We tried out five no-sew DIY mask tutorials | Coronavirus | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

We tried out five no-sew DIY mask tutorials

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JORDAN SNOWDEN
CP Photo: Jordan Snowden
As of Sun., April 19, masks or some sort of facial covering is required for anyone over the age of two when residing in an essential business. This applies to both employees and customers. However, not everyone can afford to buy a mask or has access to a sewing machine, so I decided to try out a few no-sew DIY mask tutorials seen floating around on the internet. Here's what worked, and what didn't. All of these can be made with items found in your home.

T-Shirt Mask (No Cutting)
Materials: Any T-shirt!
Time Length: Less than 2 minutes
Difficulty: Super easy
Pro: Can be done on the go!
Con: Not aesthetically pleasing
Need a quick mask fix? Simply grab a T-shirt and pull it over your head, stopping when the collar is resting on your nose and ears. In the tutorial video, the man then flips the bottom of the shirt up over the mouth area — for an extra layer of protection — and pulls the remaining fabric up over his head. I have a lot of hair, so that didn't work for me. Instead, after flipping the bottom of the shirt up, I gathered the extra fabric behind my head and secured it with a hair tie, like a ponytail. This is one where you can just do what feels right, as long as you are covered below the eyes.

Sock Mask
Materials: A sock, a paper towel, and scissors
Time Length: Less than 5 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Pro: Accessible materials
Con: May be snug on people with bigger heads
Like the above tutorial, this one isn't in English, but it's easy enough to follow along. Grab a sock (the thicker the better) and cut both sides so you're left with a cylindrical piece of fabric. Flatten out the sock and cut a slit into each side of the sock, about a quarter-inch from the edge. These pieces of cut fabric will be what you put over your ears, so make sure not to cut it too thin. Rotate and flatten the sock again, so that the cuts are now facing up. Pick up the paper towel, fold it up, and insert it into the middle of the sock. Give the side cut pieces a really good stretch and you're done! Put the mask on your face with the un-cut side facing your mouth. Out of all the ones I tried, this mask felt the most secure, fit my face the best, and was the most comfortable. I have a small head though, so this may not be the best choice for everyone.

Bandana Mask
Materials: A bandana, two hair ties
Time Length: About 2 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Pro: Quick and uncomplicated
Con: Very thick, semi-temporary
Don't have a bandana? This mask can also be made with a square piece of fabric. Lay the material out flat and starting with the edge closes to you, fold up in rectangular sections (make the section large enough to cover your nose and mouth). Flatten it out, and put one hair tie on each side, about one-third of the way in. Take an end in each hand, have them meet in the middle, and insert one side into the other. Pull the hair ties to the ends and there you go! Put one hair tie on each ear to secure the mask. This felt the bulkiest of all the masks, but that was because of all the folded fabric, meaning even more protection!

Shirt Mask (Cutting required)
Materials: A shirt you don't mind cutting, scissors
Time Length: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Semi-easy
Pro: A mask you can wash and keep
Con: Not super protective
This last tutorial is the most involved. (But still pretty easy!) Take a T-shirt and cut off the sleeve. Flatten out the sleeve, fold one of the connected sides, and cut slits every so often along the edge. Rotate and do the same on the other side. Then flatten the fabric and return to the T-shirt. Cut the edge of the other sleeve and stretch the circle piece of fabric. Put it aside and repeat. Take the two pieces of circle fabric and cut each so that you have long strips. Return to the original cut sleeve. Take one strip and weave it in and out of the slits on one side. Do the same on the other side. Taking the ends of the strips that are now weaved into the cut sleeve, tie together to create the ear clasp. Do the same on the other side and you have created a T-shirt mask! Instead of a T-shirt, I used an old jean leg so that I had something thicker than a T-shirt covering my mouth. This mask is nice because you can adjust the straps that go over your ears to make it snug against your face. If you use the bottom of the T-shirt to make the strips to weave into the mask, instead of the other sleeve, you can get two masks out of one shirt!

Mask Fail: Pad Mask
I've seen a few videos online of people using menstrual pads as makeshift masks. This seemed like an easy and wonderful — albeit, gross to some — way to make a mask when you're in a pinch. So of course, to my fiance's dismay, I tried it. Using a winged pad, I secured the "mask" on my face sticky side in, with a wing on my nose and a wing molded to my chin. I turned to my fiance and he started laughing immediately, which made me laugh. That's when I realized a pad mask was a bad idea. The sticky plastic created a solid barrier that did not properly let air out. I gasped for breath for about 30 seconds before ripping off the pad and falling to the floor, both shocked and wild with adrenaline. Pad Mask is not a good idea. 

More tips:
Not sure if a mask is protective? Use the lighter test. Spark a lighter and put it in front of your face while wearing the mask. Blow. If the flame does not move or go out, you're good to go!
Feel like you need an extra layer of protection? If you have a pair of nylon stockings to spare, it has been found that they can filter out small particles in the air when worn on top of a homemade covering. According to NPR, “Testing showed that [surgical masks] went from blocking out 75% of small particles to 90% with the addition of a pantyhose overlayer. An N95 respirator, by comparison, is designed to block out at least 95% of small particles when worn properly.”

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