Creative articles about sewing

Sew self-made face masks – everything you need to know

Dear Readers,

We would like to focus on a topic that many of you have missed on the blog: the sewing of masks.

In some countries people are recommended or already required to wear a mask in public. Until now we have asked you not to publish instructions for sewing face masks. We have changed our policy and would like to bring up this topic on our blog. 

At the BERNINA Headquarters in Switzerland, we closely follow what is recommended and decided in other countries around the world. Because the topic is constantly in the mind of many sewers and we want to contribute to the containment of the pandemic – no matter how small – we decided to include the topic “Sew self-made face mask” on our blog.

From BERNINA’s point of view, the communication about self-made face masks has been ambiguous and the situation is unclear. Especially in sewing forums the discussion is controversial. We have therefore tried to summarize the information we think is most important.

We would like to invite you to join us: Use the commentary function if you have questions or important inputs for the sewing of self-made face masks. In this way, we hope that this article will become a place where sewers can get detailed and up-to-date information.

10 important points about sewing self-made face masks

Anyone who would like to sew a self-made face mask themselves, either for their own use or as a gift, will find below a summary of important information in (so far) ten points.

In the following days, the blog will also feature sewing instructions and additional tips and tricks for mask sewing. You will find an overview of our articles under the following link: Overview self-made face mask BERNINA Blog

Sew self-made face mask

1. Do not forget social distancing and hand hygiene!

“Never forget the distance rule, the sneezing etiquette and washing your hands!” This is probably the most important rule when it is about sewing self-made face masks. Wearing a mouth-nose-cover can be an additional step to reduce the speed of spread of COVID-19 in the population – but only if distance from other people, coughing and sneezing rules and good hand hygiene are maintained.

2. Masks are rare!

Certified masks are a very rare commodity! This includes hygiene masks as well as certified respiratory protection masks of the classes FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. Masks of this type are limited. We should leave them to those who need them urgently, mainly medical professionals. The self-sewn masks cannot replace these masks because they are not certified and cannot be used by hospital staff.

Every self-made face mask is a protective mask that has not been purchased. With self-sewn masks we can hopefully bring a little quiet in an extremely stressed market.

3. Do not cradle in false safety

The self-made face mask is designed to reduce the spread of droplets by the wearer. When we speak, cough or sneeze, we disseminate droplets. A self-made face mask can slow down the flow of these droplets by acting as a mechanical barrier. So, when you wear a mask, it does not protect you, but other people from you. For people infected with Covid-19, wearing a mask can be useful to protect others from infection.

Please see point 9 for the protective effect. 

4. Wash before the first use!

If you have sewn a self-made face mask, it must be washed. Especially if you give the masks away. Remember that you could have fallen sick without even knowing it! The viruses could then have spread to the fabric and the mask could become the source of danger because it gets in contact with the face.

Therefore: Hot wash! Best at 90°C, but at least at 60°C, washed in the washing machine or boiled in a water bath on the cooker. Dry afterwards. Only touch them “with pointed fingers” (and washed hands!) on the outside, ideally only on the ribbons.

5. How to put the mask on

When putting on a mask, you must be careful not to contaminate the inside. Wash your hands well with soap. The mask must be placed over the mouth and nose and should fit as tightly as possible around the edges. Test that the mask allows enough air to pass through the mask the first time you use it. A mask that prevents you from breathing is a health risk.

6. These carrying instructions must be observed

When the mask is put on and correctly fitted, do not pull on it! A used mask is potentially infectious. Touch it as little as possible. Remove the self-made face mask carefully after use. Ideally you should only touch the ribbons again. Wash your hands well after taking it off.

A wet mask should be removed immediately and replaced if necessary. Before you wear it again, you should boil it or wash it in the washing machine, preferably at 90°C, but at least at 60°C, and then dry it completely again.

7. Which fabric should be used?

When sewing a self-made face mask, preferably use boil-proof cotton fabric. You will find more information and processing tips in future blog articles.

8. Which tutorial is the best?

On the internet you will find numerous instructions for self-made face masks of various kinds. The most common are instructions for folded masks.

There are also ergonomically shaped masks, as you can see here:

Sew self-made face mask ergonomical form

Again, more information, instructions and tips will follow here in the blog. Check regularly and pay attention to our overview page, where we summarize all posts!

9. Do not use the word «Protection»!

If you give away/donate or even sell self-made masks, make sure that you do not give the impression that it is a medical device or protective equipment.

Therefore avoid the use of the words “protection” for the masks you sew. Instead, describe your mask as a “self-made face mask”, “daily mask”, “community mask” or at best as a “mouth-and-nose cover”.


Herewith we explicitly advise you that all masks sewn according to instructions in the BERNINA Blog are to be considered as self-made face masks. They are neither medical products nor protective equipment.


10. Other countries, other rules

The rules vary from country to country. Find out which rules apply in your place of living or work! 

At this point I would like to repeat the invitation from the introduction: Do you have any questions or important inputs for sewing masks? Maybe you know an encouraging story that you would like to share with other readers? If so, please use the commentary function and help to make this site a small “compendium” for all those who are looking for information about sewing self-made face mask. 

As different as opinions on the topic may be, in this extraordinary situation we all have the same goal: we want to work together to stop the spread of the virus. 

In this context: Stay healthy, stay at home for the time being (if possible), and stay with us!

All the best,

Jasmin

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  • Christopher Lane

    Nice article!

    There is still so much misinformation online and off regarding face mask efficacy… I’m really surprised as all the information pointing towards face masks seems quite intuitive to me, but I guess it isn’t for everyone.

    I made an infographic for my website: ‘Wellness Nova’
    on the topic of ‘Why do we need to wear masks?’
    https://wellnessnova.com/how-to-buy-face-masks-for-coronavirus/

    I’m hoping that it can help simply this topic for people.

    Warm regards from quarantine life 🙂

    • Jasmin Graber

      Hi Christopher

      Thanks for your comment. We hope that we can help the readers with the instructions and that everyone can easily sew a face mask themselves. 😀

      Best wishes,

      Jasmin

  • Jan Allston

    There is a company Called Smartair which is testing lots of materials at the moment.

    https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/best-materials-make-diy-face-mask-virus/

    They have found that washing home made masks actually makes them more permeable and therefore less effective.  Their recommendation is when you take off the mask that you put it away somewhere for 72 hours to allow any contaminants to die off before wearing it again.  They also found that heat is effective – I asked about putting the masks in the oven and they said they thought that would be a good idea but they hadn’t tested it yet.  See their page for more information.

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