Our masks are going to frontline workers who are wearing them for many hours each day. We want our masks to keep them safe, just like they are keeping us safe.
Cotton is breathable, readily available and provides some filtering of particles. Quilter’s cotton with a thread count of at least 180 with thicker and tighter weave is best. Batik is another type of woven cotton that will work for masks.
Woven cotton is best (vs. knitted cotton) because the holes between the knit stitches are bigger, letting more virus particles pass through the masks.
Disclaimer: These are only a last request when N95 masks are not available. These masks do not replace the need to practice social distancing, wash your hands, don't touch your face, etc.
Fabric ties need to be woven materials like woven cotton or woven cotton/polyester blend. Acceptable mask ties are bias tape (pre-made or cut & sew yourself), grosgrain ribbon, and twill tapes. If you cut and sew ties yourself, they do not have to be cut on the bias.
Elastics can also a time saver but the feedback we get is they really hurt ears after many hours. However, there are a few organizations that will take masks with elastic ear bands and they will be noted on the order. Unless otherwise specified on our orders, please use ties for masks.
100% cotton fabric will shrink after washing. We don't want the masks to shrink after they are sewn. We also recommend washing the masks or sterilizing them before delivery.
Masks made from cotton t-shirts (which are knitted) were found to be 3x less effective in blocking small particles vs. medical grade surgical masks according to a 2013 study in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness (link https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7108646/) so knitted fabrics are not recommended as mask materials.
If the fabric will allow for light to shine through, it’s probably going to allow tiny particles through as well.
Please do not use knitted materials (T-shirt material, loom bands) for ties. Although it may save time, in the long run we do not know how the knitted ties will hold up after hours of being tied tightly and heavy laundering.
There are many varieties of knit fabrics and knit T-shirt materials that are not designed to be stretched for hours on end.
T-shirt ties may be fine for the everyday person who is wearing their mask for an hour or so at the grocery store. Our masks are going to frontline workers who are working 12-hour shifts in the emergency room, delivering meals day-in and day-out, etc. We want to make sure the masks don't have be adjusted time and time again.
For orders in our signup process we ask you to please adhere to using woven materials for the ties.
If the pattern you are sewing has instructions for a nose piece, please don't include it. The organization will provide the nosepiece to make sure it's a material that will hold up in their laundering process.
If the pattern you are sewing has instructions to include the filter, please don't include it. The organization will provide the filter.
Microwaving your mask will not sterilze it and it may cause a fire. There are other ways to sterilize your masks: