Mass Masking

Hello readers! Just taking a quick break from the scramble of sewing and processing orders for face masks to let you know that I’ve been swamped for the past week and haven’t had time to write much in the way of math related metaphors.

I’d already been working with several groups in Colorado in the efforts to supply front line workers with cloth masks, but last week the CDC officially changed their recommendations to include masks for the general population. You can find more information on the recent tidal wave of recommendations and requirements that all civilians should cover their faces whenever they step out into public spaces at Masks4all.co, the home of the grassroots movement in the United States. The state of Colorado also launched their own campaign last week at ColoradoMaskProject.com.

I’m currently sewing as much as I can manage every day, as I am backlogged with orders for my own design of a comfortable stretchy mask with ties. Right now I am waiting for more fabric to ship in order to keep up with demand, and the fabric and trim suppliers are also swamped with so many fashion and sewn product companies shifting gears at the same time to produce masks and other PPE. The sewing industry is in a similar situation as the grocery stores were a few weeks ago as there is currently a mad rush to buy up essential ingredients. Hopefully the supply chain can recover quick enough to keep the necessary raw materials available.

Just a quick PSA: there is an overwhelming amount of information circulating right now with very limited scientific research or testing to back up claims for how effective various mask filtration mediums are. Some materials such as vacuum bags and HEPA filters were never designed to be used next to your face and pose a danger of inhaling fiberglass. So far, 100% polypropylene non-woven material is the leading choice, though the sudden surge in demand is bogging down these supply chains as well; blue shop towels also appear to be effective. Paper towels and old t-shirts can be used in a pinch.

I’m sure I’ll have a great deal more commentary to share on how the domestic sewing industry is responding to this crisis once I have more time to process and write. It’s inspiring and overwhelming how much the needle trade is in the spotlight right now. For now, please stay well and put any sewing skills you have to use making masks for yourself, your friends, and your neighbors. A stitch in time saves nine has taken on an entirely new meaning.

Art by Maiter; original source unknown

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