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March 28th, 2020

My family and I have been making masks for the last two days. (See the resource section for mask-making instructions.) This post is intended to make it possible for you to make, use and care for your own homemade masks to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus in your community. Inspiration for this project came from Petr Ludvig who, in early March, mobilized the Czech Republic to make and wear masks to limit the community spread of COVID-19. This 30-minute video by Jeremy Howard tells the story:


Donning and Doffing of the Mask

The homemade masks referred to by Petr Ludvig and also in this blog, are intended to limit Covid-19 spread if you must venture out of your shelter. The masks should be used in combination with frequent, thorough hand-washing both immediately before and after removing masks. Once the mask is on, do not touch your face. If the mask becomes damp, replace it. The mask helps reduce the risk you pose to others if you are a carrier of the virus, but may only provide limited protection to you from viruses shed by those around you. When you return home, launder and sanitize the mask as described in this post. Place your sanitized mask in a ziplock bag with your name on it so that it is ready to go for its next use.

The Adams and Schaub Family Mask-making experience

We have two seamstresses in the house and two capable helpers to cut, pin, pink, iron, wash and sanitize our masks. We also have others who are working on our information resource package and online resources. We are giving our masks away and including our information package so that everyone we give a mask to can learn how to take care of their masks and how to make more masks if they want to contribute to the wider effort of #masks4all. In the resource section below, you will find how-to videos and some “tips” which we learned along the way. We started making masks using the “By A Nurse-For a Nurse” pattern, but customized some masks to include a 3M filter and a wire nose piece to improve the seal. 

Angela Clayton may also be helpful: Making Masks | Why & How I’m making Them https://youtu.be/H_-YJ-Bsi6o 

Here are some Educational Skills involved in mask-making:

  • Measurement
  • Estimation
  • Asymmetry and symmetry
  • Tessellations (arranging the mask template to minimize the material wastage and maximize the useable material)
  • 3D conception and construction
  • Planning
  • Fine motor coordination
  • Procedural planning 
  • Group cooperation
  • Peer teaching
  • Online lesson planning
  • Online research 
  • Vetting of online educational videos for inclusion in project
  • Editing and writing and rewriting
  • Photographic documentation
  • Operating machinery and using hand tools
  • Publishing 
  • Social Media outreach
  • Community outreach and support

Here is our supply list:

  • Cotton fabric (we used quilter’s cotton)
  • 3M Furnace filter (deconstructed to harvest the virus-filtering fabric inside)
  • Thread
  • Flat aluminium wire from the dollar store or flat wire used as bread bag closures
  • Round plastic wrapped wire from the dollar store
  • Duct tape (to tape over the sharp ends of the wire)
  • Distilled water for the iron
  • Ziplock bags

Here is our equipment list:

  • Sewing scissors
  • Paper scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Rotary cutters
  • Metal Ruler
  • Tape Measure
  • Pins
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Self-healing mat (for use with the rotary cutter or Exacto knife)
  • Washer and dryer
  • Oven
  • Mesh bag for laundering masks (we made ours)
  • Printer paper
  • Computer with internet access
  • Printer
  • Cell phone for taking photos


Why #masks4all: https://twitter.com/jeremyphoward/status/1242894378441506816?s=20

General household cleaning tips: https://twitter.com/k0mBaTkArL/status/1239534898408538115?s=20

Sanitizing Masks:  After washing masks, we sanitized them in the oven for 30 minutes at 70 ºC  on a clean tray. Here’s how:


Washing Instructions: Before washing, loosely tie the long ties together and then wash and dry your mask in a mesh bag. The bag prevents the ties of the mask from getting hopelessly tangled around the rest of your laundry load. 

Mesh Bags:  A lingerie bag or a homemade mesh bag helps in the washing of the masks. We had some used athletic shirt fabric that has holes in it. We made draw-string mesh bags that are useful for washing and drying masks so that the ties do not get tangled. 

Ziplock Bags:  Each cleaned mask should be stored in a ziplock bag with its owner’s name on the bag. 

Donning and doffing masks and other personal protection equipment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syh5UnC6G2k&feature=youtu.be

To mask or not to mask?

As of March 25, 2020, Public Health Ontario authorities continue to recommend against the use of masks non-medical personnel who are asymptomatic for Covid-19:

https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/factsheet/factsheet-covid-19-how-to-wear-mask.pdf?la=en This advice may have been intended to avoid competition for the inadequate supply of masks available to medical professionals, without taking into consideration the potential for home production of reasonably effective, if imperfect, cloth masks.

On 18 March, the Czech Republic made it compulsory to wear either a surgical face mask or other mouth and nose-covering apparel when in public. On March 27, Hong Kong made mask use mandatory in some situations. Reference: https://www.gld.gov.hk/egazette/pdf/20202416e/egn2020241616.pdf

Medical authorities in Ontario are starting to recommend public mask use. Here is an undated (but approximately March 25) announcement from Michael Garron Hospital in East York recommending public mask usage and asking for the public’s help in supplying cloth masks. Reference: https://www.mghf.ca/mgh1000masks

How to make more masks: The Michael Garron Hospital’s link above provides 2 links on how to make masks. A YouTube video from Angela Clayton may also be helpful: Making Masks | Why & How I’m making Them https://youtu.be/H_-YJ-Bsi6o 

3M Furnace Filters Used for the Masks:

We included a filter layer in our masks. Without access to medical masks, we took apart a 3M Furnace filter that says it filters viruses and bacteria. We carefully cut the cardboard edges off the cartridge and pulled away from the chicken wire-like metal that was glued to the accordion-shaped filter. We ironed the filter paper. Then we used a cardboard mask template to outline the pattern on the paper. We were able to get 18 masks out of one $10 filter. We sewed the filters into the middle of our masks. They are able to be washed and sanitized.