Tag Archives: cloth masks

Mask post #3

If you’re keeping up with the news, you’ll see new reporting about the utility of wearing masks. Most people I know are keeping exposure to an absolute minimum but still need masks to decontaminate food deliveries or go to the grocery store.

(I kept asking K, “How can 2 billion people be wrong?”) (well, okay, 1.4 billion, but you get my point. They now surmise that Hong Kong’s outbreak was contained somewhat by the prevalent use of masks).

While I wouldn’t recommend using masks that can otherwise serve the medical professionals, homemade cloth ones might just get the job done for the rest of us, especially if they have a pocket for inserting additional protection.

When I saw the video of the European tailor (below) whip up a mask out of three pieces of cloth in about three minutes, I was beyond impressed. This morning I finally gave his version a try. I want to share the extra steps that I devised to compensate for the fact that I don’t share his mad skills.

First the dimensions:

RECTANGLE: 7.5″ x 14″

TIES: 27.5″ x 1.25″

1) Press short lengths of rectangle under 1/4″. Fold in half. Top stitch from one edge in 2″ then top stitch other end 2″ from center to edge. I marked the two inch distances with pins.

(The tailor did not press first or make marks).

2) Press and pin pleats and stitch down. Finished length 3.5″

(The tailor folded as he went while attaching ties).

3) Fold tie in half to determine halfway point and pin, right sides together on pleats. Stitch down.

4) Press both lengths of the tie in towards its center with 1/4″ fold. That makes it easier to stitch.

4) Fold tie and stitch from mid-pleating to one tie end before reversing and stitching from mid-pleat to the tie’s other end. (If you are a precise and practiced seamstress, begin at one end of the 27″ tie and sew to the other end).

5) If desired add an X of top stitching for additional strength at corners of masks.

Voila! A cloth mask with a pocket made from three pieces of cloth.

Here are some ideas for inserts, roughly ranked from most to least effective:

  • Piece of furnace filter cut to size
  • Piece of vacuum bag cut to size
  • A maxi pad
  • A piece of batting
  • A piece of cloth, esp batik
  • A folded paper towel.

Even if these masks do nothing more than remind one not to touch one’s face while out and between hand washings, they have value.

This morning I read some speculation that the virus might in fact transmit through the air (and not just by droplets) for very short periods of time. That might make cloth masks more important.

Some hospitals will accept these to wear over N95 masks. Some hospice/nursing home caregivers have no masks at all and would appreciate these. One friend is making them for her local firefighters at their request. Every area is different.

Obviously, wash between uses.

PPE : two versions of mask

If you don’t have twist ties, cut wire and fold ends with needle nose pliers. These are about 4″ long when finished.

Cut CLOTH RECTANGLES 7.5″ x 14″

Press under each short end 1/8″ and then at the machine, turn another 1/8″ under and stitch for a finished hem.

Fold rectangle to create “envelope.”

Stitch across top flap to create a 1/4″ channel for wire. Insert wire and then stitch channel closed at ends of wire.

Cut FOUR straps — 12″ x 1″

Press in half, then fold sides to center, fold on top of each other, and stitch.

Take the envelope and stitch three pleats per short side for a finished length of 3.5″

Cut TWO facings 4″ x 1.25 or 1.5″

Stitch to wrong side. Lay two straps at the edges, fold facing over to right side and stitch, tucking ends of facing in and capturing straps.

Fold straps back on themselves to the outside and top stitch several times for strength.

These straps are longer than 10”

Deb found another version below. It offers an elegant simplicity. Three pieces only! No nose wire, but does feature the pocket for filter.

My understanding is that hospitals will wash and sterilize upon receipt but check before dropping off. Many hospitals in the Boston area will accept only masks made from fabric that they supply.