How to make alternative face masks and shields when other personal protective equipment is unavailable

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How to make alternative face masks and shields
How to make alternative face masks and shields

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is safe to say that your outfit isn’t complete without a face mask or some form of face protection. While this preventive measure does not replace social distancing and the conscious effort to stay indoors as much as possible, it reduces the risk of transmitting coronavirus germs from one person to another.

The ideal face protection is either an N95 or surgical face mask, but due to short supply, buying them creates scarcity for health workers in the frontline. This is why a lot of people have been using colourful facemasks as an alternative

Time to improvise

Instead of interfering with health workers’ much needed supply for surgical face masks, homemade face masks can be used as an alternative. Ready made face masks are of course the most convenient option, but due to high demand, limited shipping services and specific requirements, particularly in terms of aesthetics (colour. design etc.), more people are resorting to personally crafted face masks.

We take a look at how to make one yourself below.

Step by step guide to making alternative face masks and shields

Here’s a simple design for an alternative facemask that anyone with a little threadwork, can make themselves right at home.

  1. Firstly, you’ll need to get two rectangular pieces of fabric that will act as your face covering section of the mask. You’ll also need two pieces of elastic (alternatives for this around the house can be hair ties).
  2. Layer the two rectangular pieces of fabric, fold over the long sides of the mask and hem them.
  3. Fold over the short side of the mask and stitch while leaving enough space for your elastic (or hair tie) to be threaded through. 
  4. Use your elastic to loop the mask around your ears or tie around your head, to pass through the short ends of the mask. 
  5. Finally, you can stitch what you’ve used as elastics in place once you’ve ensured that your mask is a tight fit.

Follow these steps, and you’ll have a fun yet functional, homemade face mask that costs pennies to make.  

A few extra tips

Here are a few extra tips to ensuring your home-made face mask is as effective as it can be.

  • Make sure that your mask suitably fits your face.  It’s important that the fit is tight, but you’re still able to breathe. 
  • Choose tightly woven fabric when sourcing materials for your home made mask.  Fabrics that don’t have a lot of stretch such as high thread count cotton are often popular choices in this regard.
  • It’s recommended by experts that you use at least three layers of fabric in your face masks. Once again, we have to stress how important breathability in your mask is and you should test your mask’s functionality before actually starting to sew.

Remember to always wear your face mask and try to maintain social distancing as much as possible.  Curbing the spread of the coronavirus is a collective effort and it all starts with personal responsibility.  

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