Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Making a Surgical Mask For COVID-19 Might Be Easier With Sewing Hem Tape

I am going to make a surgical mask to "survive" a doctor's trip tomorrow (as of this writing).

This is definitely NOT one of those "N95" masks that you hear about.  This is a stopgap measure designed to slow down things, and while it is designed after what hospitals are asking as donations, anything like this is used at your own risk.  "Better than nothing" is all we seem to be getting these days anyway since hording seems to be out of control.

Oh, and wash this after one outing.  That's true with any mask.  I'll be throwing mine into the washer on Hot when I get back.  You may want to soak yours in Alcohol as an alternative.

It is all up to you.

If this sounds vague, I am not a doctor and I am not giving medical advice other than Be Careful Out There.

This will not be fancy, and it will be easily made because I will be using Hem Tape instead of sewing things together.  If you don't have a sewing machine, this will work.

Mine did work for me.  If you get nothing more from this article - use Hem Tape if you can't or won't use needle and thread.

If you don't know what it is, it's a 1/2 inch wide (or so) strip of synthetic fabric that has a "low" melting point.  You place this within a seam, use a hot iron to press the fabric.  The Hem Tape melts and bonds with the fabric.  It is not permanent, but I have had tape hold in a seam for more than a decade.

After looking at a number of videos and reading plans, I realized that you can simply heat the iron and press in some hem tape. 

The result will look like something out of the TV Show MASH with ties instead of elastic.

Since this is done for ease, it may be a bit crooked.  It's ok, Crooked can save your life too.

The basics are a 9x6 inch rectangle that is an envelope open at top..
The open area at top is so you can slide in a filter material if you have access to any.

It is made with a tightly woven fabric and is two ply - a top and a bottom layer.
Mine will be made from an old bandana I got at a street fair given to me for my dog.
The two ends have ties or strings on them to tie behind the head. 
There is one pleat on it to help shape it to the face, but typically there are three of them.
I only put one in mine because it seemed enough.

Any raw edges that have been cut will have to be hemmed or taped closed so you don't have it unraveling in use.

This assumes Hem Tape is 1/2 inch Wide.
  • Cut your fabric to 10 inch by 12.
  • Iron your fabric flat.
  • Fold fabric in half, pattern outside.
  • It will be 10 inches by 6 when done.
  • Iron the fold to ensure it lays flat then turn it inside-out again to work on the seams.
  • Pin or lay some hem tape on the very top of the cut long side(s) opposite of the fold and hem that side closed. 
  • Do this so that the fold faces you.
  • Flip and repeat for the other top side.
  • Hem the shorter sides together.  
  • This will create an envelope that is inside out, and open at the top.

Turn the mask inside out.  Now you are looking at what will be the "outside" of the mask.

Pleats. 
  • Pleats seem to be optional but to add them, pinch the edges together along the short sides.
  • This can be repeated up to three times but I only did one.
  • Use a 1/2-1 inch long piece of Hem Tape to close your Pleat.
  • Cut the piece of hem tape to fit.
  • Slide it inside of the mask against the side and add your pleat.
  • Heat the pleat until it sets.
  • Repeat the pleats on each side of the mask.

Ties to hold the mask in place can be made from rubber bands or by sewing laces to each corner to be tied behind the head.
I will make my own ties with the extra fabric from construction.

In testing the mask, the ties held well fastened behind my head, the mask seemed that it will work for the short work that will be required of it.

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