I don’t sew. Or didn’t,
Though I bought a machine:
A nice, beginner-level sewing machine,
along with some “how-to” books.

They all wanted me
to make a drawstring bag.
I have no use for drawstring bags;
Seems like a waste of time and cotton.

But idle hands, make idle minds;
That dive down rabbit holes. And so
Inexpert, but with purpose, I sew
Masks for the war effort.

Old, fitted bedsheets – sacrificed!
No more folding. They’re off to war!
Or maybe, just… the grocery store,
Where Sherman’s tank is armed

…with toilet paper.

In all seriousness, I think that this effort serves some additional purposes:

  • Gives people a sense of purpose and control – a feeling that they have a constructive way to help themselves and others;
  • Keeps panic prone people from stockpiling PPE that is desperately needed by medical workers;
  • Keeps hands from being idle – if you can figure out how to make these or get supplies to others, you’re not just sitting around dwelling on apocalyptic scenarios;
  • Made correctly, they are not pleasant to wear and should also help encourage folks to stay home.

Cloth masks like the ones I’m making are less effective than surgical masks and way less than n95. BUT… they are 2 layers of bedsheet cotton with a pocket for adding additional filter (like HEPA filter from a vacuum bag).

There are two styles being made out there, and some confusion – the other one is designed to cover and prolong the useful life of an n95 mask. It’s probably still effective for people running errands, but I don’t know if the fit is as good.

And unfortunately, even our medical professionals have had to resort to these in times of shortage. See rosiesews.org for info and patterns. The call was put out by a hospital in New York, originally. Now that supply is being reserved for medical professionals, these are a good idea for the rest of us as an ADDITION TO social distancing. If nothing else, they keep you from touching your own face while grocery shopping. Why are they being recommended, now? Because you could be infected and showing no symptoms – mainly, wearing a mask is a way to protect others from you, whether it helps you much or not. Not to put too fine a point on it, but SARS-CoV-2 (“novel coronavirus” that causes COVID-19) is airborne, and wearing a mask in public helps you to keep your (possibly infected) “droplets” to yourself.

Launder on HOT and dry on HOT; only touch them after proper, vigorous handwashing. After use, wash hands, remove, throw into the laundry, and wash hands again. Assume both sides are dirty.

Stay safe and healthy out there!

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