Comox Valley resident Lauren Lan displays one of her masks that she is sewing for those in need. Facebook photo

Valley residents stepping up to sew masks for those in need

"I recognize this isn't going to save the world, but it gives me purpose."

Lauren Lan admits her sewing skills are limited, but with some time on her hands now that she is staying at home, she wanted to do something helpful and productive for those in need.

The Comox Valley resident is creating homemade masks and is hoping to co-ordinate safe and effective distribution to anyone who may need them during the COVID-19 crisis.

Lan says she is not a seamstress, but as she is temporarily away from work, wants to keep busy and try and contribute to assisting others as best as she can.

“I know that these masks will not replace [N95 masks], but I’m just trying to do what I can.”

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The idea came to her when she heard there are certain places running out of supplies. She watched a few YouTube videos in order to gain some ideas on how best to create them and made an appointment at a local fabric store to gather supplies.

Lan explains she got enough materials to make about 50 masks, and it takes her an average of about 20 minutes to make a mask. She is hoping to drop them off to people or organizations that need them.

“Lots of people are navigating this new situation we find ourselves in. I recognize this isn’t going to save the world, but it gives me purpose.”

Not long after creating the initial masks, she posted her creation on a local emergency preparedness Facebook page, with the hopes of reaching out to a seamstress who may suggest a better pattern.

Within a few hours, another member of the community who saw Lan’s post reached out with ideas on how to improve the masks, by adding soft wire around the nose to ensure a better fit.

Lan says she didn’t have any wire, so the two women decided to meet to share supplies, ideas and encouragement from a safe distance.

Lori Bradshaw-Bachand, who owns Quillows and More in Merville, has created more than three dozen masks in the past few weeks. With more than 38 years of sewing experience, she knew as soon as she heard that COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the need for masks would be great.

“I had a feeling [people] would run out of masks, so I looked at some how-to videos, and I have a large stash of fabric. I wanted to make sure they were made of the appropriate materials, so they’ll all 100 per cent cotton – even the thread – with the exception of the elastic.”

She notes one end of the masks are open in order for charcoal filters to slide in. Currently, she is waiting for additional elastics to arrive, but plans to make as many masks as needed.

“Many of the masks I’ve made are for seniors homes or anyone looking for them. I have always thought if you can help people out, that’s always been my goal.”

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