Hand Made Masks by Holly Gardner

My fellow textile/fiber artists and I are what you might call “Fabric Hoarders.” We have fabric that rivals fabric stores. We often laugh about it but truly we all need a 12-step program for our addiction to fabric.

On March 22, I received many invites to make surgical masks for healthcare personal from my fellow textile artists.  I saw The Million Mask Challenge. I wasn’t sure about how to go about this. How desperate was the need. After all, what good are cloth masks against a microscopic virus like COVID-19? There is all kinds of conflicting information out there about the effectiveness of masks to provide effective filtration unless the masks are N95. And where are all the N95 masks anyway?

An article from VOX best explains the logistical nightmare of the N95 masks.

Yet, I still wanted to help. If our Healthcare Personal are putting their lives on the line shouldn’t I be doing something?  I joined a Facebook group called The Reno Charity Stitchers. Together, a GoFundMe page was created and we started sewing masks. I have only used my own materials and not used any funds from this group. I have gotten donations from some of the people who have gotten masks from me which I have used to buy elastic and interfacing.

 Initially, I started stitching the Joann’s YouTube mask. Then I found out that our local hospitals wanted the Olson Mask, so that they could put their own filter in the mask. 

There are pros and cons to both masks. The JoAnn’s mask is easy to make and takes less fabric and does filter some particles. It fits larger people better. I have tried it on my husband who is large. He finds it most comfortable. The cons are it doesn’t filter particles as well, still it is better than nothing.

Then there is the Olson Mask. It fits better and is secure around the face. I also believe that if the elastic is cut longer it will fit larger people. It is a better mask for those who need better filtration and cannot get an N95 mask. It has  a place to slip in a filter. 

Filter you say? Where do you get those? Isn’t that our problem too?

Well, I did some research on filters and while it is true there is a HEPA filter shortage I found some alternatives. Some people are using coffee filters and paper towels, however a friend of mine sent me an article on this filter

I have been making masks for a couple of weeks and have made in total 100 masks. It is just a drop in the bucket to the need that is out there. I hope that you benefit from my trial and error mask making endeavors.

The CDC is recommending that everyone now where masks when going out in public settings. 

If you have the ability to make masks consider making some for you and those that can’t.


Holly Gardner

Textile Artist


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