HANCOCK COUNTY — Face masks have changed a lot since they first became a necessary accessory more than 10 months ago.
Just as the world has adapted to change over the past year, local mask makers have adapted to the changing standards for face masks.
When mask use first started ramping up in the U.S. in early April, crafters, sewers and quilters were churning out simple pieces of fabric with elastic ear loops on both sides.
Today’s masks, however, typically have added features like a dome-shape or 3D front that better fits the face, a sewn-in pocket for a removable filter, adjustable ear loops, and a bendable nose piece that fits snugly around the nose.
Cherie Burrow of Greenfield started churning out hundreds of masks for health-care workers and volunteers throughout the county back in April.
As face masks have evolved, so have her sewing methods. “I’ve learned a lot in the past 10 months,” she said.
She no longer makes the flat or pleated-style masks, but has adopted the 3D dome style with a seam down the middle instead, the kind that creates a raised space around the mouth and nose.
She’s also traded out regular elastic for better-fitting elastic with toggles, which can be adjusted for a better fit.
“I think the better fit certainly makes it safer not only for the mask wearer, but for everyone in public,” said Burrow, who has been sewing and quilting for 20 years.
Her sister-in-law, Bonnie Wooten of Carthage, has also adjusted her own mask sewing style. She now adds a layer of anti-allergen material in between two cotton layers, to help filter out airborne particles as a filter would do.
“I put that in the middle as a barrier to make them a little more protective,” said Wooten, who gives away the masks she makes to family and friends. She also gave personalized masks to each member of the Greenfield Veterans Honor Guard, of which her husband is a member.
“The more you make them, the more you figure out ways to make them a little better,” she said. She switched from a flat to a dome-style design a few months ago after realizing the metal strips she was using to create a nose guard were getting bent and broken.
“I found that after a while that when people would fold them up to put in their pockets, those would break. I switched from that to doing the (domed) design, sewing an extra seam into the front to make it stick out a little bit so it doesn’t get real close to your face,” she said.
Wooten has changed the type of ear loops she uses, too, opting for better elastic with adjustable toggles.
Mary Anne Siurek has made plenty of adjustments to her face masks, too, like adding an extra layer, using more comfortable elastic and sewing in bendable pipe cleaners around the nose.
“I’m also adding a third layer of fabric, based on the latest reports of what works best. Every day you turn around there’s something new, and I’m willing to take the chance and try it out,” she said.
Siurek made 750 masks last year in the sewing room in her Greenfield home, giving them away to local hospitals, nonprofits, family members and friends. She and a friend, Denna Gundrum, gave 100 masks to the Greenfield Police Department.
“The demand has quieted down for me,” she said. “Last year this time I was at the sewing machine eight hours a day.”
She’s now branching out into making the masks more decorative by adding embroidery and other embellishments.
“Every time I turn around I see a new pattern to try. I’ve got the embroidery machine out and am starting to make (the masks) more fashionable, because I guess we’re stuck with wearing them for a while,” she said.
For the past six months, Burrow has been churning out fun themed masks for her daughter — a first-grade teacher — and all 18 students in her Shelby County classroom.
“She has taught in person since last August, and knock on wood hasn’t had any quarantines in her class,” Burrow said. Read from source….