As coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease and we’re finally able to spend some (socially distant) time with friends and family, many of us will be trying to get our hands on face masks to protect those around us from potentially picking up the virus.
But with face masks selling out online, this might be easier said than done. So, what can we do to ensure we’re taking all the precautions we can to protect those around us?
An answer to this is to make your own face masks. Don’t panic if you’re not a dab-hand with a needle and thread or don’t have access to a sewing machine, though! Making your own face mask can in fact be really easy. Here, we’ll guide you through the process.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the material that you should use for your face masks. Lots of people are using bandanna material, as this is often soft and designed to cover the face anyway. Other people are being inventive, and even using old bras to create their masks! They are exactly the right shape, after all.
(If you haven’t got much time and you need a mask immediately, this tutorial shows you how to make a face mask using just a bandanna and some rubber bands. If you want something a bit more substantial, though, we recommend digging out some cotton or similar fabric and following the steps below).
It’s important that your face masks are the right size, and that you make different sized versions if you’ve got teenagers or smaller children that you’re making masks for too. This tutorial on YouTube gives a handy guide to measuring the amount of material you need, using a dinner plate. The general advice on the diameter of your circle of cloth is:
- Adults: 10/11 inches, or 25 – 28 centimetres
- Teens: 9 inches, or 23 centimetres
- Children: 8 inches, or 20 centimetres
Of course, you will also need to use your own judgement in this.
Next, cut your material to length and then fold it in half so that it creates a semi-circle shape.
Now for a few straightforward steps to start putting your mask together:
- Cut down the straight side so you’ve got two halves of material
- Turn the two halves over and place them together so the inner side of the material is facing upwards (you’ll turn it inside out later)
- Pin along the outer edge (this is where you’ll sew your mask together.) If it makes your life easier, you can mark where you’ll want to sew with a pen too. Try a brightly coloured highlighter so you can easily see where you’ve marked
Next, it’s time to start sewing.
- Sew along the edge that you’ve marked out, taking care to keep your stitches small and close together (this will keep you hem tight and decrease the risk of fraying)
- Important: make sure you leave two small gaps as you’re sewing your mask together – these will be important later. When you want a leave a gap, just sew down one side of your material rather than sewing the two pieces together
- Now take your mask, and open it up into a conical shape (see the tutorial for how to do this)
- Sew along the one edge of your mask that you haven’t sewed along yet
- When this is done, your material should be in the shape a standard face mask
- Find the hole that you left without stitching earlier, and carefully pull the material through to turn your mask inside out. Important: don’t tear your stitching!
- Push out all the corners
- Sew up the gap in the stitching that you’ve just pushed your material through
Now you need to prepare your face mask so that you can wear it effectively.
- Get your iron, and iron the side so that the material is smooth. Iron into the corners, as this will help the mask fit better to the shape of your face
- Fold over the two corners (the ones that will rest on your cheek bones) and iron them down so that the crease is clear and the material stays in place when you take the iron away
- Sew these corners down so they’re folded onto the inside of the mask. Important: leave gaps near the fold that are large enough for you to easily thread elastic through
You’ll now need to attach the elastic, which will keep the face mask in place whilst you’re wearing it.
- Take a length of elastic, cut to length. 8 inches for an adult, 7 inches for a teenager and 6 inches for a child is advised, but use your own judgement here
- Thread the length of elastic through the folded down corners of the mask, and tie the ends together with a strong double knot
- Move the elastic around so the knot is hidden underneath the material
- Slot the elastic over your ears, and adjust your mask into place
Voila! You should now have a face mask that you can use out in public, ensuring that you don’t need to risk putting anyone you come into contact with at risk. Remember to use your mask whenever you go out for the foreseeable future, and make sure it covers your mouth and nose as this is where the virus can be transmitted from. You should wash your mask regularly too. See more advice on how to wear your face mask here.
There are loads of fun face mask tutorials out there that’ll inspire you with more design ideas!
From the no-sew one-minute handkerchief mask to diaper masks, there’s lot of different ideas out there for all sorts of skill level. You could try a free crochet mask pattern to test your yarn skills, or even adapt a bra!
Some people are opting for funky fabrics to brighten their day, while others try a chic look with a designer logo. Whatever design you choose, remember to make sure it’s fitted well around your nose, chin, and around your cheeks.
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Have you got any good tips for creating your own face masks during the coronavirus lockdown? If so, we’d love to hear about them. Head over to our forums to share your advice!