What strange and unsettling times we are living through! We are all doing whatever we can to adapt to this ‘new normal’ and wonder how we can come out on the other side, if at all possible, wiser and stronger. There is so much in the news about face masks that this subject too is confusing and bewildering. However, as we are specialists in designing and making clothing, accessories and other textile goods using traditional craftsmanship, we have decided to add fabric face masks to our collections, not as personal protective equipment, as ours are not designed as medical masks, but to help minimise risk when at last we are allowed to go out into public places again.
Our face mask story
The reason why we started to make these masks is that we have a workshop in France where we hand-make baby shoes and slippers, cut patterns and make first samples for baby clothes and accessories. Our seamstress Muriel was our first employee and has been with our company since we started over 25 years ago. A few weeks ago, she told me that her grandson had contracted coronavirus and if she could make face masks for her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren who are living in a separate village. She had carried out some research to find out the best way that these should be made from directives from the University Hospital of Grenoble in France. The masks she made were dispatched by courier to her family and the correct use of these masks was carefully followed. Thankfully, Muriel’s grandson’s health improved, but it made me think that it would be an excellent use of her time to work on making face masks for other families who might need them. Muriel is still able to work in our workshop as we can adhere to social distancing practice, so we have turned our workshop over to making fabric face masks for the time-being.
We decided that although we cannot make personal protective equipment, we have the knowledge and skills to make cute printed and brightly coloured masks for children and their families. We have a great collection of exclusive fabrics designed in-house and vintage-printed cotton fabrics collected over the years, so now we are putting them to good use by making triple-layer cotton masks which are colourful on the outside, with an intermediary layer of tightly-woven fabric in the middle. The masks are lined with soft ivory cotton satin, which is the part that touches the face. We use soft elastic to hook over the ears, and our masks come in 4 sizes, Size XS (3 to 6 years), Size S (7 – 12 years), Size M (women) and Size L (men).
Our business represents joy and happiness for new parents, grand-parents, gift-givers and family members, and whereas in these difficult times fashion might not be uppermost in many peoples’ minds, we believe that our company is there to serve our customers. We know that many parents will want face masks for their children, and we want to offer these in happy colours and prints, hopefully creating a bit of fun and laughter, as we also offering matching prints in adult sizes for the mums and dads! As you all know, here at Rachel Riley we love a bit of matchy-matchy and we thought it could offer a bit of light-relief in hard times. We are sure the kids will find them fun. Or each family member can have a different print or colour to make them more easily identifiable.
Our masks are washable and re-usable. They have been tested to be machine-washable at 60 degrees and boiled for 10 minutes in a pan of boiling water to sterilise them, and they will not shrink. However, they are not made of medical-grade material and are not designed to be worn as a replacement for medical masks.
Sewing at home
If you want to make your own mask, here is the pattern and instructions taken from advice by the Grenoble University Hospital in France
I have a friend who lives in Hong Kong, and she has two young children. She tells me that her children are now used to wearing masks when they go outside. They actually wear 2 masks, one disposable one next to the face, and then a fabric one on top. She tells me that in their culture they are so used to wearing a face mask when they are sick that it has become second nature to her children to wear them whenever they are going outside these days.
We are also aware that whereas surgical masks are used in medical settings, child-friendly masks can be worn in non-medical settings, or over surgical masks which could be more reassuring for a child in a non-familiar setting.
We will be donating 10% of profits from the sale of these face masks to ‘Best Beginnings’ https://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk
Best Beginnings works to inform and empower parents during pregnancy and the early stages of parenthood. We will be supporting their excellent work with families in communities across the UK during the critical "window of opportunity" between preconception and a child's third birthday, when the foundations for long term physical, mental and language development are laid.
We might all be physically distant but we feel socially close, both as a team, and also with our customers. We offered our services to the government a month ago to make medical textile goods, but other than an acknowledgement, we have not been contacted to make any. If you would like to contact us for any textile requirements, please do not hesitate to email me email@example.com