Breath Easy!

covid maskIn Monterey, your mask can be fashionable and express your personality. Take a deep breath before you begin. Basic knowledge of your sewing machine is necessary for this project. For all seams always remember to backstitch at the start and finish of each seam. You will have options for securing the mask to your face with elastic or shoelaces. You will need thread, material, scissors, two 7 inch pieces of elastic or four 15 inch shoelace pieces, an iron and sewing machine. A six-inch piece of pipe cleaner is optional. If you use round elastic, you will need to tie a knot on each end to keep it in place once sewn in. The material can be anything breathable.

Decide on the fabric you want to use. Some can be quite fashionable while some others can actually be quite helpful in filtering out aerosols of the covid -19 particles. Use one layer of tightly woven cotton with 2 layers of polyester spandex material. A sheer fabric like you see on evening gowns can also be used. This combination is likely to provide performance close to the hard to find N-95 mask. You can also use silk or flannel on the inner lining as well. A good quality cotton fabric, the type used for quilting, with a polyester liner is also is great. 

covid maskCut a piece of fabric 9 x 15 inches. Fold the fabric, right sides together, so your piece is now 7.5 inches long. Using a ½ inch seam allowance, sew the top together leaving an opening for your pope cleaner and a filter. You will mark the fabric 3 inches from each side and sew two lines leaving the 3-inch center open. Finger press the seam open. Set your fold by bringing the seam upward so it is ½ inch from the top. The pocket will be facing you.

Tuck the elastic into the mask and pull an end out the top; pin it in place. Push the elastic to the edge of the top fold and begin sewing the side seam with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Sew about halfway down the side, pause, reach into the mask, and grab the end of the elastic. Pull it to the bottom fold of the mask. The material will gather behind the presser foot because of the resistance. At the bottom end of the side, sew the elastic into the mask. Repeat with the other side seam. If you are using laces, pin each lace to a corner of the mask and sew from top to bottom. Turn the mask right side out by squishing it through the opening at the top. Tug on the elastic to pull the corners out. Flatten, press with a hot iron.

covid maskOnce flat, be sure the opening/pocket is at the top facing you. Get a ruler and mark on each side, from the top, every one inch with a fabric marker. You will have made six marks on each side. From the bottom, bring the first mark up to the second and pin them together. Go upward to your next mark and bring it to the fourth mark, repeat with marks 5 and 6. On the portion that will touch your face, the pleats point up. Ergo, on the outside, the pleats point down. That avoids getting pockets of dust and pollen, trapped.

If you opted to use it, insert your pipe cleaner through the filter opening and push it against the top seam, clip into place. If you could not purchase a pipe cleaner, a twist tie is a substitute. Begin on one side of the mask from the bottom to sew around three sides. One way will be easy, you will be sewing your pleats downward. On the opposite side, you will need to be careful as you sew against the pleat to keep it flat. When sewing the top, be sure to NOT sew the pipe cleaner. It will be snug yet moveable inside the pocket. Use a 1/4 seam allowance for this step. Once you have gone around the three sides of the mask, remove it from your machine; trim your threads. To enforce the pleats, it is a good idea to run a reinforcing sew line along each side of the mask. Put your needle between the sewing you just did and the outside of the fabric. Congratulations! You did it! You look very stylish in Monterey.

For a filter, cut a 5 inch square of material and tuck it into the pocket. You will need to fuss it into place. Many materials can be used as a filter with varying degrees of adequacy. In a pinch paper towels and coffee filters are readily available. Polypropylene non-woven fibers also make adequate filters. They are the same material used in N95 masks. The best material for your homemade mask in Monterey is vacuum cleaner bag filters with a HEPA rating.