As COVID-19 aka the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, the availability of medical supplies is decreasing more and more each day. If you've turned on the news or checked Twitter, then you've likely seen that there is a shortage of N95 medical masks (which have been designated the most effective mask to help against the virus).
While factories are aiming to produce more masks to meet this growing demand, one YouTuber went viral for her video about sewing masks.
Erica Arndt has a craft-centric YouTube channel with nearly 140,000 subscribers, and she posted a video on March 21 about creating masks out of fabric. The video has since had a presence on the trending page on YouTube, and more than 600,000 people have tuned in to see how these masks are made.
Read on for the breakdown of the "How to Make a Medical Face Mask at Home" video, and to find out what fabrics can be used, and in what environments the mask will be most effective in.
How to make a medical face mask at home:
In her 6-minute tutorial video, Erica first explains that these homemade masks are not meant for hospitals dealing head-on with patients of the coronavirus. Rather, she says, they can be a suitable option for parts of the hospital that are dealing with other types of patients.
Plus, they can be used in doctors' offices so as not to spread any germs, or other essential places that are still remaining open. She says that the masks can also work in homes where people might be living with someone who has the virus. They also work for those who are part of more susceptible age groups and people with underlying health conditions.
In the video, Erica urges her viewers to make these masks — she notes that it should only take around five minutes to make one — and to call nearby hospitals and offices to give them to those who are running out of masks.
But, the fabric is important. It must be a tightly woven fabric (so liquids cannot go in or out). One top commenter on the video also noted that and some flannels and felts won't work because they can cause a reaction to those using oxygen tanks.
Those interested in making these masks will need three pieces of fabric. Erica recommends using ones with the dimensions of 6 inches by 9 inches.
You will also need to have two elastic pieces, and she uses ones that are an eighth of an inch by seven inches. The width of the straps isn't crucial, but Erica says that she's heard that the thinner ones are more comfortable for those who wear the masks.
Pins, scissors, and a sewing machine are the final tools needed for the tutorial, but Erica also uses a rotary trimmer to help make cutting on a straight line easier.
After placing the outside fabric layer on top of the middle layer, Erica then pins down the elastic piece. She places it about a half an inch from the top edge of the fabric.
After the sides are all clipped (or pinned), Erica then puts the third layer on top of the clips. She then moves the clips on top of the third layer, but the elastic remains on top of the second layer.
The next step is to sew the mask on all four sides, but to leave a hole in the middle of the area between clips. She recommends sewing the elastic down with multiple stitches so it doesn't fall apart.
Once the four sides are sewn together, you can turn the mask inside out, and it will be complete. She suggests trimming the corners off (obviously without touching the seam itself) so it will be easier to turn it inside out.
To make the mask pleats, Erica folds down the mask into three, three inch sections. She uses the clips to keep the pleats in place, and she then sews the edges of the mask to secure the pleats.
After the pleats are sewn down, the mask is now complete. The clips can be removed, and it is then ready to be given away. The next issue is, where would homemade masks be welcomed as a donation?
Where can you donate homemade coronavirus masks?
If you do decide to sew your own homemade mask, you can either keep it at home (which is a smart idea if someone you live with is exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus), or there are several sites that can help you determine where to drop off these masks.
Depending on what state you live in, there are different guidelines and websites for places accepting homemade masks.
Given the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE,) AAU institutions are asking their communities to donate gear to protect health care workers and patients from #Covid_19. We'll provide links to information where you can donate below ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/9bejIi9kek— AAU (@AAUniversities) March 21, 2020
The Association of American Universities compiled links on Twitter of colleges around the country that are seeking homemade masks.
Likewise, DonatePPE.org also has a list of places (organized by area) where masks can be given. If you want to help more locally, you can call your local hospital, doctors' offices, places of religious worship, and other open establishments to offer the masks.