It’s difficult to keep your distance in a grocery store or pharmacy, so now the CDC says we should wear a homemade mask in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus — particularly in areas with high community transmission.
Officials don’t want healthy people using medical masks because of fears they would buy them all (kind of like toilet paper) and not leave them for health care workers.
We have the answer: Make your own.
The masks don’t need to be professional-grade to help fight against COVID-19. According to recent studies, the virus can spread between people in proximity by coughing, sneezing or even speaking.
It is important to note that covering your face with a piece of cloth won’t protect you. But, it could help you from spreading the virus if you’re like some people who lack symptoms and don’t know they have it.
Sewing your own mask is easy, says Jeannette Childers, who’s 77 and lives in Mesa, Arizona. She’s among scores of volunteers across the country sewing masks. So far, she’s made 65.
Materials you need to make a cloth face mask
How to download a face mask pattern
PDF of adult mask pattern
Note: Make sure your printer is set up to print at “actual size.”
1. Cut material and interfacing to 12 x 9 inches
2. Iron interfacing to material (adhesive side to back of material)
3. Once ironed, fold fabric in half with interfacing on the outside
4. Cut two pieces of elastic — each 7-inches long
5. Pin and sew 1/4-inch from edge leaving a 2-inch gap in the center
6. Put elastic band on each corner, inside the material and pin to keep in place, making sure the elastic is not twisted. Pinning in center as well
7. Using the pattern, mark locations of pleat lines and add pins on both sides
8. Fold 3 pleats. Sew around the entire perimeter of the mask, this holds the pleats in place, and closes the 2-inch gap
While you’re at it, make extra to donate them. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers.
But the homemade masks can help in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, like grocery stores, pharmacies or medical centers.
Angelica Jaramillo Harding, a nurse in Mesa, Arizona, picks up donated masks from a Joann fabric and Craft store every Friday to distribute at hospitals, medical centers and clinics. Last week, she gave away 350 of them.
Since March 23, Joann stores nationwide have been providing supplies to make masks for free if you donate the finished products. Since then, they’ve donated more than 16 million. “We’re definitely touched by the community,” Harding said. “It helps us not to feel alone in this.”