You might have noticed that the internet has exploded with videos, articles, and step-by-step instructions for DIY cloth face masks. Despite early rhetoric against wearing face masks in public to reduce respiratory transmission of coronavirus, the Trump administration is reportedly finalizing new guidelines that fall in line with other countries and recommend face coverings when in public.
Data show face masks are highly effective, especially in addition to social distancing and hand-washing. And as we face the reality of shortages of face masks and other protective personal equipment, it’s important to leave the official stuff for health care workers. Experienced sewers, crafters— even well-known fashion designers— have already responded by making masks following medical guidelines to send to hospitals. Here are some resources if you want to get involved in creating or funding masks for the health care workers who need them.
There are three reasons to make your own face masks.
Making your own mask keeps official protective gear available for health care workers who are dealing with shortages of personal protective equipment. Wearing a mask when you need to be out of your house is an act of community solidarity, showing people around you that you care about protecting them as much as keeping yourself protected. And it’s an empowering chance to exercise creativity and personality during a time of uncertainty.
Homemade cloth masks are not as effective as the high-grade filtered masks, such as N95 respirators, but the point is to put a protective layer between your nose and mouth and other people’s respiratory droplets. So use layers of tightly woven breathable material; cotton is recommended. Kaiser Permanente published instructions on DIY masks calling for two layers of cotton fabrics with a tight weave. Some designs include space for a filter layer. Make multiple masks— or at least two—to keep in rotation, and remember to wash your mask after every use.
Here are several DIY options you can get started with.
For the “savvy sewers”:
For the “getting reacquainted with my sewing machine”:
This is the tutorial that I’ve been following myself. I find it fast and easy to modify. And I have been adding in a twist-tie inside the top seam so it can bend to fit the shape of my face.
For the “I don’t have a machine, but I can thread a needle”:
For the “I just need something on my face”:
And when you’re done, share your DIY face mask photos with us! Email them to [email protected] Share your ideas for face masks in the comments below.
Enkhbayar Munkh-Erdene is the former associate art director at YES!, where she lead art selection and photo editing for digital stories and products as a member of the digital editorial team. Enkhbayar lives in Seattle, and speaks English and Mongolian.