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We continue to update this central article often as we find additional links for free patterns and other resources. We also appreciate all of you who have been commenting below with tips, suggestions, and local needs. Makers are the best! The call goes out, and we’re ready to help.

The official word has now come from the CDC and the federal government: everyone going out in public should be wearing a face mask. And, in order to insure that medical-grade masks are being saved and directed to the frontline healthcare workers who need them most, the rest of the population is encouraged to use DIY masks. It’s time to use your skills to make masks for yourself and those around you. We’ve included our own No Sew Mask project below. 

We’ve also recently added in some information about DIY hair cover (scrub cap) options and gown options as we’ve gotten several emails about these being needed as well. In all cases, we understand that our DIY items are not likely to be used within critical care situations, but they can provide protection for other front line workers and even patients, freeing up the “commercial” products to be used where they are most desperately needed.

Demands are different in various areas, so please continue to posts your comments below with news from your city/town/state/country. Let us know if there are particular requests from local healthcare professionals, what you’ve heard regarding the best materials to use, where the donation collections points are, etc. Together we can make a difference.

Why DIY?

Early on, there were a lot on concerns about whether DIY masks were even appropriate to make. There was conflicting information from news sources, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local governments about what could and could not be used. As mentioned above, that is no longer the case. There’s one big reason for the change: there is increasing evidence that this virus can be spread by pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. A face mask is one of the best ways to cut down on airborne respiratory droplet spread in public. Wearing a mask in public also keeps you more aware of not touching your own face.

Remember to save the medical grade masks for those who need them most. Many, if not most, facilities that rely on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are now at crisis levels. If you have any of these masks consider donating them and make your own cloth masks from one of the many tutorials listed below. 

Plus, your donated DIY masks are still wanted and needed. These are unusual times that require unusual solutions, and healthcare workers and hospitals are asking for help! They are the ones experiencing the issues day-in and day-out. They know what is needed and how it can be used. If they didn’t want help, they wouldn’t ask. The DIY masks are not meant to replace PPE at the hospital level. But they can be used to cover medical grade N95 masks to extend their use or to provide coverage to people who don’t have anything. Remember – there is a wide range of workers who need the masks, so while the DIY variety is unlikely to go to surgical staff, they are more than welcome to help protect admin personnel, janitorial staff, nursing assistants, people delivering meals, and more. 

Speaking of these amazing folks on the frontline, we were blown away by a recent article from the University of Florida Health’s Department of Anesthesiology. A professor there created a simple respirator mask from the sterile wrapping that is normally used to surround surgical instrument trays before they pass through gas sterilization or an autoclave. This material comes in 4′ x 4′ sheets and is typically discarded after surgical instrument trays are unwrapped and before coming into contact with patients. About 10 masks can be made from one sheet.

“The innovative mask uses Halyard H600 two-ply spun polypropylene that cannot be penetrated by water, bacteria or particles. It blocks 99.9% of particulates, making the masks about 4% more effective at blocking particulate material than the N95 masks, according to Bruce Spiess, M.D., a professor of anesthesiology in the UF College of Medicine, who made that calculation based on the manufacturer’s specifications.”

The image below shows two of the prototypes created from kits being developed by UF Health. They hope to take it across the country as nearly all facilities use this same material. We don’t know when or where the kits might become available but wanted to bring this brilliant re-purposing idea to your attention so you can be on the lookout in your area. Here is a link to the full article.

Family members and friends of the Sew4Home Team are currently working on the front lines of this healthcare crisis. They mince no words when it comes to describing the turmoil, and they are just as vocal when it comes to their appreciation of the help that is coming from all corners of the country. From one nurse, “It’s so heartwarming to see how people are trying to help and understanding what we are up against…please let everyone know that it is so appreciated, not just for the physical product, but the emotional support … beyond measure!”

In the photo above, S4H Seamstress Team Member, Debbie Guild models the latest mask she made for local donation.

Where Can I Donate?

In terms of where to donate, that is changing daily, and we will continue to search for and post any news we find. At the moment, we know that most Joann Fabric stores are acting as donation collection points. You can also follow the hashtags #millionmaskchallenge and #millionmaskmayday to find programs and projects around the USA and the world. And, if you know of donation points in your area, please comment below. The more information out there, the better!

We read a recent article in the Hollywood Reporter that explained how in Los Angeles – where most film and television projects are on indefinite hold – IATSE’s Theatre Wardrobe Locals, the Hollywood Costumers Local and Costume Designers Guild are leading an effort through which its members will sew protective masks for immediate distribution to health care facilities. That is maker re-tooling at its best!

