HOW TO HELP: New call for mask-sewing volunteers

Though Providence‘s campaign has been called off, here’s a new local call for help:

Hello West Seattle Friends,

As you know, the request for homemade masks from Providence has been fulfilled. If you are looking for other mask-making opportunities, we have a beloved local grocery store who can use 150 masks, especially as they have set aside special hours for at-risk folks. Employees are not required to wear them but many have expressed an interest. While these are not medical-grade masks, they are the two-ply, 100% cotton model being used by Deaconess Hospital in Indiana that created this instructional video. According to the NIH “homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection.” We are also waiting to hear from Harborview to see if they too would like some of the homemade masks. If so, we will put out another call for volunteers. Please email

Thank you. Stay safe. Stay Hopeful.

Other ways you can help are in our longrunning “How to Help” WSB coverage archive.

17 Replies to "HOW TO HELP: New call for mask-sewing volunteers"

  • bolo March 22, 2020 (1:57 pm)

    Thought I heard a report that some hospitals are having their staff wear the “homemade” mask over their “real” mask to prolong the useable life of their “real” one, thus reducing the demand on this scarce resource.

    • LyndaB March 22, 2020 (8:00 pm)

      I read online a couple in Virginia was 3D printing plastic guards to cover real masks so they last longer.

      My friend at work is making masks that are adjustable and has a metal piece so it can fit against the nose better. It looked so cool. I wish I had taken a picture. You could add put in an extra layer like tissue in between.

    • Mask clarification March 23, 2020 (9:15 pm)

      Providence medical posted mask update on providence .org that they now have factory-made official masks.  But grocery workers and others I’m sure could make use of homemade ones.  Thanks to everyone who sewed masks!!! We’ll check directly  hospital & Dept. Of Health websites to see updates on ever changing needs.  

  • Healthcare providers need the REAL THING March 22, 2020 (3:47 pm)

    Be very cautious with cotton masks. They do not protect enough from these droplets and can give a false sense of security. A water impenetrable material is required to keep you safe. You are better off being vigilant with hand washing and not touching your face. If you are the one who is ill, a cotton mask can help keep you from spewing germs about, but ANY touching of that mask results in spreading germs onto the surfaces you touch.

  • BetterTogether206 March 22, 2020 (3:52 pm)

    Yes Bolo I heard the same thing too. At the Indiana hospital all masks are being saved for medical personnel and non-essential staff like administrative staff (just a technical term we know all healthcare workers are essential) are wearing as a barrier between themselves and others, with the understanding that they are not as effective as medical surgical masks. As the NIH notes in this study, “Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection.” Sadly this is the option most are left with. info here too:

  • TWST March 22, 2020 (4:21 pm)

    This is so awesome.  Seeing efforts like this is really heartening, thank you.

  • Joan March 22, 2020 (4:38 pm)

    I can imagine there would be a run on elastic! I would be willing to make several of these. I’ve got loads of leftover fabric, if they truly would be useful.

  • Mel March 22, 2020 (4:49 pm)

    An email of anonymous origin, claiming to support a “beloved local grocery store”? (emoji of rubbing chin)

    • WSB March 22, 2020 (7:11 pm)

      We have reason to believe it’s a credible source or else I wouldn’t have published it. We’ve been punked a grand total of twice in 13 years so I have a pretty good filter.

  • Sassy March 22, 2020 (5:42 pm)

    There are patterns on the web that have a pocket on the masks into which a filter, or waterproof barrier, can be inserted. A furnace filter (1900 or higher) will evidently equal an N95. Not 100% confirmed but microwaving cotton masks can sterilized them.  Hot wash with bleach, too.

    • Ohio March 24, 2020 (8:00 pm)

      Trying to do some research for our own efforts, Sassy. Do you have any links or credible sources for using a furnace filter? I can’t find any but thought the same and bought filters in hopes we could utilize them in this manner. Thank you,Ohio

  • AMD March 22, 2020 (5:55 pm)

    The quick and cheap cloth mask is a decent second choice for a variety of scenarios.  If you have the time and materials, it really doesn’t hurt to have a few of these on hand for members of your household/community, even if there are better options for specific situations.  Remember that your reusable cloth mask will be handy again come fire season if we get another bad one like 2017 and it’s raining ash.  Also, if we’re being told to assume we HAVE the virus already and can spread it, using a mask that will help keep OUR droplets to ourselves if we need to go out in public is not a bad thing.  Thank you to those who are clarifying what the limitations of cloth masks are and what the standard is for health settings.  And don’t be discouraged, those of you who want to make masks to help.  They’re not useless.

  • CAM March 22, 2020 (6:44 pm)

    I understand offering the masks to healthcare providers but are grocery stores or other retail outlets going to allow their employees to wear the masks? They don’t prevent transmission of the illness and are only recommended for use if you are experiencing symptoms (again, unless you are a healthcare provider). If I walked in somewhere to get food and all the staff were wearing masks I’d probably leave. 

    • J March 22, 2020 (9:16 pm)

      This virus is spread by asymptotic and pre-symptomatic people as well, so waiting for symptoms is unnecessarily risky. Leave if you like. It would be best if we were all wearing some sort of mask when out of the house where other people are. A scarf or bandana is now recommend by the CDC as a last resort.

      • CAM March 22, 2020 (11:09 pm)

        From the CDCs website today ( There is also concern that people who are not healthcare providers do not know how to wear masks. They will touch their face and the mask frequently to adjust it and end up depositing more virus and bacteria on their face:

  • BetterTogether March 22, 2020 (9:46 pm)

    Thanks to everyone who has responded. We have enough volunteers for this project. Your enthusiasm is really inspiring and we will let you know if another opportunity comes up. This is indeed for a grocery store who hosts a special time for elderly and other at-risk community members and some of their employees wanted the option of wearing masks. We are not naming the store as we do not speak for them or their employees. We are simply volunteers supporting front-line workers who can make a well-informed choice for themselves.  Much respect to grocery clerks and others showing up to work every day to keep this critical resource running for all of us. 

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