Today, I want to share the volunteer effort my niece took on. She’s become a homemade mask making machine! I’m so very proud of her. By telling her story, I’m hoping to motivate others who can also chip in by sewing, or donating supplies and funds.
Many people are helping in ways both large and small. Some, like Mr. Buzz, have donated much-needed blood.
For many of us, doing our part means staying home as much as possible, taking care of each other, and protecting our health so not to become a burden on others.
Because of our age group, that’s mostly what retired hubby and I have been doing for nearly six weeks now. Since we can no longer volunteer, we support our community by making financial contributions to the food bank, and other efforts to help those most adversely impacted by the pandemic.
Through Debbee’s Buzz, I’m trying to communicate a sense of community, to offer a pleasant distraction, and ways to keep productivity occupied. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to, and how you’re doing.
I use affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission that helps to offset website operating costs with no additional cost to you. Your support is appreciated! Disclosure Policy.
Handmade Mask for Heroes
These is my niece Kathleen, with a completed package of 30 handmade masks for nurses in the Charleston, S.C. area. You might remember her from the Hand Painted, Wedding Champagne Flutes I made as a gift last year.
While still working outside the home, she managed to make several hundred masks over several weeks, .
All the materials were provided by a local Joann Fabrics, with curbside pickup. See their website to be part of the 100 million handmade mask goal. Others supported her effort by contributing monetary donations for mask making supplies.
Since elastic was not available, Kathleen used biased tape for most of the handmade masks. As supplies of those also dried up, she switched to using ribbon for ties. Her spouse — who is working remotely from home — is on ironing and packaging duty.
The pattern Kathleen used is designed to be a washable covering to fit over a N95 mask. Since there are short supplies of protective gear for those on the frontlines, the goal is to extend the longevity of a medical grade mask.
A piece of florist wire is inserted along the top of each handmade mask for a better, tighter fit over the nose. Before knotting the ties, wearers just mold the wire over the bridge of the nose. That helps to seal the handmade mask around the face.
Isn’t that clever?
Each handmade mask is accompanied with care and use instructions. They are not medical grade.
Good Kind of Contagious
Sistah B, her husband and my elderly mother started a branch operation which took over the entire dining room — and then some! They work in an assembly line, with my brother-in-law cutting the fabric, Sistah pinning and sewing, and mom ironing. Go Team!
They’ve made about 50 so far, with my sister sometimes working until midnight. My millennial niece dropped off the supplies at their door. She’d return to pick up completed batches of the handmade masks.
Right now, the operation is suspended for lack of materials. Especially since last night a stay at home order went into effect.
My younger son has volunteered to work at either a popup hospital or testing center on weekends in Philadelphia. I’m extremely proud of him, but anxious he’ll have adequate protective gear. So, I’m very appreciative Sistah B sent masks to both my boys. Thank you!
Make or Buy Your Own
Now that the CDC is recommending we all wear masks when out in public. So you might want to consider making a handmade mask for family and friends.
If you’d like to make a handmade mask, check online for oodles of different patterns. Or think about purchasing them online from the Etsy marketplace to support small businesses. You might also find someone local.
Above all, please wear some kind of face covering — even if only a scarf or bandana —when you are in public!
Update 2022: The CDC now recommends you wear the highest grade mask you can tolerate, preferably an N95.
Remembering Furry Friends
As I mentioned in, DIY Arts & Craft Project Ideas, I’ve been online learning and practicing acrylic painting.
I recently finished my first painting of my Sweet Scottie Dog. Although I may go back and add more texturing, I’ve decided to set it aside and start on something new.
How do you think it turned out?
After losing Fibber at Christmas time, I was doing okay until recently. It’s a painful reminder when I see others walking their dogs. The worst part is not having Fibber to snuggle with during this stressful time.
I also really miss volunteering at Animal Friends, a no kill shelter where I work on the adoption floor.
Although now closed to the general public, they are still caring for dogs, cats and rabbits. That includes several essential programs on a limited basis. Admissions and adoptions continue, but are by appointment.
If you aren’t in a position to adopt a pet, consider fostering or making a donation to your local shelter.
Mr. Buzz and I can’t point to any major accomplishments these past six weeks, but we did finish our second large puzzle.
