making masks for Covid19

Making Your Own Mask

April 3, 2020

Those of us who have been making masks for healthcare workers knew that this was coming. The CDC has now recommended that EVERYONE  wear cloth masks in public. Yes, we KNOW they aren’t as good as a real N95 masks but they DO help.

If everyone
#4 WEARS A MASK if you must go out
we WILL save lives.

My recommendations? Don’t you dare hoard the medical grade n95’s. If you have them – save the life of a healthcare worker and donate it to them. Then stay home until you get a cloth mask.

Where to get a cloth mask? Support an entrepreneur. If you can afford it PLEASE buy a cloth mask from someone like Adia Jamille, who is a lovely young woman trying to support her family (her husband is out of work recovering from an amputation.) She will be taking pre-orders each Saturday.

Or find someone on ETSY or someone local who knows how to sew and has lost their job. Support your community financially this way if you have the means. Did you know you can set a filter to shop locally on Etsy? Type “fabric masks” in the search bar on your computer then in the left side bar scroll down to “shop location” and type in your city or state.

If you want to make your own mask there are a million tutorials out there and just as many recommendations. Two layers of tightly woven, high quality quilting cloth will be about 60% effective, mostly at keeping your germs from getting to other people. And if they are wearing a mask too, then the protection id doubled and we we will be a good way there towards being socially responsible.

My daughter and I have been making masks for healthcare workers that are requesting them, and will continue to do so. Free of charge.  If you have to ability to do so – please, please, please continue to do so.  My friend Gloria Hansen has put together a pretty amazing resource list for those wondering what to do and how to help.  Check out the website she built to match makers and healthcare workers.

Sew to Stop Covid

Now, if you want to sew your own:

The video tutorial below is
the quickest and easiest
mask tutorial I’ve found

My daughter and I can churn out ten masks an hour using this tutorial. If you are making them for first responders they are meant to cover an N95 to help it last longer. If you are making this for yourself you might want to use this tutorial which includes a pocket for a filter and a nose wire.

If you have more skills and time, the tutorial and pattern below is the mask I like the most so far, with a few modifications that I will explain below the video.

The pattern can be found HERE.

This mask has three layers of fabric. The inside layer is a pocket that you can insert a filter into. I haven’t researched the best thing to make filters with. Help me out and let me know what you find out (providing a link to the research please).
research thing #1 – be careful of vacuum bag or aircon heap filters as some are made with fiberglass which would hurt much more than help!
research thing #2 – blue shop cloths are supposed to be really good filters.

Here are the modifications I’ve made to make this mask the more comfortable.

1 – Test the sizing! You can print out the pattern in different sizes. If it’s too big it won’t keep droplets from escaping around the edges when you snorgel and sneeze. If it’s too big it also rides up and hits your eyes, which is a pain. She recommends making two pleats on the bottom of the mask and I highly recommend them for a much more comfortable fit.

2 –  Instead of cutting the top of the mask straight, I dip it in under the eyes and point it up near the nose. You’ll have to try it and see what I mean. Otherwise the mask will bother the bottom of your eyes. 

3 – I think I have sensitive ears. The elastics hurt if they are just barely tight enough to keep the mask on. I’m going to use ties instead  (see the first video). If you do have elastic to use then make them extra long and just tie them so you can loosen or tighten them after you wear it for a bit.

4 -T his is the tricky bit. If you make all three layers the same size, the inner layers bunch up against your face because of the way they are curved and it’s annoying. I trim just a bit off the bottom edge of the middle layer, and a bit more off the pocket layer. That way when you sew all the edges lined up together and they curve around your face, they nest nicely.

5 – I used 3″ of bendable wire that I have in my jewelry making stash for the nose piece and turned the tips in so they aren’t sharp and won’t poke through the fabric. This pattern really makes it easy to insert them.

6 – Fake mustaches are optional but highly recommended. We could all use a smile these days.


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