Home ReSource from Home: Stories of Sustainability

Missoula is such an incredible place to live. Everyday we hear of another innovative way people have reused materials to provide something for their homes, neighbors or the community at large. Home ReSource exists because of you, and we love seeing how you use and reuse the stuff you found in our store or in your own backyard. During Montana’s stay at home order, we wanted to take the time to share some of the ways Missoulians are coping with being cooped up – and how they are giving back – from repurposing linens for face masks to salvaging old wood for garden beds. It’s a great time to pick up a new craft or project, and we will share the community creations and stories we receive right here. If you have something you’d like to share, send photos and a description to sweetprojects@homeresource.org!

Turning Used Bedsheets and Clothing into Masks

by FixIt Coach Katrina Dalrymple

I already had a lot of materials on hand, as I sew daily and I regularly buy used cotton bed linens at Secret Seconds for use as inexpensive fabric. The sheets and pillowcases are perfect for masks as the fabric is soft against the skin, tightly woven, and cotton, which makes it easy to disinfect the masks with a hot water wash and tumble dry or thoroughly ironing them on the highest setting. My first sets of masks used plastic-coated twist ties from my hoard, then paper-coated twist ties which I wrapped with electrical tape for nose wires, so you can pinch the mask against the bridge of your nose for a closer fit across your nose and cheekbones. I ran out of twist ties pretty quickly so I purchased some speaker wire and plant training wire online. If you have plastic-coated wires, and they’re soft enough that you can pinch them around the bridge of your nose w/o pain, and they hold that shape rather than relaxing back to straight, that could be a great resource for local mask makers with fewer financial resources. 16ga wire is about right. I use wire cutters to cut the wire to the right length for the little pocket I construct from cotton twill tape, then use jewelry pliers to curl the ends under so the sharp metal ends are pressed into the soft plastic jacket of the wire. This way the wire can be removed for washing, drying, and ironing the masks.

I started with a pleated rectangular pattern but pretty quickly switched to a fitted pattern, as I find it much more comfortable and easier to wear.  The construction is very simple and this link has full directions. Things I’ve found to speed up the process: create multiple pattern templates for each size, so you can lay out your fabric, pin the templates in place, and cut out pieces for 8+ masks in one go rather than cutting pieces for one mask, unpinning the template, pinning it back on the fabric, cutting those pieces, and so on. Assembly-line construction, for instance sewing all the curved seams, then pinning each outer pieces to a lining piece, then turning all the masks and pinning the open end shut, is much more efficient than one at a time. If using old clothing as your source material, cut out the seams and press the fabric so it lays flat before you pin your templates to the fabric. (Consider the photos of templates pinned to items where I’ve not taken this advice to be evidence of learning!)  I’ve reversed the direction of the ties, in the photo with the purple mask, so that the bow knot goes at the crown of my head instead of the nape of my neck. This way, I can easily untie the mask and let it fall away from my face while I drink some water, then pull it back in place without touching the fabric. I used a bit of silicone that came with a set of bicycle lights to add some non-slip security to upper tie and have been cutting up scrap silicone from various sources to use in the same way. (A strap from a pour-over coffee maker than I broke, some little coasters that came with a set of stainless steel tumblers, and whatever else is in the “That looks like it could be useful but I’m not sure how” drawer.)

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