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Dispatcher pitches in to help LEOs

A shortage of surgical style masks has been an issue since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic crisis. However, anyone with a needle, some thread and cloth can provide a level of protection for themselves, or others.

Edwenna Rowland, a dispatcher for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, shared a couple photos of Deputies Mike May and Jessica Babbitt wearing masks made by fellow dispatcher Kary Stovall. The practice of creating cloth masks for law enforcement officers and health care workers has become a great way for some people, like Kary, to spend their time at home during this crisis.

Deputy Jessica Babbitt wears a mask made by Kary Stovall, a dispatcher for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. – Photo courtesy of Edwenna Rowland

Montgomery County is one of a shrinking number of counties in Arkansas to report a confirmed case of COVID-19. As a result, the availability of masks remains elusive as they are sent to high risk areas.

For those wanting to occupy some time with a project cloth masks for yourself, or others is a nice way to do so. Please if you would like to make masks for an organization, or individuals contact them first to see if there is a need. Otherwise have fun and happy sewing.

Remember the masks are not meant to provide complete protection from the coronavirus that leads to COVID-19, but they do provide some droplet protection.

We’re not sure what pattern Kary used, but we have included a set of instructions on how to make the masks. A pattern can be found on Page 2 of the April 2 issue of the Montgomery County News.

We would like to thank Edwenna for use of the photos.

Deputy Mike May wears a mask made by Kary Stovall, a dispatcher for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. – Photo courtesy of Edwenna Rowland

Choose material that is impermeable to water. Several sites list 100 percent woven cotton as the best option. The New York Post reported that a recent study revealed that vacuum cleaner bags offers up to 86 percent protection against the smallest particles tested, followed by dish towels at 73 percent, a cotton-blend T-shirt at 70 percent and an antimicrobial pillowcase at 68 percent.

Several patterns and DIY tutorials are available on Youtube.

Here is a pattern made available by Amanda Perna, fashion designer and Project Runway alum, who started sewing face masks after she had to temporarily close her fashion studio due to the coronavirus outbreak. Amanda has been working tirelessly to make as many masks as possible and recruiting seamstresses to join her efforts.

Print pattern

Cut pattern out

Use pattern to cut 2 cotton fabric pieces

Use pattern to cut 2 interfacing pieces (MUST be nonwoven)

Place cut fabric with front sides together

Place both layers of the interfacing together on top of fabric (on the back side of fabric)

Sew top 9” seam (2.5-3 stitch length is best) with ¼” seam allowance

Flip open with front side of fabric up

Press seam flat to one side

Insert metal piece along seam between the 2 pieces of fabric

Stitch ½” rectangle that is indicated at top of pattern (with wrong sides together) to secure metal piece

Flip back to right sides together, stitch bottom 9” seam

Flip back to right side out and press bottom seam

Use pattern to help mark pleats. Pleat the 3 pleats all in the same direction, put a pin to keep them in place

Cut binding tape at 36” per side

Find the center point of the binding and the center point of the mask and pin the binding on the mask with the mask sandwiched between the binding

Sew binding

Repeat on the other side of the mask

Press pleats

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