4-H skills help battle COVID-19

Face masks can be made at home using easily found material to protect against the virus, but it must be done properly

BIRDS HILL, Man. — There are hundreds of different mask patterns on the internet. They vary in degree of protection and degree of complexity. Some are easy for beginners. Others require a skilled seamstress.

In making masks for our immediate family, I’m drawing on my 4-H sewing experience from years ago at Kane, Man. My mom, who initiated the 4-H club, was one of the sewing instructors for our little community.

Choosing a pattern to your liking is the easy part, and the fun part. Surf the net until you find a pattern that appeals to you and print it out to the appropriate scale. Remember, you can build masks for anyone from toddlers to great big guys with great big heads.

Next, select a fabric that will do the best job of protecting people. We’re looking for a tightly woven fabric, such as a batik, that should help prevent COVID-19 germs from entering or leaving the mask.

For the lining, I chose pillow ticking, which is also a tightly woven fabric.

When considering the fabric, we want to stop the virus from getting out to other people, and we hope the mask will prevent the virus from getting in when we inhale.

Health officials can give us the micron numbers for filters and micro-organisms, but fabric manufacturers don’t rate their fabric according to medical criteria. They don’t tell you the micron size of opening between the warp and weave of their fabric.

You can add a small sleeve across the nose bridge for a bendable wire, such as a pipe cleaner. However, I found the wire was not sturdy enough to hold its shape so I chose to ignore that option.

A different fabric was used for each of the dozen masks that were made for family members. | Supplied photo

Also, a pocket can be sewn into the body of the mask for a removable, washable filter, in addition to the two layers of fabric. I felt the two fabrics I chose would provide sufficient protection.

You can also make the masks fun with spider webs, flags, faces or sports logos. However, be aware that such fabrics are generally not tightly woven. If you choose a looser fabric, combine it with a middle layer of filter.

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