In times like these, we all scramble for security, a feeling of safety. One obvious thing to cling to are masks, as we all hope they will protect us and our loved ones from an invisible enemy that seems to be everywhere. But masks are in very short supply and worst of all: the current hype leaves those who need them the most unprotected: our doctors and nurses who are at the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Being part of the solution
The good news: There are ways in which you can still protect yourself and don’t take masks away from those who need them the most: You can make your own!
For the last couple of days, DIY guides have mushroomed all over the internet. The big question is: Can they protect you and your family? The simple answer: They may not be as effective as medical equipment but they are better than nothing. And most importantly, they don’t take the limited supply of medical equipment away from our health workers!
We’ll share below how you can make and take care of your own mask. But let’s review first in which ways these masks can actually help you:
How does the virus spread?
From what we know so far, the coronavirus can spread in two main ways:
- People can get infected if they inhale it when getting too close to someone who already has the virus. When they cough or sneeze, the virus spreads in tiny droplets of moisture and in the form of mucus and saliva.
- The virus can spread through surfaces. Think of a sick person coughing into their hand and then touching a handrail. If you touch a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth, you can also contract the virus.
This shows why keeping a safe distance (1.5-2m) and maintaining good hand hygiene (read: wash your hands long and often) are so crucial in keeping yourself safe! Whether you’re wearing a mask or not.
So how can a DIY mask help you?
Wearing a face mask can reduce the risk of infection in two ways:
- By blocking airborne droplets filled with virus from being inhaled – and of course they will help block your own if you’re sick!
- By stopping the wearer from touching their own mouths and noses. If you wear a mask outside, don’t take it on and off and avoid touching it!
Again, a DIY mask is NOT certified and will not give you the kind of protection medical gear would give you. But they were shown to be better than no protection at all. Find out more here.
How can I make my own?
So if you’d like to make your own mask, and you have a room full of fabric and sewing supplies and no other way to get a surgical face mask - here are some free tutorials and patterns for making one.
What you’ll need:
- Cotton-based fabrics for outer layer and lining
- Elastic tape (ideally 0.5 cm wide or smaller)
- Carbon sheet (optional)
- Scissors or roller cutter
- Sewing machine
Step 2: Place the patterns on the fabric and cut the fabrics following the patterns accordingly
Step 3: Put together each layer by stitching the middle part, following the seam allowance
Step 4: Trim the rounded seam allowance and notch it to reduce bulk when turning over the seam.
Step 5: Iron flat the seam allowances down the middle for the perfect curve
Step 6: Stitch the side edges of the lining piece over with 0.7 cm seam allowance rolled edge
Step 7: Place both layers’ RIGHT SIDES together and stitch the top and bottom edges together
Step 8: Flip the mask inside out and press the seams
Step 9: Fold over 0.5 cm seam allowance twice on the edge while encasing your elastic tape (adjust the length to fit accordingly)
Step 10: Press your mask and insert a carbon filter in between (optional). Done!
Again, please remain mindful of the fact that the best way to protect yourself is to keep a safe distance from others and to wash your hands well and often! And do have a look at the Care & Wear guide below.
Stay healthy and stay safe!
Care & Wear Guide
- When wearing your mask outside, avoid touching it. And keep your mouth and nose covered throughout. We see too many people who put their mask under their chin for a quick breather. That is not recommended.
- Wash your hands before you put on the mask, before you take it off and after you take it off! Yes, this is indeed necessary as your mask’s outside may be contaminated after use.
- Please wash your mask with detergent and hot water after every use!
- If you insert a filter, the best thing to do is to replace it after every use and throw the old one away before washing your mask. Make sure to wash your hands after touching the filter.