There are social media groups popping up as clearing houses to share information and build community. Mask Makers and Face Mask Warriors on Facebook are both strong options.

Finally, if you know of people within your own circle who may have purchased commercial face masks, gowns, wipes, etc. and are keeping these extra stores for themselves – or worse, to sell at a profit — PLEASE encourage them to do the right thing and donate these supplies to healthcare facilities where they are needed the most! This is not the time for profit over people.

In the comments below is a specific request for masks in the Midland, Texas area. If you are in the area, please take a look. Thanks go out already to Cheryl Baltz to answered the call immediately.

NEWS ARTICLE: This article on a Sewing Army Making Masks appeared on 03/25/20 in The New York Times. We found it particularly heartwarming and it made us proud to be a part of the Maker Community.

Resources + Links — Fabric, Masks + Hair Covers + Gowns

Below is a chart developed by Researchers at Cambridge University who tested a wide range of household materials for homemade masks. To measure effectiveness, they shot Bacillus atrophaeus bacteria (0.93-1.25 microns) and Bacteriophage MS virus (0.023 microns in size) at different household materials. This is a helpful starting point when determining what to use for your DIY face masks.

When working with quilting cotton, we have heard suggestions to look at batiks because they have a tighter weave and a higher thread count. Yes, even with two layers, it is still breathable.

 

Additional Filtration Notes, Links + Comments

This fabric company in Pennsylvania produces specialty fabrics that align well with the current need for DIY masks. They have produced several informative articles about their fabrics in general and filtration fabrics in particular as they relate to mask making. We do not have direct shopping experience with this company, but found their information to be helpful, thorough, and detailed. This link takes you to their specific post about filtration materials. From there you can browse to other resources.

One of our visitors commented below about using a maxi pad as a filtering insert between the layers of a mask. Many of the patterns listed below that feature a pocket recommend interfacing as a filtering layer.

Here is an article we found by a person who tested using HEPA filter material. In this case, the person took apart a thin furnace filter. Others have suggested cutting up HEPA vacuum bags. It’s been noted to make sure you are not using a filter that might contain fiberglass as that can be harmful to your lungs.

We have not found any definitive information on paper-based filter options, such as coffee filters. Some anecdotal comments emphasize that paper might not be best because it retains moisture as you breathe.

Let us know, in the comments below, if you have tried any of these options (with success or not) and/or have heard of other positive alternatives.

The importance of caring for and cleaning your DIY Face Masks

All DIY fabric masks should be laundered in hot, soapy water after every use! Put them on AND take them off using the stretchy ear loops or ties; don’t touch the front of the mask. Then immediately wash your hands. ALL the mask tutorials are fast and easy; make several for each person in your household so there’s no temptation to wear them more than once before washing.

And remember, DIY masks are not some magical method for keeping us 100% safe. Social distancing and hand washing are still just as important.

Although the recommendation says “everyone” should be wearing a mask remember that cloth face coverings should NOT be placed on children under age two. Never put a mask or any other face covering on an infant or an incapacitated adult who is not able to adjust or remove the mask themselves as this could compromise their ability to breathe. 

Below are six of our favorite face mask static tutorials, including our own No Sew mask:

Five Minute No-Sew Mask – S4H

Hand Sewn Mask Tutorial from the New York Times

Children’s DIY Mask with Bunny Face Appliqué from Janome

Instructables Craft CIY Face Mask

Fu Face Mask from freesewing.org

Face Mask Warriors

And, here are five video tutorials we liked on YouTube + Vimeo:

DIY Covid-19 Fabric Mask with Filter Pocket and Stretchy Cord

Joann Fabrics How to Make a Face Mask

How to Make a Face Mask with Filter Pocket and Adjustable Wire

DIY Face Masks from Filtration Materials – closer to N95 options

A Surgeon’s Guide to Making a Surgical Mask, Lauren Streicher, MD

Video Credit: Images below are from the DIY Covid-19 Fabric Mask with Filter Pocket and Stretchy Cord video tutorial, showing interfacing inserted into a pocket as added filtration.

Hair Covers

Another item that is easy to pull together from fabric you have on hand is a hair cover, also known as a scrub cap or skull cap. We’re working on our own sample of this project, but also found three free tutorials for you to check out. Because elastic is rather hard to come by these days, we specifically looked for tutorials that did not specify it.

