URGENT: Safe handling instructions for use of fabric face masks:
>>Photo instructions below are for making face masks from t-shirts for comfortable, easy use and safety<< T-shirt material is highly recommended for it's long-wearing comfort and tie straps are preferred to elastic because so many people are getting raw ears from the elastic. If it is not comfortable, it will likely not be effectively worn.
Since mid-March 2020, I have been making masks and giving them out to my local community in Chester County, PA. The need has far out-stripped my ability to meet all the requests I am getting. PLEASE HELP! With just one t-shirt and a needle and thread, you can make 4 to 5 masks. These materials are available to just about anyone. If you really cannot sew, please cut pieces for others to sew and post materials for pick-up on Social Media.
1. Start with the largest well cleaned t-shirt you can find. Cut off the bottom section 16" from the hem; then cut it open to lay flat.
2. Measure and cut 8" sections from the opened t-shirt piece. You should get 4 to five 8x16 inch pieces from a large t-shirt.
3. Use the leftover neck and arm section of the t-shirt to make two straps for each mask. Start by cutting off the sleeves. Cut the shoulder seam and and sides to make two pieces. Use the back first to get an many 1.5" - 2" strips as you can; then use the front to cut the rest. You will need 10 strips to make 5 masks.
4. Sew a line down the unfinished edge across from the original t-shirt hem. It should be a little over 1/4 inch wide. You will use this to easily turn this edge over for sewing a hem. If using a sewing machine, daisy-chain your work without stopping each time to cut your thread. It will save time and thread for your work.
4. Turn the unfinished edge that was just sewn in, making a small hem. The side of the fabric you'd like to show as the "outside" should be facing down in this process and the back side of the original t-shirt hem will be facing up.
5. Fold the 8x16" piece in half laying the newly sewn hem about an inch below the original t-shirt hem. Tape this in place to hold.
6. Make 3 pleats across the mask piece. I found a ruler was helpful to use as a tool to make a straight fold. As you proceed, tape each fold down to hold in place making sure the tape is not in a place where you will be sewing. BTW a wooden ruler worked better than a thin plastic one, but use whatever works for you to make the folds.
9. Baste the folds in place on each side by sewing along each edge. (Leave the tape in place until the project is complete, then remove before washing)
8. Prepare the straps: Determine which way the strap will naturally fold in by gently pulling on each end at the same time, but not too hard. Once you discover this, fold it in in the middle and sew a basting stitch to hold it in place for attaching. It helps to prep these all at one time like a daisy chain again.
9. Carefully fold the straps in and sew to each side of the mask. It helps to pull on the strap after the first few stitches to hold the fold in place. You will need to check the reverse side and sew again to catch any loose ends. Putting a reverse stitch at each end will reinforce the mask for washing and many uses. You can hand baste the straps in place if that is easier for you, and then machine stitch.
10. Finishing Touches: Pull tightly on each strap to lengthen the straps. Secure each end with a quick back and forth stitch so that the straps stay folded in.
You will notice there is a pocket created in the face mask. You can use this pocket to add additional materials for increased protection if desired. Paper towels or a square cut from coffee filters have been recommended. Just make sure you can still easily breathe through the mask any time you add something to it. Beware of using vacuum bags as they may contain harmful materials.
Finally, enjoy your masks. Wash with hot soapy water. Never shake your mask after wearing as it may release the virus into the air. When you remove it, assume it is contaminated and treat it accordingly. There are some great tips to help you keep virus free at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/#covid-19-basics
Be safe out there and pass these instructions along!
If you have questions, reach out to me at [email protected]