In exerting every effort to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of coronavirus disease, medical professionals and health experts have taken to social media to disseminate precautionary measures and other helpful tips on how to stay healthy as strict stay-at-home orders are implemented across the globe.
Among these are frequent hand washing, social distancing, practicing respiratory hygiene, and avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth. (Source: World Health Organization)
There are also a number of easy-to-follow DIY projects you can do at home, like face masks.
A medical grade face mask can be procured through businesses with a medical director or those that operate under a physician’s license. A company with a physician’s license is more likely to provide face masks that live up to higher standards. The term itself is a good indicator of quality. (Source: Self-Growth)
Surgical masks vary in design, but are typically flat and rectangular, with pleats. This type of mask has three layers, made to block large-particle droplets or sprays that may contain viruses and bacteria and prevent these germs from reaching your mouth and nose. A surgical mask also helps reduce exposure of one’s saliva and respiratory secretions. (Source: FDA)
There is no reason to hoard personal protective equipment. Health care workers are the ones who need them most.
That doesn’t mean we can’t stay protected and help protect those around us. A DIY, non-medical grade face mask is also great for providing a physical barrier to fluids and large particle droplets.
Here are five non-medical grade face masks you can make yourself.
The first one is pretty basic. All you need are three simple items:
- A bandana or a square cotton cloth that measures about 20″ x 20″
- Coffee filter
- Rubber bands or hair ties
The first thing you need to do is cut the bottom off a folded coffee filter. Be sure to keep the top part as it’ll come in handy for the mask filter.
Then, fold the cloth in a rectangle.
Place the filter in the center of the fabric and fold the long ends of the fabric over the filter to make a seam in the middle.
Now that the cloth has been folded into a thin rectangle, attach the rubber bands or hair ties around each end of the fabric, making sure to keep them at least six inches apart.
Then, fold the ends of the fabric to the middle. Tuck the edges into each other and finally, place each band around each ear.
There’s another tutorial you’ll find easy, too.
It teaches you the Olson Mask Pattern, a technique designed by medical professionals to be used when other surgical and N95 masks are not available.
For this mask, you’ll need
about 1/4 yard tightly woven cotton fabric
2 hair tie elastics
Here are helpful patterns to help you get started:
Save time by using only the following templates: Mouth 1, Cheek 1, and Face 1.
Layer the fabric with wrong sides facing so you can cut two pieces at once and they’ll be reversed.
Take the cheek pieces and mouth pieces to your ironing board.
- Press the longest straight edge on the cheek pieces over to the wrong side by 1/4’’.
- Press the straight edge on the mouth pieces over to the wrong side by 1/4’’.
- Sew along the fold on all of these pieces to make simple single hems.
Sew the Curved Mouth and Face Edges
- Place the two ‘Face’ pieces right sides together and sew along the curved edge.
Place the two ‘Mouth’ pieces right sides together and sew along the curved edge.
Pin and Sew the Pieces Together
- Place the cheek pieces and the mouth piece (sewn along the curved edge) on your workspace, with the right sides of the fabric down as seen above. If necessary, refer to the templates to ensure that you are not arranging any of them upside down.
- Allow the cheek pieces to overlap on top of the mouth piece by about 1’’ and pin at the top and bottom of each cheek piece. (Do not worry too much about how much to overlap the mouth piece with the cheek pieces right now – you will adjust them for an accurate fit in the next step.)
- Place the pinned ‘inside piece’ on top of the face piece, right sides together.
- Place the pinned ‘inside piece’ on top of the face piece, right sides together.
- Match the pieces together at the center seams and place pins at the top and bottom center.
- Line up the straight edges on the sides and pin.
- Now carefully remove one of the pins that holds the mouth and cheek pieces together. Smooth and adjust out the fabrics so that they fit nicely between the sides and the center seam.
- Re-pin through all layers.
Repeat for all 4 pins that attached the cheek pieces to the mouth piece.
Sew all the way around the mask with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.
At each of the corners:
- stop with the needle down
- lift the presser foot
- turn the fabric
- put the presser foot down
- continue sewing
Turn the face mask right side out through one of the openings next to the cheek piece. Place one side edge through a hair elastic and fold over by about 1/2’’. Stitch the side edge down, backstitching at the beginning and end to secure well.
We have Sew Can She to thank for such a detailed tutorial.
Here’s another easy to make fabric face mask.
You’ll need the following:
- Pattern, which you can get here
- 1/4 yd outer fabric
- 1/4 yd inner fabric
- 14″ of 1/4″ elastic
- Cut out the pattern and fabrics. Cut four pieces of fabric using the pattern piece.
- Stitch the two pieces together.
- Add the elastic.
- Stitch the pieces right sides together.
- Turn the mask.
Check out the detailed tutorial here.
