A Call for Home-Sewn Masks

If you have a sewing machine, some time on your hands, and a stash of fabric, why not sew face masks and donate them where they are urgently needed.

Many of us are wearing masks in public places and need to wear them at our workplace. At Vienna’s General Hospital (AKH) and the Medical University of Vienna (MedUni Wien), all staff, whether or not they are interacting with patients, must wear masks, which leads to shortages in the supply of masks. 

Unlike the high level of protection masks required for healthcare personnel working with patients, most of us can get away with reusable fabric masks that are fast and easy to sew. If you have a sewing machine, some time on your hands, and a stash of fabric, why not sew face masks and donate them where they are urgently needed. 

Tutorials on how to make masks are freely accesible

Getting started is simple. Many DIY mask patterns and YouTube video tutorials are freely accessible on the internet. The key features of a good mask are that it fits securely over the nose and mouth, is secured with ties around the head or loops around the ears, and sewn with more than one layer of breathable, washable cotton fabric. It is best to use high-quality, high-thread-count cotton, like quilting or thick batik fabric, or mixed fabric 2-layer masks with an outer layer of cotton and an inner layer of flannel. 

The supplies you have on hand may influence your choice of pattern. Some patterns require elastic band, elastic cord or fabric ties. The reason for wearing fabric masks for grocery shopping, for the workplace or other public places is to protect others. Therefore, it is not necessary to add filters to the masks, but if you would like to add a pocket to use a filter, here is an easy pattern to follow:

Lastly, for people wearing masks all day, this is a pattern for a headband face mask holder to avoid irritation from ear loops:

If you would like to help during this pandemic, please donate your home-sewn products for a good cause. To reduce the costs of sending masks in the mail and the work of opening the packages, send a collection of 20 or more pieces. Place them in an envelope or box to your local hospital or the AKH/MedUni Wien address below. Please enclose a note with your name and address or email address. 

Medizinische Universität Wien
Kommunikation und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Spitalgasse 23
1090 Wien

(Foto: Pexels/cottonbro)

Michelle Epstein
Michelle Epstein is a medical doctor graduated from the University of Alberta in Canada, who has specialised in Internal Medicine at the University of British Columbia and Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Yale University. Since 2004, she has been a Lab Leader at the Medical University of Vienna’s Division of Immunology.

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