Today’s post comes from Jacque.

Two weekends of my life have been lost to construction of homemade masks.  This is not usually how I would spend a weekend, but then these are not normal times.  And what else was there to do anyway given our Shelter-in-Place order.  And constructing masks certainly is preferable to allowing debilitating fear and anxiety about our COVID-19 problem to take over my life.  I would rather allow something useful to take over my life.   The need for these was urgent, though.  Several people asked me to send masks ASAP.  Unfortunately, many of them are going to medical providers:

  • Sister-in-law, a doctor. She says they have shields and it was suggested they use homemade masks under them.  They had to find their own homemade masks.
  • Brother-in-law, a nurse. He has masks at his hospital but they are forbidden from using the one mask they have been assigned anywhere but in direct care.
  • Daughter of a friend, another nurse. Her hospital has assigned each nurse one N95 mask with the instructions to use a homemade mask over it to preserve the usefulness of it.  She also had to find her own mask.
  • My mother’s assisted living facility which has no masks at all—they are entirely dependent on donated masks amid the most vulnerable population of all.

To date, I have made 65 of these, and mailed out or given away 60.  Someone at  Blue Cross Blue Shield and Allina designed the masks I have made, then sent them out appealing to anyone who can sew.  An NBC article I found yesterday cited a research study by a Dr. stating that these screen out 79% of viruses and bacteria.    Not bad for quilting materials.  The instructions (thrown together and hand drawn) are here:

Then came the issue of obtaining materials.  First everyone everywhere ran out of elastic, then elastic hair ties which were used to improvise elastic.  I hear people are cutting the elastic off of underwear to make them.  I found shoelaces, ordered 4 spools from a shoelace site, and have been attaching those.  They tie very tightly and stay put.  The medical people need that.  Next, during a trip to Joann Fabric, the store was shut down because people would not stay 6 feet apart in the store.   Thus my on-line order was cancelled.   I went to the Edina Joann, and joined a line in front of the store.  They only allowed 25 customers in the store at once to maintain a distance.  The fly in that ointment was that all 25 customers headed for the quilt fabric department – to make masks.  We did our best to maintain 6 feet of distance from one another.  I did get more fabric, then launched into making more.

I am taking a break now from mask construction, having overdosed on the entire project.  I just could not do one more after yesterday.  I sent them off Monday morning to family in Phoenix, to KC, to Iowa wishing them 79% ability to block a virus and that they perform efficiently.  In a few days I will start some more, but I won’t make that many at a time again.   Today, for a change of pace, I planted my cold frame, wallowing in the joy of early Spring and the possibilities of my garden.  Then I fixed supper, using the baked potato recipe Steve posted yesterday via YouTube.  They were good.

What have you overdosed on lately? 

39 thoughts on “CONSTRUCTION ZONE”

  1. Your project is wonderful, Jacque. Recipients of your masks will surely be grateful.

    I recently became aware of how useful YouTube can be for anyone attempting a DIY project. YouTube, run by Google, is an internet web site providing a wide range of content. If you want to make masks, go to YouTube and enter a string like “making covid face masks.” You will get pages and pages of videos showing different ways of doing this. Some involve sewing. Some do not. I’m not competent to judge the effectiveness of these masks. Since it is easy to get instructions for many types of mask, you can take a quick look at several videos and choose the one you like.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, Jacque, for joining the Covid-19 warriors. Your masks are beautiful and important in more ways than one.

    My friends Helen and Sarah are cranking out about fifty masks a day. They have supplied friends and neighbors all over the neighborhood with them, and regardless of how effective or ineffective these masks may or may not be, they have become a tangible expression of these two women’s caring for and about our community. Helen and Sarah are both retired nurses, their commitment to caring for others didn’t end with their retirement. In a sense, Covid-19 mask makers all over this country have become the Rosie the Riveters of our time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My friend, Rosie, just broke her sewing machine making masks. She is looking for a used one to buy, if anyone here knows of one. She has been making children’s masks with funny faces on them.

      I am trying not to spend too much time thinking about my emotional response to the situation of medical people without needed supplies.. Helpless rage is the feeling that takes over at times. And that just makes me do nothing at all.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I totally identify with your thoughts on “helpless rage.” Because of how I live, fresh information about the virus crisis pops into view several times an hour. I have to force myself to look another way, especially when it comes to who is responsible for all this suffering and all these deaths. I’m overdosing on NFL game reruns. I need to think of anything but COVID-19.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. My problem with face masks is that my glasses fog up. I have overdosed on cat cuteness since I have been working at home, while trying not to overdose on pinot noir ! I can go back to the office after tomorrow. I seem to have evaded those wiley Minnesota germs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. At Joann Fabrics, my glasses fogged so severely, that I was bumping into things with my cart while shopping for fabric. It seemed to take a long time to clear my glasses so I shop.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cupcakes. Daughter has been baking them every couple of days. We have oodles of cupcakes. current batch is lemon. Overdosing on cupcakes could be bad – mostly because then I would have to find a way to get new pants… which means asking more of our overburdened delivery warriors.

