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Corona Mask

I did a lot of research and made a couple of prototypes. This mask is easy to make, washable and effective. Unfortunately, I did not bookmark my research. I’ll try to find some of it and post later. The research showed the effectiveness of different materials at filtration down to 0.1 micron (smaller than corona), as well as real world effectiveness of DIY masks at preventing transmission of influenza and SARS, which are very similar to corona. The bottom line to the research went like this:

  • The material is not as important as wearing the mask. A cotton tshirt was recommended in some studies becuase of its ubuiquity and comfort.
  • The level of absolute filtration is not as important as simply wearing ANY mask. Many studies of past influenza outbreaks looked at OUTCOMES of wearing mask vs no mask, OR N95 vs surgical mask, vs DIY, etc and the results are very, very good for DIY masks.
  • There is also a concept of “overdosing” on the virus. The concept is if you get low “doses” of the virus, your immune system will be able to react quickly and stop the virus before it can do its damage. Studies that focus on medical staff are highly useful, because they are far more likely to be in an overdosing situation than the general public, so if wearing ANY mask is effective for them, then it necessarily must be highly effective for the general public.
  • Disclaimer – of course, no mask will help you if you don’t wash your hands and take other precautions. My personal protocol for shopping is mask, glasses and gloves; do not touch the mask, face or glasses until I’m done shopping, then when I get to my car, remove the gloves, then when I get home, remove the glasses and mask, then sanitize everything including the mask before bringing the groceries in. Then get changed.
  • Also, common sense – wearing a mask in public protects others from your own death vapors.
  • Lastly, don’t listen to anyone saying not to wear a mask. Its shocking how the idiot surgeon general recommended not wearing a mask. Unbelievable! Not only is he DEAD WRONG, but the research is plenty and very sound AND its just common #!&$^ING SENSE – PUTTING A BARRIER IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE MUST DO SOMETHING. Do not let perfection be the enemy of the good. Especially the very good. I believe this mask is at least as good as a surgical mask and likely better because it seems to fit better than the masks I see on medical staff. If you tie it tight, it will snug up to your nose, sides of your face and chin. If you wear glasses and they don’t fog up, then you know it fits well.

Anyway, I don’t have a pattern or anything, but if you can operate a sewing machine even in the most basic way (like me), then you can make it.

The basic concept is a 3 layer mask made up of the following:
Outside: reuseable shopping bag – the kind you find in every grocery store for 99 cents.
Middle: toilet tissue
Inside: cotton tshirt

The reuseable shopping bag is breathable and water-resistant. Its important for the outside layer to keep out death vapors, spittle and sneeze residue. Put the bag to your face and try breathing through it before cutting it up.

The cotton tshirt can be a cotton blend. One study suggested a cotton blend was slightly more effective at filtration than 100% cotton.

The toilet paper is your disposable filter medium.

Start by cutting the seams off the bag. Bag construction differs between bags, so use your best judgement. I found that the edge sides and bottoms are usually the right size. Cut a piece about the size of a sheet of paper. HEM ONE LONG EDGE. The hem should be wide enough to slide a wire into later.

Cut the tshirt sleeves and neck off and lay it out flat. Lay the hemmed bag piece over it so the waist hem from the tshirt lines up with the bag material hem. Use pins to hold them together and trim the tshirt a little larger than the bag.

Sew the 3 un-hemmed sides together and trim off the waste. The unsewn side will the top of the mask and will form a pocket for the disposable filter medium.

Hem the bottom of the mask.

Make two pleat folds lengthwise and put a few stitches to hold it toghether. No need for anything fancy here, its just to hold it together. I found that after the pleating, the pins don’t work great at holding it together.

Fold one of the sides over about 1" and stitch that through a few times. Then do the other side. These are the loops for the strings (and final stitching for the pleats).

Now you’re done with the mask. Next get a piece of wire for the nose bridge. A small unfolded paperclip is both perfect length and malleability . Use pliers to make a little fold at each end of the wire which keeps the wire from poking through. The little fold is also a place to sew it in place.

Push the wire into the hem of the bag material, center it and lock it in place with a couple of stitches at each end.

For the string, use anything. Even the bag seams you cut at the beginning. They make great strings (comfortable, easy to tie). Shoe strings work great. Elastic is the best because you don’t have to tie/untie. But anything that holds it tight to your face is good.

That’s it. :-)

-- Losing fingers since 1969

14 Comments

And I thought that I am perfectionist, Brian 🙂 thumbs up. Stay strong.

-- Martin Sojka, https://craftisian.com

Heh… I’m in an elevated (not high) risk category due to smoking, so I have to be careful.

One last thing about the mask: don’t use short strings and loop around your ears. You’ll never get a good fit that way. Tie around the back of your neck and top of your head like they did on M*A*S*H. Then it will be nice and snug.

One last, last thing. :-) The research for this stuff is such low hanging fruit. It’s baffling why the so called expert advice is against wearing a mask during a friggin pandemic. As usual it’s likely a combination of bureaucratic ineptitude and malfeasance of some sort. They’re starting to come around. NYC and LA have advised wearing masks (with caveats). Still better than simply lying about the whole thing.

-- Losing fingers since 1969

Good research Brian thanks for sharing.

Well, that about sums it up, doesn’t it!! Wow.

I was watching a show and the one person said that her parents (Asian) always support the masks. An example of “why” is when in an elevator, wearing the mask, the doors open, the person looks in, sees the mask, and says “I’ll wait and take the next one”. Yet another layer of protection – people keep their distance!

Did you find any options to the toilet paper, so that you can just toss the whole thing into the wash, eliminating the disposable part? (- and because toilet paper is one of the precious panic items)

-- Toxins Out, Nature In - body/mind/spirit

Instead of toilet paper, use paper towel, Kleenex, whatever you can find that is “fibrous”.

-- Losing fingers since 1969

Good to know !!
Thanks for doing all the research for us ;)

-- Toxins Out, Nature In - body/mind/spirit

Well done, and thanks Brian.

—Madts.

-- Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.

I just saw and read the post on your mask. Really a comprehensive, exhaustive and thorough piece that can help us all be safe. You have a wonderful talent for composition and detail. Thank you my friend.

-- Jack

Great article. I an passing it on to others.

-- -- Soli Deo gloria!

Small update. One of the household items that tested extremely well was a vacuum cleaner bag. I put one to my face and tried to breath through it but it didn’t work, so I discarded the idea. HOWEVER – a friend of mine used a vacuum bag for the filter medium. I guess most vacuum bags are actually 2 bags in one. The inside is a liner and the outside more durable. The liner is what you want. I just cut one open and the liner from one bag looks to be good for about 20 masks (20 uses since its the disposable part).

-- Losing fingers since 1969

That’s good to know!

-- Toxins Out, Nature In - body/mind/spirit

My wire Crocheted ours and we used coffee filters between the layers. And your right wearing a mask can only help there’s no way it’s going to hurt you just keep it clean and keep wearing it. We’re all hoping this goes away soon however the reality is if people don’t wear masks it’s going to stay far longer than predicted. Stay safe everyone

-- Daba

Ahhhh… crocheted with a pocket. I saw some crocheted /
knitted ones online and I thought those people were nuts. I didn’t even think about the pocket even though I made ones with pockets! 😂

-- Losing fingers since 1969