Hello lovely people.

After a prolonged silence, I have decided to post something that does not belong to this site. But under the current situation (coronavirus 19) this content could be of some significance.

Since I have asthma that is not going anywhere, a substantial amount of my time goes into thinking about possible solutions. I found a solution in wearing an N95 mask. Of course in normal circumstances, this looks odd maybe even bizarre, to were it all the time. Then my attention was caught by a cycling dust mask. It has a filter, a valve, but it still looks out of place for constant use.

Now what?

Why not attempting to make some kind of homemade hybrid that looks less invasive and could be fashionable and functional at the same time.

So I ordered two different filters, one from a reputable firm and the other one was generic. And yes they do differ in shape and size. This difference is important, especially when making the pattern alterations, to a specific filter you have on hand. One would ask, why so many complications for a simple filter mask? Well, when things get far enough, you need as much air as possible to be filtered. Only people with severe asthma and histamine intolerance can understand and relate to this.

My sincere apologies for dramatic tones, but when you experience the accompanying nuisances of these two conditions, your perspective changes.

Now let’s get to work.

First, we need a pattern. My path vas through trial and error until I came to a satisfying solution.

First I just drew outlining of the filter on an old, ruined kitchen cloth. The result was, mildly put, funny. Nose part was weirdly pointy and so not good at all. And here is a picture intended for pure entertainment.

Natural evolution led to reduced nose part and bigger sides, for better grip and less uncontrolled air circulation. All this led to a generic-looking pattern, widely used in last weeks.

Please check the size on the print out

My pattern already accounts 6 mm = 1/4 inch seam allowance.

When you print ou the pattern provided above, you can start working on your mask. Of course, filters and valves need to be at hand too.
Perhaps just as a side note a picture of filters I have and the difference in shape. So you get the feeling of what I’m trying to tell you.

In the entertaining picture above, you can see that the nose part on the filter itself is way too big. So I decided to bend the tip a little bit and go for a more rounded look. It worked out perfectly. Bigger noses are included.

And finally, we can get into alterations as needed. When you get your hands on the filter you put it on the pattern and asses what needs to be changed.

Please be mindful of the filter seam. You need to push it aside when fitting the pattern. After all, the fabric does hold the filter as close to the face as possible. We want to eliminate all gaps to prevent air leakage.

Let’s try to show this through pictures, for people needing visual representation. (I’m not sure how graphic this is, I hope it is of some help.)

What kind of material to use?

In normal circumstances, I would suggest going for a nice, non-stretch, natural and easy to care for fabric. But these are not normal circumstances, and I say, go for what you have at hand. Maybe cotton shirts that you do not wear anymore? Just don’t use to dense fabric, it makes it difficult to breathe.

Now maybe I’m old school, but I do think it is better to prevent the fabric from fraying. You don’t need a serger, the plain zigzag stitch will do just fine, on your plain sewing machine (or any overcasting stitches on your sewing machine).

When done with everything, you just sew everything together.

Side note. The little piece that holds the wire, I tried to put it on the outside and personally didn’t like it. I prefer when it is on the inside of the mask, it is easier to sew it in, at the end (less stress on being perfect).

For nose wire, I use 18 gauge = 1,2 mm jewellery wire, length 15 cm = 6 inches (that in my opinion is max length). I bent the wire ends and wrapped it with surgical tape, to avoid scratching.

I do understand, everyone does not have jewellery wire at home, so I suggest using what you have, for instance, wires from different packaging like bread or electronic. Look around what you can use or reuse.

We’re almost at the end just don’t forget to hem the holes for the valves. We do want this mask to be reusable and washable.

As far as the tieing goes, in my opinion, it is best to use cotton string or a shoelace. Elastic bands that go behind the ears are just too tiring to wear, especially when you need a tight fit.

Darts under the chin come last. You need to do everything else before so you can tight fit properly. Please try out where and how much needs to be taken in. You need to prevent unwanted gaping and air circulation.

And lastly, we need to talk about the care of our creation. The outer part that we made can be washed and disinfected like that. Filters can be disinfected in the oven for 30 minutes at the temperature 80°C = 170°F (I say love your self and keep numbers rounded). And the valves need to be washed in the sink or/and using a disinfectant and dried off.

Regarding wearability, it is surprisingly comfortable and functional. There is no moisture build-up on the inside and unprofessional wire at the top works rather well.

We finally came to an end. Sometimes I think I’m not capable of writing something short.

Anyhow, I hope that all the frontline workers in this coronavirus thing have better equipment than this. Here I would like to thank everyone for trying to help in these difficult times.

My homemade masterpiece was meant for personal use, as an air filtration mask to relieve some stress from the body due to pollution and pollen. By all means, my main focus was on looking good when worn daily. I would have never thought that coronavirus is coming to shake our lives as it did.

The current situation can not be even labelled as one in a lifetime, because it’s much larger than that. Let’s use these times to reflect on our lives and let’s find an answer what will we do to make things for the better in the future. It would be nice if we would be brave enough to allow our hearts to lead us to a new world. Let’s break the spell and make a better world.

Till next time

Stay Safe, Stay Home, Be Kind, Be Healthier, Live A Better Life


P.S.: For everyone thinking about how you can not do anything because you don’t have a sewing machine. I’m quite sure you have a needle and a thread. And you can quite easily do everything by hand. Look at it like doing your haute couture protection mask. Doing things the old way can sometimes be quite therapeutic.

My sincere apologies for the cat in the pictures. Revenge was sweet.