As we face this growing pandemic around the world of COVID19, I have wanted to find ways to protect myself and my family. As a front-line RN, I work in a hospital that has active COVID19 cases and I worry about how to protect myself so I do not bring this awful virus home to my family. Even in my hospital we are already feeling the shortage of appropriate personal protection and masks are a major need with hospitals nationwide re-using single use gowns, masks and other protective coverings as a way to extend their supply.
Some of cited studies showing that cloth masks are not effective, but I counter that single use PPE was never intended to be used all day. We are currently navigating uncharted experiences, and the CDC even cites that a bandana would be appropriate in the absence of other options. Don’t get me started how frustrating it is for them to label this virus as droplet precautions instead of airborne, but that’s not the purpose of this post.
One of the major drawbacks on medical/procedural masks is that they fit very loosely and do not cover major portions of the face, which can allow airborne particles to be inhaled. I spent a few days designing this pattern to use and share which is fitted to the user’s face and covers most of the exposed at risk areas. This should not be compared with a N95 mask, obviously, but it may offer better protection, especially with a filter added.
First please download my FREE pattern HERE. I have made it to fit two sizes – if you’ve ever worn a N95, the smaller one fits a small size of these kinds of mask while the large fits the regular size. The mask can be customized by how much seam allowance you use – if even the smaller masks are too big on your face, sew a 1/2″ seam allowance on the smaller one to make it even smaller.
Cut out the pattern pieces and lay them over your folded desired fabric. You will need one of each of the larger pieces and two of the triangular one. You will also cut a set of the largest piece and triangle one out of lining fabric.
The next part is to sew the v’s in the top of the largest piece (one fabric and one lining) and the triangular pieces (two fabric and one lining).
Next, zig zag across the middle piece, this will prevent fraying as this piece this will become the pocket. I folded over the edge and sewed it again to create a nice smooth edge.
Next sew all the smaller pieces (three) to their corresponding larger pieces. You should have everything looking like this when you are done:
Lay the pocket piece right-side up directly over the lining piece, also right side up. Then lay the largest piece with the nose peak upside down over top. Pin in place and sew.
Your mask should look like this:
Turn it inside out. I liked to pin around the edge so that I can sew a nice tight edge stitch so that the mask will lay flat.
Next add the ties/elastic. Many people around the world are making masks and elastic is really hard to find! I was able to find beading elastic which I doubled over and used. I cut a 18″ piece and wrapped it around a canning jar. I tied a knot the first loop and then backed it around and tied another knot. The exposed knot end I inserted in the mask and after I sewed around the mask (to keep it nice and flat) everything was secure and nice looking.
Lastly I sewed a little strip of bias tape on the nose. I inserted a small piece of pipe cleaner to act as a way to secure the mask to your nose.
As you can see there is a little pocket in the inside that you can place filter material. I recommend hypoallergenic vacuum bags rated for small particles, or you can use HVAC filters. Use the second page of the pattern and cut a corresponding piece to the size of mask you made. Insert the filter into the pocket for an extra layer of protection. 🙂
If you absolutely cannot find elastic, you can also use hair ties for the ear pieces, or show laces and toggles to tighten. Get creative! 🙂
Make a bunch of colors and sizes! 🙂
I have been making these for my coworkers, family as well as nursing homes and senior residences. What a great way to work on your sewing skills or encourage your young seamstress to help make a positive difference! 🙂
If you’d like to see step-by-step instructions, view our YOUTUBE video tutorial! Happy sewing!