Alma Sue Update #3

Alma Sue Update #3

Homemade Face Masks: Numerous people are asking if they can sew face masks.  Over the weekend I reviewed lots of comments, patterns, reasons for and reasons against.  A good website for information is  A study was done comparing masks made of various materials; cotton, linen, silk, tea towels, t shirts, paper towels, vacuum cleaner bags, pillowcase, etc.  Interesting idea - we know that most vacuum cleaner bags are "hepa" filters.  
Two factors must be weighed, of course blocking droplets and the other is breathe-ability.  Even though the vacuum cleaner bags blocked the most droplets, they were very hard to breathe through, so not the best material.  Tea towels were good blockers, again when doubled, not so easy to breathe.  T shirts easy to breathe, not the best blockers.  Pillowcases easy to breath and ok blockers.  Paper towels also ok for ease in breathing, ok blockers.
Recognize that NONE of these materials can replace a true surgical mask.  Other than the vacuum cleaner bag material, most of the others will block 50% of contamination.  
What about making it doubled?  Now that cuts the breathe-ability which may make someone wear it less diligently.  The study showed that doubling the material only increase the blocking by 1%, so about 51% instead of 50%.  Authors suggest keep it single layer for easy breathing.  One advantage I can think of for wearing a mask, it will keep you from touching your face!

Face Mask Patterns:  Now there are dozens on U-tube, various organizations, sewing groups, etc.  Some are complicated, some are more simple.  Some fabric companies shared patterns, shared patterns, bunches of others floating out there.  Some sew a pocket in the mask so the user can insert a tissue or paper towel, etc. to aid in blocking.  Probably not worth the time and effort if it only blocks 1% more than single layer.  Some use elastic around the ears, some say use elastic to go around the head, some say no elastic but use ties at the 4 corners.  Well whatever works for you is probably better than nothing.
So what did we decide?  I played around with several materials and patterns and the one I prefer is a coffee filter.  Fold in the rounded top and bottom so it is doubled, fold and sew elastic on the two sides.  I can breathe through this very easily, it is quick and easy to make.  The other consideration is that its disposable. I don't want to have to make a bunch of masks that are germy and need to be laundered.  Many people will just throw them out anyway, so why not simply make a disposable one?  
So here is what I plan to do the next two days.  Make several prototypes.  Then I will give out the instructions.  We will make a bunch, put them in a box outside the front door and anyone who comes in can grab a mask if they choose, wear it in the store, then discard it.  Hopefully we will be able to make a bunch and anyone can come in and pick up as many as are needed.  Give me a day or two to get the pattern together.  I am using a 12-cup coffee filter.
In the next few days I will put out a call for anyone who wants to make these face masks or wants to donate supplies to make them.  Need thread, elastic, and coffee filters.  Will try with various sizes of elastic and let you know what works best!

Barrier isolation gowns:   Teresa received a call requesting isolation gowns for a hospital.  My idea is to make them from regular and wide back muslin, which can be put into the laundry and sanitized with regular hospital laundry.  Supplies needed are bias tape and muslin.  If the pattern doesn't come in a couple of days we will draft our own pattern from photos and specs I found online.  The disposable ones sold online are not in stock except for a few websites and those few are being sold at outrageous prices from some overseas companies.  Again, I will let you know soon as this idea is firm.  We may be asking for help from those of you sewing at home.  Not sure if we can do a massive sew-in at the shop.  Guess it remains to be seen whatever the county and/or state decide to do with small businesses.

Yes, our doors are open from 10-3 Tuesday-Saturday at this time.  Will let you know if anything changes.  We have sanitizer, wipes, lots of space to practice "social distancing."  We had some questions about how long can the virus survive on fabric?  It is thought to be about 3 hours.  So by 10 am each day there should be no viable virus on any fabric in the store.  Don't feel comfortable leaving the house or car?
Other options:  Call in your order and we will SHIP FREE, or you can pickup curbside. 
Buy online:  We sell the following online at with free shipping:  Moda grunge, ombre confetti, Bali poppies, Mondo bag patterns and panels, and the Catitude collection by Benartex, many panels Big Bloom, wildlife, etc.  Just be aware we actually sell them for more $$ per yard on Amazon than they are in the shop.  And on Amazon must buy in increments of one yard.  So if you want less than a yard or want to save a few dollars, call us at 941-330-0993, or send a message on Facebook.

Last but not least - I just read that many folks in one state are sewing thousands of face masks.  Some places are rejecting them, and other places are using them.  So I want to make sure we are going to help someone before jumping in and making a bunch.  I am willing to DONATE any of my remnants and $5/yard fabric to anyone who wants to make face masks from fabric.

Stay healthy and use this time to clean out a closet.  I am looking forward to getting some free time to do the same and to de-clutter.  This may be a blessing in disguise.  Families getting to know their kids again, people cooking healthy meals at home, a little relaxing time may lead to less stress.  

Ella for Alma Sue's Quilts