The CDC recommends that everyone wear a mask as they go about their lives during the Coronavirus. Our family didn't buy any masks so that medical professionals could have them, so when the order came down, we were caught off guard. Professions N95 masks are best, but homemade masks are shown to be more effective than not having one.
Tight woven fabrics work best, like quilters cotton. Unable to buy materials, I used some cotton flannel we had left over from making the girls dresses. While this is not as good as N95, the thick cotton will help filter out half or more of potential virus particles. The bonus is that these are easy to wash and dry with the rest of your laundry.
I started with the mask instructions on Sarah Maker, but made some modifications after sewing half a dozen masks which make it a bit easier to sew and the masks a bit more durable. I made the pattern a bit longer so that the pleats were easier to sew with the thicker fabric.
A tight quilter’s cotton helps filter the most particles, so does a thicker flannel. As a rule of thumb, thicker fabric versus a thinner one is usually better. If you can see through a fabric, it is probably not a strong enough weave. Note that these are not replacements for N95 masks which filter 95% of particles, but studies have shown that they are better than not wearing a mask and can filter more than half of particles. It also protects others from you should you be sick.
Cotton cloth - Cut a piece of cloth of this size. Note that the pattern (if you have one), should face up and down on the long side.
Sew the top edges together with a 5/8″ seam. Leave a 4″ opening in the middle to turn this over.
Iron flat on the seam so that it is invisible. Note that you should iron it down a bit down from the center, since that is where one of the pleats will go, and you don’t want to have the seam there.
These masks can be cleaned by just throwing the mask into the washer and dryer with your regular clothes. If you are in a rush, some scientists suggest that heating the mask to 158 degrees F may also be sufficient to kill the virus. I tested putting these masks in the oven at 200 degrees F for 30 mins a piece and there was no damage.