How to Make a DIY Face Mask

A simple craft can provide needed supplies and personal peace of mind.

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- Posted on Apr 1, 2020

Woman using a sewing machine

Staying at home is the best thing we can do to stay safe and help prevent the spread of Covid-19. But it’s hard to just sit inside doing nothing, especially after watching the news. 

As a community, many people are looking for a way to do more, to help the brave men and women in the medical field, putting their health and safety on the line to care for others, and to bring comfort to those who are anxious while sheltering at home.

One item that has been in high demand is face masks. Face masks—specifically N-95 respirator masks—are the most effective way to keep healthcare workers from contracting the virus. They filter out about 95% of airborne particles and droplets. However, due to a shortage of N-95 masks, hospitals across the country have been calling for donations of masks of any kind, including homemade ones. This means non-medical professionals should not be buying or wearing these masks. However, wearing a mask of some kind can bring comfort to those afraid of getting sick or passing on the virus.

Many people, like fashion designer Christian Siriano, have already stepped up to fill the need. “I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help,” Siriano said in a tweet two weeks ago. Since then, Siriano and his staff has managed to make and donate over 1,500 masks to New York City healthcare workers.  

Do these homemade masks work? Yes and no. Cloth surgical masks are not as effective as N-95 respirators at preventing the spread of Covid-19. However, the CDC recommends using them if there is no other option available. These masks can be used in other medical situations, allowing healthcare workers to save N-95 respirator masks for when they’re truly needed.

They can also bring peace of mind to nonmedical workers who would prefer wearing a mask. Research shows that crafting can boost your mood and lower stress.

The good news? You don’t have to be an industry professional to chip in. A woman in Hoboken, New Jersey—96-year-old Josie Cemelli—has devoted her time to making as many masks as she can. Josie is just one of thousands of volunteers stepping forward. Neighbors in New York have sewn masks for their entire apartment buildings.

To make your own face masks, you simply need a few scraps of fabric, thread, pins, scissors and a sewing machine. Keep in mind that the CDC recommends should cover the entire front of the face and extend to below the chin.

If you don't have supplies onhand, several craft stores are giving out free face mask making kits, including Jo-Ann Fabrics and Craft stores. According to FOX, as of March 23, some locations are offering curbside pickup and home delivery of the supplies and templates to make masks, gowns and “other essential items” to be donated to hospitals. 

“The amazing thing about the crafting community is that, especially in difficult times, they are always looking for ways to help,” said Wade Miquelon, President and CEO of Jo-Ann.

Some Jo-Ann locations are also allowing customers to drop off completed supplies, which they will then redistribute to those in need.

Remember, when looking to donate any medical supplies during this time, it’s best to reach out to your local hospital first. Some hospitals aren’t allowing donations of face masks, while others have certain specifications for the kind of supplies they can accept.  

Make a face mask can be a small way to serve others, while bringing you peace of mind.

Here are a few online tutorials that will guide you through mask making process step by step:

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