At Last! I Can Help!

 

Hello, my friends! My stepdaughter, the ICU nurse, texted this morning to ask whether I’d be willing to make her some DIY surgical masks, because these are in seriously short supply in her state. Naturally, I’m springing into action!

Want to join me? I looked it up, and there are YouTube videos on how to do it. Very simple materials and sewing — even I can manage this:

  • Cloth
  • Elastic, for the ear-bands.
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing. (I’ve seen patterns without the interfacing, but I think it probably helps with virus filtering, so I’m going to try to get some today).

And yes, in spite of what they said in “Men’s Health” magazine two weeks (that is, a lifetime) ago, apparently they’re “better than nothing” in a clinical setting, that is, one where social distancing isn’t an option. (I might make a few for my cop-daughter and her buddies, too, since they’re low, and one or two for me in case I get called out for something and need to protect my peeps from … me).

Apparently, the best fabric to make them out of is either t-shirt fabric or ordinary cotton-shirt fabric. I couldn’t find further details, but I’m going with ordinary cotton, of the dishtowel weight. (Link here.)

Published in Domestic Policy
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  1. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I have no cotton Jersey knit. I do have loads of muslin weave. And tons of interfacing, too. Two things I buy by the bolt.

    I’ll check this out.

    • #1
  2. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Looks like you can use air conditioner filter fabric for the mask. Have to take the filters apart…

    • #2
  3. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    3M just announced they are ramping up production to 35M this month with a goal of more than 1B this year.

    Got to replenish the strategic stockpile Obama failed to replenish after H1N1.

    • #3
  4. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Instugator (View Comment):

    3M just announced they are ramping up production to 35M this month with a goal of more than 1B this year.

    Got to replenish the strategic stockpile Obama failed to replenish after H1N1.

    I’ve heard that the short supplies of masks and disinfectant in hospitals are due in large part to hospital employees pilfering them. Don’t know how widespread the problem is. I suppose they justify it by saying they need to stay healthy so they can come to work, and need to keep their family and contacts healthy so they can stay healthy themselves. I haven’t heard anyone say that; I’m just guessing how the reasoning might work.

    Maybe one of the first actions that should have been taken was to lock them up and track them as if they were opioids. But who would have thought of that?

     

    • #4
  5. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Instugator (View Comment):

    3M just announced they are ramping up production to 35M this month with a goal of more than 1B this year.

    Got to replenish the strategic stockpile Obama failed to replenish after H1N1.

    I’ve heard that the short supplies of masks and disinfectant in hospitals are due in large part to hospital employees pilfering them. Don’t know how widespread the problem is. I suppose they justify it by saying they need to stay healthy so they can come to work, and need to keep their family and contacts healthy so they can stay healthy themselves. I haven’t heard anyone say that; I’m just guessing how the reasoning might work.

    Maybe one of the first actions that should have been taken was to lock them up and track them as if they were opioids. But who would have thought of that?

     

    Well, weirdly…two weeks ago, I ordered a box of masks from Amazon, for no particular reason except that, back in the day, I read John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza, and got freaked out. So at the merest hint of a pandemic (which is more or less what we had two weeks ago) I figured “masks!” 

    Apparently, these are going to be delivered to me! I’m going to take the box directly to whatever area first responder group seems to need ’em most—the hospital, probably.

    • #5
  6. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    In other words, I actually understand the hoarding impulse (if not the TP part). I can feel it whenever I go to the grocery store. We’ve got plenty of paper towel, but if there’s one roll left on the shelf, my impulse is definitely to snatch it up. And I added frozen vegetables and fruit to our freezer full of meat…just in case we’re all going to STARVE TO DEATH!

    My neighbors and I laugh about this…from a safe distance.

    • #6
  7. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Well, weirdly…two weeks ago, I ordered a box of masks from Amazon, for no particular reason except that, back in the day, I read John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza, and got freaked out. So at the merest hint of a pandemic (which is more or less what we had two weeks ago) I figured “masks!”

    Apparently, these are going to be delivered to me! I’m going to take the box directly to whatever area first responder group seems to need ’em most—the hospital, probably.

    Some university laboratories are going through their supplies to find things hospitals need, too.  

    • #7
  8. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    In other words, I actually understand the hoarding impulse (if not the TP part). I can feel it whenever I go to the grocery store. We’ve got plenty of paper towel, but if there’s one roll left on the shelf, my impulse is definitely to snatch it up. And I added frozen vegetables and fruit to our freezer full of meat…just in case we’re all going to STARVE TO DEATH!

    My neighbors and I laugh about this…from a safe distance.

