Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: People Making DIY Protective Masks Amid Outbreak

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some people are just natural helpers.

“You don’t have to look very far on the internet to find people who are sewers — who are sewing hospital gowns, teddy bears for first responders, quilts for American veterans,” says Jenny Dayton, wife of KDKA’s Rick Dayton.

Nationwide, people who sew have been making protective masks, often from supplies they already have.

All it takes is some cotton fabric, flannel, elastic, thread, and even the most basic sewing machine.

There are many patterns online, including one from The Turban Project.

These fabric masks are what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention terms a crisis option.

These masks can be washed, sterilized and then reused. They may not be as good as the disposable options, but they are better than not wearing a mask at all.

Even if you haven’t sewn in a while, they are easy to make.

“If you have had an eighth-grade home-economics class, and you can make a pillowcase, you can make this pattern,” says Jenny Dayton.

To make a mask, it takes one 6×9-inch piece of cotton and a matching sized piece of flannel.

The only other supply that is needed is two pieces of one-fourth elastic cut to a length of seven inches.

Jenny Dayton says the pattern calls for taking the piece of cotton fabric and the piece of flannel and putting them “right sides” together.

She then pins the elastic in place in the short corners and tucks it on the inside of the cut pieces of fabric.

She places two pins along the long side of the rectangle to make sure she leaves room to turn the mask inside out as she is finishing the project.

Then it is off to the sewing machine to stitch together.

Jenny Dayton explains, “I am going to sew right around, all the way around, and stop at this first pin on the long edge. That will allow me to turn it right side out.”

After going around the remainder of the outer edge and all four corners, Jenny Dayton turns the mask inside out and trims to corners to get rid of some bulk.

She then adds three pleats and temporarily pins those pleats in place.

Then it’s back to the machine to go around the border two more times to finish the project.

About 10 minutes after she started, she has a finished mask.

“I have friends who work with the Quilts of Valor program to make red, white and blue quilts for veterans,” says Jenny Dayton. “Other friends have been making teddy bears for first responders. All of us are just trying to help.”