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How to Sew a DIY Fabric Face Mask (with Free Printable Pattern)

Free pattern to sew pleated surgical fabric face masks for hospitals or your own use. Make at home with elastic or fabric ties. Option for filter pocket.

Many makers have asked for a pattern to sew homemade surgical masks for hospitals and their communities. The DIY pattern in this post will teach you to make a cloth pleated face mask with elastic ear loops or fabric ties.

The fabric face mask can be made with an interior pocket in which you can insert additional filter material.

If you can’t find or don’t want to use elastic ear loops, there are additional instructions for making and using fabric ties. You can make fabric ties from cotton fabric, t-shirt material, or use ready-made bias binding.

A printable version of these pattern instructions is available at the bottom of the post. And you can watch the video tutorial on Youtube.

Is there a need for Fabric Face Masks?

Currently, the supply of surgical masks is at a critical all-time low throughout the entire nation.

Orders for the standard disposable masks used in hospitals are back-ordered, and there is a high demand for protective equipment for health care workers.

According to the CDC, fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted.

Due to these concerns, many hospitals across the country have requested homemade surgical masks as an emergency stopgap measure.

The CDC Now Recommends the Use of Cloth Face Coverings

What’s more, federal health officials now recommend people cover their mouths and noses with cloth face masks when in public.

This is a voluntary public health measure meant to help stop the spread when people must visit to public spaces such as grocery stores and public transit stations.

Sewing a cloth face mask for yourself will allow medical grade surgical masks and N95 masks to be reserved health care professionals and patients.

An Important Distinction

Homemade face masks are not as effective as the N95 filtration mask recommended by the CDC, and are not a substitute for proper PPE.

Rather, they are meant:

  1. To respond to the hospitals’ requests for emergency backup masks.
  2. To help community members “slow the spread” in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Sources for further reading: Cambridge Study, Nature, Occ. Env Med, Annals Occ Hygiene)

Homemade Face Masks are a Last Resort

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has explained that in times of crisis, homemade masks are acceptable as a last resort. On the CDC website, Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks, they explain that while homemade masks are not a substitute for PPE, they can be used in settings where facemasks are not available.

HCP use of homemade masks:In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.

I strongly caution you before you spend time sewing these masks:

  1. Follow the CDC guidelines as the situation develops.
  2. Contact your local hospital and clinic to ensure that they are accepting masks, and that any masks you make will meet their individual guidelines.

Some Hospitals are Requesting Homemade Surgical Masks

Some hospitals and clinics accepting donations of homemade face masks. [ … ]

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