Masks: The Making Of

Posted on 23 April 2020

As COVID-19 proliferated in the US a few weeks ago, the Skida team considered ways we could help our community as local business shut down around us.  We closed our office, downloaded Zoom, and began reacting to the information shared by the CDC, our Governor, and NPR. Emails flooded our inboxes, requesting face masks and assistance in manufacturing PPE. Eager to help, we fielded calls, gathered information, talked to our partners, vendors, suppliers, and watched every day as the needs and requirements of this “new-normal” life changed.

Accessibility to medical grade materials for masks became difficult to source due to such high demand — so, we set out to create a face mask out of our existing materials. When it became clear that the CDC was going to recommend everyone cover their face if they must leave their homes, a few crafty members of our team put their sewing skills to work and started experimenting with face mask patterns from our signature Skida fabrics.

Sewing the masks.Mobilizing our mask efforts.
Meanwhile, we asked local medical workers who wear masks everyday what they like and dislike about their masks. They told us that wearing elastic behind their ears day after day is painful and they preferred masks that tie behind your head. With this feedback in mind, one of our mask-makers threaded the sides of her mask with extra shoelaces she had on hand. Voila! An affordable and accessible material that would solve the problem of painful chafing behind your ears.

We quickly placed a bulk order for colorful shoelaces to match our bright patterns, and soon our team members were testing the first prototypes on trips to the grocery store and walks around Burlington. Receiving positive feedback on the comfort, washability, and cheery nature of our masks, we settled into the design, and went to work making more.

shoelaces The shoelace solution.
Just as we felt our design was sound, news articles containing varying opinions about the use of polyester and spandex material in face masks were published. We worked with an attorney to make sure our product was going to be protective as more and more statements about the efficacy of polyester masks were released on NPR and other news outlets. Because our existing fabrics are polyester-based, we were concerned, so we connected with some of the doctors and professionals quoted in the news stories. We told them about our product, two layers of poly-Lycra fabric as a face mask. They supported the product and believed that we were using a thick enough material, but they also reminded us that most important thing to remember with cloth face masks is that the virus can live on fabric materials for a long time. They reiterated the importance of washing cloth masks after every use, and encouraged us to pass along the message.

We believe wearing a mask is a last-resort measure.  A mask is not a virus-blocking solution that will allow us to return to normal social interactions.  We all still need to stay home as much as possible until shelter-in-place orders have been lifted. When you do need to leave your house, tie your mask on tight and don’t touch it until you get home and can immediately wash your hands afterwards. Be sure to also wash your mask with hot, soapy water after every use.

Do your part. Please stay home and stay safe. If you are on the frontlines, thank you for your service <3

The winter hermit herself.
Our first face masks. Made with signature Skida fabrics.

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