If you have been following me on Instagram, you will have seen that I have been making DIY face masks for our community the last few days. During the weekend the news reached me that the local hospitals had a shortage of face-masks. Some hospitals even hired seamstresses to work within the hospital where they produced simple masks. I asked around a bit to see if there was a need for me to start making them. On Monday messages from personnel in the CHU Grenoble hospital reached me via my sewing teacher, Céline. They (the hospital personnel) were asked to produce their own masks, and wondered if the community could help out. I offered my help as I felt a bit useless anyway. At the same time, my sewing teacher asked her community to help out and shared the tutorial (see below) that was sent around by the hospital. People started sewing.
A lot of things happened in the meantime. We all know how days feel like months nowadays. ‘Normal’ everyday life becomes more unpredictable by the day. I can’t imagine how we will feel after the two months that we will probably have to face at least, with this madness. Don’t get me wrong, I think that change and adaptation is a good thing in this kind of crisis. People and authorities just try to comply their workings to the new information they get, day by day, and hour by hour. We have to stay flexible, sensible and try to move with what professionals ask us to do. Not without losing their own sense of what is right and wrong of course, but with a healthy level of trust in science and professionals.
So what happened in the meantime in our tiny mask production? In our case during the 3 days from the moment that the news reached me that there was a shortage of masks: -> Macron (the French president) announced that good professional masks were going to be distributed at the beginning fo this week. -> And he announced that we were going into total lockdown, which made it more complicated for us to distribute our own masks in case they were still needed. -> We decided to continue making them anyway for the people that weren’t going to get them with this first distribution (or at all). -> We finished making a pile of facemarks. -> The hospitals were partly supplied with new (proper) masks yesterday. -> This morning we still were asked to produce them for hospital personnel that still didn’t have access to them (the labs for example) and for people that have to work in contact with people outside the healthcare (shopkeepers, cleaners etc.). -> A collection point was organized in our village.
Yesterday evening Céline, my sewing teacher decided make a better explanation of how you make these masks in French. Making it easier for people to start sewing their own masks and masks for the small businesses around them in case there was a demand.
In the meantime I got a lot of questions on my instagram post on how to make these and if they were safe enough etc etc from people all over the world. While my thought was to make my own tutorial in English and perhaps in Dutch too (Céline offered her tutorial pictures kindly to me!) I did some research this morning and figured out that the masks that I was making were from this blog. And there is a good explanation there in English. So I would gladly like to forward you there!
This is our situation. And this is one of the masks I made. But how about your situation? Your family? Your community? Well, you can start by making a few of these for your own family in case you are facing further contamination in your country/area. Mostly to add another layer of protection towards others in case you are sniffing, coughing and still have to go out to get your groceries for example. You can also ask around if your healthcare professionals are in the need for masks and help them out.
To answer your most important question: “Is this mask good enough to keep Corona out?” Well, it’s not the best mask ever, obviously! But I purposely added the letter of the hospital to this post, so that you can understand that even people in the french hospitals were willing to wear these masks in case of a shortage. If you don’t have anything else to use, if you can’t stay away from people (because your jobs makes it impossible), make these masks. Wash them often! Use them only a short period of time! Material wise: use cotton on the two outsides and poly-fleece or poly-felt on the inside (or make them with openings on the sides and use reusable menstrual pads in the middle). Most of us have some elastic/string, old cotton and fleece lying around. In case you don’t have cotton, use a poly for everything. Some people say that that’s better anyway. And if you don’t have a sewing machine, these are also easily made by hand!