Face masks

While looking for ways not only to pass the time during the stay-at-home order, but to also help others, local women are putting their skills to use to make masks for the masses in order to ward off the spread of germs for those that must be out and about during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three local women spoke with the Kernersville News about mask making and they encourage others to step up just as the women who stepped up to help their nation during WWII, coining the term Rosie the Riveter.

Ginger Howlen, a nurse from Walkertown, said she began making masks to help people in the community.
“I think it’s safer to wear a mask than not to wear them,” she said. “People at the grocery stores are working their tails off and are touching products, produce and money. I was thinking of them and the elderly in our community, such as senior apartments, family, friends, people at the post office and at homeless shelters.”
Howlen said she started looking for patterns and researching the best fabric to use when it became evident of the need for masks. She said she is using two different patterns. One of the patterns looks like a simple surgical mask, is double sided and made of 100 percent cotton or a cotton blend, which she said filters out particles, according to Cambridge University.
“It is the best homemade mask for both the filtering and breathability, and they are relatively simple to make,” she said.
The other pattern Howlen said she is using is used to cover the N95 masks that medical professionals use.
“They poke out a little bit, but there has been a lot of interest because they say they might make the N95 masks last longer,” she shared.
Howlen noted that her niece is helping cut the patterns for her.
“I would love to see more people that sew do the same thing. For me, it’s a good way to handle stress,” she said.
To find the mask pattern mentioned by Howlen, visit www.deaconess.com/How-to-make-a-Face-Mask. Howlen added that if anyone has questions, they are welcome to contact her at Gingerhowlen@gmail.com.

Lisa Power Fowler started making masks after one of her friends in Kernersville posted on social media that a group in Nebraska was requesting masks.
“I jumped on the idea and have a lot of friends in the area that are requesting them,” she said.
New to sewing, Fowler said she found a pattern that a nurse friend of hers shared with her.
Fowler explained that she made one set of masks out of Thomas the Tank Engine curtains that were her son’s when he was younger. After making some masks and posting about it on social media, she said there was more of a need and she ran out of supplies.
“I reached out to some of my friends and we’re banding together to share supplies and make these masks,” she said, adding that Heather Bucher and Sherry Quinones were two local women who have donated supplies to her. “Heather spent her day pre-cutting the fabric she was donating to make my part easier.”
Fowler said the type of mask she is making can be used with the N95 masks.
“My understanding is that some of the hospitals are allowing these to shield the N95 masks so they can keep them on every day from patient to patient instead of throwing them away,” she said. “They are not a replacement, but are used to protect the N95 from germs.”
While some people are charging for the masks they are making, Fowler said she is making them to donate to people who have a need.
“I feel like it’s something you need to step up and do when your community needs it,” she remarked.
The pattern Fowler uses was one she found on Facebook.
“The guy who designed it, his wife is in the medical field,” she said.
To find the mask pattern Fowler used, visit www.freesewing.org/blog/facemask-frenzy/?fbclid=IwAR3NUJDmmVg9AHBrPRqXYXj7VO38oI7Bs0-h12TQ5LI-srOXCMjE8ZjjgZc. Fowler noted that of the three sizes listed on the PDF, medium is the preferred size.

Barbara Osborne, who has about 50 years of experience in sewing, said she has been making masks for the VA Hospital.
“I made a couple and all of a sudden it snowballed,” she said, as she mentioned that she first started making them about two weeks ago. “My daughter is a nurse at the VA and I’m making the masks for the staff.”
Osborne said she was originally part of Project Mask WS (Winston-Salem), but then branched out on her own.
“They have a standard pattern they are using, but they didn’t fit quite tight enough as my daughter said they needed, so I found a pattern and modified it to fit them,” she said. “I am making the masks out of high-grade cotton batik fabric.”
So far, Osborne said she has made almost 80 masks and has an order for almost another 100.
While she has had some help from her grandson and one of her friends, Osborne said it still takes her about an hour to make each mask.
“The problem is that we are running out of elastic, everyone is, so we are trying to come up with an alternative. Right now, we are planning to use twill tape,” she said.
Osborne explained that she found the new template she uses on Facebook and then modified it to fit tighter, adding that she uses two templates. One of the templates is for a full face mask and the other is a 3D mask.
For the 3D mask, Osborne said she sews in a pocket to insert a HVAC filter that is rated for allergens, bacteria and viruses.
“I give everyone a filter when they get their mask and then tell them where they can get the filter replacements, which you can get somewhere like Lowe’s or Home Depot,” she said.
To find the mask pattern mentioned by Osborne, visit https://youtu.be/8RCuL1mX7eg https://youtu.be/vTJevg9i7XA.

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