Ever since the the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, the sewing community have been keen to get involved with making masks, scrubs or anything that can help. Its very natural while we watch the devastation to want to do something positive and productive to help.
Like other sewing businesses I have been contacted many times with requests for patterns, fabric donations advise on what fabric to use for each item, all in a bid to do something to help the current situation. Unfortunately I am no expert in the field of medical garb and have felt a bit reluctant to get involved in most requests for fear of only adding problems with a wrong specification.
A good friend of mine was the first to inquire about headbands that masks could be attached to and whether there was a possibility for a very easy tutorial that would not involve a pattern only measurements. Two local hospitals have openly requested these. I then had a conversation with a nurse who was not working due to protecting her own vulnerable health. She explained that the nursing staff are now being asked to wear masks all day instead of only when treating a patient. The problem is that the masks become uncomfortable after a few hours and with many doing 12 hour shifts any light relief is welcome.
With speed being the essence with everything to do with Covid 19 I came up with the following design using two rectangles. According to the information I have been given it is important that the elastic is covered. Before getting involved with making these I would recommend contacting the hospital you would like to help. Check if these headbands are welcome and if they have any specific criteria.
The main headband is a rectangle measuring 17cm x 44cm (6.5″ x 17″)
elastic cover rectangle 20cm x 8cm (8″x 3″)
Cotton fabric – the fabric needs to be washable at 60 degrees. I used quilters weight craft cotton. I would recommend pre-washing your fabric if you are using new fabric at 60 degrees. You could also make these from old duvet covers or other cotton items.
12cm x 2.5cm (4.5″ x 1″) elastic
2 buttons – I think 2-2.5cm (3/4″ -1″) seems a good size to ensure the mask is safely attached and won’t pop off.
How to make:
Turn and press both short ends of the large rectangle approximately 1cm (3/8″)
With right sides together pin and stitch the long edges on each rectangle using a 1cm (3/8″) seam allowance. On the headband rectangle you can sew over the turning – holding that in place.
Turn both rectangles through to the right side. My favorite tool is a loop turner, I have a technique video on YouTube for this. You could also use a safety pin or any other method you prefer. Press both pieces flat.
Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and insert into the end of the elastic cover.
When the elastic sits flush with the end of the channel stitch it across to prevent it being pulled out of the other end.
Pull the safety pin through and un-clip it. Stitch the remaining edge so the elastic is secured both ends.
Open one end of the headband, using the fold line and the seam as a guide make a pleat so that the width is the same size as the covered elastic. Place a pin to hold this position. Flip to the back and make a pleat in the same way on the other side.
Insert the covered elastic inside the headband and stitch through all layers. Make sure the elastic is pushed inside by at least 1cm (3/8″) It is important that this seam is strong as it will take the pressure of the snug fit. Repeat this process on the other side.
To complete sew a button 4.5cm (1 3/4″) above the seam where the elastic is inserted on both sides. I reinforced my buttons by sewing them a few more times than usual. They will have the elastic rubbing at them for long hours. It is also important to have a shank so the buttons have a bit of natural movement and don’t put to much pressure on the thread. You can do this by wrapping the thread around the base of the button once you have sewn a few stitches. Then sew a few more to hold the button strongly.
I made the mask to test and illustrate the use of the headband. Lets hope we can protect our amazing NHS front line workers and give them a bit of comfort in these testing times.