The PA Department of Health has some info on masks. They have a basic bit of instruction on masks and then they refer people to the NYT instructions. Both, from my opinion as someone who has worn PPE and who sews, are lacking. Let me tell you what I think should be done.
This is what the PADOH says:
“How to Make a Homemade Mask out of Fabric or Cloth:
Below are instructions on how to make a mask at home.
Materials needed: • Fabric (100% cotton is most effective) • Fabric Ties • Scissors • Sewing machine or a needle and thread Instructions:
• Measure and cut two pieces of fabric in a rectangle pattern to fit snugly around the face (size 12 inches by 6 inches is standard for adults)
• Tightly sew both layers together on all edges
• Cut fabric ties to fit around the ears
• Sew the ties to the insides of the mask on the smaller edge, repeat on both sides
• Resew the sides to ensure a tight seal between both pieces of fabric and the earpiece
The above is going to make a pretty loose mask with no shaping to the face. The size of the NYT mask below is much better at 9.5” x 6.5”. It really needs the pleats in to fit closely to the lower face and offer some protection. The ties should be about 18” long to be tied around the head, one up high around the crown, and the other around the base of the skull. Here’s basically what you want to go for.
Sew the ties at the corners of the rectangle. Trying to sew them parallel to the rectangle, as shown in the NYT version linked below, will just drive you nuts because it is very hard not to catch the tie in the seam. You can also use elastic but it can be problematic as the NYT article indicates.
Fold the pleats so they look like a “Z” when you would look at the short edge edge-on. Basically, bring the lower pleat line up behind and the top line down on top in reference to the top of the mask.
Tutorials/Resources: • https://www.nytimes.com/article/how-to-make-face-mask-coronavirus.html”
Now, for the NYT version, it says you can use a tea towel. That will be damn near impossible to do unless you have a heavy-duty sewing machine (mine can go through leather and denim/canvas) or a heavy duty hand sewing needle (the little ones in a sewing kit just won’t cut it), since you’ll end up going through at least 4 layers of fabric for the pleats. I recommend you use a dress shirt or a pillowcase/sheet to get a tight but light weave.
Sewing the ties will also not be easy. If you are going to use the method in the NYT version, do it by hand because a sewing machine will likely eat the narrow strip. If you want to use a sewing machine, use a larger piece of fabric and sew the tubes by folding over the edge into the main body of the fabric, run a seam, cut off the resultant “tube” and do it again. Then you can pull the tubes inside out as if you were putting a cord back in a pair of drawstring sweats.
I recommend either knotting the free ends or sewing them closed. Mine have been washed with no problems. If you can raid grandma’s sewing kit and find some bias tape, ribbon (warning, ribbon can slip), etc it can make the ties go faster.
All in all, I personally prefer the fitted mask as you saw on my last blog post. But the pleated mask will work too. I’ve made quite a few now for friends. I did wear one for getting groceries and yep, they just aren’t fun to wear. Especially for us with allergies. But they are important.
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