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Since I have developed asthma and had cancer awhile ago, I have found it necessary to wear a face mask when I work with fluffy fibre or with dyes. I have been using the thin paper style of mask and haven’t been entirely happy with how they fit. I find that masks are uncomfortable to wear, and don’t really cover my face properly. I had been thinking about designing my own facemask for some time.
Now that the Corona virus threat is imminent, and face masks are becoming increasingly difficult to purchase, I think it is time to make one.
I realize that a face mask won’t provide a lot of protection from a virus, but something is better than nothing. The masks don’t really keep the viruses out, but they do help to keep you from touching your face or putting your fingers into your mouth, as we often tend to do. In some cultures, it is thought to be considerate to wear a face mask, so that you do not inadvertently sneeze or cough on someone.
Wearing a face mask may also help to protect you from some of the environmental pollution that we currently live in.

Since I first started writing this post and sewing the mask a few days ago, the Covid situation has further developed in the UK. We were just informed today that those who may be ill, must to stay home for 14 days to prevent spreading the infection further. And those who are +70 or have other underlying health conditions are recommended to self-isolate for +12 weeks.
It seems I designed these masks just in time.
Please stay safe everyone. Wash your hands, wear a mask if you must go out and keep a safe distance from others.

Paper Mask
I dissected one of the paper masks to see how they are made.
The paper mask has 3 folds that open up as you wear the mask so that it fits over your mouth and chin.

There is a thin piece of wire at the top of the mask that fits over the bridge of the nose.

Choosing Fabric for the Face Mask
You may be wondering what type of fabric to use for the facemask. The Covid virus particles are very small – so to provide full protection, the mask must be made of very tightly woven fabrics and specially constructed like the N95 type of masks. This is not practical for the average person to obtain.
Some studies have been done about materials and their suitability for DIY facemasks and compared their ability to capture virus size particles. They tested and compared surgical masks, vacuum cleaner bags, tea towels, cotton Tshirts, linen, pillow cases, silk. The vacuum cleaner bags and dish towels performed best but were difficult to breathe through.
Best Materials for a DIY Face Mask

I decided to use a linen fabric for the front of the mask and a lighter weight cotton for the back section.

Please note: This mask is not intended to provide full protection from Covid19 or other viruses, but will help to prevent you from spreading any germs you may have to others.
I am leaving an opening in the side of the mask, so that an additional filter can be placed inside the mask if you wish.
Face Mask Pattern
When wearing this style of mask, I find it a bit narrow, so I thought that I would make my version a bit wider.
I used 2 different fabrics for the outer part of the mask and the inner lining.
The outer portion was a natural linen fabric and the inner one was 100% cotton.
Cut the fabric pieces to size.
Width: 25 cm
Height: 18 cm
You may wish to change the size to fit your requirements.

Pleated Face Mask Pattern PDF
Pleated Facemask Pattern

Mark the Folds
Using a fabric marker, mark the folding lines onto the side of both of the fabrics.

I have marked these lines in Green.
The finished mask will have 3 accordian folds that open up while the mask is being worn over the face.

Stitch Small Tucks at the Fold Lines.
To make the folds, you will match up the 2 lines at the Top and Bottom of the Folds and pin these in place.
Sew a narrow seam from the edge of the fabric, approx 3 cm in length. This helps to define the fold, making it a bit easier to accordian fold the pleats together.

Iron the Folds into Place
Turn the fabric to the Right Side.
Make the Accordian Folds by matching up the Marked lines on the reverse.
You will have 3 Accordian Folds.
Iron these folds to help hold them in place.

Stitch the Side of the Folds
Pin and Stitch the Folds into place on the Sides of the fabric.

Hem Inside Pocket Edge

Hww to Make Bias Tape
You will need a length of bias tape to sew around the edges of this mask. If you don’t have any, you can make your own, using the same type of fabric that you used for the mask. Here’s how:

Face Mask Assembly
Pin the Front and Back pieces of the Face Mask together, Right Sides Facing Out.

Starting at the Open end of the Mask, stitch around 3 sides, leaving the hemmed side of the mask back open.

Add Nose Clip
I dissected the original paper mask and found that the nose clip is made from a zip tie.
I didn’t have any zip ties on hand so decided to use a length of pipe cleaner instead.
I wanted to make the metal clip a bit longer than the original one (8 cm) so cut this to 14 cm.

I stitched the length of pipe cleaner to the outside top edge of the mask.

Stitch Bias Tape to Mask

After pinning the bias tape into place, I stitched around the edge of the bias tape.

Elastic Ties
The original face mask has elastic ties that wrap around the ears. I found this to be uncomfortable to wear and didn’t seem to hold the mask securely on the face, so I thought that changin the elastic ties to go around the back of the head would be better.
I used 2 mm elastic cord that I purchased from Amazon.
CleverDelights White Fabric Elastic Cord – 30 Feet – 2mm – Crafts Beading Jewelry Stretch Shock Cording
I cut 2 lengths approx. 50 cm each. You may wish to measure the elastic around teh back of your head before you cut the lengths.
I stitched the lengths of elastic to the top and bottom edges on both sides of the mask. It was a bit long, so I adjusted the length with a knot.

As I make more of these masks for myself and my family, I will probably be able to perfect the design a bit. I will post updates as I discover better methods.

I think I will also dye the masks, or the fabric prior to sewing them, with natural plant dyes. Partly because i like colour, and partly because natural dyes may offer some additional protection against bacterial growth.

Follow me on Instagram during my upcoming months of (for now – voluntary) quarantine.

End Date: Friday Apr-3-2020 10:45:29 BST
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I’ve had an interest in weaving, looms, yarns and textiles since I was a small child. I learned to knit, crochet, sew, do needlepoint at my mother’s knee. My grandmother was a Saami from northern Norway. I am very interested in studying more about tradtional Saami and Finnish style weaving and handicrafts.
Paivi Suomi
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This content was originally published here.

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