This one caused us both to crave chocolate, long after what little candy we had was gone. We settled for making a batch of brownies, lol!
Our favorite was a colorful, 1000-piece puzzle of a coral reef. Both puzzles were purchased at our local Hallmark two days before the governor shut-down non-essential businesses in our county.
We got a little competitive on what was suppose to be “play” time. Neither was allowed to work on a puzzle without the other. And there was some complaining about staying within one’s own section or “stealing” pieces…
After the weather improved, we took about five days off from doing puzzles. It was wonderful to see the large Bradford Pear bloom in the backyard. It fills the view out the back windows.
Yearning for Fresh Air & Exercise
Hubby continues to his running routine. On warm, sunny days we take long walks or hikes. Sometimes it’s just around the neighborhood.
Other times, we take a short drive to our large county park. There, we tend to stick to wooded hikes, where we see few people. Although, we were able to view the small herd of buffalo that live in the park. There were several new calves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone with me to take pictures.
We’ve also gone several times to do the 1.35 mile loop trail around Gilfillan Farm in the adjoining suburb. Dating back to 1849, the remaining 15 acres of farmland and buildings was donated to the local historical society. Although not much is blooming or greening up yet, it’s a lovely walk. Both times we’ve been there, I think we only saw six to eight people in total.
Since the rain returned, I pulled out three more puzzles from the basement Ski Lodge Theme Family Game Room. All look quite difficult. We’re hoping the force is with us as we just started a very dark Star Wars puzzle!
Navigating a New World
Because of their industries and positions, both my sons are working crazy, long hours. And, they are navigating living in urban hot spots — Manhattan and Philadelphia.
Both run outdoors, weather-permitting — away from others as much as possible in crowded urban areas. Although Central Park is only a few blocks away, it now has a virus field hospital. So, my eldest son and his girlfriend are running over bridges and along either the Hudson or East River.
He also has a Peloton bike in his apartment as an option. And, both sons setup mini-gyms with weights and other equipment at home.
My youngest son lives in an awesome vintage building apartment, but it lacks a balcony. Sometimes you have to get fresh air and stretch your legs.
Grocery Shopping Challenges
Shopping for groceries and necessities is a challenge. And, even though they aren’t riding subways anymore, stores and streets can be crowded with people. Sometimes, it takes visiting two to three stores to get what is needed. And then you’re riding in an elevator with bags of food.
We had our first family Zoom visit last Saturday. Youngest son set it up and was sporting a new beard (I like it!). My eldest kept putting up funny background pictures behind he and his girlfriend. Later that day, V texted us before and after photos of a meal they were making.
When I first saw this picture I thought, “this is all they could find at the market?!” But no, the octopus was part of a Vietnamese inspired meal.
Although the finished octopus does look delicious, I don’t know if this is for me. But, V’s made-from-scratch dumplings had my mouth watering.
I’ve had some misfires using online grocery shopping and delivery. After repeatedly trying to find open slots for either order delivery or curbside pickup from my regular market and Whole Foods, I’ve resorted to Instacart. The monthly subscription fee of $10 for orders over $35 is a good deal — just please be sure to tip generously!
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the service. It’s just hard to get used to each store’s setup and selections. So far, I’ve used Instacart for Aldi, Fresh Market, and another local grocery chain. There’s been just a few minor hiccups.
I was supposed to get a single onion or small bag of onions. Instead, I got the world’s biggest onion — a two-pounder as big as a cantaloupe! Have you ever seen such a humongous onion lol?
How are you doing your grocery shopping? Able to find what you need? Tips to share?
Hoping you are all well. Whatever you do, please stay home as much as possible, take care of yourselves, and wear a mask out in public.
Spread the Word!
I regularly participate in: Metamorphous Monday, Turn About Tuesday, Centerpiece Wednesday, Whimsical Home Projects, In Link Party, Share Your Style, Tablescape Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Crafty Creators, Fabulous Friday, Saturday Sparks, Happiness is Homemade, and Love Your Creativity.
Subscribe to the Buzz
Receive an email notice on Wednesdays or Saturday mornings; whenever Debbee publishes a new post --- about twice monthly.
