Frequently asked questions
Can I buy or sell face masks here?
We do not sell masks. All of our masks constitute donations from Makana Project volunteer makers and/or community donors.
I have already made masks, but didn’t use one of your patterns; can I still donate them?
Absolutely! Some organizations or invididuals are not particular with regard to mask style or pattern, so we can find a grateful recipient for your creations. However, when you donate masks, we ask that you let us know which pattern you used and how many total masks you are donating. Additionally, it is helpful for us to know the fabric content, whether the mask has a filter pocket or nose wire, and whether any of the elastic contains latex.
Where do I begin?
If you sew, we suggest that you consult he 'Make' page to explore our patterns and procedures. Information about fabric and supplies can be found on this page or in the individual tutorials.
If you are interested in helping but do not sew, there are opportunities for drivers, outreach team members, translators, organizers, fabric preparation assistants, and accessory crafters as well. Click on 'Volunteer' to get involved!
What will you do with supply donations that cannot be used to make masks or are no longer necessary when this is over?
When they are no longer needed for making masks, we donate our supplies to Montgomery County Public Schools for use in arts and crafts programs. We have already donated fabric and supplies the costume shops and art programs of several area high schools and as part of our Zero Waste Initiative, any resources in appropriate for school use are donated elsewhere. For example, heavily used fabric has been donated to a local pet rescue. If you are an educator looking for specific arts and crafts supplies, please let us know!
Who can request a mask?
Anyone! We provide masks to individuals, organizations and businesses. Priority will go to first responders and essential workers, but our aim is to provide free handcrafted protective equipment to the public.
What safety guidelines are there for children wearing face masks?
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than two years of age because they might struggle to signal if they were having trouble breathing and would be unable to remove the mask by themselves. If an older child has physical or mental delays that would make it difficult to signal difficulty breathing or remove the mask themselves, consult their healthcare provider before putting a mask on them.
Most children over 2 years of age should be fine wearing a cloth mask, though it may take some getting used to. Practice for short periods of time in a setting where social distancing is easy to maintain. Remind them to try not to touch their face or fiddle with the mask.
We try to make all our masks for younger children with ear loops to avoid strangulation hazards. If a child has a mask with ties, remind them that it is not a toy and do not leave them unattended with their mask.
Do I still need to stay 6 feet away from others?
Yes! Masks DO NOT replace the need for social distancing. Masks are an additional precaution for situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain. But the best safety measures are still social distancing and frequent handwashing.
Do I need to wear a mask if I’m not sick?
Yes, experts believe up to 50% of transmission occurs from asymptomatic or presymptomatic carriers of the virus. Even if you feel fine, you could pass the virus to someone else.
What kind of fabric is best?
We suggest high quality quilter’s cotton with a high thread count. Ideally, it should be tightly woven 100% cotton, but fabric with at least 60% cotton can be used. If you are unsure of the weave, you can use the light test. Hold the fabric up to the light, if you can see light coming through gaps, the weave is not tight enough.
How many layers of fabric should I use?
Two or three layers work well. More than three becomes difficult to breathe through.
Can I use t-shirts or other knit materials?
T-shirts and knits can be turned into t-shirt yarn for ties, but we do not recommend making masks from knit fabric because the weave is not tight enough to provide ideal filtration.
What about cotton/poly blend?
You can use fabric if it is at least 60% cotton. But it will not breathe as well as 100% cotton, so it will be hotter and less comfortable for the wearer.
Should I prewash fabric?
Yes, always prewash your fabric on warm/hot and dry on hot to preshrink the fabric.
Should I sew interfacing into my mask?
No. Interfacing can break down after many washes, melt in an autoclave, or contain glues that are not safe to breathe through. While interfacing can be a filter material, we want all filters to be removable, so interfacing should not be sewn in.
I am a beginner. Can I still make masks?
Yes! Masks are a great beginner project! They are easy and quick to sew once you get the hang of it. We suggest you start with the deaconess pattern. Contact us if you have any questions or need any additional help getting started.
What is a fabric tie?
A tie made out of fabric that ties behind the head or neck. It can be sewn into the corners or pass through a channel on the side of the mask.
What are the pros and cons of elastic?
Elastic is quick to put in and can make convenient ear loops. But it often contains latex which can cause allergic reactions and can be uncomfortable on the ears if worn for long periods of time.
What is bias tape?
Bias tape is a strip of fabric cut along the bias and folded in on itself to hide the raw edges. It can be used for finishing edges and creating ties. Traditionally bias tape is cut along the bias to give it stretch, but for our purposes in mask making this stretch is not important so strips cut from selvage to selvage can be used. Often bias tape is purchased in packages, but it can be made at home with just an iron or with the help of a bias tape maker. We have 3D printed bias tape makers that you can pick up with your supplies.
Can I repurpose/upcycle?
Yes, for most requests. Most hospitals require new fabric, but most other requests accept used fabric. Just make sure your cotton fabric is clean and free from holes, stains, or other damage. Some great options for upcycling are bed sheets, pillow cases, and t-shirts to make ties.
Should I use elastic or ties?
Children’s masks must be made with ear loops of either elastic or something stretchy like t-shirt yarn.
For adult masks, either is fine, unless specifically specified in on the request. If you use elastic, please note whether or not it contains latex, as it is a common allergen. Rubber bands are not recommended.
Here are some suggestions for materials to use to make ties:
- Bias tape (we also have some generously donated 3D printed bias tape makers available for volunteers)
- T-shirt yarn https://youtu.be/vOG08W0A5Ow
- Grosgrain ribbon
- Shoe laces
- Hair ties
- Crocheted chains of yarn
- Twill tape
- Fleece strips
Make sure to secure the ends of your ties to avoid fraying.
Should I include a nose wire?
You are not required to include wire unless specifically mentioned on the request. If you do not have wire, you may simply leave it out or include a space for the recipient to include a wire if they choose to add it.
All nose wires must be removable for safe washing. Washing can cause wire to rust or poke through the fabric making holes in the mask, so it is better to remove wire before laundering.
We have a lot of supplies to use for nose wires, including chenille stem, bell wire, twist ties, pieces cut from aluminum take-out trays, and others. Make sure that any sharp end won’t poke through. You may need to file ends or coat wire in tape to blunt the ends.
Should I include a filter material?
You are not expected to include any filter material. It is better for users to be able to choose a filter material for themselves so that they know what they are putting up against their faces.
Which pattern should I use?
Refer to the Make section of this website for suggested patterns. Different facilities have different requests. Follow request guidelines if listed.
Am I required to sterilize/wash my masks before delivering to a drop?
Not under normal circumstances because we instruct recipients to wash before first use. However, if you have pets or smoke in your sewing area, it would be best if you washed your masks before delivery to reduce the chances of allergic reaction/lingering odors.
How can I stop glasses from fogging over my mask?
A nose wire can help reduce the moisture escaping up the top of the mask. You may additionally try rubbing a very thin layer of dish soap or shaving cream onto your glasses to prevent fogging.
How do I care for my mask?
Wash before first use. If your masks contain a filter or metal nose pieces, please remove before washing the mask. We cannot confirm the type of quality of added filters. Check nose pieces regularly for signs of damage and rust. Do not microwave masks or metal pieces.
Washing and drying on hot should adequately sanitize your mask after use. For more information, please refer to the CDC website - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html.
How do I sanitize my ear saver?
Soak in a disinfecting solution for 5 minutes. Acceptable disinfecting solutions include
Isopropyl alcohol, 75-96% or household bleach.