100 yen shop chain Daiso shares some priceless knowledge that we immediately put to the test.
Paper face masks continue to be one of the hardest things to find in Japan, unless you happen to be in a store right as a shipment comes in or encounter the mysterious mobile mask merchant who cruises the streets of Tokyo selling loose masks out of the back of his car. So instead, a lot of people are recommending you make your own cloth masks instead.
And it’s really easy! All you need to do is cut the proper length of cloth from whatever roll of fabric you’ve got handy, select your string as you follow the pattern either sewing by hand or using your sewing machine, then choose a pair of elastic loops from the stock you have and attach those. No problem, right?
What’s that? You say you don’t have all those supplies sitting around your house and/or never learned to sew? OK, then how about making a mask out of a sock, which requires no sewing skills at all and can be done in just two minutes?
On a recent shopping run to 100-yen store Daiso, our Japanese-language reporter Go Hatori noticed a sign showing the step-by-step instructions to turn a sock into a mask, with packs of socks conveniently on the rack right below. Snapping a picture for reference, he purchased a six-sock pack for 200 yen (US$1.85) and headed home to get to work.
Aside from the sock, all you need is a pair of scissors and a paper towel. Since Step 1 is to remove the toes and heel by cutting near their seams (as shown by the dotted lines below), a short sneaker sock works best.
Step 2: Trim the left and right edges to create a more-or-less symmetrical shape, like a rectangle with pinched sides.
Step 3: Cut two vertical slots into the cloth, stretching from the bottom edge to the cloth’s mid-point (as shown by the dotted lines in the illustration below). These are eventually going to become the ear straps.
Step 4: Roll the fabric around until the two holes you created by making the cuts in Step 3 are in front of you. This should also mean the natural fold of the fabric is running horizontally across the middle of the cloth.
Step 5: You might have some excess cloth hanging off the edges of the front of the mask, so feel free to trim those away for a better fit and less wobbling.
Step 6: Finally, take a folded paper towel, slide it into the hole, and you’re done!
Daiso says its standard women’s-size sock (for foot sizes 23-25 centimeters (9.1-9.8 inches), which Go used, should work for most wearers, but the directions are the same if you need more coverage and use a larger sock.
Trying on his finished mask, Go found the fit secure but comfortable, thanks to the sock fabric being the sort designed to provide cushiony support for the impact caused by walking or running.
▼ The complete process
Best of all, with Daiso’s low prices, he’s now got multiple masks ready to go. Really, this was Go’s best 100-yen shopping trip since he bought that special stress-relieving pile of poo, and it’s good to know that his plan to go from naked to fully clothed without leaving a Daiso store would work even if he needed a mask.
[ Read in Japanese ]