17 Apr Making an easy DIY face mask – a pattern by The Way Of Tea
Masks are a hugely debated topic right now. Some people swear by them, others say they don’t help. However many scientists are stating their effectiveness. And some effectiveness is surely better than none. Especially while supply of PPE is such a massive, ongoing, global issue.
Having said that, cotton masks have been tested in a study conducted in 2015 (published on BMJ Open), and results showed 97% of particles were able to penetrate the fabric, compared with 44% in a surgical mask. The gaps in the weave of even tightly woven fabrics are much, much larger than any single cell organism. Which is why many people are choosing to add a non woven layer to the masks they’re making for people working around patients with covid19, for people with symptoms to prevent spread or in situations where coronavirus may be present. Non woven fabrics, such as interlining, are a bed of randomly arranged fibres, laying on top of each other in different directions, all fused together. This leaves less space for viruses to jump through and start making trouble.
I’ve created my own version of a DIY mask, using materials readily available at home for most crafties, or that could be sourced easily online or from your community. It’s made up of three layers, each with its own function. Please be aware that this design is not medically tested and is a product of both my research and my knowledge of the properties of each fabric.
The layers are:
Outer – polyester. The kind that smells of airplane cabins when you iron it. I used 1970s dresses for this part but lots of other polyester will do. The thicker, shinier and squeakier the better. Shower curtains and tents are ideal as they are designed to keep water out. It is understood that the virus spreads mostly via droplets in coughs and sneezes. Polyester will repel these droplets away better than a cotton outer, so prevent them from penetrating to…
Layer 2 – non woven. As mentioned above, a non woven fabric is a more effective shield than any woven fabric. The holes in woven fabrics to viruses are like a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe in the Channel Tunnel. Non wovens provide a better wall between the wearer and the virus.
Lining – cotton. This is breathable and allows for less sweating, which of course can cause bacteria to pool and skin to get sore. Plus cotton is just a whole lot kinder to our faces and more comfortable to wear.
So, with all that info behind us, let’s get to the bit where we make stuff. You’ll need:
Non woven fabric (interlining is a good choice)
Cotton (this can be bed sheets, pillow cases or cotton shirts)
A ruler and pencil
A safety pin
A sewing machine
Step 1. Make your paper pattern
I made mine 10×6 inches. (You may notice I flit between cm and inches. I am not sorry; I love all equally and blame my inbetweener generation.) All 3 layers will be the same size. You only need one pattern and any paper will do. Newspaper or brown packaging paper works just as well.
Measure your pattern, draw out your rectangle, cut it up. This is your base for your mask.
Step 2. Cut out your pieces
Pin your pattern piece to the fabrics and cut one each of the polyester, non woven and cotton.
Step 3. Start stitching
Layer the non woven fabric on top of the cotton and stitch 0.5cm down the two short ends.
Step 4. Put the layers together
Layer the pieces together so the cotton is sandwiched between the non woven fabric and the polyester. Then stitch 0.5 cm around all the edges, leaving around 3cm gap at the end. This is so you can turn the whole thing inside out.
If the polyester layer you’re using has a right and wrong side, you’ll need the wrong side to face outwards when you stitch it together.
Step 5. Turn it inside out, which is in fact right side out…
Use your gap to grab your layers and force them inside out. Then flatten and press with your iron. Try to tease the corners out as much as you can. You can do this with a screwdriver easily enough.
If you’ve got it right, the non woven layer will be in the middle.
Step 6. Close up your gap
Next you need to tuck your raw edges inside your mask base so they line up with the rest of it. Then stitch up the gap.
Step 7. Make the bits where the elastic will go
You now have a nice, neat base for your mask. The next step is to fold back around 1cm on each of the short sides and pin. Fold so the polyester is on the outside. Then pin.
Step 8. Get your grooves in
Stitch down each side. You should now have a flat mask with two channels down either side. This is where the elastic will go.
Cut one piece of elastic to 72cm and attach a safety pin to one end. This will be used to guide the elastic through your channels.
Step 9. Thread the elastic through
This bit can be fiddly but also very satisfying. A bit like birth when you see that little shiny head popping out the other side.
With the cotton side facing you, force the safety pin and its elastic tail through the bottom right corner and pull it through the groove until it’s birthed into the top right corner.
Then take it down to the bottom left corner and thread it through again until it pops out of the top left corner.
If you’re really fastidious you can make sure the elastic isn’t twisted. Your wearer will love you for it.
Step 10. Stitch the elastic
Hold the two raw ends of elastic together, fold over each other around 1.5cm and stitch backwards and forwards for a few stitches until it’s secure. Then tuck the join into the channels on the side.
Your mask is now ready to wear. Ruche the sides up so the mask bends and curves around the face.
Please do make sure you wash masks that you are making for keys workers before you take them to be used.
Advice regarding cloth mask wearing specifically relating to coronavirus, published on BMJ Open in March 2020 states:
‘If health workers choose to work using cloth masks, we suggest that they have at least two and cycle them, so that each one can be washed and dried after daily use. Sanitizer spray or UV disinfection boxes can be used to clean them during breaks in a single day. These are pragmatic, rather than evidence-based suggestions, given the situation.
Finally for COVID-19, wearing a mask is not enough to protect healthcare workers – use of gloves and goggles are also required as a minimum, as SARS-CoV-2 may infect not only through the respiratory route, but also through contact with contaminated surfaces and self-contamination.’
If you are working on the front line and are in the Norfolk area and require a face shield please contact me and I will put you in touch with a team who is producing these for free for key workers.