    The Fred Meyer grocery stores in the Portland Metro area have started their own rationing program for TP, paper towels, and facial tissue. You are allowed three items; For example 1 package of TP, 1 package of paper towels, and 1 package of facial tissue. You can decide on what combination you would like. These items are no longer kept on the shelves, but are stored at an unused checkstand, and one employee hands them out to a shopper. This relieves checkers from having to enforce the limit, and may help to prevent some strong-arming attempts in the respective shelving areas.

    • #8
  9. Old Buckeye Inactive
    Old Buckeye
    @OldBuckeye

    For the seamstresses, I found a slightly simpler method for sewing the masks. 

    I was going to use batik fabric, which is tightly woven, and add a layer of cotton batting. I also discovered an unopened package of air vent filters (for furnace registers) and thought I might try making one with that. 

    • #9
  10. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):

    For the seamstresses, I found a slightly simpler method for sewing the masks.

    I was going to use batik fabric, which is tightly woven, and add a layer of cotton batting. I also discovered an unopened package of air vent filters (for furnace registers) and thought I might try making one with that.

    I might try this one too—thanks, OB.

    • #10
  11. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Well, weirdly…two weeks ago, I ordered a box of masks from Amazon, for no particular reason except that, back in the day, I read John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza, and got freaked out. So at the merest hint of a pandemic (which is more or less what we had two weeks ago) I figured “masks!”

    Apparently, these are going to be delivered to me! I’m going to take the box directly to whatever area first responder group seems to need ’em most—the hospital, probably.

    Some university laboratories are going through their supplies to find things hospitals need, too.

    My daughter—different daughter; I have loads—went through all the medicine cabinets looking for Useful Things. We have more hand sanitizer than I would’ve expected (we’re not all that sanitary, normally) and a ziplock bag filled with tiny tubes of hand cream. So we’re giving these to the local cops.

    And I’ve been sending little “make a cool card” kits to my little-kid friends, with stamps and envelopes. I’m recommending that they send cheering missives to local first responders, hospitals and other front-line folk (Truckers!) as a way to while away the school-free hours….

    After 9/11, my kids wrote notes to the children of fallen police officers and fire=fighters, and sent toothbrushes (cadged from our dentist, and encrusted with loving sticker-decorations) to Ground Zero.  It was a good lesson for them, I think: “Something bad happens, and you look for a way to help.” They still do this.

     

    And….the recipients do feel encouraged and reocognized thereby: My son, the Marine, tells me that funny little letters and drawings from little kids were actually morale-boosters to our troops in the field.

    S

    • #11
  12. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    In other words, I actually understand the hoarding impulse (if not the TP part). I can feel it whenever I go to the grocery store. We’ve got plenty of paper towel, but if there’s one roll left on the shelf, my impulse is definitely to snatch it up. And I added frozen vegetables and fruit to our freezer full of meat…just in case we’re all going to STARVE TO DEATH!

    My neighbors and I laugh about this…from a safe distance.

    The Fred Meyer grocery stores in the Portland Metro area have started their own rationing program for TP, paper towels, and facial tissue. You are allowed three items; For example 1 package of TP, 1 package of paper towels, and 1 package of facial tissue. You can decide on what combination you would like. These items are no longer kept on the shelves, but are stored at an unused checkstand, and one employee hands them out to a shopper. This relieves checkers from having to enforce the limit, and may help to prevent some strong-arming attempts in the respective shelving areas.

    Yup—ours too. I didn’t actually grab the paper towel, because—as mentioned—we’ve got plenty.  That’s what makes the sensation (“Get that! Quick!”) more peculiar and noticeable. 

    • #12
  13. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    I bought a couple of boxes of N95 masks for household use, and was planning (pre-injury) to take a welding class at the local community college so I got a half face mask and some P1oo filters so I’m good. Bought extra filters what with the fires last year.

    I called an electrician today about a small job, and not only is one of their crews sick, they are out of masks for their employees and so only do jobs they have masks for. 

    I offered to supply masks if it would help get the job done sooner, and then half-joked that I had a gallon of rubbing alcohol if they wanted to barter….

    That would screw up their bookkeeping, though. 

    • #13
  14. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    Stina (View Comment):

    Looks like you can use air conditioner filter fabric for the mask. Have to take the filter apart.

    gray foam or the greenish mesh stuff?

     

    • #14
  15. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    carcat74 (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Looks like you can use air conditioner filter fabric for the mask. Have to take the filter apart.

    gray foam or the greenish mesh stuff?

     

    Neither. It’s the 3M hepa filters – Filtrete.

    I was thinking hepa vacuum cleaner bags would work, too.

