The Coronavirus crisis is escalating in Australia. So we’re sharing how to make a face mask from recycled materials.
As evidence now suggests that face masks – even reusable cloth ones – can help reduce the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus, the use of face masks is now being encouraged across the country to help slow the spread of this wildly contagious disease.
But, while disposable surgical face masks provide a higher level of protection, they come with a high pollution cost.
Governments are also urging that the limited supplies of these masks be reserved for frontline workers who are at the greatest risk of contracting COVID-19.
Enter the reusable cloth face mask!
There are lots of designs for cloth face masks out there on the internet, but these are our favourite. They mimic a disposable surgical mask in design and require no printing out of patterns.
They’re made from simple squares of fabric with pleats that make it comfortable to wear and breath in. Best of all, we’ve got tips on how to upcycle materials you have around the house to make your very own masks, reducing their environmental footprint.
Materials to make your fabric face mask
As well as being reusable, your cloth face mask can be made using salvaged materials.
There is currently a national shortage of elastic, but if you hunt around your home you’ll find plenty to scavenge! There really is no need to go to the shops.
You can unpick elastic waist bands from old trousers and undies, and snip these into thinner straps. Hair ties will do the job admirably, while rubber bands are another less durable option.
You can also cut up strips of a stretchy knit fabric (see this video to learn how to identify a knit from a weave). And if all else fails, you can simply repurpose the elastic from a disposable mask. To ensure a snug fit this fabric face mask design uses a piece of wire across the top casing so it can be easily moulded to your nose.
Kids’ pipe cleaners or unbent paper clips will do the job for this task. Or gardeners might be able to salvage a bit of thin-gauge wire. Just make sure you bend the ends of all these wires to avoid them breaking through the mask and jabbing you in the face!
In terms of fabric, recommendations are for a mixture of tightly woven cotton fabrics and non-woven materials. Old sheets, shirts and green bags can all be upcycled into face masks.
How to make a face mask out of fabric
Cut two square pieces of tightly woven cotton or poly/cotton fabric, 19 x 19cm. Then cut a third square of non-woven fabric, like fusible interfacing or a “green” shopping bag.
Place one piece of fabric on the bottom (right side facing down), the piece of non-woven material on top of this and then top with the piece of fabric you want on the front of your mask, right side facing up.
Overlock the top and bottom edges (if you don’t have an overlocker you can neaten with a zigzag stitch).
Hem these overlocked edges with a 1cm seam. Thread pipe cleaner or other wire through the top hem and trim to the edges. Overlock the two side edges.
Mark this edge at 4cm, 7cm and 10cm and press pleats at these intervals using an iron, ensuring the overall length of you’re mask is around 9.5cm. Stitch these pleats in place.
Cut two 18cm pieces of elastic. Fold over side edges 1cm and tuck elastic ear bands under this seam at either end, then stitch in place.
Et voila! Your mask is done. Now you can make another to ensure you’ll always have a fresh one to hand. Or make them for friends and family.