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How to Make a Face Mask

 
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If anyone is sewing the pleated masks that I mentioned upthread, could you get in touch with me via PM?  These are the absolute best for allergy season (work so much better than any drug) and now that it's acceptable to wear masks in public, I would love to arrange a swap for a few in this style.
 
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S. Bard wrote:In Belgium they have asked people to sew masks to help the supply for the hospitals. They released an Instruction PDF on how to make it.
They suggest a double layered cotton design, where you can insert whatever removable filter you have at home (cut up vacuum filter for example). The design is approved by the federal health office. They say this design isn’t medical grade, but given the shortage it is the next best thing. Once you remove the filter, the mask can be sterilised by boiling to be re-used.
The pdf plus printable pattern is unfortunately written in Dutch, but there are lots of pictures, so I’m sure sewing-savvy people will have enough info with this.
If people are interested, I can look into helping with the translation.




What I like about their is that it covers nose and mouth and goes down the neck further than the regular surgical masks we see around here. they seem a bit looser too, which adds to the comfort.
 
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I felt a bit intimidated by all that mask patterns around.

So I took some time this afternoon to browse and compare patterns.

I have decided to make two, first a very simple pleated mask as featured in the first (or second) post of this thread.
I did not rethread the machine and kept the needle I had, so the seams are a bit wonky. Still it was a VERY quick knit (edit: obviously not "knit" but sewing project).
Here is the instruction I used: https://naehtalente.de/mundschutz-selber-naehen/ (in German)

The second mask has a much better fit and has been modified and enhanced over the last few days.
It has a tunnel to insert a metal piece around the nose and has room to insert an additional filter. Just make sure to make all tunnels wide enough.
The instruction has been translated to English: https://naehtalente.de/sewing-a-face-mask/
Maske_einfach.jpg
Simple pleated mask
Simple pleated mask
Maske_2.jpg
molded mask
molded mask
 
r ranson
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I found these beautiful masks for sale on Life Without Plastic.  A bit expencive for my budget, espcially now.  But they also link to this article: https://time.com/5799964/coronavirus-face-mask-asia-us/?mc_cid=498bcc7368&mc_eid=01b271f2bb

They talk about how the masks aren't as good as the N95, but given the global shortage and the excess polution from disposible maks, this makes a good alternitive for those who aren't in frequent close contact with sick people.  
 
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This may have been mentioned in previous posts and I know some instructions specify two different fabrics.
It's important though so just in case.....

IF YOU ARE SEWING MASKS: Please READ this important instruction from a local Nurse Practitioner.

Big thing with the masks that we have been seeing. There needs to be a different fabric design or color used for inside and outside of mask so we can quickly tell which side has been to our face and which said has been toward a patient. Makes a difference in how you take it on and off and then put back on. Want to know which side you already had facing the patient to you don’t mistakenly put that side toward your face when you put it back on. We have had some very well intentioned people make masks that may not be the most helpful.

 
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My job, which seems more and more futile is involved with distributing PPE (masks). To say there isn't enough is an understatement at best so THANK YOU to those are making them, and that's official!

The rest of of this isn't official at all, just my thoughts. I'm not medically trained but I talk to a lot of folks that are and I read. The CDC I think, still recommends that the general public do not wear masks. I think that might be partly if not completely because there just aren't any. Also they are not a 100% protection against contracting the virus., This relates to some earlier discussion in this thread about the size of the substance being screened. A virus is a very tiny thing but they don't generally exist individually, they are contained in a droplet. In the case of Covid from what I'm hearing they may exist in very small droplets, almost in breath, not just bigger ones from coughing or sneezing.

I disagree with the CDC about wearing masks, sure they aren't 100% effective against getting it but they are extremely effective against GIVING it. Since many people can have it and not even know it, that is very important. If you wear a mask you reduce the distance you spray a sneeze from several feet to a couple inches.  So keep making and wearing those masks! Even if they are just folded over tee-shirt material, I wish everyone had them and wore them all the time. They may also remind you not to touch your face.