Your niece’s and family’s project is great. I found a no-sew mask pattern made with a hankie and 2 hair elastics. Wore it long enough to buy milk and eggs today–stuffy! Came home and put it in the laundry! We are lucky in Maine that we have several businesses (LLBean, New Balance, and another) than can turn out 50,000 a day, another 5,000 a shift!!! That put’s my half-arsed sewing skills to shame! Another version of mask I saw was using a pipe cleaner for the wire–I liked the idea that the wire would be slightly padded. I wear a bipap mask at night and it is noon some days before those marks disappear! Love that onion–must be for a blooming onion! I would dice it and freeze it (onions and peppers don’t need to be blanched!). Your painting of Fibber is awesome! I envy anyone with artistic talent; I am crafty but not artistic at all. Stay safe! Happy Easter!
Right now I made a something similar (but with a bandana) for hubby and I. We haven’t had to use them yet. Wanted to sew ones like my niece and sister made, but don’t have the materials. I do have pipe cleaners — a good substitution idea for the wire. Thanks for the tip Kathy! I got a laugh out of your blooming onion comment! Dreading all the tears of chopping it up to freeze, but that’s what I’m gonna do. Appreciate the compliment on my painting. Trying to decide what animal to paint next. Take care Kathy. It was good hearing from you.
Good job ! A local doctor has a radio program on Sundays and he said If all else fails, you can make masks from coffee filters. I wondered what to do about the nose wire. And I like the idea of hair elastics for the ears.
Do you mean Instacart for grocery delivery or Instagram ? I used Instacart once when my car wasn’t working and paid three times what is would have been in the store. Then they sent a message that in a few days they were deducting an annual fee of $149 ! Do you have Shipt ? They seemed less expensive.
Happy Easter and stay well.
Hi Myrna. I just lay the wire in the upper folds of the bandana. Kathy suggested using pipe cleaner instead. I did mean Instacart and made the correction. Sorry for the confusion. I didn’t notice higher pricing for products at all, and anything on sale at the store was reflected. For example, rack of lamb saved me $5 from Fresh Market. The fee added for each order of around $65-$90 was under $2. I did add 15% to $20 tip each time. Not sure if have Shipt, but I will stick to Instacart because other than the humongous onion, I really like how the app works and ability to chat (text) with the people so can make substitutions, etc. One gal noticed the store had paper towels and napkins I hadn’t ordered and grabbed them for me.
Hi, Debbee, your Scottie painting is terrific! Kudos to your family for helping out with this COVID-19 pandemic. Same at our house–figured, with all this time on my hands, I could make masks for our local hospitals. Thanks for the Instacart info. It’s been crazy trying to get food and supplies online–every time we can actually get something, we want to do a cheer lol! I am so disheartened to still see inconsiderate people standing in groups and children still outside touching each other while playing. I really believe that some folks have the idea they’re invincible to this virus! Wishing you a lovely Easter. Hugs!
Thanks for the compliment Bobbi. I enjoyed painting and will probably try another family pet next! I think it’s great you are also mask making for others! Have to say, people around here seem to be taking social distancing serious. Until we run out of TP and have to go scavenge in a few weeks, I’m going to continue using online ordering. Yesterday, our governor cancelled the rest of the school year. Made me really sad. A healthy pleasant Easter to you too! Hubby and I will watch Mass online, have quiche and fruit smoothies for lunch, and lamb for dinner. The highlight of the day will be several Zoom meetings with family.
A much needed post my friend! Thank you for joining us over at our new link party Charming Homes & Gardens??♀️
I think it helps to know others are experiencing many of the same feelings and issues. Good to share ideas on how to navigate the new landscape, keep busy, and support each other. Of course, a happy distraction is especially welcome!
I have the pleasure of working with those on the front lines. We are extremely thankful for the volunteers making masks and face shields for us.
I love Fibber’s beautiful face.
Thank you, for all you do! During normal times, I know how hard you worked, with long hours. I think of you everyday. Please be safe and well. Sending you and R both virtual hugs!
Can’t believe how hard it is getting over the loss of Fibber. As much as I loved him, I underestimated how much his companionship was part of my everyday.
These are so great! Thanks for doing this!
Thanks Kristin, but I’m just spreading the word, it’s my niece, sister and mom who actually are doing the work. I can sew, but am awaiting an Amazon order for supplies.
