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How to Make a Face Mask

 
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As far as masks (and the material to make them from) go, here are some thoughts.

This was a good article about the advantages of everyone wearing masks: Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve - Washington Post March 28, 2020

I already had a re-useable mask for myself pre-COVID outbreak because I am very prone to catching the flu.  I have an itchy nose, and if I'm not wearing the mask, I end up scratching it.  :-)  I suspect  that is a big part of the value of the masks, rather than keeping out viral sized particles.  But keeping out particles with household fabrics has been studied, it turns out.

Here's a little graph showing the effectiveness of different materials for masks for preventing infection:  



That's from this website: https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/best-materials-make-diy-face-mask-virus/

Here's a quote about those findings above:

On average, the homemade masks captured 7% fewer virus particles than the larger bacteria particles. However, all of the homemade materials managed to capture 50% of virus particles or more (with the exception of the scarf at 49%).



Then they report on double-layering - they found it wasn't much more effective.

And now it gets interesting - breathability:



And said this:

Although the tea towel and the vacuum bag captured the most particles, they were also the hardest to breath through. With two layers, the tea towel was over twice as hard to breathe through as the surgical mask. In contrast, the pillow case, t-shirt, scarf, and linen were all easier to breathe through than the surgical mask.

Based on particle capture and breathability, the researchers concluded that cotton t-shirts and pillow cases are the best choices for DIY masks....

Bottom line: Test data shows that the best choices for DIY masks are cotton t-shirts, pillowcases, or other cotton materials. These materials filter out approximately 50% of 0.2 micron particles, similar in size to the coronavirus. They are also as easy to breathe through as surgical masks, which makes them more comfortable enough to wear for several hours.

Doubling the layers of material for your DIY mask gives a very small increase in filtration effectiveness, but makes the mask much more difficult to breathe through.




Interesting that someone thought of vacuum cleaner bags..  I don't think I would have thought of that, as I associate them with dirt!  Clever.  Now I'm going to be looking around the house to make some more.
 
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Kim Goodwin wrote:

Then they report on double-layering - they found it wasn't much more effective.

Two layers may not be advantageous so far as filtering is concerned, but the shaped one I made is as easy, or easier due to the wire for the nose, to sew out of two layers. It also allows you to use a good filter on the inside, but potentially prettier fabric on the outside. All the masks I made (total of 8 for 4 different people) have flannel sheet as the inner layer, and a variety of cotton's for the outer layer. It allowed me to choose fabrics that the user would like and that looked as nice as possible for the wearer. If we've all got to start wearing these as a culture, I see no reason not to have a little fun with them. I was tempted to sew one of those little animal-shaped buttons onto my purple one pictured above, but I wasn't sure it would tolerate boiling if I get to the point that boiling is required. If we want people to wear them, being a little fun with them and making sure they fit, seems like a good approach.
 
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i'm loving all these ideas for diy masks, but my biggest concern is the gap around the nose. Maybe sewing in a few pipecleaners or other type of wire? or maybe cliping it to the nose with a clothespin? i kid but not really.
 
Jay Angler
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Vanessa Alarcon wrote:i'm loving all these ideas for diy masks, but my biggest concern is the gap around the nose. Maybe sewing in a few pipecleaners or other type of wire? or maybe cliping it to the nose with a clothespin? i kid but not really.

I used a scrap of aluminium alloy welding wire in the sewn pocket. It has a little spring to it, but it holds its shape. It's fit better than any mask I've ever worn.
Of coarse, that will require you to be friends with a welder! The scrap came from a welding course offered at a local community college.
 
Vanessa Alarcon
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Jay Angler wrote:

Vanessa Alarcon wrote:i'm loving all these ideas for diy masks, but my biggest concern is the gap around the nose. Maybe sewing in a few pipecleaners or other type of wire? or maybe cliping it to the nose with a clothespin? i kid but not really.

I used a scrap of aluminium alloy welding wire in the sewn pocket. It has a little spring to it, but it holds its shape. It's fit better than any mask I've ever worn.
Of coarse, that will require you to be friends with a welder! The scrap came from a welding course offered at a local community college.



shoot! i would be willing to buy a roll of it on amazon! thanks for the tip Jay!
 