This is just my theory but I think an absorbent material is best especially for protecting others because it might capture the moisture in our breath thereby capturing the virus with it. I also wonder and again, just my speculation if salt might help. From what I understand salt water will not kill a virus but still, salt has some ability to kill things. That's why people who are nearly drowned in salt water recover easier than in fresh water and why it's used as preservative, that's against bacteria which of course is a different thing. Still, I think it might help but maybe only it's dry.

So I wonder if our masks were made of absorbent cotton, boiled in a saturated salt solution and allowed to dry what might happen to the virus in a droplet that encounters it. Might the moisture in the droplet, dissolve the salt and then quickly re-dry? Locking up and maybe even killing it? I don't know. If they were well made of quality material they could just be dropped back in the boiling salt solution and dried for reuse.

If I knew how to sew I think I would just use a quality wash cloth doubled over a couple times. It would have elastic around the edge to help seal it and durable elastic to hold it on. I might think about some sort of impermeable material directly over the mouth and nose. This, I theorize might force the air to travel horizontally through the material rather than straight through offering more opportunity to encounter a fiber or salt crystal.  

It might just be wishful thinking but maybe it would have a placebo effect it nothing else. As long as I think it won't hurt somehow, I think anything is wort a try, even if all it really does is make me feel a little better about it all.

I guess I need to add a little disclaimer, I don't think breathing through salt would hurt but I don't know that for sure.


 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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r ranson wrote:I found these beautiful masks for sale on Life Without Plastic.  A bit expencive for my budget, espcially now.  But they also link to this article: https://time.com/5799964/coronavirus-face-mask-asia-us/?mc_cid=498bcc7368&mc_eid=01b271f2bb

They talk about how the masks aren't as good as the N95, but given the global shortage and the excess polution from disposible maks, this makes a good alternitive for those who aren't in frequent close contact with sick people.  




Thanks for the info. At $18 a pop, they are not very affordable but I'm going to stretch for 2 [One for hubby, one for me].
*- For one, we should try to live plastic free if at all possible and we should encourage folks who help us achieve that if we can.
*- For two I'm well past the age of caring if folks look at me funny for wearing a mask: Look at the progress they've made in places where the masks are commonly worn: They are coming out of the crisis. US, not so much, so I understand the surgeon General telling us that they don't work so wee don't hoard them away from healthcare givers, but if they work for healthcare workers, why wouldn't they work for us? Even if they are less effective as the N95 surgical masks, we are not doing surgery, so a lesser mask is perfectly appropriate and affords us more protection than NONE.
*- For Three, Wisconsin used to be among the top 3 in the production of hemp, and now that it is OK to grow hemp again, it would give a lot of farmers additional income if we buy products made with hemp. so thanks again for the very informative post!
 
r ranson
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I like the masks the people were wearing in this news story

 
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Judith Browning wrote:This may have been mentioned in previous posts and I know some instructions specify two different fabrics.
It's important though so just in case.....

Want to know which side you already had facing the patient to you don’t mistakenly put that side toward your face when you put it back on.  


That seems pretty easy to ensure with a simple marking of some kind. If there's not already some contouring and stitching that makes it clear, write "Inside" on the face side or draw a smiley on the outside, for example.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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David W.: I like the idea of drawing a smiley on the outside of the mask. In spite of dire times, or perhaps because of them, and with a mask, the inability to be seen smiling by others, it is all the more important to wear a smile. a big dimension of our humanity disappears when we do not offer smiles to those we interact with.
 
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Beth Wilder wrote:

Judith Browning wrote:I wonder about using some of the non woven things used in clothing construction like pelon or some other interfacing fabric sold by the yard (or something similar to the vacuum cleaner bags mentioned in Anne's quote above) that might filter but not make such a humidity pocket behind the mask like a cotton fabric does?


Someone in my local fiber arts guild said, "I've just learned that the filtration membrane in a surgical mask is meltblown polypropylene. Better known to BFAGsters as nonwoven fabric interfacing! A layer of this in your diy surgical masks might be a good idea!" What do you-all think? That in between a couple layers of cotton? It should help hold the mask's shape away from the face, too. This Instructable is the pattern folks around here have started to use, I believe.



