Improvised Face Masks, Alternatives For Surgical Masks

After the eruption of the Taal volcano, the supply of surgical face masks here in our country have gone scarce. Even small retail outlet and drug stores faced this problem and therefore, they were not able to service the public.

Do Improvised Face Masks Work?
This image was taken from Live Science |

This led to the conclusion that not only surgical masks are effective in protecting ourselves against the threat of the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Many health workers said that utilizing other types of masks or face covers are as effective too.

Read: Does Everyone Need a Face Mask? The Department of Health (DOH) Says No

Fortunately for us, there are a couple of ways on how we can create improvised face masks. These improvisations can’t guarantee the protection for the virus, but it’s better than having all inlets and outlets exposed.

Fabric face masks, do they work?

If we are to compare fabric face masks to N95 masks, they’re not as effective. However, it’s still going to be useful especially if you are outside or in open areas. So in conclusion, N95 masks are for the best protection; fabric masks work but they’re not as effective – but they still do offer protection.

Read: Here’s a List of People Who Can Go Out During the Luzon Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)

Good Housekeeping Fabric Face Mask

One of the most noted improvised face masks is Good Housekeeping’s fabric mask. This face mask is from Amanda Perna’s creation. Amanda is a fashion designer who has been helping and assisting people on how they can sew and create their own improvise face mask.

What you need:

  • Cotton fabric (high thread count)
  • Non-woven interfacing (2 layers)
  • Metal piece
  • Tape
  • Pins
  • Measuring Tape
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing Machine

Here’s the step-by-step procedure on how to create this face mask:

  1. Print the pattern for the face mask.
  2. Cut the face mask according to where it should be cut.
  3. From the pattern, cut 2 cotton fabric pieces and 2 interfacing pieces.
    • The interfacing pieces MUST BE NON-WOVEN)
  4. The cut fabric from the pattern, place it with both of the front sides together.
  5. Now, place both of the layers of the interfacing pieces together on top of the fabric (the back side of the fabric)
  6. Sew the top 9″ seam with a 1/4 seam allowance
    • 2.5 – 3 stitch length works the best.
  7. Flip the front side of the fabric up (open)
  8. Press the seam flat to one side
  9. Insert the metal piece along with the seam between the 2 pieces of the fabric
  10. Stitch the 1/2″ rectangle (it is indicated at the top of the pattern) with the wrong sides together. This is to secure the metal piece
  11. Flip back to the right sides together and stitch the bottom 9″ seam
  12. Then, flip back to the right side out and press on the bottom seam
  13. From the pattern, mark the pleats. Pleat the 3 pleats all in the same direction; it is also useful to put a pin to keep them in place.
  14. Cut the binding tape; 36″ per side
  15. Locate the center point of the binding as well as the center point of the mask. Pin the binding on the mask with the mask sandwiched between the binding
  16. Sew the binding
  17. Repeat on the other side of the mask
  18. Press the pleats

Read: More Than 700 Doctors Give Free COVID-19 Online Consultations

Handkerchief Mask

Let’s go to the simpler type of improvised face mask. Here is the Muji homemade handkerchief face mask.

What you need:

  • 1 square cotton handkerchief (ideal size is 46cm x 46cm)
  • 2 elastic hair ties

Step-by-step procedure on how to make the Muji handkerchief face mask

  1. Carefully lay the cotton handkerchief on a clean flat surface. It’s also important to note that the surface needs to be properly sanitized.
  2. From the top and the bottom part of the handkerchief, fold it to a third. The two ends need to meet together at the center of the handkerchief.
  3. Flip the entire handkerchief so that the part where it shows that the two ends meet is on the bottom; and the back, the flat surface is what you see on top.
  4. Just like what you did in step #2, fold the top and the bottom ends of the handkerchief so the two ends meet at the middle.
  5. Use the elastics on the two ends of the handkerchief you have. Make sure that there’s sufficient space between the elastics and the edge of the handkerchief.
  6. Fold the both ends with the elastics going inwards. One end must overlap the other.
  7. Stretch the top and the bottom parts of the masks to form a curve that fits the wearer’s face.

CRAFT MNL’s Improvised Face Mask

Last but most definitely not the least is the creation of CRAFT MNL. For this technique, you would need the following materials:

Read: Stockpiling Basic and Key Commodities Can Lead to Arrest, Palace

  • Cotton fabric
  • T-shirt yarn
  • Flannel Cloth
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Barbecue Stick
  • Flat Iron
  • Safety Pins

Before we start, you can download the pattern printout of the mask here. If you require other sizes, you can also click here.

Step-by-step procedure

  1. Print the pattern and cut it out. From there, pin the two layers of the cotton fabric. Draw the lines of the pattern and add about 1/4 inches of margin around except for the side where the straps will be attached.
  2. Using your safety pins, pin the pattern to the fabric – cut the fabric afterwards.
  3.  With the flannel, follow the same procedure as you did when you made the outer layer. But with the inner lining, all margin should be 1/4 inches. Place the pattern with a pin and cut the fabric.
  4. Take the fabric pieces for the outer layer and pin them with the wrong side facing out. Mark the line that you would sew and a seam allowance of 1/4 inches.
  5. Then, cut the notches along the curved allowance. This is important so that the seam allowance can be pressed to one side without being wrinkled.
  6.  With the electric iron, press the seam to one side starting from the ends of it. Do the same with the lining. Perform the topstitch close to the seam over where the seam allowances are. Do it slowly so the fabric wouldn’t be tugged too much.
  7. Then, place the lining on the table with the wrong side facing up. Fold the edges going in about 1/4 inches. Press it with the electric iron. Afterward, roll the pressed edged inwards about 1/4 inches. Press and pin in place. Stitch the hems.
  8. Pin both the outer layer and the lining together (ride sight to right side). Then, stitch the lining to the outer layer. Keep about 1/4 inches from the edge. Stitch at the top and at the bottom while keeping the sides open. Turn the mask inside and out. Press and then topstitch both the top and bottom end to end.
  9. Fold the outer layer inward about 1/4 inches and press from the lining side up. Then, fold the pressed edge until it reaches the edge of the lining. Press and pin it in place. Do the same on the other side and sew the edge. Place enough room for the straps.
  10. With the t-shirt yarn, cut about 20 to 24 inches. Insert the strap by wrapping the shirt yarn around the tip of the barbecue stick and push it forward until the strap goes out to the other side.

Those are the best and the most effective improvised face masks you can do at home. They’re easy and you don’t need a lot of things! Don’t worry if the stores already ran out of face masks – you can do this!

Source: ABS-CBN News | Good Housekeeping

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