Mask-making movement grows

Instructions on how to make homemade face shields are included in this article.

Homemade masks are being accepted by both CHI St. Joseph's Health and Essentia clinics to help during the pandemic.
Selseth, Kristina

Both CHI St. Joseph’s Health in Park Rapids and Essentia Health clinics are now accepting donations of homemade face masks and members of the community are rallying to the cause.

Ben Franklin in Park Rapids has sold over 1,000 yards of elastic in the past two or three days, along with a large quantity of fabric needed to make the masks, according to a store employee.

Drop off masks at CHI St. Joseph's Health emergency room entrance on Pleasant Avenue. “Our emergency department staff and entire organization are grateful for your kindness and willingness to help during this time,” communication specialist Sonja Day said.

Essentia Health is also accepting face masks at clinics in Park Rapids (705 Pleasant Ave.), Walker (110-D Michigan Ave. W.) and Menahga (212 Aspen Ave. NE). Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Follow donation signage at the location for instructions. Drivers are asked to remain in their vehicle while staff come out to collect the donation.

“We appreciate our friends and neighbors graciously offering donations and support to help our staff and patients,” said Tonya Loken, Essentia Health community relations program manager. “We are humbled by your generosity and caring.”


Directions for handmade masks can be found below. They are also in the COVID-19 section of the Essentia Health website or at


Items needed to make a face mask

  • Tightly woven cotton fabric

  • Rope elastic, beading cord elastic or 1/8 inch flat elastic

Sizing is available for adult or child size masks.
1. Cut the elastic to 7" long and tie a knot at each end. (DO NOT knot the ends of the flat). Be sure any fabric design is placed horizontally.

2. Put right sides of cotton fabric together.

  • Cut 9-by-6-inches for adult sizes.

  • Cut 7.5-by-5-inches for child sizes.

3. Starting at the center of the bottom edge, sew to the first corner then stop. Sew the elastic with the edge out into the corner. A few stitches forward and back will hold this.
4. Sew to the next corner, stop, and bring the other end of the same elastic to the

corner and sew a few stitches forward and back.

5. Now sew across the top of the mask to the next corner. Again, put an elastic with the edge out.

6. Sew to the next corner and sew in the other end of the same elastic.


7. Sew across the bottom leaving about 1.5 to 2 inches open. Stop, cut the thread. Turn inside out.

8. Pin three tucks on each side of the mask. Make sure the tucks are the same direction.

9. Sew around the edge of the mask twice.

Day said she saw how to take elastic from bungee cords on Facebook recently. “Bungee cords that are commonly used to secure things in a truck or trailer are full of elastic,” she said.

Day explained that the solid pieces of elastic from bungee cords can be cut carefully into strips and used in making masks by those who can’t find elastic at the store.

Bungee cords contain lots of elastic that could be used to make homemade masks if elastic cannot be found in stores.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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