Some levity for mask-makers (and wanna-be mask-makers)

31 Mar

In case you’re wondering if homemade masks are really needed or appreciated, please read this funny piece.

Recently my friend Mary Heveron-Smith posted the following conversation she imagined having with the piece of fabric she was preparing for a homemade mask. Mary, like many others, is working tirelessly to help the cause, making masks for medical personnel. It clearly is a very, well, repetitive task and the mind must wander a bit…

(This is reprinted with her permission.)

“A Conversation” by Mary Heveron-Smith


Me about to cut into fabric…

FABRIC: Could I ask what you’re doing?

ME: I’m making a mask to give to a hospital.


ME: Do I detect some sarcasm here?

FABRIC: Well, you’ve made your share of mistakes…

ME: (starting to cut again): Okay, wise guy…Bringing up history is not the way to have a good relationship.

FABRIC: Seriously, though. Is anyone going to take a homemade mask seriously? Didn’t one of the big hospitals say basically, ‘Home sewists, you can give your machines a rest. We’ve got this.’

ME: You listen to the news?

FABRIC: Hello! You put me and the other fabrics like 20 feet from the TV, and the volume…

ME: Okay, whatever. We’re in that demographic. In an ideal world, everyone who needed an N95-type medical mask would get one. And, with our own Hickey Freeman, gearing up to make medical protection equipment, we should be fine here.

FABRIC: What happened to cooking?

ME: Steve’s on it. Chicken soup yesterday to die for.

FABRIC: So, back to this MASK…

ME: Sew Creative (in Fairport) was asked the other day for 1700 masks for an area regional health network. The requests keep coming in. Medical professionals are people just like me, and they like safety nets.

FABRIC: Okay, I get that. But let’s be honest: when you make anything, your hands are all over the fabric.

ME: Fair question. First, I wash my hands a ton. Second, I’ll drop you off in a bin outside of either Sew Creative in Fairport or The Village Quilt Shoppe in Webster.


ME: In either case, you’ll be laundered meticulously, either through a hospital service or under hospital guidelines. You’ll get a special medical filter placed inside the pocket, plus you’ll have elastic strung through you, unless I make some ties for you.

FABRIC: Will I be famous? Will I get used?

ME: My biggest hope? That this virus will die a fast death, and you’ll just be a cute historical artifact.

FABRIC: You really think I’m cute?

For more information, go to

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I received the follow-up email from Mary:

I wrote this to address some of the skepticism I was hearing about the mask-making project at first. I read about the call for masks, watched the video done by the physician who started this, followed updates by Lisa Swisher of Sew Creative in Fairport, and donated some ready-to-sew mask-making kits to Monique Liberti of Webster Village Quilt Shoppe. I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen and heard.

I knew, from my own sewing projects over the years, something about the passion and professionalism of the sewists here. So I was not totally surprised when Lisa at Sew Creative reported that 1,600 masks were sewn and donated in four days. What blows me away even more is the way that these sewists, while adhering strictly to the standards set out for the masks, are using their creativity to exchange ideas and to get all the details just right. In a mask-makers FB group I started, we’re exchanging information on how to best make the ties that hold the masks on (because elastic is in short supply); which kind of wire to use for the part that must go over the nose; and how to build for comfort and safety.

Mary pointed out that Sew Creative and The Village Quilt Shoppe are not making any money on this project, and are contributing materials and a whole lot of time. We need to continue to support them by purchasing sewing materials for your personal projects.  Check out their websites for more information.

To find out more about this effort and hear from Dr. Nick, who spearheaded the project with his wife, visit

You can also listen to Dr. Nick himself discuss the project in this audio clip from “The Buzz” radio.

* * *

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