I lost one of my jobs 6 weeks ago. I’ve been a nail tech for 29 years. At first felt sorry for myself, did nothing for the first week. I binge watched The Tiger King, painted the bathroom and refreshed the grout. I truly was mourning the loss of my “old life”. Being a wife, mom, nail tech and health coach I feel a sense of purpose every day. So when quarantine began I no longer felt like I had a purpose. All my clients were going through the transition as well and we are all having to pivot to this “new normal”. It’s scary but necessary.

Many people immediately saw a need for our frontline/essential workers mask needs and started sewing. I have my grandmother’s sewing machine but I certainly don’t have her sewing skills, but what she DID give me was a lesson in crocheting. A nurse friend posted about a need for “ear savers” or mask extenders that take the pressure off the ears from the elastic from masks. She shared a crochet pattern with buttons and I thought, “I can do that!” So I dug in the basement, found my (embarrassing amount) of yarn and got to work! It took me about 4-5 minutes to crochet each strip and my amazing neighbors volunteered to sew buttons on. I was amazed at the outpouring of donation of buttons I received and they were all put to great use. Most of them didn’t match but I think it made the ear savers have some serious character!

Fast forward two weeks, my hands began to ache. I would crochet for 8 hours a day and make about 80-90. My button sewers were getting tired and I just couldn’t keep up with the demand. That’s when I saw a pattern for ear savers cut with a Cricut machine! Don’t know what a Cricut is? It’s a die cutting machine but SO much more. It cuts over 300 materials including cardstock, vinyl, wood, leather and fabric. It also draws, engraves, embosses, perforates, scores etc. I purchased a Cricut Maker in January with my Christmas tips and I have been obsessed with it since. It’s been so fun to create things with it like t-shirts, home decor items, cards and custom gifts.

When I saw that I could cut ear savers with my Cricut machine it was a saving grace. No more achy hands! I could make 18-25 of them in about 20 minutes. Some materials used to make these are plastic poly school folders, plastic placemats and chopping mats (dollar tree). I had to do some experimenting to get the exact settings down for the materials I was using but finally got it down. I won’t bore you with all the settings and things that didn’t work. I will share all the final materials and settings that worked for me with my Maker.

I found the SVG file from here https://www.minordiy.com/medical-mask-ear-saver-svg/

She gives specific instructions, but this is what I found that works for me and my machine.

Poly School Folders

I began with the school folders because that’s what I had on hand. I found them at Office Depot for about 60 cents each so I bought all they had via curbside pick up. I will say that they are a bit flimsy and are considered more of a disposable item. They are cheapest material wise but more easily torn. I could get about 25 on each folder including the pockets.

Settings: Standard Green Mat, Premium Fine Point Blade, 350 pressure, cut 3x. ALWAYS DO A TEST CUT!

Dollar Tree Placemats

I found these placemats were a great value and much stronger material that will last a lot longer. They cut great and come in a bunch of different fun patterns and are basically reversible because they are printed on one side and white on the other. You could customize the white side with a cute decal if you really wanted to!

Settings: Standard Green Mat, Deep Point Blade (the black one), 310 pressure, cut 3x. ALWAYS DO A TEST CUT!

Dollar Tree Cutting Mats (2pk)

I have a love hate relationship with these mats. At first I got them to cut fine but quickly wore my deep point blade out and they got harder to cut all the way through. I purchased new blades and now can’t get them to cut all the way through at all. You can try to use the following settings and hope for the best: Standard Green Mat, Deep Point Blade, 350 (highest pressure), More pressure setting, cut 5x. ALWAYS DO A TEST CUT!

I settled on the placemats for my mass production and have made over 4,000 of them and donated them to hospitals, doctors offices, grocery stores, nursing homes, rehabs, retirement facilities and beyond. One of my favorite things to do is drive past curbside pickup spots and hand a stack of ear savers over. They are always so appreciative!

If you have a Cricut and are looking to add to the ever growing need for these ear savers I say bust it out and start cuttin’!

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