Citizens Making Face Masks: Cheng (’22) Joins the Effort

Audrey Cheng (‘22) announced on her Instagram, where she sells handmade accessories, that she has started sewing masks to help hospitals. She learned from Youtube and plans to donate masks to Baptist hospital, which has recently asked the public for donations of medical supplies.

If one has experience with sewing, making homemade face masks is relatively simple, especially with YouTube step by step tutorials. As well, JoAnn’s is giving out free sewing tools and fabric kits to people who would like to make masks (important to note that this was before the non-essential business order so guidelines may have changed). Once finished making the mask, one can drop them off at Joanns, who will be donating the masks to local hospitals.

Cheng explained that “It’s not hard at all! At first it took me a bit to get used to sewing them, but now it takes me 30 minutes max to make a mask, including cutting fabric.”

Although Cheng uses a sewing machine, masks can also be made with just a needle and thread, it will just take longer to complete.

 

Cheng models the pocket in her mask where a wearer can place an extra filter. Credit: Audrey Cheng

 

“Through family friends who are local doctors, like Dr. Aldana (mother of Carissa and Katrina Aldana), I have heard that the supplies are low and they are planning ahead for a mask shortage,” Cheng explained.

What do doctors do when there is a shortage of masks? On March 17th, the CDC’s website began recommending medical professionals (and citizens as of April 3) use bandannas or scarves as a protective measure when hospitals run out of masks. In response to the need of masks, Cheng and alumni parents like Heidi Evans and Paige Hakimian have begun sewing fabric masks.

 

Although hand sewn masks and other face protectants are a good alternative, when nothing else is available, they are not as effective at filtering out bacteria. A study from Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness found cloth masks to be ⅓ as effective as surgical grade masks, like the N95 mask, in protecting from influenza.

A research project done by the University of New South Wales found that people who used cloth masks were more likely to get influenza. Cloth absorbs and locks in moisture, does not filter bacteria as well as N95 masks, and cloth masks are often reused without proper washing and disinfecting. It is important to note that although the numbers are still unclear, many scientists studying COVID-19 have recognized it to be more fatal than the flu.

The CDC recommends when using cloth masks one must make sure to properly wash and disinfect it after each use. As well, each time one wears the mask, make sure to have the same side facing outward.

The public should also remember that surgical masks are only effective when used with other safety precautions such as social distancing, limited skin to skin contact, washing of hands, and covering of the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.

Whether you make masks and donate them, or just for your family, here are the tutorials most used to make your own mask:

 

Hobby Lobby’s DIY Fabric Face Mask:

 

Leah Day’s How to Sew a Face Mask with Filter Pocket – Fast and Easy DIY Flu Mask: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8OyV15ua24