There is a shortage of face masks for key workers and medics at the moment, so how do we, the public, protect ourselves without contributing to the shortage?
Easy – make your own!

There are numerous patterns available online but there’s no point in making a mask unless it’s effective.

Let’s just qualify that by saying that nothing you can make on your sewing machine at home will be as effective as an N95 respirator which filters out 95% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. It is, however, possible to make a fabric mask that can be up to 60-80% effective.

Scientists have been researching the effectiveness of everyday materials and have tested all sorts of things from HEPA furnace filters, vacuum cleaner bags, coffee filters, fabrics, scarves and bandanas.

Now here’s the good news for quilters.

Tests performed at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., showed good results for homemade masks using quilting fabric. Dr. Segal, of Wake Forest Baptist Health, who led the study, noted that quilters tend to use high-quality, high thread count cotton. The best homemade masks in his study were as good as surgical masks or slightly better, testing in the range of 70 to 79 percent filtration. Homemade masks that used flimsier fabric tested as low as 1 percent filtration, Dr Segal said.

One of the best-performing designs was a mask constructed of two layers of high-quality, heavyweight “quilter’s cotton.

If you want to be sure you’re using the best fabric available to you, try this simple test:

“Hold it up to a bright light,” said Dr. Scott Segal, chairman of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health who recently studied homemade masks. “If light passes really easily through the fibers and you can almost see the fibers, it’s not a good fabric. If it’s a denser weave of thicker material and light doesn’t pass through it as much, that’s the material you want to use.”

Try the Art Gallery range of fabrics

One of the best fabric ranges we have available for face masks is the Art Gallery range. This superior quality fabric has a high thread count and fine weave. 100% premium cotton that is as soft and smooth you can get. An explosion of colour and designto make some eye-catching masks. AGF Fabrics are OEKO-TEX certified which means they only use safe inks for your skin and the planet.

This is the AGF Colourmaster Collection

Please bear in mind that home-made masks are not intended to replace or compete with high-grade medical masks.

Any face mask is better than no face mask! There is little doubt that wearing a mask can help to reduce the spread of coronavirus by blocking outgoing germs from coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

If you’re new to sewing and you need a machine, have a look at the Bernette range. Reasonably priced, reliable, long-lasting and easy to use.

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