Instructions for making our new hybrid face masks from fabric and household air filters

How to Make

To Replace or to Wash?


This air filter material tends to deteriorate when washed in the washing machine, but it can be soaked and hand washed in the sink with mild soap. Be sure to rinse and dry completely before wearing again. The filters don’t have the same efficiency against small particles when they are wet. It would be better to replace them daily if possible.




A Note on Fit


How well the mask fits you will also determine how well it can protect you.

If there are gaps along the edges or beside your nose, it is possible that unfiltered air can enter through those openings. These home-made masks are not nearly as effective without the nose bridge, so you should not make them without the bridge if at all possible.
Please see video for tips on how to ensure that the elastic is working to give you the best possible fit.




How Can I Get Supplies?


You can get a Kit from us.
Each kit contains enough supplies to make 20 masks.

Or, you can buy your own supplies ( see list below).




Choosing Air Filters


MERV 12 and higher are best.
For further information, click here.




Am I a Small, Medium, or Large?


Small is suitable only for children 8 and under. Medium fits most tweens, teens, and many adult women. Some men also can wear a M. Large fits larger adults including most men. If you have a beard, definitely choose L.





Materials you will need (included in the kit):

  • Two pairs of fabric: one longer pair for the exterior of the mask; one shorter pair for the interior of the mask. (The two pairs have been selected to go together and should be together in the stack of cloth pattern pieces that you received in the kit.) This fabric has been cut to size S, M or L.

  • One aluminum nose bridge

  • Two approx. 15” strands of elastic (You will need both for around-the-head masks and only one cut in half for the over-the-ear mask.)

  • One piece of air filter cut to shape. This is also sized S, M, or L.

Assembling the mask from your kit:

  1. Finish the shorter straight edge of each of the four fabric pieces (all four pieces individually) by folding them over slightly and adding a 1/8” seam. Be sure to fold the right side over the wrong side. (All subsequent seams should be between ⅛”-1/4” seam allowance.)

  2. Stack the matching fabric pairs together with right sides together, and sew each pair (separately) along the large curve which is opposite the short straight side that you sewed in the previous step. Be sure to match top with top and bottom with bottom. You should now have just two pieces of patterned fabric, one made out of the shorter pieces, and one made out of the longer pieces.

  3. Open up both fabric pieces, and place the shorter piece on top of the longer piece with right sides together. On each combined piece of fabric, one of the long sides should be taller and pointier than the other. Be sure that you match the pointier sides up with one another-- they are the top of your mask. Sew along both long sides, as far as the shorter fabric piece allows. Do not sew the small straight sides at this time.

  4. Using one of the small straight sides, turn the mask inside out, so that the nicer patterned sides are now on the outside. Iron at this point, if possible.

  5. Take one of the metal nose bridges, and slide it into the mask through the open shorter sides. Place it along the pointier top side as closely as possible and center it. Next, stitch a rectangle around the nose bridge to keep it in place.

  6. Now you will make two tunnels for the elastic. Place your mask on your table, with the exterior side facing down. Place one strand of elastic on the longer straight side to the right. The elastic and the tunnel you make for it should only touch the exterior piece of the mask, and not the interior piece. Be careful not to sew the interior layer shut. You will need it as a way of putting in the filter. Fold the finished short straight edge over once to cover the elastic and form a pocket for it. Sew a straight line along the edge of the pocket, being careful not to sew the elastic in place. (You can also sew the pocket without the elastic inside it, and then slide the elastic in afterwards using a safety pin to push it through.) Repeat this procedure on the left side. Tie the top ends of the elastic together, and then the bottom ends together, so that the elastic can go around the wearer’s head. As an extra touch, if you like, you can slide the elastic so that the knots are inside the tunnels.

  7. Set aside the mask, and place the air filter in front of you. It should have two notches cut into it. The larger notch is the top, corresponding with the pointier side of the mask, and the smaller notch is on the bottom. Match the sides of each notch, and sew them closed. The air filter should now be curved in a way that matches the mask. Push the air filter into the mask pocket (formed by the short side of the smaller piece of fabric), making sure that the more curved side of the air filter (that had the larger notch) now matches up with the pointier nose bridge side of the mask. Put the side with the seam against the exterior side, because it is more comfortable to have the smooth side against the face. It might help to fold the air filter as you push it in, and then unfold it once it is inside. Your mask is now ready for use!

Downloadable  Patterns:

  • Cloth patterns  

  • Air filter patterns

Use Our Kit

One kit provides enough materials to make 20 high-quality masks:

 

  • 20 sets of precut mask patterns, ready to sew

  • 20 squares of pre-folded high quality air filter

  • 20 metal nose bridge pieces

  • 40 strips of elastic

OR Buy Your Own Supplies

  • One residential replacement air filter (See note about how to select a good air filter. Any size will work.)  MERV 12 and higher are best.

  • Strong scissors or wire cutter (work gloves or an oven mitt would be helpful as well)

  • Sewing machine (or needle and thread; dressmaking pins are helpful)

  • Two 15-inch strips of 1/4” or 1/8” elastic (you could also tear an elastic section of an old shirt)

  • One 4-6 inch strip of 1/2” wide x 1/64 thick aluminum (or cut a 6” strip cut from a wire clothes hanger and use some electrical tape to cover the sharp ends)

  • Optional: one 25” strip of double fold bias tape (or you could use another part of an old t-shirt)


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email@jointhemaskbrigade.org

Chapel Hill, North Carolina