While N95 masks are the ultimate face mask to use, trying to get hold of them and also ensuring that there are enough supplies for the medical front liners means that we need to think about using alternatives.
While cotton fabric on its own is unlikely to stop a persistent virus, using a face mask does mean that fewer germs are spread whenever someone coughs or sneezes. You can reuse old t-shirts, bed sheets (higher count cotton is particularly recommended), or any spare cotton material that you may have lying around. Think hand towels or kitchen towels.
Most of these DIY face mask patterns are double-layered with space for an insert. A variety of different things can be used for inserts from kitchen towels and extra cotton or fleece layers to vacuum cleaner bag filters.
If you have a sewing machine, most of them are pretty straight-forward. Our last recommendation also includes some instructions for sewing by hand.
1. Surgical-style Face Mask with Elastic or Ties
Sarah Maker’s face mask tutorial is one of the simplest I’ve seen. It only requires cotton cloth and elastic bands. There’s an adaptation to sew and use ties if elastic is hard to come by.
This face mask is based on the typical flat-against-your-face surgical wrap around style.
2. Surgical -style Face Mask with Jersey Cloth Ties
Dana’s face mask pattern is ultimately the same as Sarah’s. The main difference lies in that she uses two separate pieces of material. Making an attractive double sided face mask with two different fabrics on either side.
She recommends using t-shirt material to make the ties as they have a bit more ‘give’ in them, making them easier to tie and keep in place.
3. Respirator-style face mask
Joost de Cock has shared an easy to follow pattern for a respirator style face mask. This consists primarily of 2 separate sections sewn together to provide a more curved upper body of the mask.
With this mask, it is also possible to include a piece of garden wire or pipe cleaner to help ensure that the upper curve sits well against your nose.
4. 2 Patterns and tips for sewing by hand
Dixi offers both types of face mask patterns consolidated in one post. But more importantly for readers without a sewing machine, she also includes details on how to sew the masks by hand.
Please do remember that face masks do not offer full protection in any way, shape or form. It does help remind you to not touch your face, nose and mouth. It is also helpful in containing the spread in a minor way by limiting direct exposure when someone coughs or sneezes. Of course in this case, it would be most effective if the person with the cough or cold were to wear the mask.
If you are helping to sew masks for your local hospital, please do remember to check with them to ensure what style and fabric they would prefer used.
Take care and stay safe everyone.