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This German sewist designed a model without wire, instead she uses darts around the nose.
You can take a look here:
https://www.ellepuls.com/

I don't think you need to actually download the pattern. If you have a bit of experience, you could take a look at the placement and depth of darts and improvise on the pattern you already have (I have printed the pattern, but not made one mask yet).
 
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The gap is one of the reasons why I like the pleated face masks best.  They don't have to have a custom fit.
 
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My teen has been following along with a youtube video one of their friends parents recommended. So far we have donated about a dozen masks. We can't find any more elastic so I will have to order that online. To my understanding these homemade masks are not for use on covid-19 patients. The mom that was organizing this here said the masks are going to regular doctors and nurses who are seeing non covid patients but they still need to wear masks around them.
 
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news article about making cloth face masks
 
r ranson
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My daughter and I are making masks using the patterns on this page: https://www.craftpassion.com/face-mask-sewing-pattern/

I like it because it's fitted and they have sizes for kids and adults.  Here is mine, in the teen/woman size:
fullsizeoutput_1773.jpeg
Home made cotton fabric mask
Home made cotton fabric mask
 
Julia Winter
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This is what the pattern looks like (you just print on regular paper and cut it out).
RenderedImage.jpg
Fabrics and pattern for home made masks
Fabrics and pattern for home made masks
 
Julia Winter
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We are using aluminum for the nose bridge - it's scraps from skirting a mobile home.  Thicker than aluminum foil, but I can cut it with tin snips.

I'm cutting a piece a bit less than 1/2 inch wide and 4-6" long, with rounded corners.  It gets sewn into the top edge - you can see the stitching in the finished mask.

We don't have elastic, so we're using 4 pieces of cord to tie in two places.  I like being able to adjust the tightness and location - wearing a mask for hours (like I do at work) can lead to sore ears!

The key thing to remember is that a mask like this is for the protection of others.  It also protects you MOSTLY in that it keeps you from touching your nose and mouth, but mainly "my mask protects you, and your mask protects me."  We don't know if we have COVID-19 or not, we need to assume that we do, to stop the spread.

I'm wearing the fabric mask all day, for baby well checks, med checks, etc. If my patient has significant COVID symptoms, we are setting up video visits.  If my patient has a cough, I have an N95 - one, that is kept in a ziplock bag on my desk.  I don't have a full bunny suit, but I'm in a pediatric office, not an emergency room or hospital.
 
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I can't do this facemask-making. My sister doesn't have one and she works with handicapped people, her co worker got COVID now, i freaked out. I'm in another country. It seemed the same here, luckily i knew a woman who has a small sewing business. She looked into it, i send one of the designs of the Belgian government.
She made two to try, which i've collected. They have a little opening, you can put a filter in. People use cut up respirator bags.
There is no metal involved as of yet, so it's a bit open at the nose.
FACEMASK.jpg
[Thumbnail for FACEMASK.jpg]
 
Vanessa Alarcon
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Hi! Just came across this youtube video from a Doctor whose wife made him, what he considers, "the perfect mask". Im going to have to write down the link because my browser won't allow me to copy from youtube so i hope it works; but if it doesn't, the tile is:
A Doctor Explains How to Make the Safest Face Mask
by Dr. Ryan Southworth
 
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As a nurse, I really thought wearing masks in public was silly but then I read a well researched article on the statistics of mask wearing cultures versus non such as our own.  Mask wearing cultures are doing FAR better.  Since Covid19 is thought to spread by droplet and contact, an N95 mask is not required.  Any comfortable mask with at least a double layer, preferably with a pocket for a filter, will be useful in stopping spread.  Gloves in public are not a good idea unless you plan on taking them off, sanitizing hands and putting new ones back on every time you get in and out of the car.  Carry a pocket sized hand sanitizer and a disposable paper towel for hands and cart handles instead.  Our hospital has posted a mask pattern so I know that wearing a home sewn mask may soon be a possibility, but nursing homes and home health workers need them now.
 
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(cut up vacuum filter for example).



Sharing research that a co-worker posted to our work mail-list (our work has been work-from-home since 2nd week of March).

Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic? https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness/article/testing-the-efficacy-of-homemade-masks-would-they-protect-in-an-influenza-pandemic/0921A05A69A9419C862FA2F35F819D55/core-reader source: Cambridge University, published 2013 (also posted by the NIH but less easy to read the report there)

Here's one table of fabric findings:



One comment struck me about fit, and not fabric: "Although any material may provide a physical barrier to an infection, if as a mask it does not fit well around the nose and mouth, or the material freely allows infectious aerosols to pass through it, then it will be of no benefit"

So a pliable vaccum bag interfaced between cotton that can stretch over a variety of face types is probably the best a homemaker can do.  Looks like some sewers have figured out how to secure their masks around a nose ... probably the hardest part.

Also, bye-bye beards.

The CDC went further and posted a visual that basically says all beards prevent a proper fit of facemasks: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/pdfs/FacialHairWmask11282017-508.pdf

 
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Apparently, we can forget about the N95 surgical face mask. This one is the Trojan of face masks because of the fabric it uses: Halyard fabric H600 which blocks 99.9% of particulates and which is used to lay sterilized equipment on.
It is rated 4% better than the N95 and is a fabric that is commonly used in hospitals. Here is an article about it:
https://www.news-press.com/story/news/2020/03/27/university-of-florida-develops-masks-using-materials-already-found-hospitals/2924471001/
"That fabric, they say is available at any hospital that sterilizes equipment." [One should hope that means *every hospital*] so most likely, the common of mortals might not be able to lay their hands on the precious stuff, but if you have a hospital nearby, you might let them have the link so they could make their own as this would be a good way to recycle/upcycle their Halyard H600 fabric which is used to lay sterilized equipment on.
It has been though of by an MD and passed the respirator rest so it should be really good. This is how to make it:
https://anest.ufl.edu/wordpress/files/2020/03/PROTOTYPE-1-TUTORIAL.pdf
 
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Conclusion: homemade masks might be the most popular fashion accessory of 2020.

In the media over the last few days, there's been a push for the general population to wear homemade masks when they leave the home.

- keep the proper masks for the healthcare workers - they need it the most as they are risking their lives to keep us safe.
- homemade cotton mask have an average of 50% protecting (which is so much better than zero) a healthy person from catching this (so long as they still wash their hands obsessively and don't touch their facE).
- but where homemade cotton masks really shine is preventing sick people from sharing the virus in their droplets (coughing, speech, breathing).

Now the media has taken the next step in the argument and added one important element

- asymptomatic people can shed the virus.  

So you can be a carrier and have no symptoms.  Asymptomatic people shed far less of the virus so the original idea was that it isn't a problem.  But in the last week or two, we've learned more about the virus and... to put it in an excessively oversimplified way... the virus is more 'sticky' than normal virus so we don't need to come in contact with as much to catch it.  

- anyone can be a carrier

which means

- everyone is a potential carrier.

The media concludes that everyone should be wearing masks, not so much to protect themselves, but to protect others in case they are a carrier.  When using masks to STOP the spread of droplets, the mask doesn't have to have as strong a filtering properties nor does it have to have a perfect fit.  Like the plexiglass barriers in supermarkets, it doesn't need to be 'airtight', it needs to stop the spray.

Which leads us to the final point

- homemade masks are a simple way to stop the spread of the illness




I can understand why officials are slow to adopt this

1. If we have a huge die-off of doctors, nurses, and other front line workers, we won't have the skills to help people.  These people NEED MASKS and each disposable mask we wear reduces their ability to be safe.
2. Staying home and away from other humans offers far more protection than even the best mask.  It doesn't matter the filtration rate, there is so much user error that the best mask isn't going to be much better than a scarf on someone who isn't trained and experienced in wearing masks day in and day out.
3. The fear masks will give overconfidence and reduce handwashing (which is far more successful at stopping the spread than masks) and lead to lax social-distancing.  


I think if we can get people to understand masks aren't a substitution for social distancing and handwashing, the media might be on to something.  Homemade masks might make a big difference to reducing the spread.  But there is a genuine concern that saying this will take supplies away from those who need it most.  
 
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