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COVID-19 Resources

A curated repository of resources and information

To Mask or Not to Mask?

Fabric and Filtration

Not all fabrics will filter equally well. Some fabrics are more porous, some increase in efficacy with prolonged wear. The following scientific studies give some evaluation of the comparative filtration effectiveness of fabrics in home-made masks.

Fabric isn't, of course, everything. Using a pattern that includes a pocket for an extra filter will mitigate some risk. Likewise, mask fit is remarkably important in increasing efficacy. But using the recommended fabrics as much as possible is recommended. Note, however, that a mask that is up to the highest standard of filtration may not be appropriate for someone who has breathing troubles and may inhibit use. Make choices that fit your needs.

All this aside, though, seal is as important as fabric!

Behavioral Aspects

Wearing a mask does not absolve one of practicing recommended vector mitigation strategies, like remaining home, maintaining distance with others, sanitizing or quarantining item brought into your space, and washing hands. Each of these practices helps to reduce risk alongside wearing a mask in public.


Mask Making Considerations

Who is it for?

  • If you are sewing a mask, ask yourself whom you are making it for, as this will effect what pattern and materials you chose to use.
  • If you are making a production run of masks for public usage, look closely at what is being asked for in your local community. What do local health officials and government agencies suggest will best meet needs.
  • Needs will differ. Some healthcare facilities are soliciting production of masks for their workers. Some are asking for citizens to make masks for outlets that need less stringent filtering, so that N95 masks may be reserved for healthcare professionals.
  • If you are making it for yourself, you can still be guided by best practice, but there may be a wider margins for using what one has in the house and using more basic patterns that are within your skill level.

What do you have at your disposal?

Mask Making Resources

Patterns (Sewn)

Patterns 1&2 use curvilinear seams and require piecing of individual fabric pieces. Pattern 3 is a much simpler style for production, but much less well fitting.

  1. Olson Mask
    1. Pattern:
    2. Instructional Video:
    3. Another Video with a little more visibility on the process of creation:
  2. Mask requested by Yale New Haven Health (Similar to the Olson Mask)
    1. Call for Participation:
    2. Pattern:
  3. Simple three-pleat mask
    1. Discussion of Need:
    2. Pattern and instructions (no pocket for replaceable filter): and
    3. Instructions for a very similar style with a pocket for replaceable filter:
    4. New York Times Instructions for a non-pocketed, three-pleat mask with hand-sewing instructions:

Patterns (Unsewn)