No Sew Face Mask. (To Be Used to Protect Others)

A no-sew face mask.  If you have a napkin, 2 elastic bands and ears you can make it right now. A simple cloth face mask will not protect you from anything.  It will however, protect those around you if you’re sick.

Karen Bertelsen wearing a white napkin turned into a no-sew face mask for blocking some particulate matter.

I’ve been waiting to post anything like this.  I didn’t want to for a variety of reasons, the number one being that these types of homemade masks do not protect you against anything. What a simple face mask will DO however is 1) help keep you from touching your face and 2) they can minimize the chances you’ll infect someone else if you’re sick.

And everyone knows that you can be a carrier and not show any symptoms of being sick at all. Some of you reading this right now  have the virus and don’t don’t it because you don’t have any symptoms. Everyone knows that. Everyone but the Governor of Alabama at least.

With CDC regulations in the United States now recommending that if you go out, you should wear some form of mask I am finally posting a DIY mask.

I didn’t want to do a mask you had to sew because so many of you don’t sew and wouldn’t make one immediately because it would be a pain. I sew (granted it’s not  my favourite thing to do) and even I have put off making a face mask for a couple of weeks. 

Instead I have this.  I did not come up with the idea, but I do think it’s important to share it.

Also – If you would like to buy a pre-made, form fitting face mask, as of this moment these are the highest rated form fitting face masks available on Amazon.

 

I want to REITERATE that this isn’t something you can throw on and feel safe. You know that right? I figured you knew that but just for my own peace of mind I had to say it out loud.   Again.

No Sew Face Mask Tips and Facts

  • This is NOT a medical mask. It only blocks a small amount of particulate matter.
  • A face mask should feel slightly difficult to breath through due to its thickness. (N95 masks for instance can only be worn for about a half an hour before you start feeling like you need to take it off to breath properly)
  • Any elastic will work but it needs to be fairly stretchy to not pull on your ears.
  • The mask should be as tight against your face as possible. Breath out heavily and if you can feel air coming up towards your eyes, that’s germs that are escaping.  Either reposition the mask or …
  • If you have a pliable piece of metal you can clamp that over the face mask at the bridge of your nose to help make the mask tighter to your face.
  • No napkins or bandanas on hand? Blue shop towels work surprisingly well at blocking particulate.
  • I am working with a 16″ x 16″ napkin here but use what you have.
  • Wash your mask daily and let it dry in the sun if you can because the sun acts as a germicide.

I will use this mask only until I can buy or sew a proper face mask that fits tightly around my whole face.

No Sew Face Mask. (To Be Used to Protect Others)

No Sew Face Mask. (To Be Used to Protect Others)

Active Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Estimated Cost: $0

One face mask out of a napkin and elastic bands.

Materials

  • 1 napkin
  • 2 elastic bands

Instructions

  1. Lay the napkin flat in front of you. Grabbing the top of the napkin fold it down to the middle of the napkin. Do the same with the bottom, folding it up to the middle.
  2. Flip the napkin over so the side with the seam is now touching the table.
  3. Repeat the first move, folding the top down to the middle and the middle up to the centre.
  4. Flip the napkin over again.
  5. Slip an elastic band over each end of the folded napkin being careful to keep the napkin flat and not letting it bunch up. Each elastic should centred, spaced approximately 6" apart.
  6. Fold the flaps of napkin that extend past the elastics towards the centre. You will now have a rectangle shape.
  7. The mask can now be worn, with the loose folded side towards your face and slipping the elastic bands over your ears.

Notes

  • This is NOT a medical mask. It only blocks a small amount of particulate matter.
  • A face mask should feel slightly difficult to breath through due to its thickness. (N95 masks for instance can only be worn for about a half an hour before you start feeling like you need to take it off to breath properly)
  • Any elastic will work but it needs to be fairly stretchy to not pull on your ears.
  • The mask should be as tight against your face as possible. Breath out heavily and if you can feel air coming up towards your eyes, that's germs that are escaping.  Either reposition the mask or ...
  • If you have a pliable piece of metal you can clamp that over the face mask at the bridge of your nose to help make the mask tighter to your face.
  • No napkins or bandanas on hand? Blue shop towels work surprisingly well at blocking particulate.
  • I am working with a 16" x 16" napkin here but use what you have.
  • Wash your mask daily and let it dry in the sun if you can because the sun acts as a germicide.

