5 Step Guide to DIY Facemask.

DIY Masks
The video is supplemental to this tutorial.

Any mask is better than no mask!

NOTE: From 5 April (Sunday) to 12 April 2020 (Sunday), residents with registered home addresses will be able to collect one (1) reusable mask at the designated CCs or RCs in Singapore. Visit https://www.maskgowhere.gov.sg/ for more information on your collection.

So why should you make your own face masks?

1) In the event you become sick, having a supply of masks at home will give some level of protection to friends and family while you seek medical advice. It will certainly be better than no mask at all (see research notes).

2) By making your own, and hopefully, for family and friends, you will be decreasing demand on limited supplies of industrially manufactured, disposables, which are desperately needed by hospitals and nursing homes.

3) These comfortable, curved shaped masks rest closer to the face, with fewer gaps, than rectangular surgical masks.

4) Our homemade designs are washable, making them environmentally friendly.

5) Homemade masks can have interesting designs and can be customised to each individual’s needs.

Disclaimer : Wearing masks sometimes can lead to breathing difficulties. So those with heart problems please do so with extra precaution.

Disclaimer : Cloth face masks are not a proper substitute for surgical masks or N95 Masks. Healthcare staff should still use proper N95 masks because they have close contact with patient’s fluids.

Dr Chen Xiaoting, a Taiwanese anaesthesiologist

Surgical masks are made from “melt-blown, non-woven fabric”. They have a 3-layer structure comprising materials like:

  • Waterproof non-woven layer (front)
  • Microfibre melt-blown non-woven fabric (middle)
  • Ordinary non-woven fabric (back)

People can also use “non-woven cloth” found in rags, diapers, gauze, wet tissues, tampons as filters too.

Non-woven fabrics with jute fiber weaving the wet method | Global ...
How non-woven cloths look like, normally you can see such cloth used in wet tissues.

However, remember to replace this regularly with “new” cloth that has never been used before for each new day.

Do DIY Masks really help?

Scientists from the University of Cambridge asked this exact question in the aftermath of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. They thought that in a global pandemic scenario, we might run out of N95 masks. Their predictions have come true during the coronavirus outbreak. The researchers asked volunteers to make their own masks using cotton t-shirts and a sewing machine, using a simple protocol they’d devised. Then the researchers shot tiny 1-micron size bacteria (called “Bacillus atrophaeus”) at the masks and measured what percentage the homemade masks could capture. These particles are roughly the size of the particles behind the plague and anthrax. Source

Source : https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/diy-homemade-mask-protect-virus-coronavirus/

Across 21 volunteers, the homemade cotton masks captured 50% of 0.02-1 micron particles, compared with 80% for the surgical mask. Thus, DIY masks still managed to capture particles while people were actually wearing them. Based on this data, the researchers concluded that homemade masks would be better than nothing. Read more

Size of coronavirus particle pm2.5 and bacteria
Source: This means coronavirus particles are smaller than the PM2.5 cutoff but bigger than some dust particles and gases. Now that we know how big the particles are.

 Researchers shot actual virus particles at N95 masks. The masks captured over 95% of virus particles. Even poorly performing masks captured over 90% of viruses. The researchers chose two N95 masks that scored poorly in an earlier study, yet even these poor-performers still blocked 94% of particles under the heaviest air flow rate. Conclusion: Masks – including surgical masks and N95 masks – can capture viruses and even particles over 10 times smaller. Read More

Introduction to the Tutorial

In this tutorial,I want to make sure it’s SIMPLE and FAST. With materials and equipment, you can easily get access to at your essentials store! Since we are experimenting. We will consider a variety of different options and alternative solutions throughout the tutorial.

In this tutorial i will not cover how you can stitch the cloth. Some will know manual methods while others will have access to different kind of stitching machines. I will include additional resources on how you can perform a manual stitch later in the guide.

Materials Needed.

