Local residents get sewing to help address COVID 19-induced mask shortage

Edmonds resident Brian Potter’s sewing station.

Edmonds resident Brian Potter learned how to sew as a teenager, in 8th-grade home-ec, and now he’s putting those skills to work making face masks for Polyclinics in the Puget Sound region.

Heather Fadden of Mountlake Terrace, a broker with EXP Realty, is pushing out her own masks — more than 50 so far — for family and friends, and may soon be making them for Providence Hospital, which began its 100-million mask challenge recently, asking people who can sew to request a materials kit and get to work.

Although these homemade masks are not the N95 variety that medical personnel wear to protect from COVID-19, they may relieve pressure on available supplies.

“My mask can be used by someone at a front desk,” said Potter, “and that frees up the N95 masks for doctors and nurses.”

He’s spent a lot of time researching the best materials and patterns, landing on one out of an Indiana hospital. “It’s an easier pattern than others I’ve seen so I can kick one out in about 20 minutes.” His are made out of muslin on the inside and 100% cotton quilting outside. So far, he’s come up with a few prototypes and plans to make about 100 masks with the supplies he has now. “And I think I can make 30 or 40 more out of scraps. My neighbors say they can make some out of scraps, too.”

A stack of masks that Heather Fadden has completed.

Fadden uses flannel on the inside and cotton on the outside, and another design that uses flannel throughout. Both of these mask-makers say that, so far, the hardest thing to get is elastic for straps, though they have been able to do so.

On Friday, Fadden even offered a video tutorial on her Facebook page instructing others on how to make masks, if they want to participate.

They’re sewing masks for both personal and philanthropic reasons. “My ex-wife works at a Polyclinic in Ballard and my son works a front desk at a Northgate clinic,” Potter said, adding he’s concerned for their safety. He also wants to contribute to the greater good in a time of intense need.

Heather Fadden

“My mother has had leukemia and is in her 70s,” said Fadden. “If she has to go to the store or be outside, this mask can at least keep her from touching her face.” Through a friend, Fadden also has heard about nurses at Overlake Hospital who need PPE — personal protective equipment. “My friend said that this is so much better than having to try and tie a bandana that might slip.” The nurses, her friend noted, are grateful and “totally overwhelmed by the support and love from friends and complete strangers.”


— By Connie McDougall







  1. Even though I filled out the form to see masks for Providence Hospital, I received an email this evening stating they were no longer needing volunteers for this project. I was looking forward to contributing my skills to help in this way and I’m disappointed that I will not be able to help in this manner.

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