Again, to buy pre-made face masks from Amazon, click here.

 
 Back to the regularly scheduled hilarity tomorrow.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 
 

No Sew Face Mask. (To Be Used to Protect Others)

53 Comments

  1. Renee Anthony says:

    Thanks for the tutorial for those without sewing ability. More importantly, THANK YOU for your clear and correct communication about the (minimal) benefits of the cloth face coverings. The media on the US says to use these if you can’t distance by 6 ft, which is incorrect. Please still follow physical/social distancing recommendations if you are wearing these. They help a little, but mostly in your head , not your lungs. Thanks!

  2. Clem says:

    Thanks Karen
    Great idea
    Stay safe

  3. Sadie says:

    Can we see a side view of the mask?

  4. Paul says:

    If you’re a big guy the hair ties won’t go around your ears.
    If they do go around, I guarantee they won’t stay in place.

  5. Alena says:

    I wondered why you were folding the napkin so many times but I got it at the end. That’s a pretty inventive way for an emergency face mask.
    I made mine with 3 pleats (to allow it accommodate my 3D face) from a fabric that is probably as old as I am, or close (I am 60). I remember as a child we always had it at home and some of it Mom saved as my ‘dowry’. It’s a fabric that is used when making comforters from goose down, the fabric is extremely densely woven so that the down cannot easily pierce it (those of you who have worked with down will know what I mean).
    I had nothing stretchy at home but I had a ribbon that used to be in the waistband of my pajama pants (sometimes, the hoarding comes handy). So I just tie mine behind my head/neck like shoelaces.

  6. Peggy in MN says:

    This is wonderful, Karen! Thank you! I had a few cheapo masks for when I have to spray-paint stuff, so I have been wearing those for several weeks. While I would not like to get this virus, I am plum horrified by the idea that I might unknowingly spread it, so I’m happy to mask myself. It’s a very small thing we can do for each-other in this time, and who knows? It might make a difference to even one person, so it’s worth it.

  7. Joanne says:

    Karen
    For another post. What do you think of the idea going across Canada of shutting down all community gardens? They’re already telling us our food supply is at risk.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne. I’ll be speaking about that a bit tomorrow. ~ karen!

      • Colleen Dunaway says:

        I am in northern CA and have been planting and planting in my two boxes at home. I’ve worked mostly about loss of fresh produce as migrants pick our crops and they have cramped living/transportation and access to health care can be tricky. My community garden is going. I think food sources and garden shops seem safe-it is food and you are outside. Safety and social distancing still happen outside.

  8. Lauren says:

    Glasses form a nose piece when worn over the edge of the mask, which is how you have to wear them if you don’t have wipers on your specs. Four eyes rejoice!

    Masks aren’t pleasant to wear. Think of having to wear one for a 12 hour shift every day. Our medical staffers deserve far more praise than they’re getting.

  9. Nancy says:

    Did you see the tiny picnic table for squirrels? Please make one and we can use your measurements. So much easier for us. 😉

  10. Nurse Nancy says:

    All those pictures of an operating room. Everyone wearing the paper masks. Those protect the patient (operate-ee?)
    Not so much the staff.
    Laser surgery, when I worked in OR anyway, was done in a darkened room with the surgeon wearing a very bright very narrow view headlight. If someone sneezes!! Oh WOW! You cannot believe the explosion of particles! I’ve seen it on YouTube but IRL, it’s astonishing in a horrible way. If anyone sneezes just leave the building, very quickly.

  11. Marilyn says:

    Pipe cleaners either cut in half or folded in half with sharp ends turned back against themselves work great inside over the nose area.