Hello Debbee! Thank you for sharing your post at Share Your Style. I am happy to feature it this week! I am all for making masks and I need to make my own. I have fabric, but just a little elastic so I couldn’t make many masks to share, but I am glad that others can!!! Your son is funny with that octopus!! My son likes octopus. I haven’t ever tried it but Peter said it is delicious!! Glad both of your sons and the one’s girlfriend are doing well, and you and your husband, too. <3
Best wishes to your sister and mom and brother-in-law (?) making more masks, Hugs, Barb 🙂
Thanks so much for the feature Barb, and getting the word out! I just finished making my first 12, and ordered two more kits from a local sewing shop. They sourced elastic from a bathing suit company. Gloria Horn rallied her staff to put together kits for $15 to cover costs. All told, they and her customers have responded by making well over 4,000 masks for medical workers, retirement homes, and the entire Pittsburgh and our community’s police departments! Now, volunteers are purchasing kits and making masks for firefighters.
My son says they grilled the octopus to create the delicious looking food. Oh and yes, my brother-in-law helped too.
As you know, I’ve been making masks, too. It’s so nice to see so many helping wherever they can.
I’m so glad to be joining you in this effort. Got a late start until I was able to source supplies (including elastic) from a local sewing shop that sells kits for only $15 to make 12.
So much great info and inspiration Debbee! I love everything your family’s doing to help. ❤️ Take care over there and thanks!
I think most people are trying to help out, even if it just means respecting stay at home orders and social distancing. Last week I was fortunate to be able source supplies, including elastic, to make 12 masks myself. Now I have two more kits to get started on too.
Such an interesting post Debbee! I feel like I got to know you so much better! I am so impressed with your son’s octopus meal! Thanks for sharing all the good at Charming Homes and Gardens!
Thanks Kristin, it’s nice getting to know fellow bloggers even if our friendships are just in virtual space.
What a great update! The mask making efforts are above and beyond:) We’ve had a few bumps with shopping as well but we take it all in stride — we order for pick-up from Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club and it’s worked out okay overall. Hard to stay home but we’re doing it (with three kids 20,18, and 16 all doing distance learning) …. not a time we will ever forget. Stay safe! And thanks for sharing with Vintage Charm Party. xo Kathleen
That’s gotta be tough with three teens, near adults all at home trying to get an education. It’s gotta be extra tough Kathleen. You’ve got more than a full plate. I’m about done with Instacart — everytime I choose fast and flexible I get a very late in the day time after dinner when the store shelves are emptied. And, the last two were men who I don’t think knew anything about cooking or grocery shopping. The substitutions they make, especially with meat are really frustrating — like that 2 pound onion lol!
Debbee, I know others in the mask making effort. I no longer have a machine to help, but I donated a huge bag of fabric left over from my quilting days, and two sets of king size linen sheets. I’m hopeful the linen can be used in layers to make masks. Not sure. One of our neighbors made masks for us. They use two layers of cotton fabric with an inner filter fabric.
Like you, we are staying home, supporting our community as we can. Keep posting your buzz. I always enjoy! Look for a Bee Brave post from me soon!
Sarah, I’m sure the fabric was much appreciated. What a good idea about using sheets! Can’t imagine why that wouldn’t work. The pattern my niece and I are using doesn’t call for a filter. Wonder what they use? My local supply source is having us use flannel for the layer against the face. It’s designed to be easier against the skin, important for first responders and medical workers. Heavier to breath through though.
I appreciate you being supportive of my blog Sarah. Looking forward to your post. Wish we lived close enough to visit once social distancing was over. We have a lot of common interests.
Hi Debbie, your painting of your beloved Fibber is darling. I know how much you miss him. Part of your heart is missing. Kudos to You and your niece for making all of those masks. We ventured out to Costco yesterday with the typical masks you get at hardware stores. I can’t imagine someone putting a huge onion in your order. We have also ordered online with pretty good luck. Hugs
Thanks so much Linda. I feel like the painting captures one side of his personality (when he was in trouble or didn’t get the playtime he wanted lol). Even 5 months later, I still miss him everyday. But, last week I began putting feelers out for a Scottie puppy and put my name on two waiting lists. I know it must be tough for you having just lost Chloe. So, so sorry. Glad you have her son though. I haven’t been doing many new posts as making masks is so time-consuming. But, it’s worth it to provide some level of protection to family and friends.