  1. 100% Cotton Tshirt, Pillow Casing etc. Tightly weaved cotton or cotton/poly fabric 
  2. Needle/Pins
  3. Ear-Loops/Head Loops – Elastic Bands (Used for free size pants), Cotton Tape, Ribbon. Anything else that makes sense as a good grip around your face/head/ear
  4. Sewing Thread
  5. (Filter) Non-Woven Cloth ( Dried Wet Tissue Paper etc)
  6. Thin Bendable Flat Plate, or the Prog Fasteners you can find in files. You can also use folded tin foil (Picture 2 Below) – This will be used at the bridge of your nose. WARNING – (Refer Pic 4) DO NOT USE THIN ROUND WIRES as it may protrude upon use or poke through the cotton layer.
Picture 1: Recommended – Your hardware store has ribbons and cotton tape which also can be used as the
Amazon.com : Dimart Organizer Metal Binder Office Paper Documents ...
Picture 2: Recommended – Prong Fasteners can easily bend and take the shape of your nose. After you cut off the necessary length, file the sharp edges off with a nail file/ sander or a file from the toolbox. Those with neither can rub the edge against some stone to smoothen the edges.
Picture 3: Less Recommended, use with caution – Twist Wires also can be used to hold the bridge of your nose. Only for Adult Versions. Ensure the ends are cut to remove any exposed metal wires. Leaving a clean flat piece. Do not use this in kids versions.
Picture 4: NOT Recommended – AVOID !!!! Bendable Wires 0.7-0.9mmm thick. I DO NOT RECCOMEND these though some other DIY guides suggest you can use so. This becomes dangerous when they start to protrude out of the fabric.

Note: Wash all fabrics before sewing to pre-shrink, and to assure you are working with the most sanitary materials possible.

Step 1: Template & Cut Fabric

Like many other tutorials on our page, you can print and cut out a template for the mask. Once you are done you would have to cut 2 sections of A and 2 Sections of B of the template.

Printing Instructions: Ensure before you print you deselect “print to fit” and select print as actual size. I have uploaded the file “Normal Size” Template.

Picture A : Place the templates on the old cotton t shirt cloth
Picture B :Use Pins to hold your template if you need to cut. I used a small scissors to keep things simple. I have used a corrugated board under the cloths so that the pins hold.
Picture C :You should have a total of 4 pieces, with 2 pieces of section A and two pieces of section B.

Step 2: Fold and Stitch

The beauty of making your own masks mean, you can modify to your liking and comfort. Since we already decided to make the mask with the filter, section B of the mask holds the filter on the inner side of the mask. But before that, we need to add the holes/tubes needed for the ear loop strings.

For this part, take a look at the template a couple of times to organise your folds correctly. You will see multiple references to the template file to assist you.

Picture D :The first 3 folding required on template A.

The first two folds as per the template are the diagonal folds(refer to pdf). and the second flat fold(refer to pdf) across the diagonals. This fold is needed so that later it would be easy to insert the ear loops. Keep the diagonals within the limits of the guide template. You need to do this on the opposites sides of the section A pieces of cloth.

Picture E : Once you have folded both sides with the 1st Diagonals(refer to pdf), 2nd Fold (refer to pdf) on both sides, it will look something like above.
Picture F : Stitch the largest curved part (highlighted in red above ) of the 2 sections A pieces together. Until you have two sides of the mask.

Once you have completed the 1st Stitch Curve (refer to pdf) you can move on to the 3rd Fold (refer to pdf) and stitch as the picture G. This would have created the hole or fold that will hold the two ear loops on both sides of the mask.

Picture G : Stitch the 3rd fold, and Stitch.

Similarly, you need to stitch section B parts together. Starting with the 2nd stitch curve (refer to pdf) a. k.a the largest curved part of section B. Once you’re done with that complete the 4th fold and seam.

Picture H: Shows the 2nd Stitch Curve and 4th fold, stitch on section B.
Picture I : If you have done both segments of section A and B, this is what you’re left with.

Step 3 : Join Segments together

Now you have join the two segments together by stitching along the lines that are orange.

Picture J : Stich the two segments together following the orange lines. Trim away all the excess fibers.