    No mask making here – I feel some guilt about that since I know I can sew. I can make excuses, but mostly I just don’t have it in me. I fear I would just weep at my sewing machine.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Kudos to you Jacque, and all the other mask-makers out there. My wife made a few for us and family, but nothing on a large scale.

    If wearing masks in public becomes “normal,” I can envision big business getting involved in a big way: designer masks, high-end fabric, claims that a mask stops 80% of germs, or 85, or 90 (the old race to the top). And then we’ll get planned obsolescence–don’t wear a mask for more than 2 weeks (a month, three months) before replacing. And then companies will set up subscriptions. The “mask-of-the-month” club. 🙂 Choose your style, fabric, color, pay the $9.99/mo subscription (or pay annually and get one month free!)

    Then Apple or Microsoft or Google or Facebook will get involved and figure out how to either insert written ads onto the fabric or track our number of germs trapped in the fabric or follow our whereabouts and emit a warning signal when we are about to enter a crowded room or building.

    Ain’t America great?

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

      1. LOL, yeah, I guess I do. It’s honed by years of watching the US (and most of the world) slide down that slippery slope of self-destruction.

        HOWEVER, I have unlimited faith in the ability of we as individuals to solve problems and make the world a better place. It’s just that governments and large institutions (corporations, central banks, the 1%), keep throwing up roadblocks in order to protect their humongous piece of the pie (at the expense of the environment and the health and well-being of the rest of us.


        Liked by 1 person

  6. Robin made about a dozen masks, mostly for family, and that about used up the elastic we had on hand— she’s been sewing the earloop style, which are good for going to the store, probably less good for medical settings since there is a fit issue with the earloop ones.

    I’m still immersed in transcribing handscript from mid-nineteenth century Abolitionist letters. It confirms to me, if there was ever any doubt, that I am suited to projects that require a long attention span. I’ve been spending about four hours a day on them and only quit for the day when it’s time to make supper.

    We’re also spending 1 1/2 to 2 hours a day reading stories on Facetime to the grandkids.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. OT: I’ve been looking up data on the virus in Minnesota. I assume there are other sites with other numbers, but the one I found seems authoritative. I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers.

    Current confirmed infected people in MN: 1069
    Current recorded virus deaths in MN: 34
    Anticipated peak: April 22 (two weeks away)

    For other states, the anticipated peak is later. For example, Wisconsin is expected to peak April 27. A few states won’t peak until early May.

    If these numbers are reliable, they tell a relatively happy story for Minnesota. Wisconsin will peak later and already has about three times the totals of infections and deaths. Every death due to this virus is a tragedy, but Minnesota might suffer significantly fewer. I guess that is mainly due to compliance with social distancing directives.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Epidemiologist, Michael Osterholm, has the Governor’s ear. Apparently, his advice is driving the MN response to the pandemic and it is effective. Science. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Relatively good news but the fact that the peak is projected to be two weeks away means that people are still contracting the virus in increasing numbers despite social distancing.


      1. Yes, Bill. That is true for all states (although LA, MI and NY are expected to peak tomorrow). But the numbers for Minnesota are really encouraging. A state with just about the same population is Maryland. They already have 4371 infected and 103 dead. And they peak later. Wisconsin has been hit hard, 2578 infected and 92 deaths.


        1. That’s all true, but given the incubation period, two weeks out means that those people haven’t been infected yet. There’s a kind of inevitability about it, despite precautions, that is dispiriting.


    3. I’m not sure what the April 22 peak date is based on. Was it based on the stay at home order being allowed to expire on April 10? I don’t find a prediction of peak on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.


    4. Watching the state-by-state data feels like watching bizarre reality TV show in which one train wreck is awarded points for killing fewer people than the other train wrecks.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I am in awe that you can make that many masks, Jacque. I’ve made about 20, need to send some to my sister’s crew of 3, and I feel like I should be making lots more, but there are suddenly a lot of other zoom meetings or Facetime (with my mom, soon, for the first time…).

    What overdose? Sweets. Yesterday I stopped at the co-op for a few things, picked up a (cellophane wrapped) cookie, came home and found my little zip-lock with the allotted 8 Cadbury mini-eggs, and then Husband made chocolate chip cookies and I ate three while we watched a movie. This comes to mind.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. OT: My brother today said in 1979’he and some buddies drove to Key West and John Prine was playing in the hotel bar down there. Only one of the guys knew who he was at that point. I’m bummed I wasn’t able to turn on Radio Heartland until 12:30 today and I missed most of Mikes playlist.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Only one of the guys knew who he was at that point. That’s all true, but given the incubation period, two weeks out means that those people haven’t been infected yet. But the numbers for Minnesota are really encouraging. A state with just about the same population as Maryland. I have unlimited faith in the ability of us as individuals to solve problems and make the world a better place.Retaining Walls


  11. I guess that is mainly due to compliance with social distancing directives. That’s all true, but given the incubation period, two weeks out means that those people haven’t been infected yet. There’s a kind of inevitability about it, despite precautions, that is dispiriting.


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