I also discovered this fact a few days ago but I also learned that the actual filtration piece that goes in the middle is permanently electrostatically charged non-woven fabric. Also, many masks and filters are made from meltblown non-woven fabric include furnace filters!

Also, I have seen mask designs with pocket insertion for CPAP 2.5 filters and CPAP HEPA filters.
 
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I really like the masks that R Ranson posted a picture that look like red bandanas.  

I liked Cecile idea of drawing a smiley.

Here are some example of smiley if someone wants to get creative! Just for fun or maybe for kids.







 
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Thanks for the options in patterns y'all posted links to.

This is the one I used, for my personal mask, if I have to go to the grocery store (max once a week, in the first hour after they open). I modified it to have more of an overlap at the opening, to make air have to go through all the layers, and used a larger non-rusting wire for forming to the nose instead of a twist-tie. Remarks suggested different colors or patterns for front and back materials, to know which way to wear it, if you have to reuse before cleaning.
pattern

I cut apart a Hepa filter vacuum cleaner bag and used the inner lining as a replaceable insert. I take it out when I wash/sterilize the mask, then replace with a new piece. I don't have any data to support its effectiveness, but it seems like it would be better than just the two layers of cotton.

Here's an article showing effectiveness and breathability of different materials used
what materials to use

These are not the N95 masks that are needed on the front lines. This style is supposed to be to stop you from sneezing on someone else. It may, however, be better than nothing, and it keeps you from touching your face.

Stay well, y'all.
 
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Here's a link to a helpful Google doc about the importance of wearing a mask. It has a link to a research paper on the effectiveness of different kinds of masks.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258525804_Testing_the_Efficacy_of_Homemade_Masks_Would_They_Protect_in_an_Influenza_Pandemic

I am also quoting Adrien Lapointe again:

Adrien Lapointe wrote:Here is an interesting article about the efficiency of the homemade masks.

https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/diy-homemade-mask-protect-virus-coronavirus/



Also, I would like to add this. I have joined a group of people who are trying to figure out ways to repurpose hospital equipment to sanitize n95 masks for re-use. I am just reading through what they are doing. But from what they have gathered, in order to sanitize the masks, you got to heat treat masks to 70 degrees Celsius or 158 degrees Fahrenheit for half and hour. I think ideal is 80 degrees Celsius to kill C-Diff spores if in a hospital setting. So if you are going to sanitize your masks using heat, be sure that it can produce temperatures up to 70 degrees Celsius or higher. Some have placed masks in jar and boil the jars.

You could also use a bleach solution, though I don't know the ratio, for low temp sanitation.

One thing to keep in mind, use only the method that will not degrade the integrity/quality of your masks quickly. For example, UV-C sanitation methods can degrade n95 masks quickly.

And the very last thing, this is something that some hospitals are doing. They are writing names and dept on their n95 masks, bagging them in brown bags that also has a person's name on it. After sanitation, a strike is put on the mask to keep track of how many times it has gone through the sanitation process. I think only one person handles the sanitation process to limit cross-contamination. If you live with family or more people and all your masks are the same, this might be a helpful process to keep track of who's masks.
sanitation-masks.png
[Thumbnail for sanitation-masks.png]
 
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Here's some more information on how and why home-sewn cotton face masks can be useful.  https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/volunteers-are-sewing-homemade-face-masks-but-are-they-effective-1.4865858



What should homemade masks be used for?

Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, an infectious diseases specialist, said he doesn’t think that most of Canada’s health-care institutions are in a “dire situation” in terms of shortages of N-95 masks. However, he said that may be a problem in some of the country’s urgent care and family medical clinics.

The federal government said they have secured millions more masks for health-care workers in the country, while other industries, such as educational institutions and dental facilities, have been asked to turn over their supplies.

While Sharkawy said there may not be a use for homemade masks in the country’s hospitals just yet, he said they can be used in the home, especially by people who are caring for someone with COVID-19.



