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 help 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 edge to the 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 tie toward mask’s back then press each side of the long tie 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 or silk
- A used piece of dryer lint
- A folded paper towel.
Even if these masks do nothing more than remind one not to touch one’s face 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 than initially believed.
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 cloth masks for her local firefighters at their request. Every area is different.
Obviously, wash between uses.