Face masks — for covering your face, not the skin-care type — are in high demand, and fortunately for everyone, they’re also easily made at home.
The CDC is now recommending that everyone, not just medical workers, wear protective covering when going outside. The purpose of wearing fabric face masks is to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, particularly in public spaces, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. Face masks are designed to prevent wearers from touching their faces and prevent us from unknowingly transmitting the virus, as not every carrier shows symptoms of having the virus.
Material-wise, designer Tanya Taylor — whose company is producing face masks for medical workers — recommends using common household items that you already have in supply. “You will need something for the mask itself, such as a piece of clothing or cloth that you are okay cutting up, and something to keep it around your face, such as hair ties, rubber bands, a ribbon, or even shoelaces,” said Taylor.
Scott Segal, chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, advises using fabric with “quilter’s cotton” with a thread count of at least 180. You want fabric that is breathable but does not let in a substantial amount of light. “You do want to use a woven fabric, like batik, but you don’t want to use a knit fabric, because the holes between the knit stitches are bigger,” Segal told NBC News.
The other key is making sure the fabrics are clean and machine-washable. “Ideally, you would use 100 percent cotton or a poly/cotton blend and at least three layers, but any covering is better than none. The mask should be snug but comfortable and should fit over your nose and past your chin,” said Taylor.
On the CDC website, it is advised that individuals “should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.”
That being said, it’s important to note face masks will not be able to completely prevent the virus from spreading. It’s absolutely vital to continue practicing social distancing and limit exposure to spaces where the virus may be highly active. The CDC also urges wearers to not buy medical-grade masks (N95 respirators and surgical masks), as they are already in limited stock and should be reserved for essential health care workers. Here’s how to make a fabric face mask in three different ways.
Gianna Rosiana, a New York– and London-based costume designer, has been putting her sewing skills to good use by making face masks at home. Rosiana uses bias tape, dog pads (for filtered padding) and cotton fabric from T-shirts and bedsheets. Using a sewing machine and Joann’s Fabrics’ instructions, Rosiana has been able to make face masks for her community, including her mom’s friends who work in health care.