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Home sewers creating COVID-19 vented, Olson protective masks (Videos)

Written By | Mar 31, 2020
home sewers, protective masks, coronavirus, covid-19, vented masks, olson masks

https://youtu.be/ZnVk12sFRkY Screen shot via YouTube/UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids

SAN DIEGO: The increasing need for protective masks has brought about a renewed American spirit. The Quilting Bee is reminiscent of an earlier America when families and friends would meet socially.  All while entertaining themselves with a good old fashioned quilting party. Unfortunately, we cannot gather to make masks, but we can gather those with skills – one person cuts and pins, another sews while maintaining social distancing and practicing good health habits.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Quilting frames made from sturdy wood would dominate many a kitchen or parlor as if a lady-in-waiting sitting ready to be courted by fabric, thread, and artistry. Skilled quilters, predominantly women though men would participate, gather in making formidable, usable creations while bringing beginners into their fold.

It became a right of passage for many young women preparing themselves for marriage, motherhood and setting up serviceable households. Quilting, therefore, was borne out of necessity to create physical warmth for sofas, chairs, beds and cold colonial peoples while creating a sense of community in the process.


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This tradition conditioned predominantly until the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. We became dependent on machinery in industrial settings to meet our needs. Both in the home and in our medical community.




There are those that sew for pleasure and they are stepping up to help.  The masks they make are being used as a second layer defense.  Being worn over the commercial masks they add a layer of protection not only for the wearer but for the decreasing supplies as well.

Being washable, the second layer helps protect the manufactured masks, extending their useability.

Modern-day warfare

Today we are in the age of unprecedented diseases. We also live under the threat of biological warfare. Our global community has been unprepared to effectively cope and survive either a natural, or man-made, biological attack.

The human body is not genetically programmed to fight COVID-19, or coronavirus. Therefore it is attacking millions around the world.

Surgical masks shortage

In the US, there are severe shortages of surgical masks, respirators and other supplies necessary to protect frontline health care workers who are endeavoring to properly care for those who are stricken with Corona.

Many have become infected because the virility has been progressively recognized and not immediately understood. Both within the general population and those caring for others.

Protective protocols and procedures continue to be revised and improved as treatments for those stricken continue to progress, leaving many health care workers improperly protected.

Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures

It is safe to say that with such overriding shortages of protective ware, creativity and
innovation becomes pronounced as the need to survive the treatment of mass extinction motivates the human spirit.

The CDC has loosened its recommendations for the proper use of masks and what types are appropriate both in a healthcare setting and out.

In fact, though their efficacy is not clearly known, the CDC “has stated that fabric masks are an appropriate crisis response when other supplies have been exhausted.” True claim: CDC states fabric masks are crisis response when other supplies exhausted.



“In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP (healthcare personnel) might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.” – CDC

There are two types of masks, the vented and the Olson mask.

Vented Mask

Olson Mask

Concerned seamstresses across America are volunteering their time to help. A modern-day revival of the spirit of American grit and ingenuity. They are sharing their how-to videos.  Some being more complicated than others, allowing for pockets to change filters and adding pipe cleaners to create nose crimps.

Sewing surgical masks, the Olson Masks are designed to adapt to N95 respirators, seamstresses all over the country are finding guidelines. Learning to fashion the fabrics and ties to create protective masks the old fashioned way – by hand.

Following recommended guidelines, videos and information from health care institutions and other seamstresses, mask sewers are becoming more commonplace, especially for those displaced or furloughed from their regular jobs and careers.  (Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks)

home sewers, protective masks, coronavirus, covid-19, vented masks, olson masks

https://www.minneapolis.afrc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2067491/coronavirus-what-providers-patients-should-know/

Stay at Home

Stay at Home State and Federal protocols are creating new energy of volunteerism. Changing the frustration of isolation to take action in a most creative way.

Alternative face masks such as these are particularly helpful when regular supplies have become exhausted. The home-sewn masks are can be put through the laundry to prevent the spread of Corona. Like washing your hands, the virus is easily eradicated by laundry detergent and hot water.

Of course, wearing disposable gloves is part of an overall protocol. As is the profuse washing of hands in soap and water.

Hand sanitizer is good to have handy and may be used frequently, before and after the application of disposable gloves.

America is at war with a horrific virus which appears immune to more common forms of treatment

With all the fear and uncertainty, we rise as people unknowingly calling upon the spirit of our ancestors to guide us towards survival and to move forward into the great unknown.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Lead Image: https://youtu.be/ZnVk12sFRkY
Screenshot via YouTube/UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids

Laurie Edwards-Tate

Since 1984, Laurie Edwards-Tate has served as President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare, a non-medical Home Care Aide Organization, serving seniors, disabled, infirm and children. Laurie is Board of Director 2018 (elected), Palomar Health; Executive Board Member; Chair Board Human Resources Committee; Member of Audits & Compliance Committee; Community Relations Committee.