The fourth DIY mask is a bias tape surgical face mask with flexible nose.
- 100% quilting cotton fat quarters
- Sewing machine
- Rotary cutter
- Self-healing cutting mat
- Acrylic ruler
- Sewing pins
- Floral wire on Amazon
- Wire cutters
- 1/2″ double fold bias tape
Pin the fabric. Place two pieces of fabric right sides together. Save the third piece for the end of step 2. Place a pin in each corner of the rectangle and horizontally mark the center of the rectangle
Sew Filter Pocket. Sew a straight horizontal line leaving a 2-3″ opening in the middle. Grab both top corners of the top fabric only and pull them downwards to meet the bottom. Flip mask over and this time grab the bottom two corners of the top fabric and lift them up to meet the top. Press seams with an iron. Place the last rectangle on top of the lining with right sides facing each other. Sew the short sides of the face mask making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam using a 3/8ths inch seam allowance.
Turn fabric. Turn the mask right side out and use an iron to press it flat. Take care to roll the seams outwards.
- Create pin tuck markings. Create three pintuck markings by folding the mask in half and pressing it with an iron and then folding the outside edges to the center and pressing again.
- Sew bias tape. Open the ends of the bias tape and fold them backwards so the right sides are touching each other. Sew a straight line along the short end of the bias tape making sure to backstitch. Turn the corner right side out to create a clean finish.
- Find the center of the bias tape and position it at the center of the mask. Open the bias tape to align the raw edge of the bias tape with the raw edges of the mask. Pin in place along the length of the mask. Sew the bias tape in place along the crease closest to the raw edge, repeating this on the opposite side. The filter slot should be facing away from you, this will be located on the backside of the mask.
- Fold the bias tape upwards and encase the raw edge, pin in place and sew along the entire length of the bias tape 1/4th of an inch from the edge. You can use your fingers on either side to guide the bias tape as you sew it.
- Create pin tucks for your surgical mask with flexible nose. Create 1/2” folds facing downwards. Pin the folds in place making sure all tucks are facing the same direction.
- Topstitch your surgical mask with flexible nose. Sew over the pintucks along the right and left edge of the entire mask using a 3/8ths inch seam allowance.
Download the free tutorial here.
Here’s another easy tutorial. You need:
- Cotton fabric, 1 yard of 36″ x 44″ = 12 masks
- 1/4″ elastic (or smaller, just depends on what you can find)
- Chenille stem
- Cut elastic 7″ (2 pieces of 7″ one for each side) You may want to experiment with the length of elastic for your face, before cutting. You need two pieces of fabric and two pieces of elastic for each mask.
- Place fabric, right sides together and stitch starting about halfway on the 9″ side using about a 1/4″ to 3/8″ seam.
- Before you get to the corner, insert a piece of elastic between the fabric. Continue stitching to the corner, turn and stitch along the 6″ side of the fabric.
- Before you get to the corner, grasp the other end of the elastic and position in the corner. Stitch to the corner and turn. Continue stitching around the mask until you reach the other corner.
- Attach elastic to that side of the mask in the same manner.After the second piece of elastic has been attached, continuing stitching to your start point, but leave a space of about 1.5″ to 2″ for turning your face mask.
- If you are using ties instead of elastic, secure them in the same manner. It will take four 16″ ties for each mask.
- The next step is to make a casing for the chenille stem. Find the center of the face mask and place a pin, or a mark, about 2″ on either side of the center mark. Make a casing of about 1/4″ about 5.8″ away from the edge. Leave the casing open on one end.
- The casing is at the top of the face mask, in the center. On the backside, take a seam ripper and make a very small slit in the back fabric. Be careful not to go through both pieces of fabric.
- Fold the chenille stem down on each end, just a bit. Insert the chenille stem into the casing and close the open end by stitching over it a couple of times. Be careful not to let your needle hit the chenille stem in case it should break the needle.
- Make three tucks or pleats in the face mask. They should be going in the same direction on each side.
- Starting at the top of the mask on one side, stitch about 1/4″ or 3/8″ from the edge. Stitch around the mask, removing pins as necessary to keep them out of the way. Take care that the edges of the opening that we used for turning (on the lower edge) are tucked to the inside when you stitch in this area.
- Once you’ve gone all the way around the mask with the 1/4″ or 3/8″ stitch, do another stitch around the mask right close to the edge. Again, take care that the edges of the open area are tucked inside and you catch that part with the stitch.
To further help you create an effective face mask, here are helpful guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Cloth face masks should:
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include multiple layers of fabric
- allow for breathing without restriction
- be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
These non-medical grade DIY face masks will not completely protect you or others from viruses.
Continue to wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, and keeping up to date on the best practices recommended by the CDC and medical experts.
Making your own masks at home can be a great project for the entire family to do together. Stay safe!
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