The Olson, named after 1930’s legendary maker nurse Lyla Mae Olson, was quickly developed by clinicians from UnityPoint Health and is being shared across the globe in the fight against COVID19. A group of clinicians teamed up in the hospital’s generate prototyping space to create a series of experimental designs rooted in material science and easy fabrication. This pattern is an adaptation of the original mask which can be found on the website of UnityPoint (link above).
Herewith we explicitly advise you that all masks sewn according to instructions in the BERNINA Blog are to be considered as self-sewn face masks. They are neither medical products or protective equipment. You will find more information here: https://blog.bernina.com/en/2020/04/sew-self-made-face-mask-everything-you-need-to-know/
Pooh Bear would like to share how he came to be wearing this mask. Look below for the instructions to help you make one (or more!)
Fitted Olson Mask – Make one for each day of the week!
Read carefully through all these instructions before starting your project!
Pattern templates – print out at ‘actual’ size. Measure the printed square on the .PDF sheet to check that the dimensions are correct before cutting out the templates. Links here for the three sizes:-
Cotton tight weave fabric for outer layer about 12” x 6” (30cm x 15cm)
Very tight cotton weave for lining about 12” x 6” (30cm x 15cm)
Very tight cotton weave for filter pocket (optional) about 8” x 6” (20cm x 15cm)
Egyptian sheeting cotton is good for this part.
5 ½” (14cm) length of wire – 1/16” (1.2mm) in diameter. Copper or jewellery wire is best as it will not rust. You could use any wire though as long as it is strong enough to hold its shape.
2 x 12” (30 cm) of ¼” (6mm) wide elastic
Ear saver plastic – laminating pouch is ideal. Note marked sizes as this drawing may not be to scale.
Make several to alternate them. Wash them after use.
Filter (optional)- Non-woven materials including tissues, soft toilet paper, sew-in Vlieseline (not iron on!) Tea towel or T shirt material. Pillow case fabric, Vacuum cleaner bags (check for Fibreglass, toxins or other irritants – do not use that kind). See the article on the Smartair (link in full at the end of this post) website for information on these materials).
There are three sets of templates – large medium and small. The medium one seems to fit most ladies’ heads. The large one would possibly need to be used for gentlemen and the small one for children, but do check the size of the face/head for which you intend to make it.
Cut out the templates. The link for the files is in the Materials section of this post.
There is a ¼” (6mm) seam allowance for all seams apart from the two elastic holding loops which are 3/4”(18mm) after folding.
Fold fabrics in half, right sides together. Place templates on fabrics. Mark outlines. Cut out shapes. Instructions are given assuming the pocket is to be included. If you do not wish to include the pocket, then please disregard any pocket instructions.
You will have two sets of fabric for the larger template and one set of the smaller one.
Place both patterned fabric shapes right sides together and stitch around the curved edge only. I used the No 57 1/4″ foot.
Repeat for the lining and pocket.
Pocket only: The extra wide seam allowance on the edge of the pocket is for a narrow double hem on each side before it is attached to the lining and outer fabrics. Turn each straight side under twice by about ¼” to form a double fold and stitch in place.
Clip notches out of the curved sides of all three pieces to stop any overlapping of the seam allowance fabrics when the mask is turned to the right side and worn.
Press seams to one side. Press to the left on one section, to the right on the other and then to the left again on the third. If just using two fabrics, the press one to the left and one to the right. I used a ball of string with some wadding strips wrapped round it to fill the shape while I was pressing as I didn’t have a tailor’s ham. I found using the Clover mini iron was better than the standard one too.
Place the pocket wrong side to the right side of the lining. Then place the patterned fabric piece right side to right side of the pocket/lining. (The pocket is sandwiched between the outer and inner fabrics).
Pin the top so that middle seams of all three layers and placement notches line up in the same position. Repeat for the bottom.
Stitch round three sides, one long, one short and then one long side. Leave the fourth side open for turning.
Wire nose gripper: I used calipers to check the width of the wire I used. It was copper wire from a heavy duty electrical earthing cable which I had in the garage. I stripped off the plastic cable coating and cut off a length of the wire inside. It was just right for easily bending into the right shape, but not moving when it had been shaped.
Find the middle of the length and place centrally inside the top of the stitched mask between the outer fabric and the pocket (if used) or the lining if not. Centre the wire so that there is the same length of fabric at each end.
Pin in place so it sits very tight to the top seam, Bend it slightly to follow the curve of the top. Stitch all round to enclose the wire inside the mask top. I used the zipper foot No 4 here to get close to the wire.
You can see here where I shaped the seam to give a smooth look when turned the right way out.
Clip a small triangle off each of the corners to reduce bulk when turning them.
Carefully turn the mask to the outside, use a blunt pointed instrument to poke out the corners (small paintbrush handle, rounded ended scissors, small piece of dowel, etc.) and press seams in place. Turn in edges of the fourth open side, press and then stitch across them to “seal” the mask.
Fold in each end of the mask by about ¾” (18mm). Pin in place and stitch down the length, leaving a gap of around ½” (12mm) for the elastic to thread through. Do three seams one on top of each other to compensate for the stress the mask will be under when the elastic is attached and stretched.
Thread the elastic through the loops on each side of the mask.
Make sure the elastic is not twisted and then pin the ends together and stitch to form loops. Hide the joins of the elastic loops inside the elastic casing of the mask.
Place the mask on your face and mould the nose gripper to the shape of your nose and cheeks.
The mask is now complete but I have included a template for “ear savers”. I have a Cameo cutting machine and as I had no suitable material to make the ear saver, (link to the template at the start of this post) I took an empty laminating pouch and heated it with the laminating machine. This was then rigid enough to cut with the Cameo but you could just as easily cut the shape out with scissors!
When the mask is worn, the elastic loops hook over whichever pair of “hooks” you find the most comfortable. There are several different places to choose for different sized heads.
He was only too happy to help by modelling the mask I made for him!
If you choose to use a filter inside the pocket, then cut it to just a little smaller than the pocket itself. Do be very careful that your mask allows you to breathe and none of the materials you use could cause you problems like breathing in toxic substances, fibres, etc. Test it indoors before you go out with it. If you can still breathe easily after wearing it for around 15 minutes, then it is probably OK to wear it for longer.
This mask will not prevent you from catching any bugs that are going round, as it is not a medically/surgically approved one but it should help to stop you spreading anything that you have yourself.
Wearing your mask – Try not to touch the mask when you are wearing it, especially the inner lining or pocket. When placing the mask on your face and taking it off, try to only handle it by the elastic loops. Wash your hands before and after touching the mask to put it on/take it off. Have some sort of indoor “washing line” or a hook where you can peg it up/hang it after usage. Leave it there for at least 72 hours before touching it again. This will allow anything that was on it to die off.
Check the research done on materials to use and how to care for them here:-
Tea Towels, pillowcases and T shirts came out as the most effective of materials used in home made masks for influenza slightly behind surgical masks and vacuum cleaner bags which gave the best (but not total) protection . Again, be careful with vacuum cleaner bags as they are not designed for humans to breathe through. One of the areas of research was laundering and the findings were that washing masks makes them less effective. Putting the mask in a hot oven (160°C or above) for around 30 minutes should be enough to kill off anything lurking on it, but do be careful not to burn the mask or if it is a man made material, melt it! It was also suggested that if a mask got wet it would not be effective.
Let’s all hope this pandemic will be over sooner rather than later and we will all be able to meet up with our friends and family. My thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones recently through being infected by this dreadful virus that has turned our planet upside down, chewed it up and spat it out!
Jan Allston May 2020.