From Rob Appell of Man Sewing – Video Tutorial on Scrub/Skull Cap

Specifically for longer hair Surgeon’s Scrub Cap PDF tutorial from Larissa Fontenot – best viewed on page

Medical Student’s Personal Scrub Cap Video Tutorial

In addition, there are home healthcare workers who prefer a “buff” over a traditional scrub cap as a hair cover. We already have a great S4H project for our version of this versatile head scarf. So flexible in fact that it can also be used as a face cover. Find our project tutorial here.

Gowns

DIY gowns come in two basic styles. One is more smock-like and more likely to be used by patients or less-at-risk care staff. The other style is called an isolation gown that covers more thoroughly and tightly with elastic around the ends of the long sleeves and a much higher neckline. We were only able to source one reputable free pattern for each style. However, you can purchase commercial patterns from a variety of sources. Bear in mind that gown construction takes much more fabric – usually 2+ yards.

Free Smock Style Gown Pattern from Lazy Girl Designs

Free Isolation Style Gown Pattern from Fashion Girls for Humanity

 

Again, don’t forget to leave a comment below with your local information, experiences or other information to share. No negative comments, please. Our goal is collect resources not moderate disagreements. There is no one perfect solution, but if we work together, we can come up with multiple ways to help.

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Robin
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Robin

I am in Pennsylvania and have purchased from the company you linked in the article…Wazoodle. They have wonderful performance fabrics. They are great to do business with and the fabrics are wonderful and well priced. And right now they are inundated. You can buy from them w confidence!

S Ocon
Guest
S Ocon

Can ties on mask be made of 70% polyester /cotton blend… the masks are 100% cotton. …Just asking about ties at top and bottom of mask

Momo
Guest
Momo

Poly anything doesn’t stay tied well. Like cotton shoelaces, cotton mask ties stay tied much better. Healthcare workers can’t take a chance on having a mask fall down while working with a patient. And sure – cotton shoelaces would work just fine as ties!

Susan Ocon
Guest
Susan Ocon

Can 70% polyester / 30% cotton be used for the ties…the masks portion is 100% cotton … After making I hear you not suppose to use polyester ….but only used on ties and top and bottom of mask.

Jeanne T.
Guest
Jeanne T.

This is a great site! I am trying to make masks for several places/people including family who work in public and healthcare. I don’t know if it is possible, but it would be lovely to be able to copy/paste and also to right click to open links in a new tab. I had to type links and info out, or else have to leave this page to open them. Just saying with this great info, that would save time in a timely situation we find ourselves in now with covid19. Does anyone know how you would find out if HEPA… Read more »

Momo
Guest
Momo

I’m a Gator mom, so SO excited about this! Also an R.N., and need to get the word out to not use the ear elastic for health care workers. Elastic doesn’t hold up in their laundries, and it makes ears sore. For everyone else, is fine, if you can find it. It’s in short supply. Cloth ties made from 1.25” wide strips, 12” long x 4,:folded into the center, then folded in half and top stitched are perfect. So is cotton twill tape. I even use cotton thread throughout to be sure it can be sterilized in an autoclave if… Read more »

Pat Jenkins
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Pat Jenkins

I have multiple yards of blackout drapery lining and wonder if this would be good as an inner layer for the masks.

Amy
Guest
Amy

Wondering, after searching the polypropolene fabric, one option that popped up was landscaping fabric…do we know if this might work as a liner or filter?

Momo
Guest
Momo

UF states that water cannot penetrate the material they are using. Landscape fabric is extremely porous so that rainwater can penetrate, so no, it is not suitable. Rule number one in surgery is that anything that is wet is contaminated.

Bev Cheuvront
Guest
Bev Cheuvront

University of Florida’s Medical School is using H600 fabric, used to cover instruments during sterilizing, and having local sewing groups making this into masks. It is nearly as good as standard medical quality masks. I’m including a link that describes the testing that went into the process. If you are interested, the Med School site also as a detailed tutorial on its site. This project ts being replicated at a number of FL hospitals now.

https://m.ufhealth.org/news/2020/uf-health-anesthesiology-team-devises-respirator-mask-made-existing-hospital-materials

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

I’ve been sewing surgical hats for my Nurse daughter and her team all day today, developing my own pattern. I had already watched two of the hat videos you have links for (didn’t watch the man cap). I’m glad to hear you are working on a pattern for a hat as your instructions and patterns are superbly thorough!

