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Hampton Roads residents get crafty with homemade face masks

Medical grade masks are reserved for health care workers, but cloth masks are simple to do at home. The community is busy making them.

HAMPTON, Va. — Virginians shouldn’t leave the house without a face mask. It’s Governor Ralph Northam’s newest request following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Medical-grade masks are reserved healthcare workers, but cloth masks are simple to do at home. The Hampton Roads community is busy making them.

Hampton resident Karen Albero has made about 100 cloth masks in one week. It all started when she saw her neighbor needed a face mask, so she put her sewing hobby to the test.

“I posted it on Facebook,” Albero said. “I was overwhelmed by the response. People saying, ‘Oh my goodness, can you make me this?’”

She uses two pieces of 100 percent cotton fabric to make a mask and slides a filter in between them. Albero buys bright patterned and themed fabrics.

She also uses rubber bands for ear loops now that elastic is scarce.

“They are as comfortable as the elastic,” Albero said.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face masks whenever you go out now. They said cotton fabric works. If you don’t have elastic or rubber bands for the ear loops, try hair ties.

If sewing is not your thing, the CDC said you can fold up a bandana or t-shirt.

Homemade masks still need to check a few boxes.

The CDC said they should include multiple layers of fabric and fit snugly on your face. They should also be secured with ear loops and easy to breathe through.

They said you should wash your hands after taking the masks off and masks should be washed routinely.

“I know there is debate on what fabric is the best fabric, what filter is the best filter,” Albero said. “The way I see it, anything has got to be better than nothing.”

Albero sees her handwork as a contribution toward flattening the curve.

“Every day somebody asks me, 'Are you still making masks?' And I am going to keep making masks until I don’t have to make masks anymore,” Albero said.

Step-by-step CDC mask instructions are available on their website.

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