  12. Danni says:

    15 years ago I worked for a fabric designer, very high end stuff for a New York fabric company. So many samples came through that didn’t make the final books, all the discards available to take….. I had a literal closet full by the time I left. Got rid of a ton since but still have some of the best, I’m making some fabulous masks for family, friends, coworkers….
    The best part is being busy in my down time. I was always a bit of a lone wolf but never realized being forced to be apart from people would bother me this much!
    Stay safe!

  13. Christine Hilton says:

    This mask thing is turning me into one of those guys that scream on street corners! I give up.lf you want to wear a mask at least add a hepa filter.You can actually cut up a vacuum bag or make a pocket in the mask and slip in a piece of furnace filter.A pipe cleaner makes a great molder too.

    • Karen says:

      Apparently the blue shop towels are better simply because vacuum filters are so thick that they’re difficult to breath through. Maybe that was with folding it multiple times though. ~ karen!

    • I think that adding hepa filter is actually a step in the wrong direction. I see a lot of suggestions for improving face mask designs by adding filter media, using 4 layers of cloth, and so on. The problem with this is that better filtering means more restriction to air flow, and at some level you will end up breathing AROUND the mask instead of THROUGH the mask.

      A good dust mask, designed to protect the wearer from fine dust, will often include a one-way valve to permit easier exhalation and reduce the amount of air being pushed out around the edges (and fogging your glasses.) Obviously, that design will not offer much protection to others from contamination by the wearer, as the exhaled air is not filtered.

      It’s more realistic to think of the face mask as a “barrier”, rather than a filter. It is most useful as means to protect others from exposure to the wearer, rather than to protect the wearer from exposure. Sneezing, coughing and even talking can expel fine droplets that are mostly blocked (hopefully) by a decent face mask. Anything that does get through the mask will not be projected as far as it would with no protection at all. It’s should be more effective than the “sneeze guard” barriers used at most restaurant buffet tables, but it won’t be perfect. Covering the face with anything, even a scarf, can help to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

      Face masks of any type do not provide perfect protection, and are not a substitute for social distancing. They can, however, be useful in limiting the spread of this virus.

  14. Lisamc says:

    I promised myself I would not post but I lie to myself a lot…..the flat two wire plastic “tie” from a bag of coffee is the perfect nose piece. You know the kind, the ones that never really hold the bag the way you want it to but are so sturdy looking that you figure you must be the one doing something wrong.
    Here within the 100 mile radius of NYC we are becoming good at cobbling together face protection. But it seems from what I observe–not very good at staying at home.
    If you are lucky enough to have rubber gloves AND those fancy white cotton gloves for hand treatments, wear the cotton gloves under the surgical latex gloves and they are far more comfortable and easy to work with. Bright blue/yellow also reminds you not to touch your face.
    Sooo, with all that said I had to run out for milk and gas last night. A man sneezed in the far corner of the milk store (we have this chain called Stewart’s and it is a real quality of life enhancer). Everyone in the place froze like a social distanced herd of deer with an 18 wheeler coming on fast . I felt safe though–I had both mask and gloves–they were of course IN THE CAR on the passenger seat.
    Truly staying in now–I know way more people with varying stages of Covid19 than I ever thought would be possible. And loved ones work in hospitals in NYC in horrendous Soviet era conditions because they are noble and our elected leaders either lied or don’t know their elbows from their…..no, won’t go there now.
    Anyway, when you decide to sew a mask, look up the instructions from the doctor in Taiwan, an anesthesiologist who has a tailor make masks with a pocket in middle where he can replace paper filters throughout the day. He simply uses non woven sheets of paper toweling and spent wipes of varying kinds.
    Not feeling particularly funny today so I will end with–
    Stay safe and be generous to all around you.

  15. Jody says:

    Thank you, Karen. Yours is better than the videos I have been looking at on YouTube. I do not intend to go anywhere for quite a while, but if I need to, (following the rules), I will certainly wear a mask made from your instructions. Stay safe, all.

  16. Brian says:

    You are a good egg! Happy soon Easter!

  17. Lisa says:

    Even more regrettably, it was actually the governor of Georgia. He governs from Atlanta, which is also where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is located. Our national experts. *face palm* Shoot – now I have to wash my hands again.
    Please stay safe Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Ah! Either way, what is WRONG with these governors? And the church leaders saying HEY EVERYONE, LET’S PACK INTO A TINY CHURCH AND PRAY! It’s insanity. :/ ~ karen!

