So here we are, Spring 2020 – The UK on lockdown.
Who’d have thought, as we celebrated New Years Eve, that just a few months on, we’d be immersed in this weird and worrying situation. Only venturing out into the big blue Covid19 yonder for essentials, exercise and work to minimise the spread of a highly infectious, potentially deadly virus so that our front-line heroes are able to deal with a Global Pandemic like nothing we’ve ever known.
We’re doing our bit to stop ourselves becoming sick or unwittingly spreading the virus – social distancing, hand washing, cleaning, sanitising like never before. 
Some people are wearing face masks. 
In parts of America and Europe, politicians and scienticts are encouraging citizens to wear face masks in public as an act of social responsibility. There is now discussion here in the UK on whether we should be wearing them too.

Can A Face Mask Protect Us From Covid 19?

Whilst nothing can be totally effective, this article from New Scientist  states that, overall, the evidence suggests there may be a small benefit to wearing some kind of face covering. 
But this pandemic has stretched resources,  Personal protective equipment is in short supply and what ever surgical equipment there is should be reserved for our front line workers. One way round this problem is to make your own.

So What Makes A Good Face Mask?

 According to the CDC a good face mask should:-
  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shapYou can read more about it in their advice HERE
There are lots of patterns out there already – some good, some basic and there are some great tutorials. Not all of them meet the above criteria, and as pattern-making is a particular area of my expertise, I wanted to do my own to make sure that it met the required standard. 
Free Face Mask Pattern

What's The Best Fabric To Use?

Choosing the right material determines your best chances of blocking viruses. A good homemade mask uses a material that has a high thread count and is dense enough to capture viral particles but breathable and comfortable enough that you can tolerate it.
In 2006, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh shared with the CDC guidelines for making an effective face mask if surgical masks and N95 masks were unavailable during a viral outbreak. They found that good quality T shirt fabric is best. You can read it HERE . It makes a lot of sense, as the weave (or knit to be precise) of cloth is denser and of a more intricate construction.
I’m a bit  of a perfectionist (and a bit busy too –  shopping for those in my community who are isolated, trying to work and to homeschool my 11 yr old, aside from the epic task of drafting, editing and publishing). It took me a while to arrive at something I was happy with. I ended up with a couple of patterns that worked well –  that we’re snug fitting with a pocket for a filter. I chose to use one that is easy to make, and comfortable.
Free Face Mask Pattern
…. and in the current circumstances it would be rude not to share, don’t you think.
You can download and print it on 3 A4 sheets and join it together (It’s simple – there are registration marks to help with this).
You don’t need to be “Sewing Bee’ standard to make it – basic sewing skills will do. All you need is an old T shirt (it will work with woven cotton too), a sewing machine and thread. You could even hand sew it, if that’s your thing. It’s a good practice project for a beginner and it doesn’t need to be perfect.
It incorporates a space with an opening in the lining for a filter. This can be made from a piece of unused hoover bag or even a coffee filter and can be replaced and disposed of or washed. A wire can also be sewn in for a close fit over the bridge of the nose.
It’s currently a free pattern but if you can and want to show your appreciation, perhaps you could make a small donation to the NHS via my Just Giving page.
PS. Non-sewers, keep watching for my non-sew version  –  coming soon.