Experienced woodworkers have a quick/cheap trick for making a mask from old t-shirts. They do it to filter out sawdust, but this how-to technique works equally well for DIY masks suitable for wearing at the grocery store during this coronavirus pandemic.
Note: This DIY Face Mask Is Not Medical Grade
This how-to DIY mask is far from medical grade. The virus can still pass through and around the fabric. However, it will halt the spray from your inadvertent sneeze or cough. Most importantly, this is a mask that will signal to others that you are taking the pandemic and everyone’s health seriously. It also fits nicely into your pocket or bag.
The DIY Face Mask How-to in 10 Easy Steps:
One: Lay Out the Tee
Start by flattening an unwanted, but clean, tee-shirt on a solid surface suitable for cutting.
Two: Your Hand Is Your Ruler
The width of your hand is a great size reference for a mask that will cover your nose and mouth. Starting from the bottom hem of the shirt, use your hand and a marker to measure and mark a horizontal line across the shirt one hand-width from the shirt’s bottom edge.
Three: Cut a Band
Use scissors to cut along this line, including both the front and back of the shirt, so that you get a circular band (almost like a mini tube-top).
Three: Snip the Band
Take the band you just created and make a single vertical cut that severs the band and turns it into a single very-long hand-width rectangle.
Four: Fold Your Strip
Fold this long rectangle over so that the two cut ends are together. Place it back on your flat surface and smooth it out.
Five: Measure/Mark Your Mask
Starting from the folded end of the rectangle (as opposed to the end where the two cut ends meet), measure a hand width from the fold inward and mark a vertical line that runs the width of the rectangle but leaves a one-inch margin between the line and the top and bottom edges of the cloth.
Six: Mark Your Strappy Ties Guideline
At the opposite end of your still-folded rectangle, mark the same vertical line right at the cut edges, leaving one-inch margins between the end of your line the top/bottom edges of the fabric.
Seven: Cut Your First Set of Strappy Ties
Using scissors, cut horizontally between the tops of the lines you just marked. Keep the rectangle folded and cut both layers at the same time. Begin your scissoring at the cut edges of your rectangle and scissor towards the line that is one hand-width from the folded end. This will result in a long, one-inch wide strip of fabric that will become a tie strap on your DIY mask.
Eight: Cut Your Second Set of Strappy Ties
Repeat this cut using the bottom ends of the two lines. Your mask should now have both top ties and bottom ties.
Nine: Sever Your Mask From the Scrap
Move your four new ties out of the way so that you can now cut vertically along the line you drew at the folded end of your rectangle (be sure to leave the one-inch margins, as that’s how the ties stay attached to your mask). Discard the rectangular middle parts from which you just cut the ties.
Ten: Unfold Your “Maskerpiece”
Unfolded, the result should resemble a giant letter “H”, with the middle bar being a two-hand-width mask and the vertical sticks being the four ties that go around your head.
Wearing Your DIY Face Mask
A few practice runs are all it takes to get the sizing and the cuts just right. It also takes some practice to tie the mask to your face. It helps to practice in a mirror before you head to the grocery. It is better to practice at home than to get frustrated in the grocery parking lot. Even equipped with your new masks, we encourage you to continue to practice social distancing and help everyone stay safe until this pandemic passes.