Disclaimer – I cannot guarantee fit nor effectiveness. These masks will not protect you against covid-19, nor will they protect others from catching it from you. You must still practice social distancing, wash your hands and stay home where possible!
If you can sew your own, please do!
Here’s some of my mask-making tips:
I’ve tested out a few free patterns and the ones I personally found the best fit for me and those I’ve tried them on (other than my own pattern of course) are these. (No affiliation, just ones I’d googled, tried and liked)
When making masks, I suggest making a test one from just 2 layers of some fabric you don’t care about, just to test the fit. Check a few patterns and see which fits you best. Then make your proper masks using that pattern.
Most guides recommend using 3 layers of a tightly woven cotton for the mask. Eg not something loose weave like muslin. Standard quilting cottons are likely to be best. Some guides say to use a water resistant outer layer, but just remember you need to be able to breathe through it, and when they say “water resistant” they seem to be meaning a polyester fabric (which isn’t actually water resistant in any real sense – so I think they instead mean to use synthetic fabrics). I have also seen some articles talking about some types of chiffon fabric being good as an outer because the static helps make a barrier – you’d definitely want a couple of cotton inner layers though, as chiffon is thin.
Extra filters – Some people use extra layers inside as extra filtering. Obviously whatever you use needs to be safe and something you can breathe through. I’ve seen people recommend coffee filters. I don’t know how effective that is.
You can add a metal nose piece to help the mask fit across the nose better so it doesn’t leave as much of a gap. Make sure to use wire/metal that won’t rust. Many of the DIY guide include how to add a nose piece. I’ve included how I do it in the guide. If you’re not sure if you want a permanent one in there (eg if you’d like to be able to remove/replace it) – try sewing a piece of ribbon on the inside (lining) of the mask after sewing it up – leaving one open end to act as a casing you can slide the nose piece into, and remove if needed.
With testing a few mask designs and tie options, I personally find the drawstring and bead method to be the most comfortable and easy to use. I found fabric ties fiddly and elastics have to be the right size or they can be too tight or too loose (and can hurt behind your ear). So even if you use another mask pattern, I’d suggest trying the drawstring sliding bead tie method I use (I didn’t create the idea, it’s one I saw someone else using). I found using “tshirt yarn” for the drawstring tie to be the best – it’s soft and usually has a slight stretch. Some people use paracord. I found ribbon or twill tape to be too slippery to hold position. The tshirt yarn fits a “pony bead” (large opening plastic bead) well, which means you can use the bead as a slider to adjust the fit and it should stay put without even needing to tie the strings. I find I don’t need to tie the ends off (the bead doesn’t seem to loosen on its own) but make sure the strings are long enough to allow for tying as well.
A tip for threading the pony bead – thread one end into the bead first, then open the yarn up and lay the other end against the unrolled yarn that is going through the bead, roll it back up and pull the yarn through the bead. I found that the easiest way 🙂
Other DIY mask guides with the drawstrings tend to have the tie up at the base of the neck. I personally find that the top of the head is better for the ties as the base of the neck seems to catch your hair more. So that’s why I do mine at the top. But you can put it wherever works best for you. Another advantage of the drawstring method is that you can later change the string if you decide you’d rather ear elastics or something else.