Using a CDC Approved Face Mask Pattern

How to sew a fabric face mask using a CDC approved pattern.

Like many of you, we have been consumed with thoughts about Covid-19. In the span of a couple of months, daily life has changed in many ways. With countless items being sold out in stores and online, we are all having to get a bit more creative about the items we use on a daily basis. This process can at times be challenging, but we are here to help.

Examining the products we use and finding sustainable ways to make them is what Grow and Make is all about. Rather than digging through price-gouged products online and searching through empty shelves, we’re encouraging you to get a little crafty!

First off, should you wear a mask? There is a lot of debate around this subject right now, especially in the United States. Our take here is that wearing a mask is better than not wearing a mask. Here is why: A large part of opposition to the public wearing masks stems from the huge shortage we are experiencing of surgical and N95 masks in our country. There is not enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to outfit our health care workers who are working on the front lines. We would like to encourage you to reserve surgical masks and N95 masks for those who need them the most. However, that does not mean that you need to go without! 

We found a video that we feel has a lot of common sense. Although there is still a lot of uncertainty around how the novel coronavirus is spread, or how many asymptomatic cases there are, we do know wearing a mask reduces the spread. A person wearing a mask that coughs or sneezes greatly reduces the amount of droplets sprayed into the air (which is the main way the coronavirus is spread). Very few of us know for certain if we are carrying the virus or not, and as we all know, when the urge to cough overcomes our body, the act is often involuntary. This is why it makes sense for us to wear home made masks. We keep the world a little bit safer, and we don’t take from the global pool of PPE that is so critically needed by our healthcare system right now. In the words of our new favorite video, “My mask protects you, and your mask protects me.”

Credit: #Masks4All | https://masks4all.org/

Making Homemade Masks

How to sew a fabric face mask using a CDC approved pattern.

The plans for these homemade masks are simple to follow and the masks are completely washable. We recommend running them through the wash cycle on hot, with a bit of bleach between uses. Dry on hot. 

If you have the time, and are interested in making DIY facemasks, many local hospitals and governments are taking donations during the COVID-19 crisis. We encourage you to reach out to your local resources and find a place in need. The video we have linked to below has guidelines on how to sew a mask that are approved by the CDC. They have a step by step instructional video showing how to sew the mask tie straps. The video suggests using elastic or ties, but we listed some alternatives because we think it’s nice to be able to use what is on hand. Also, in ours, we made a pocket on the inside so you can put a filter in, should you choose to add this to your personal mask. Any kind of “spun” non-woven synthetic fabric, such as sizing, a dried out baby wipe, etc, will improve the efficacy of your mask. If you choose to add this pocket, you can change out the filter each time you use it. We also found that you can find a tighter fit if you sew a pipe cleaner in between the layers at the bridge of the nose. 

DIY fabric face mask with a filter
DIY fabric face mask with a filter

It’s important to keep in mind, that home made masks are not perfect, and ultimately, you have to make your own call as to how helpful they are. But here at Grow and Make, we feel good about taking our health into our own hands, and making these masks feels like a step in the right direction. 

How to sew a fabric face mask using a CDC approved pattern.

Here is what you will need: 

  • 2 pieces of cloth that are cut to 9” x 6” (We recommend the highest thread count that you have on hand, and a cotton blend is most effective according to some reports)
  • 2 ties (7” of elastic each, or 2 long rubber bands, hair ties, or alternatively, you can create ties with ribbon)

Here is a link to the instructional video we used to make this mask:

Credit: Deaconess | Deaconess.org

If you make your own mask at home, share the photo online using the hashtag #masks4all to get the message out!

For additional information regarding masks and how to wear them properly, you can download this .pdf from the New York City Health Department: