Iowa 4-H Creates Face Masks

4‑H programs empower young people to be well-informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities and the world! Iowa 4-H is calling all 4-H members, leaders, alumni, judges, and friends to create face masks for their community, including friends, neighbors, hospitals, and care centers. We thank everyone who helped us meet our initial goal of 10,000 masks. We invite you to help us reach our NEW goal of 25,000 masks! Please read below how you can get involved - don’t forget to record your donation.

The current number of face masks donated by our Iowa 4-H family: 27424

Let's Get Started!

  1. Decide who – You could sew masks for a local hospital, care center, your neighbors, or friends. You could even reach out to a local essential business and offer to sew masks for their employees or customers. You may want to learn what requirements they have and how they would like your donation packaged.
  2. Choose a pattern – There are many options to choose from. Please select your pattern based on where you plan to donate the masks. 
    • Don’t sew? Consider checking out different no-sew options or cutting fabric for those who are sewing masks. Download a few no-sew options here.
  3. Gather supplies – If you don’t have fabric consider reaching out to your nearest fabric store. JOANN has been encouraging customers and partners to help fight the severe shortage of personal protective equipment, launching the Make to Give face mask program nationwide. Customers are able to pick up a face mask kit at any open store, free of charge, or create masks to donate to organizations in need. JOANN continues to add new patterns and ideas to help those who are new to sewing.
  4. Sew, Sew, Sew – Wash your hands and get busy sewing! Have fun while you do it! Involve the whole family and set up an assembly line. Play some music! Take pictures!
  5. Celebrate! - Bag the face masks and drop them off! Be sure to record your donation. Post pictures on social media with #Iowa4HFacemasks.

Face Mask Straps

mask strap 4 HDo you want to help out but sewing is not your thing?  Many health care workers are required to wear their masks all day long. As the hours wear on, the straps have been known to hurt their ears. In order to make those long hours more comfortable some have started to wear mask strap extensions, a piece that goes across the back of their head for the straps to attach to instead of their ears. Iowa 4-H is encouraging members, parents, volunteers, alumni, and friends to help out this effort by producing and donating mask strap extensions. We have a couple of options available for you:

3D PRINTING If you have access to a 3D printer, you can print off mask strap extensions using one of these files. Other examples can be found on this pattern website or this page of the pattern website.

CRICUT If you have access to a Cricut, you can find directions on cutting mask strap extensions in this Mahaska County Extension news article.

CROCHET If either of the previous two options are not for you, you can crochet a strap extension. Some examples can be found in this Facebook blog video, or this free online pattern download.

After producing your mask strap extensions donate them to a local entity in need.  Some possible examples would include your county emergency management, hospital, nursing homes, police, etc. 


Surgical Caps for Medical Professionals

Do you need a break from sewing masks? Many medical professionals have identified the need for washable surgical caps as the PPE shortage continues. These caps are simple to sew out of cotton quilting fabric, and buttons can be attached behind the ears to hold face masks in place to prevent ear pain. Iowa 4-H is encouraging members, parents, volunteers, alumni, and friends to help out this effort by producing and donating surgical caps. Check with your local hospital or medical professionals you personally know to help identify a department to donate your surgical caps. This pattern is simple and free to print online.


Looking for a way to make this into a fair exhibit? Check out these ideas for a 4-H exhibit goal card.

What did you plan to learn or do?
What was your exhibit goal(s)? A goal includes an action, result, and timetable. The ideas below are different action parts of a goal. Be sure to consider what your result and timetable are as well.

Some options include:

  • Serve my community/country in a time of need. (Citizenship 10510)
  • Learn to sew a straight line. (Sewing and Needle Arts 10470)
  • Learn to cut fabric. (Sewing and Needle Arts 10470)
  • Learn to sew a pleat. (Sewing and Needle Arts 10470)   
  • Test out different mask patterns and evaluate for comfort and fit. (Sewing and Needle Arts 10470)
  • Compare the different masks for affordability. (Consumer Management 10430)
  • Study the health impacts of different masks. (Health 10450)

What steps did you take to learn or do this?
Explain what you did so it is easily understood. The judge wants to know and understand the steps you used to make your exhibit. (You might also consider including/linking to the pattern and directions you used when making your exhibit.)

Include your decisions on the following:

  • Who to donate masks to and why did you choose that option?
  • What pattern(s) did you select?
  • What supplies did you gather?
  • Describe the construction process you used.
  • How did you distribute the masks?
  • Any follow-up that you had with recipients.

What were the most important things you learned?

Reflect on what you learned. Include what you learned about your goal. 
Did you learn anything you did not intend to learn? What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?