Upping the Art of Mask Making for Our Frontline Workers
Vol.6 Issue 4
Examples of some of the vibrant material that Nicole and her family used to protect the frontline workers.
Cognizant of strong team support, Nicole made masks with team affiliation in mind.

In the last issue of the MONRONeYnews, an article was featured on Nicole Gage, HR Director at the Aeronautical Center (AHF-C400) and her family, as they worked together in creating an assembly line making facial masks for many of Oklahoma’s healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As an update to the previous story, Nicole and family have made over 300 cloth facial masks that are now being used by healthcare workers around the state. Nicole notes, "Fortunately, the demand had died down…so we are on pause for now, but we’re prepped to make more if the need arises again."

Recently, one of the local hospitals reached out to Nicole and provided her with some ’blue wrap’, to see if she could sew a mask using this highly filtered material. "It’s the blue material you see in hospitals and used during surgical procedures," says Nicole. When the material is doubled and properly fitted, it creates a N99 level filtration (which is better than a N95 mask) and the material can easily be sanitized.

Nicole demonstrates the challenge of getting the stiff blue wrap material to fit snugly around the nose.
A prototype of one of Nicole’s masks using the N99 blue wrap material.
Thanks to Nicole’s grandmother’s serger, the machine was able to provide a strong, reinforced stitch for the bulky material.

Nicole was up to the challenge. "Interestingly enough, to create these masks required a serger (a sewing machine that overcasts the raw edges of a fabric with a V-shaped stitch.) It just so happened that I had one that belonged to my grandmother who had passed away ten years ago. It had been stored in a closet and I have never attempted to use it. Numerous times, I contemplated getting rid of it, but for whatever reason, I held on to it. Now, that I was asked to make these masks, I pulled out the serger, dusted it off, watched a YouTube video on how to thread it and started sewing! Wow – it is complicated! But after about an hour, I had the serger threaded and working beautifully! My grandma would be so happy," says Nicole.

After creating a couple of different styles, Nicole settled on one that provided the best fit (not a perfect fit), and made ten masks. She delivered them to the hospital for trial use and wanted their opinion. The mask fit the men best, and they are now using the ones she provided. The challenge was to fit the mask properly around the nose. She learned that pipe cleaners were not strong enough to hold the shape of the stiff blue material. "I am still trying to determine a pattern and materials for a more universal fitting mask out of the blue wrap, but I’m hopeful that it may not be needed," shares Nicole.

Healthcare workers show their appreciation while wearing Nicole’s masks.
Some of Nicole’s masks fit the medical delivery staff perfectly.
A healthcare worker gives Nicole’s masks a thumbs up.
Federal Aviation Aministration (FAA) seal