DIY mask -- no sewing machine
April 9, 2020 8:35 PM   Subscribe

I have several heavy cotton napkins that I think would be ideal mask material, but no sewing machine. They're about 18 inches square, and I can thread a tie through the hem by making holes in each side (pic). But I need help from there.

My thought is to make three 9x6 (2-ply) masks out of each napkin, cutting two side-by-side rectangles 9×12 and a 6x18 strip. But how to attach strings to the bottom of the masks? And should I try to put in pleats? All the patterns I'm finding require a sewing machine -- can any crafty Mefites help with ideas? I have needles and strong thread. And a stapler. But I don't want to start cutting without a plan.
posted by mefireader to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I bookmarked this no-sew DIY mask but haven't tried it yet; it looks like it would work. One thing I have seen a lot of is to not use hair ties because they're really hard on the backs of people's ears, but instead to cut loops from pantyhose/stocking legs.
posted by headnsouth at 8:52 PM on April 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

Sew without a machine? Something along these lines -
posted by xm at 8:53 PM on April 9, 2020

posted by dobbs at 8:54 PM on April 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Especially important if you make your own mask is wearing it properly. The NYTimes has some helpful tips.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 9:05 PM on April 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I made a few of these by hand from a pillowcase. They work fine as written, but after I'd done a couple I adapted some bits of random YouTube tutorials to add a nose wire and filter pocket.

None of the results are beautiful, but as someone not great at or fond of sewing, I found the whole thing pretty doable.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:10 PM on April 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Tshirt “yarn” is another option for loops.
posted by tilde at 9:14 PM on April 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

You can make this mask with just scissors, if your piece of fabrik is large enough (yours might be a bit too small).

It seems pretty simple & has the potential to seal up and stay put better then many designs I've seen.
posted by flug at 9:33 PM on April 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just hand-sewed this one - they call it the "Ragmask" - and it didn't take long at all. I do still have to attach ties, but the pattern instructions say you can use strips of cloth for that. Since it starts with an 11" square of fabric, you should be set.

It's designed to be quick to sew, and it was. The examples use a machine, sure, but I did it with a basic back stitch and it seems fine and took me about 35 minutes so far (before adding ties).

I chose it because it looks like it will fit well - it can incorporate some basic wire for fitting over the nose curves - and it will not get in one's mouth/nose when one talks. The air also passes through more surface area (cloth) when one breathes, which means less tendency to stress/depend on a small area of fabric over the nose. It may also be less work to breathe through just because of the greater area of filter.

I incorporated the filter material recommended by this very promising design: shop towels. They're thin on the ground, but I found some Toolbox Shop Towels in roll form (rather than in a box) that I'm not 100% sure are the same, but they seem probably the same.
posted by amtho at 10:58 PM on April 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have used the no sew mask from the first answer, with hair elastics, and I think it’s probably about as good as most homemade masks. There are hair elastics that are smooth and don’t bother my tender ears; I tried a cut up stocking and it did not feel very secure to me.
posted by Kriesa at 6:22 AM on April 10, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks, there are a lot of great ideas here, but I'm really looking for help with the materials I already have on hand: heavy cotton 18×18 dinner napkins that can be threaded through the hem.
posted by mefireader at 11:02 AM on April 13, 2020

This testing feels scientific:

"The researchers used an aerosol mixing chamber to produce particles ranging from 10 nm to 6 μm in diameter. A fan blew the aerosol across various cloth samples at an airflow rate corresponding to a person's respiration at rest, and the team measured the number and size of particles in air before and after passing through the fabric. One layer of a tightly woven cotton sheet combined with two layers of polyester-spandex chiffon -- a sheer fabric often used in evening gowns -- filtered out the most aerosol particles (80-99%, depending on particle size), with performance close to that of an N95 mask material. Substituting the chiffon with natural silk or flannel, or simply using a cotton quilt with cotton-polyester batting, produced similar results."
posted by mecran01 at 12:13 PM on May 29, 2020

This video shows how to make a mask out of a sock that is nicely fitted. Unfortunately because it's made out of stretchy sock fabric the mask won't seal in the moisture as much as you want, so you'd need to have some woven fabric and cut it to size to wear inside the mask to make it effective.
posted by Jane the Brown at 1:14 PM on May 30, 2020

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