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        Watched a CNN report last night, large church in Ohio, people said they were safe because they’re “covered in the blood of Jesus”. You just can’t make this stuff up. Or maybe you can? Bottle it and sell it on eBay…. 🙄 I want to laugh but it’s just so sad.

  18. Robert Hannah says:

    Uncharted territory is where we all are.
    I enjoy reading your posts, as I think all of your followers do.
    It’s really important to protect others. Do I have it…dunno (no testing), do you have it…dunno(no testing). The best thing we can do is to try to protect others and control the spread.
    Soooo, with all this crap, how is your spring garden doing?

  19. Sarah says:

    Great job. I am sure you have seen masks made from bras. In January I ordered a bunch of non perishables including toilet paper, disinfectants, masks, and food. I am so glad I did.

  20. WyomingGirl says:

    Fantastic Karen. Our Governor has announced that the citizens of Wyoming are smart enough to stay home without him issuing a stay at home mandate. He probably thinks I have cloth napkins here at the farm also. I made my daughter and I both masks with your pattern from a couple of neckerchiefs or what you might call bandannas and ponytail ties. It may be awhile before we use them since the closet Walmart is 90 miles away. I’ve learned so much from your hilarious posts. Stay healthy and safe.

    • Sarah says:

      In Florida idiots ride their 4 wheelers, noisy trucks and cars down unpacked country roads. Even the lockdown doesn’t keep them at home. I have been thinking about moving out west.

      • Lisa says:

        Hmmm. what does riding four wheelers down country roads have to do with coronavirus? Sounds like the best place to be (away from people).

    • Karen says:

      That’s great! I mean not about your Governor – his actions are incredibly stupid. But YOUR actions are great! ~ karen

  21. This is awesome! Thanks Karen.

  22. Tina Lauer says:

    Thank you, Karen.

  23. Sabrina Campbell says:

    This is great, Karen. I’ve seen a YouTube video where a very enthusiastic woman makes a mask out of a bra. She uses the metal prongs from a file folder to make the bendy nose piece. Should be stronger than a twist tie.
    Cheers and stay safe everyone!

  24. Janie says:

    When you do decide to sew a mask…this is the pattern I used. It is great.
    https://www.unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/filesimages/Coronavirus/003902oo-1%20Olson%20Mask%20V07.pdf

  25. Benjamin says:

    Thanks for this edition of doing stuff Karen. We all need this right about now. You’re awesome !!

  26. TucsonPatty says:

    Some of the mask patterns I’ve researched suggest putting a twist tie for the nose shaping piece. You could try to place it inside the folded piece, and tape it in place.
    These are crazy times and I’m convinced men don’t read news articles the way women do. How can you live here and not know this stuff? I just heard tonight about a Tippy Tao for homeless people to wash their hands ingenious. Campers of the world probably have been using this for generations! I didn’t know.
    coronavirus/covid-19-how-a-tippy-tap-could-help-homeless-wash-hands

    • TucsonPatty says:

      Tippy Tap

    • Karen says:

      I have never even heard of a tippy tap! I’ll have to take a look at it. I actually tried a twist tie! It wasn’t strong enough. BUT I’m sure there are some twist ties that would work. Anything metal and bendy (that won’t be sharp and a danger to your eyes) would work. ~ karen!

      • TucsonPatty says:

        You could use a Tippy Tap in your garden!!

      • Ashley says:

        I’ve been sewing and donating masks for a few weeks, I use several lengths of floral wire twisted together to form one strand for the nose piece. I’d be willing to bet Karen that you have floral wire hanging around!

        • Linda says:

          I used strong garden ties that come on a roll and are coated with soft green rubber(?)… not the hard plastic. Worked great.

      • Peggy Vargo says:

        Cut a piece of an aluminum pie tin 1×2. Fold it in thirds lengthwise. Sew it near the top of the mask. My machine will actually sew through it if I go slow. Stay well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin104
Share560
Email