Tag Archives: masks

Strange Times

Who knew quarter inch wide elastic would become such a sought after commodity? And the surge of videos on how to make bias tape is another sign of our times. Then, there is a rush to buy HEPA vacuum cleaner bags to make impromptu mask filters. [Note: my brother tried a HEPA filter in a mask and found it was almost impossible to breathe through it.]

Speaking of masks, while sewers go into high gear, it’s unclear how many hospitals will accept homemade masks. The University of Kansas Health System has said they won’t accept them. Some San Francisco Bay hospital systems also won’t accept them. Kaiser Permanente will accept masks made according to specific instructions as an extra layer over N-95 masks. (Note: when I tried the link to the instructions I got an error message.) And to think that N-95 masks are now part of daily conversation.

A PolitiFact article on homemade face masks that examined studies of effectiveness said:

A study from 2013 found that cotton masks only perform about half as well as surgical masks and “should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals.” More recent research had similar results.

So at best, using thick or layered fabric to make a homemade mask could be as effective as using some surgical masks. At worst, it prevents at least some of your respiratory droplets from spreading to others while in public.

Under ideal circumstances, no face masks are intended to be worn for more than one encounter. That guidance also extends to homemade masks.

“At the end of the day, these cloth masks should be treated as contaminated materials that you bring in to your home — they need to be laundered in hot soapy water, and you’d need to consider sanitizing in bleach or hydrogen peroxide regularly,” Peltier [an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst] said.

Some experts have said face masks could also serve as a reminder to not touch your face, which is one of the ways the coronavirus spreads, according to the CDC. But Peltier said he’s not aware of any research that shows that’s the case. And there’s a chance that masks could actually encourage people to touch their face more since they can be uncomfortable to wear.

Still, since those infected with the coronavirus may not exhibit symptoms for up to 14 days after exposure, the CDC may soon advise everyone to wear masks in public just in case they’re sick. In that case, if you’re going out in public, wearing something is better than nothing.


For me the bottom line is I just haven’t seen enough evidence that homemade masks are that useful in a medical setting. I’ve made two masks apiece for my husband and me. If I learn that hospitals are actively using homemade masks I’ll crank up my machine.

I have begun a sewing project that involves inset ovals, though rounded edge rectangles is a more accurate description. In the Curves issue (issue/07, p. 74) of “Curated Quilts” I found a mini quilt called Happy Little Ovals by Jill Fisher. It inspired me to pull out a set of squiggly striped Marcia Derse fabrics and construct my own ovals using the 6 minute circle method.






















It seems to be turning into a table runner. I’m now auditioning some black fabric for inserts between the three vertical columns, as shown in the second photo. Let me know which you think works best.

I’m linking to Off the Wall Fridays.


Filed under Commentary, In Process

From A Distance

Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” minus people

My husband and I are well stuck into our current isolation, and we’re glad our house is large enough to allow us to have our own spaces. Otherwise, we’d be tripping over each other. Of course one of my main spaces is my studio, where I spend at least a few hours each day.

If you think I’ve been sewing up a storm you’re wrong. I’ve been paper and fabric collaging, and finishing up two black and white pieces. Why collage? One of my studio clean up projects was to sort through pages ripped from magazines. That led to watching a few videos and then collaging on the blank sides of sketchbook pages. I also created more colored tissue paper to use up some almost empty bottles of Dylusions ink sprays. Some of the papers are lovely; others are a bit muddy.

Lessons learned:

Magazine pages really like to wrinkle when glued, despite smoothing with fingers and old credit card

I need to learn how to use acrylic paint better

Lay down a colored background before you start collaging as it’s hard to add after the fact

Already fused fabric is easy to collage and can be pried off with heat and moved around (something impossible with glue)

Here are my efforts to date.

My first effort using tissue paper, magazines and paint.
Second try with already fused fabric scraps and colored pencil.
Third try with all magazine paper-very wrinkled. Lower right needs design work.

I hope to improve my collage skills over the next few weeks, once I figure out the right glue(s) to use. Collages are good design exercises.

The black and white pieces I made with my mark making class output are also experiments. One is more successful than the other, but I learned from both.

Fire or Ice
Still Standing

Finally, I did make a few masks to have on hand for personal use. I’ve wavered about the whole homemade mask enterprise as I’m concerned many won’t be useable. Sewers respond generously to such requests, but there’s a lot of room for good intentions to go astray. Elastic doesn’t hold up well to commercial laundering. The proliferation of patterns is confusing to me. Some have a pocket for a filter. My local hospital prefers the masks be lined with flannel. Other hospitals want nose shaping wires sewn in.

I’ll see if requirements and need for masks change before I make more. As I usually do, I’m linking up with Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas, Techniques