necessary equipment to keep you safe. He didn’t answer me when I asked him what they are going to do. He doesn’t live near me so I can only hope that someone near him will be making them for the hospital workers.

  28. Kat

    I made these for my daughter and son, used ponytail holders instead, and they can’t use them, hospital said they are not sanitary, Maybe they will change there mine when they run short?

  29. Jessie Shifflett

    I’m in CR- totally had jumped on the mask bandwagon with the mask pattern they sent. It was pretty easy and I made a few for home too. I found the 0.3 micron mask filters online, I just ordered 20 adult and 10 child (we only have one kiddo). They’re “supposed” to last a week, but who knows with this virus.

    I’m SO glad to hear other places can use them since “Days for Girls” flooded them with too many masks in just a few days! :) I hadn’t even thought of using them as just a N95 mask cover, genius! Thinking of your daughter and all medical personnel right now!

  30. Pamela

    Jo,
    I love your blog.
    I want to make masks and the input from your daughters has helped to decipher what is helpful and what is not. Could you ask Kelli and Kalissa if adding batting between the masks fabric layers would add any protection?
    Thank you

  31. Jo Post author

    I am making ones with a pocket. That way an added layer of protection can be added to them via the pocket.

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