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Sewers Respond to the Face Mask Shortage

Making sure the right projects get to those who really need them

In answer to a growing need, there are many initiatives and tutorials in the sewing community to make cloth face masks for healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.

Another category of sewn cloth face mask is the personal-use mask, intended to help the general population slow the spread of the virus.

Research and carefully follow instructions

Threads has begun compiling a list from the many online resources available that provide advice and instructions. The caveat is that individual sewers must research and follow guidelines and regional demand for masks or other sewn cloth gear for medical professionals.

All of us want to help, not hinder. The situation is evolving and changing quickly, so we must be prepared to do a little research before making and sending out masks.

Our criteria for the connections we’re sharing were that they were provided by or have input from medical professionals or official sources. They stress the importance of responding to publicized and specific requests for donations. If you choose to sew masks to donate, be sure to follow the intended recipients’ instructions to the letter, including using the proper materials, packaging, labeling, and delivery methods.

We will update this post as more information becomes available. We encourage you to share questions, encouragement, and advice in our forums. You can upload images of the face masks you make to inspire others.

Let’s stay in touch. We have been heartened to see how the sewing community has rallied around this effort.

Face mask connections

WeNeedMasks.org: Janice Blasko of the American Sewing Guild and the Sewing and Craft Alliance rapidly developed this U.S.-based website. It includes a mask-making tutorial, and it provides a platform for healthcare organizations to register their needs and requirements.

Open-source COVID19 medical supplies guidelines: This Google document offers sage advice, a step-by-step model, and links for finding and connecting with local organizations in need. It stresses the importance of not overwhelming facilities with questions about donations. It is a live document, with time-stamped revisions. Open-Source COVID19 Medical Supplies is also an open group on Facebook.

Olson mask for healthcare providers tutorial video: This 18-minute video tutorial is presented by UnityPoint Health professionals at St. Luke’s hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They advocate the Olson mask for personal use, and possibly for healthcare use if needed and requested. Another Olson mask tutorial for personal use was created by a technical fashion designer and includes process steps, links to a detailed pattern, and links to more information and other tutorial sources.


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Masks for Covid-19

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  1. Bjbakes | | #1

    Thank you for addressing this issue. I have seen many tutorials put out on how to make masks without the backup of medical professionals' input as to the style of mask an with a vertical seam right down the middle over the mouth and nose. How is this a good design?? Do medical professionals realize that a seam, however tiny the stitch length, is not as much coverage as a solid piece of fabric???

  2. BeautifulTextiles | | #2

    Beautiful Textiles posts up-to-date research, recommendations, and patterns, and has sales on the recommended fabrics!

  3. sara07 | | #3

    Thank you for sharing these links.

    You're right, getting input from medical professionals is the way to go.

    Here's another resource that I think is useful:
    A list of 41 face mask sewing patterns approved by hospitals ---> https://threadsmonthly.com/free-fabric-face-mask-sewing-patterns/

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