Katrina P. Hough
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Katrina P. Hough

My Daughter in law found a You Tube from Denise Steinert. You can google her name and find it. It won’t let me paste in the address.

Joanne
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Joanne

Is there a measurement for a kids mask with filter pocket?

Linda
Guest
Linda

I have been making face masks locally here in Shreveport, LA where the stakes are very high and resources Very low! I developed my own pattern that has minimal steps but includes a pocket where a filter can be placed, as well as a wire across the nose for shaping. You can find both a video and written tutorial here: https://www.dottodotconnections.com/videotutorials

Anna Fort
Guest
Anna Fort

I and my sewing friends here in Oregon are making masks for home-care workers- those that go into homes to care for the disabled and elderly! They are unable to get masks too!

Margo Trembley
Guest
Margo Trembley

I have been using the face mask pattern on the Craft Passion site. I use a layer of non woven lightweight interfacing for the filter and add a bendable wire nose piece . For this I use 3 vine tie pieces, about 3 inches long, enclosed in 2 strips of felt. They help the mask to seal around the top of the nose. I give them to family and friends. Don’t know how effective they are, but they make me feel safer!

Simone Ballester
Guest
Simone Ballester

Une lingette à poussière est appropriée pour mettre à l’intérieur du masque et peut se changer facilement

Jane Coombs
Guest
Jane Coombs

One our guild friends organized a group to make surgical caps for kids. She donated 100 to Miller Childres Hospital and was royally thanked. When she inquired about their needs, she was told they do 247 operations a month. The kids love their souvenir caps.

Neeta Logsetty
Guest
Neeta Logsetty

Re – Hair Covers: my good friend is an ER doctor and she and her colleagues prefer hair buffs to skull caps. Basically a tube of knit fabric. No elastics required. Cheers. Neeta

Theresa OGara
Guest
Theresa OGara

Hi! Thanks for all your info about masks and caps. I have heard that protective gowns are also needed. Any patterns or info about those?

Molly Hayden
Guest
Molly Hayden

Thank you so much for this article. I donated two dozen masks this morning to my local ambulance service and mailed some out to a few nurse friends. I’m not sure how effective they will be but at least now I know I have somehow done something to help. Your list of patterns and sources is a great resource and starting place for others who wish to jump in the deep end as well. If I can throw in a suggestion- I have been using twill tape in place of elastic, 40″ to be exact. I also put a few… Read more »

Jane Coombs
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Jane Coombs

What is the length of tape for kids masks? I guessed it at 30 inches.

Tink
Guest
Tink

According to my research, true N95 masks have a non-woven polypropylene material for filtration. I had an epiphany that “landscape cloth” is exactly just that! You have to make sure it’s the non-woven variety but why not use a couple layers on the inside? Looking for feedback?

Karen
Guest
Karen

Would a coffee filter work on the inside of the mask? Trying to think of something readily available and inexpensive to replace. My 2 nieces work in hospitals and they BOUGHT some ! I want to help, I am a senior citizen and so glad I might be able to do to help them help others!

Chrys Maher
Guest
Chrys Maher

I have been making the contoured masks, not the pleated. Layering quilting cotton, cotton quilt batting and lining with quilting cotton. I have found elastic ear loops provide the most snug fit, keeping the mask in place without sagging or gapping. When I ran out of elastic I starting using new elastic ponytail holders. They work great! I
I had little success with ribbon ties. This mask is completely washable and dryable.

Elizabeth Moore
Guest
Elizabeth Moore

Looking for help …my family works in midland texas. She is pregnant and has a daughter and husband at home that wants to keep her safe. She is a nurse. There are 100 nurses in the facility she works in. It’s small. Any help would be helpful 1…10…25. Masks..She would appreciate anything. Thank you.

Shannon parnell
1108 nw 11th st
Andrew’s tx 79714

Cheryl Baltz
Guest
Cheryl Baltz

Elizabeth,
I will send you five masks for Shannon. I am making them for our local hospital and I am glad to share some with you. I will mail them to you tomorrow. God bless and stay safe!
Cheryl

Cheryl Baltz
Guest
Cheryl Baltz

Elizabeth,
We just mailed ten masks to Shannon. They should be there Monday. Take care!
Cheryl

Jane Coombs
Guest
Jane Coombs

Just made the Leah Day mask with the pleats and the wire. It is for my daughter who just got her RN and a job.

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