After the CDC advised us all to wear masks when out in public, I started paying close attention to the masks people were wearing and how they fit. All the masks I saw did not fit properly (or at all), and air was escaping through the sides of the mask. With my renewed interest in making my own gear and clothing, I like to constantly challenge my pattern making skills to improve upon what’s out there and what will work even better, and maybe most importantly, make what I want to wear. It was time to make my own mask. I scoured the interwebs seeing dozens of tutorials and patterns pop up, but none really inspired me, so I attempted to make one from scratch.
Starting with a strap attached to a flat piece of fabric I started to drape it around my face, and cut and slashed the fabric and added pieces back to get the contours just right. From there, I drew on lines and cut the shape apart to create a pattern. This was then transferred to paper, and I was off and running flat pattern making. I was trying to avoid having a strap on the top and the bottom to make the mask easier to put on and take off, but the single top strap put too much pressure on the chin making the mask ride up into my eyes from the up and down movement of my chin when talking. Not ideal. I went through a day of trial and error with a few other shapes before settling on the least complex shape, which so happened to be the same one I originally didn’t like when I was browsing the web initially.
After getting the shape and doing some research, I thought it would be best if I made a final version with cotton ripstop, cotton jersey lining, metal wire, poly pro webbing, and a magnetic Fidlock buckle. While it looked really good, I couldn’t get a good seal on my face and felt air going up into my eyes and past my cheeks to my ears. It was disappointing to have a mask that looked good but couldn’t properly do the only job it had. I scoured the web again and found some better information from healthcare workers and knew I had to try again; what’s the point of a mask that doesn’t work?
I made the new proto, revised it for my face, which needed some more chin space. I made the new final version with the same cotton rip stop, cotton jersey lining, metal wire encased in ripstop piping and sewn into the seam allowance, and I used the proto stretch fabric for the straps that I double turned and finished with a zigzag stitch. This mask is great, it seals extremely well, I can’t feel any air escaping and it seems like it’s all going through the fabrics. While this is not a replacement for an approved N95 or better filter fabric at least all the air I will be breathing in and out would have to go through the mask and not sneak around the outside via the path of least resistance, and saves the N95s for the healthcare workers that need them.
Now to see if I can get some actual Halyard H600 medical fabric…!
Here are the links to the 2 videos I found that use similar patterns and the link for the clear winner made by the University of Florida.