Are homemade masks effective?

While he doesn’t recommend them for doctors and nurses working directly with COVID-19 patients, Sharkawy said homemade face masks can offer some protection against the virus. He said homemade face masks can be made using cotton or even an anti-microbial pillowcase.

“You can use pretty much anything that is going to withstand a little bit of moisture and be rewashed,” he said.



USA CDC keeps updating their page to include reuseable and alternatives to medical-grade facemasks.


Yesterday morning I was able to get a private shopping appointment at a small grocery store to pick up some perishables and pasta.  There were two customers in the store and one staff member.  It was brilliant!  We took the long drive home because it's nice to get out and about, and it was interesting to see all the different people.  Over half the people were wearing masks and the majority of those masks were construction dust maks or cotton masks.  Some shops had ques outside due to limits on how many people are inside at any time.  Social distancing is getting really serious here - which is wonderful!  But I'm hearing whispers of people being shamed for not wearing masks in public.  

 
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I'm *really* hard to fit for most things, so I tried sewing one of the shaped masks. I made a pair and gave them to my son's girl-friend, then printed the "children's"pattern for me - yeah, much better fit:


Soo... yes, I don't have 1/4" elastic in stock and yes, most of the shops are closed.
Solution I used - I made the casing's larger, sewed a loop on one end of a piece of elastic and a button at the right spot on the other end. Now I can move my pair of "elastics" from mask to mask as I need to launder them, and if I think I need to seriously boil the mask to kill stuff, I can remove the elastic and wash it a little more gently in the hopes it will last. If you look at the picture, you'll see the button by my ear.

Elastic alternatives -1.  I used the round stuff salvage off a back pack
2. Harvest off an old pair of underwear.
3. Cut circles of material off the top of a lonely or holey sock
4. Cut a rubber band and staple it on.
5. Use a loop and a much larger button on a strap- my button is just to get the elastic on and off the mask, so I can see what I'm doing. If you don't have give in the system, you'll want something easy to do by feel.

The point is, look for alternatives if you don't have sewing elastic - it's more important to stay safe than make a fashion statement!

Fabric alternatives - This is another spot where there's a lot of controversy. There's a big difference between a two layer mask to keep a civilian safer and help them not spread the virus by coughing at the wrong moment, and our Hospital staff that need the absolute best they can get.

The mask I made with flannel inside (from the edge of a bed sheet that was worn out in the center) and cotton outside was easier to sew on my machine than the one in the picture which is flannel inside and T-shirt material outside. I think having at least one "fluffy" layer, like flannel, is recommended, but there's a lot of different opinions out there. Something reasonable is better than nothing, so I'd look in your rag bags and the back of your closet for anything that is stained or old that you're willing to cut up.
 
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Great hack with the button closure, Jay.

I have received a phone call from my SIL today asking me for some masks. She is afraid that she will not be able to go shopping in the next days without wearing a mask.

So I whipped up some more.
For those who don't have elastic, you can easily cut a long strip of cotton jersey to make string for closure. You cut up the hem of an old t-shirt for example as you can't use it anyway for other things.
Here are two models again, both with jersey strips for closure.

Then I made two more masks for the family. Daughter #1 requested one in black. We shared the work and first made a test mask. This was a bit too big, so I cut down the smallest size. Husband donated one of his black T-shirts for this. The fit was much better this time. I have permission to show it here.

Tomorrow I plan to go grocery shopping and will wear a mask.
jersey_closure.jpg
Home made masks
Home made masks
black_mask.jpg
Cool black home made mask
Cool black home made mask
 
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Anita Martin wrote:

This was a bit too big, so I cut down the smallest size.

Excellent job! A poorly fitted mask will not do as good a job and it is worth doing this right. I'm sure you'll find someone who fits the first attempt and needs one. If you've got a tiny face, I suspect the design with the wire makes a big difference - it definitely does with me, as without it, the mask tends to slide up into my eyes and then I'm constantly re-adjusting it which defeats the purpose!
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