Making a Coronavirus Prevention Mask - A new side project

Making a Coronavirus Prevention Mask - A new side project

With the spread of Coronavirus, everyone is rushing to buy masks. I too unsuccessfully tried to buy masks online, but couldn't get one due to high demand. Whenever Amazon showed me the availability of masks, the delivery became a problem. Even though some businesses were selling masks, those wouldn't have been delivered at my doorstep until next 45 days or so.

So I did the next best thing possible - To create my own mask at home.

I watched few videos on YouTube where they taught how to make homemade masks. All you need is piece of cloth, rubber bands, and sewing machine. I had a handkerchief, so piece of cloth wasn't the problem. But I didn't have reliable rubber band and sewing machine. It took me few days to figure out how to properly create a mask which,

  1. Has at least 2 layers
  2. Can stick on face no matter how much I run or walk
  3. Is easily washable
  4. Does not look too weird in public places
  5. Can easily fit my face

My mask evolution happened in phases. I started with a simple design, realized its flaws and went ahead with improved design to fit my requirements. Here is how it happened.

  1. Simple Handkerchief wrapped around a face

This the simplest way I tried to mask my face. This was more like a makeshift approach to keep myself from getting embarrassed in public where everyone was wearing masks but me.

I held two diagonal ends and folded it around diagonal and tied those diagonal ends behind my head.

2. Multi-layer mask

I soon realized the fault in this mask. First, it wasn't The mask per say. It was simply a handkerchief wrapped around a face which probably didn't provide a lot of value. Second, it was a single layer mask which wasn't going to be so effective in the aftermath of Coronavirus, so I had to come up with multi-layer mask design.

So I took another handkerchief, folded it in middle to get the mid-point and took both ends and fold it so that both of them touch the middle line to create a double layer.

But then I thought - Yes, that is great. But wait, I have so many handkerchiefs which I hardly use. So why not have one more handkerchief, fold it the same way and put both of them in front of each other to create a 4-layer mask?

So I took another handkerchief, folded the same way and placed both of them on top of each other to create my first multi-layer mask.

3. Multi-layer mask with single pair of ties

At this point, I had something I could call as multi-layer piece of fabric. But I didn't have any mechanism to tie it on my face. I had rubber bands, but they were either very short or of poor quality that it was impractical to use them for any practical purpose.

I had another handkerchief so I cut along its edges to get ties that I can wrap behind my head. I also used a knife to make holes on both ends of my multi-layer mask which I pierced to put ties through and wrap them around.

4. Multi-layer mask with two pair of ties

First design at least looked good on paper. But when I wore it and went for a grocery shopping for the first time, it kept getting loose and fall down below my nose and mouth - Defeating the purpose for which it was created.

I continuously  tried to knot the ties, but it was too loose and inconsistent that after some time I gave up and awkwardly held that piece of cloth around my face. When I came home, I realized that I need something firmer - Probably the mask with two pair of ties.

So I went ahead, and utilized my original handkerchief and cut its other edges to make another pair of ties.

I help the mask around my face, walked a little bit in my apartment and thought huh! It seems to be working and let a sigh of relief.

5. Mask with ear-loops

The mask I created with two pairs of ties in last step too didn't last for long. Another long walk I took outside to drop my trash proved that design to be faulty and unreliable. So my joy didn't last for more than couple of days.

Since I had to go for a grocery shopping and to pick-up my food couple of times this week, I realized that I need something long-term and stable. No matter how much I walk, how much I jump or run, the mask should not come out or get loose. Since it was almost impossible to buy masks in any store, I only had one option - To come up with better mask design by myself or just look at existing designs and see if I could design masks like them at home.

Then I realized that if I add ear-loops on both ends, and hook them on my ears, they will be more stable no matter how much movement I would go through. So I made another couple of holes on two end of mask, inserted ties and tied those ties together to be able to hook them.

But it wasn't that easy. Remember, I didn't have elastic ties, but ties of fixed lengths made of cotton. So as you can see in image above, I had to fold my mask along the length to be of exact size so that I could directly hook those ear-loops on ear. In order to make sure that fold does not get loose, I had to make two more holes along the fold and tie them out.

And that's it! That is how I made my Coronavirus preventing mask. Every time I come home after venturing outside (Strictly only for buying groceries, picking up food and throwing out the trash), I either wash it or iron it thoroughly to get rid of any potential germs and viruses.

And finally this is me wearing a mask, just before stepping out of house to pick-up my food.

In the end I evaluated the final version against my original criteria for a good mask which,

  1. Has at least 2 layers - My mask had 4 layers
  2. Can stick on face no matter how much I run or walk - Yes, I could attest to that. Even after walking for 20 minutes, it didn't loose of come off the face
  3. Is easily washable - Being made of cotton, the mask is washable either by hand or in washing machine
  4. Does not look too weird in public places - It looks slightly weird, but with so many weirder masks around hardly anyone is going to notice it.
  5. Can easily fit my face - Yes, the mask was eventually customized to fit only my face, so it satisfies this criteria too

Update: I went and came back from the Pizza shop which was 10 minutes away by walk from my house. Surprisingly the mask was quite stable, gave me all the protection that I would expect from equivalent mask manufactured by professional company. It didn't loose too, thanks to ear-loops. Ears provided all the stability it needed to remain in-place