     

    • #15
  16. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    GrannyDude: And yes, in spite of what they said in “Men’s Health” magazine two weeks (that is, a lifetime) ago, apparently they’re “better than nothing” in a clinical setting, that is, one where social distancing isn’t an option.

    Sheesh. Even scarves over the faces of everyone on the metro will stop at least one transmission. There’s bound to be some guy with coronavirus in the metro every day, and he’s bound to cough.

    Me, I’m pretty sure if I cough it’s my usual asthma and allergies. But there’s a tiny chance I could be that guy.

    Or maybe it’s the guy right next to me. Or maybe it’s some guy on the next train. I’m glad all three of us are wearing masks on the metro in Hong Kong.

    • #16
  17. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    GrannyDude:

    Naturally, I’m springing into action!

    Want to join me?

    Well done!

    Honestly, I probably do more for the world doing my job and cleaning up after the kids. So no. But I’m not quarantined as such, and I’m no good at sewing anyway. My hot wife might try something along these lines later.

    I hope a few million people join you in this work until–inshallah–some large-scale factory efforts get masks churned out by the million.

    It will save lives.

    • #17
  18. The Dowager Jojo Inactive
    The Dowager Jojo
    @TheDowagerJojo

    I heard there might be harmful glass fibers in air conditioner filters or HEPA filters so not to use those. Not sure if true. Seems bad to have harmful fibers in A/C filters too.

    • #18
  19. The Dowager Jojo Inactive
    The Dowager Jojo
    @TheDowagerJojo

    I wore a bandanna to work yesterday on my last in-office day for a while, but I can see even a homemade mask is probably easier and more secure. It’s crazy but this is a good idea. Hopefully the need is only there for a few more days.

    • #19
  20. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    The Dowager Jojo (View Comment):

    I wore a bandanna to work yesterday on my last in-office day for a while, but I can see even a homemade mask is probably easier and more secure. It’s crazy but this is a good idea. Hopefully the need is only there for a few more days.

    By the time I’ve made my masks, the shortage may have been addressed…in which case, I’m making Hallowe’en costumes! 

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    The Dowager Jojo (View Comment):

    I wore a bandanna to work yesterday on my last in-office day for a while, but I can see even a homemade mask is probably easier and more secure. It’s crazy but this is a good idea. Hopefully the need is only there for a few more days.

    By the time I’ve made my masks, the shortage may have been addressed…in which case, I’m making Hallowe’en costumes!

    I wonder if anyone will send their three kids out to trick or treat dressed as a) a bat, b) a civet, and c) a coronavirus? 

    • #21
  22. Qoumidan Coolidge
    Qoumidan
    @Qoumidan

    After reading this post, I moseyed off to YouTube and discovered a plethora of other patterns and information.  

    I asked my sister The Nurse if they need them but, while employee theft was a problem, she said they have enough regular masks for now.

    But we’ll see.

     

    • #22
  23. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Qoumidan (View Comment):

    After reading this post, I moseyed off to YouTube and discovered a plethora of other patterns and information.

    I asked my sister The Nurse if they need them but, while employee theft was a problem, she said they have enough regular masks for now.

    But we’ll see.

     

    Ask the cops! And EMTs.

    At least in my state, the priority for masks is doctors and nurses. Which is understandable. 

    It’s odd to recall that, mere weeks ago, these used to be standard hand-outs, offered promiscuously to all-and-sundry before we dealt with a drowning victim or suicide…and now the LEOs (and their chaplains) are supposed to manage with bare hands? Well, yes. What other option is there?

    • #23
  24. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Of course, most of the fabric I’ve got is …dang purty. I’m trying to imagine any of the cops I know wearing pink masks covered with little printed strawberries? (Needs must, boys…) 

    • #24
  25. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    The Dowager Jojo (View Comment):

    I wore a bandanna to work yesterday on my last in-office day for a while, but I can see even a homemade mask is probably easier and more secure. It’s crazy but this is a good idea. Hopefully the need is only there for a few more days.

    On one of the sites listed above in the OP, it said that t-shirt fabric is quite good at blocking microbes, especially when doubled. It struck me that a t-shirt could be made into a sort of cowl, of the kind people wear around their necks when skiing, that can be pulled up to cover the nose and mouth when necessary? In lightweight cotton, it wouldn’t be too hot, and if it was black or dark blue, it could be worn with a police uniform without looking too peculiar. 

    The “design” is basically a tube. I might try that out tomorrow.

    • #25
  26. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    They’re modifying scuba gear with 3D printing (don’t ask me how) to make ventilators.

    • #26