Step 4 : Insert the Ear Loop & Metal Nose Reinforcement

The final stitch is required when you place your metal reinforcements. The metal piece helps keep your mask well shaped for your nose bridge. This will snug tightly to your nose/face. The idea is to make one last fold at the top of the mask that will fit this metal piece.

Reminder : Make sure you sand off all the sharp edges before you use the metal piece.

Picture K : A flat metal (File Binder Prongs) will be placed on the top part of the mask that will touch your nose bridge.

Now you can stich the metal prongs in with a fold that is sufficient to cover the metal prong/plate.

Then all is left is to use the white elastic bands as your ear loops. You can thread this through the holes (Identified in Green). Which you folded earlier. You can tie the knot and push it into the holes so that you have clean loop.

Picture L : Mask looking from the inner side ,
Green : Ear Loops, Blue : Metal Prongs (Now inside)

Step 5 : Fold the whole Mask Inside out.

Now all is left to do is start folding the mask inside out such that the stiched seams are on the inside of the mask. That would give you a very clean edge with the stiched sections on the inside of the mask. You can now access the filter slot where you can insert the Non Woven cloth as a filter.

Picture M : The arrow shows the slot for the filter. Once Inserted the mask is completed and ready for use.
Picture N : Shows the masked being used by my brother and as you can see, it looks fantastic and cool.


The video below by Jess Dang was really a good video on stitching masks. You should check it out as well.

What’s In a N95 Mask?

This is what is inside an N95 mask according to: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf12/K1…

“[It] is flat-folded and expands into a convex-shaped mask with polyamide/spandex elastic head-loops to secure the mask to the user’s face, and a malleable aluminum strip positioned above the nose fora tighter seal around the nose and face. The respirator is comprised of four layers of material: an outer layer of spun-bond polypropylene, a second layer of cellulose/polyester, a third layer of melt-blown polypropylene filter material and an inner (fourth) layer of spun-bound polypropylene…The outer active layer of the respirator is coated with a hydrophilic plastic. The second inner layer is treated with copper and zinc ions. Both layers inactivate influenza viruses using different mechanisms of action.” So if you can reproduce some of these protective elements you are increasing effectiveness. Let’s look at them one by one:

Spun-bond polypropylene is a textile material that is composed of thermally bonded, continuous filaments in a web-like structure. Here is a list of things that use spun bond polypropylene/polyester, including weed cover and mattress covers: http://www.excelnonwovens.com.au/spunbond-polypro…

Cellulose/polyester – what it is http://www.excelnonwovens.com.au/spunbond-polypro… Clean room wipes like this would probably work and they are a good size already. But they may also be in short supply. I’m going to try and buy some.

melt-blown polypropylene – made of micro- and nanofibers where a polymer melt is extruded, forming a nonwoven sheet product applicable for filtration and apparels. Still working on finding accessible examples of this.

New Materials…

Are masks enough?

Definitely not. It takes more than just wearing a mask to ensure your family and you are protected.

  • Washing Hands, Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to get rid of unwanted germs and viruses from the outside world. But washing hands also has to be done right to be effective. Watch Video below
  • Maintain Social Distance, from everyone. Take precautions even with your family members because they too can bring back home the virus.
  • Stay healthy, Even if you get the virus, there’s a high chance you can recover from it. So your immune system is needed to make this process easier.
  • Stay Home, One of the best methods to contain the pandemic situation. Keeping you and your loved ones safe.
  • Clean your phone, We did a survey of the most touched items in a day, and your mobile phone pretty much tops it. It has to be cleaned every time you reach home. You use it on the bus, the MRT, work and sometimes even in the toilet. Clean it with disinfectants or alcohol solutions. You can do this before you wash your hands.

Author: adlabs2

Arrowdynamic Laboratories Pte. Ltd. (ADLABS) was founded in 2008 anticipating imminent technological pervasion. ADLABS operates with two wings, Education and Engineering. Education involves the development of skills training programs and STEM-based enrichment programs for everyone. The engineering wing conducts research and development activities on new prototypes with potential to form into a new branch startup. Our engineering team also offers specialised services for startups, companies and institutions.