Thursday, July 9, 2020

A mask for kids with Down syndrome

Do you hear crickets?  Yes, we are here!  We are alive!  We are safe and healthy!  We haven't been inside a restaurant or store since mid-March due to the pandemic and due to the fact that Ellie has immunology issues along with asthma and other underlying health issues.  The CVS drive thru is considered a vacation at this point and I long for the days when I can go to Target and grab coffee with a friend. 

True, I have neglected this poor blog for *gasp* 7 months and this is just a quick post about face masks.  I had shared a pic of Ellie modeling her fancy smancy Mickey Mouse face mask on Facebook and several people asked where I got it.  The truth is that I made it which I know is shocking for many because I can't even sew a straight line.  You could, in theory, hand sew this mask, but I do recommend a sewing machine.

For those of you new to this blog, Ellie has Down syndrome.  Her unique facial structure, such as low set ears and a flat nasal bridge can make it rather difficult for her to wear a face mask that fits well without falling down her nose or off her ears.  Not rocking an extra chromosome?  That's okay, this mask is also appropriate for the general population.  For any mask, no matter the style, you want to make sure both the nose and mouth are completely covered and fits snug on all sides.

I tried the 3 masks above on Ellie:
Top: tie mask
Middle: ear loops
Bottom: elastic around the head

I originally started working on those tie behind the head pleated masks with a pocket for a filter.  A google search produced several tutorials so I just went with the first one that popped up.  I hated having to constantly retie them so I tried those draw string clamps things (see below) to make it easier. I also used bias tape for the ties because I was lazy, but you can make your own ties.  While it works fabulously for me and Ellie adored her cupcake one, it kept sliding down her nose even with using wire for a nose strip.  

Plastic Toggle Rope Locks: 

That led me to trying the over-the-ear loops.  After an extended search on google, I found an excellent video tutorial from EasyToSew that was easy to follow along.  This is the video that I am now using for all of my face masks. The video towards the bottom of this post.

Anyway, behind the ear loop mask was an epic fail.  With her low set ears, common in people with Ds, the mask wouldn't completely cover her nose.  As you know, the mask won't do much good if you don't cover your nose! Then there was the part where the elastic wouldn't stay around her ears.  The damn thing just kept falling off.  Even though the ear loops didn't work, I really liked how fitted the mask was.  (This is actually the mask that I currently wear for myself).  

I liked the fit of this mask, but it wouldn't say over her nose.

I used this video for the basic pattern and construction of the mask.    The pattern in the video is perfect for an adult so you will have to make a few adjustments for a child or an adult with a larger head.  I also eliminated the elastic for the ear loops and instead attached longer elastic to go completely around the head.

This is a tri-layer mask meaning there are 3 layers of fabric.  The third layer also serves as a pocket if you want to insert a filter.  I use a coffee filter folded in half.  If you use a filter, you must change it out each time you use it.

Pattern: I cut out the pattern as shown in the video. For Ellie, I then shortened each side on the end by 1.5 cm so that it would fit her smaller face. I did not make any changes in the top-bottom dimensions. (For adults with larger heads, I added 1.5 cm)

For the nasal wire, I use aluminum nose strips that you often see on medical masks - the ones without adhesive. I did use two pieces of floral wire early on, but the wire eventually breaks and pokes through the fabric.

Instead of using elastic for ear loops, I had the elastic go all around her head. I used 1/4 inch flat elastic (also on amazon). Ellie is 10 years-old and has a relatively small head so I went with:

Upper elastic strip: 11 inches
Lower elastic strip: 8 inches

You want to make sure that the elastic is snug enough that the mask will stay in place, but not so tight that if feels like her head is in a vice. You may need to play around with the lengths. If you aren't sure, it is easier to use longer elastic strips and then tighten it if need be.

Finally, after you've done all of that and your kiddo still refuses to wear the mask, you can check out these tips:

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