Some resources for DIY face masks

I don’t want to cause any fear-mongering with this post, it’s more of a resource for myself, so that I don’t lose the information that I’ve found.

In the wake of the corona virus, as with many of you, my eyes have been glued to social media and the news. Some things I found to be absolutely ridiculous – like the fact that toilet paper is sold out everywhere – and other things made me think twice. One thing that struck me was the shortage of face masks, especially medical-grade ones. Manufacturing of these masks is at 110% at the moment to try to cover the demand for these masks. However, the problem is not only the manufacturing capacity of the masks themselves, but also the material these masks are made of, which is called melt-blown fabric. “It’s an extremely fine mesh of synthetic polymer fibers that forms the critical inner filtration layer of a mask, allowing the wearer to breath while reducing the inflow of possible infectious particles.” (source). This fabric is able to block approximately 89-96% of infectious particles, depending on the size of the particle (source). Unfortunately, the machines on which the fabric is made are very expensive to produce and are very sensitive, which can lead to flaws in the fabric.

It’s most important for medical personnel, patients, and immuno-compromised people have access to these masks. But for the average, healthy, able-bodied person, a DIY mask could suffice. Use a DIY mask for running errands, small family gatherings, or going to work. Pair your mask with glasses or goggles. Other protective measures include hand washing, not touching your face, and cleaning high-traffic sufaces like door handles with anti-bacterial wipes.

Being a sewist, I thought this could be a simple project to take on that could have a positive impact. 

The best material for DIY face masks

According to a study in 2013, homemade masks filter at least 50% of particles (source). The study concluded that pillowcases and 100% cotton t-shirts are the best DIY materials to use based on both breathability and ability to filter particles. A vacuum cleaner bag was best at blocking particles, but were very difficult to breathe through.

This study was summarized with clear visuals by Paddy Robertson here: What are the Best Materials for Making a DIY Face Mask?

Some links to patterns for DIY face masks:

Properfit Clothing: Flu mask (suitable for carbon filter insert), Bape style mask, surgical-style mask, face mask

  • Face mask patterns cost $1.99 – $2.99 each.
  • You’ll find all the instructions on Properfit Clothing’s YouTube channel.

Craft Passion: Face mask sewing pattern

  • Cost: free
  • Range: 4 different sizes available from small child to men’s

Sew So Easy: Face mask sewing patterns roundup

  • Over 20 links to sewing patterns for face masks

No-sew face mask

MacGyver a face-mask if you don’t have sewing skills. All you need are a few supplies from the grocery store/office supply store.

DIY Face Mask – 8 Steps in Making Protective Gear

And by the way, if you’ve run out of toilet paper, there’s always soap and water and a towel.


Featured image: “Mask” by Marie Romanova-Permyakova is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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