Stitch by Stitch-How West Students Are Making Their Own Masks

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“If you’re not going to wear it because you have to, you might as well wear it because it’s super fun,” said senior Josie Taylor, who has been getting creative with homemade masks since March. 

When quarantine first struck, Taylor and her family didn’t own any masks. Since she was bored in quarantine, and had already sparked an interest in knitting, Taylor said she looked up a sewing pattern online and gave mask making a try. 

Taylor said she thought of it as a great opportunity to amp up her sewing skills. She admits there were some trial runs before she truly got the hang of sewing. Taylor said the first few masks were prototypes to try and figure out the sizing. As time progressed, so did her skills. 

Taylor makes fitted masks with a pocket to insert a filter and a nose wire. She said this process can take about two and a half hours, but the comfort is worth the time. 

After making the typical masks for a while, Taylor stepped up to a new challenge. Singer’s masks. They have bowing that juts out in front of the face to keep fabric off of the skin for optimal breathing. 

Taylor said that it takes five to six hours to create a singer’s mask with a sewing machine. She said although it is time consuming, it is something she enjoys once she sits down and gets focused. 

Taylor has a mask in progress with a duck embroidered onto the fabric. “Singers masks make you look ridiculous. You look like a duck. And so I was like, I might as well embrace that and put a duck on it. I think it just makes it more fun to wear a mask,” Taylor said.

She said she is very enthusiastic about her masks and is always trying fun patterns and designs. “I get excited about new projects and new things. So every time someone’s like, your mask looks crazy, I’m like, I know, right! Isn’t it the weirdest shape?”  

Junior Olivia Palmer has also found joy in homemade masks. Palmer said she started making them for her neighbor, a healthcare worker, in mid-March. She then made some for her family, anticipating they would need them in the future. 

“I’ve already been sewing for such a long time that I was like, ‘Oh, I could totally make  masks, like easy.’ And I just found a pattern online and I measured the stuff and I just cut it out,” Palmer said. 

Senior Connor Kelly-Wright, Palmer’s friend of three years, said he wasn’t surprised that she started making masks. “Livi is one of those people that are very grandmotherly. And so she loves crafts, and like, making things with her hands, and she likes gifting,” he said.

Kelly-Wright said Palmer is a “little ball of sunshine,” and he is proud of her dedication and positive attitude. “I’m happy that she can set out her creative inputs, you know, by nice, comfy customized masks for her friends and family.”

Palmer’s younger brother has already returned to in-person school, and wore her masks there. “I know that a lot of his friends wear the masks that I make them. I think that they’re kind of fun. I have some fun patterns that little kids usually like, and I think it just encourages kids, especially, to wear their mask, even if they don’t want to,” said Palmer.

 Palmer said making the masks is a little way to be a light in these darker times. Making masks and seeing people wear them has been very rewarding, according to Palmer. 

“It makes you happy. My mom shows me posts on Facebook where kids are wearing my masks, or adults are wearing my masks. And they are like, super happy about it. I just think it makes the whole thing a little bit more fun. Just adds a little bit of excitement to the whole having to wear a mask thing,” Palmer said, “I feel like I’m making people a little bit happier.”

Taylor said she gets excited about the idea of wearing a mask to school and matching the pattern with her outfits.

“Make it a fashion statement. Make it fun, because wearing a mask sucks if you just think about it like ‘I have to wear a mask’,” Taylor said. 

“I try to find the fun in the whole mask thing. Because they’re a little ridiculous. And they can make people feel ridiculous. But I want to be able to embrace that.” 

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