If you've been following the evolution of trends during the COVID-19 pandemic, you know that we've transcended from the initial stages of panic-buying hand sanitizer and toilet paper to clearing supermarket shelves of box dye and flour. But as life begins to resemble some form of 'normality', there's a new must-have item: face masks.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, people have been asking: should we be wearing face masks? There’s been a lot of debate around the issue, with the government and official bodies often sharing mixed messages. But from Monday, June 29, in Ireland, wearing a face mask will be compulsory for people on public transport and for hospital staff, outpatients and visitors. This is in line with new World Health Organization (WHO) advice, which says non-medical face coverings should be worn in public where social distancing is not possible.
Urging those who are using public transport and returning to work to be extra cautious, Leo Varadkar noted that although face masks aren’t a “magical shield” against coronavirus, they certainly do help and should be worn when in public.
What's more, many shopping centres, hairdressers and even bars and restaurants are taking rules into their own hands and refusing entry to those not wearing face masks in order to operate under the new safety guidelines.
Many of our favourite brands and designers have since shifted their sewing patterns from summer dresses to face masks in order to their bit with slowing down the spread of COVID-19 (more on that here). But there's just one problem: the demand for face masks has spiked to a point where it might just break the internet.
However, let us remind you, do not wear surgical masks – these need to be reserved for our medical staff and frontline workers. Anyone who isn't fighting on the frontlines of this health crisis that is in possession of surgical masks is encouraged to send them directly to those in need.
There are places to buy non-medical face masks online, and retailers like Reformation and Annie Bing have been ahead of the curve in converting their factories to manufacture cloth masks for essential workers and the general public alike. But these are selling out fast, so if you hit a digital dead end — that’s where your old clothes come in handy.
While home fabrics are not as effective as medical equipment, at the very least, they keep germs from getting out, so it's definitely better than nothing.
So, with that in mind, we reached out to Anna, Lisa and Molly Kennedy aka the designers behind ‘Mask Your Face’ – a project that makes masks for both protection and for accessorising – for their top tips on how to make a face mask at home.
how to make a face mask:
What you'll need:
- Three 10”x6” rectangles of cotton fabric – (Top Tip: You can use two rectangles, but we always use three for that extra protection!)
- Two 6” pieces of elastic (or rubber bands) – We recommend elastic for more comfort!
- Needle and thread
- Sewing machine
Step 1: Cut out three 10-by-6-inch rectangles of cotton fabric. Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. Stack your three pieces. Turn the top piece upside down – it will be turned inside out (i.e. turned back to front again).
Place your elastics between your upside-down piece and the one below. The rectangles will be sewn like they are one piece of fabric.
Step 2: Stitch the two widths of the rectangle attaching your two elastics inside the mask. Sew one of the lengths and on the last length, sew in one quarter of the way from either end – leaving a space free in the middle.
Step 3: With your free space, use your fingers to find the elastics and turn it inside out. Flatten it out and give it an iron. Use scissors to push out the corners if they are tucked in – this will give it a more finished look.
**Top Tip: if you iron it once it has been turned inside out it will make your life super easy when making your pleats!**
Step 4: Get ready to pleat your mask! Depending on your face size you can choose how many pleats you would like. (We do three for the best comfort!) Place your mask flat down on your ironing board. Half it and give it a quick iron. Then taking the first half, pull the fabric down to meet the centre – the part that you have just ironed. Repeat with the other half.
Step 5: Now you have your pleats you can do your final sew! Sew all four sides of your mask, keeping your pleats. Put your mask on. Place both elastics around your ears and open it up, expanding the pleats. Adjust the elastic according to your own comfort.
If all else fails:
Mask Your Face can do the work for you, their masks use coloured fabrics and pretty patterns to make a statement and to encourage people to wear them and flatten the curve. They are also functional and comfortable, as they are 3-layered and machine washable. Mask Your Face is also based on sustainable fashion. Rather than single-use packs of masks, these coverings have a climate-conscious element weaved in. The masks can be bought from their website. One mask costs €6, or 3 for €15 and shipping is €2 for up to six masks.
Main image by @sineaddeblogger on Instagram