MainelyDIY Full Disclosure · Feature · Masks

Mask Know How – Science & Tips to get the most benefit

Upset about having to wear a mask? Try thinking about it in this light. Most public places require that you wear a shirt and shoes. Wearing a shirt is just common courtesy. However the requirement to wear shoes because of safety concerns and so is wearing a mask! No one has to say wearing pants (or skirt, shorts, etc.) is required. It is not only common courtesy it is just common sense.

This article will discuss the science behind why wearing a mask it extremely important plus explore considerations for choosing mask materials and getting an effective comfortable fit. Proper reuse is another important factor. By the way when we say masks, we are referring to devices that cover the nose and mouth. Our hope is that imparting knowledge will help you and your love ones stay healthy.

Most public places require you to wear a shirt and shoes. Why should adding a mask to that list be any different?

Why masks work…

Studies show that mask wearing reduces the spread of COVID-19 (and other respiratory diseases). Here’s why. When breathing or talking (and of course sneezing or coughing), you expel tiny respiratory droplets. The droplets start out relatively large. A mask catches these droplets before they have a chance to evaporate into much smaller particles which can linger in the air. Even though a mask drastically reduces the particles from getting through, some may still escape and can travel about 6 feet. Without the barrier that a mask can provide, small particles are able to travel 30 feet or more. Thus infectious particles can travel more than 5 times as far without a mask. Please keep in mind that about 40% of infected people have no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Wearing a mask will also reduce the likelihood that you will breathe in infectious particles. It help prevent you from touching your nose and mouth with potentially hidden dirt and germs from your hand.

Learn how to get the most from your mask.

Material considerations…

Don’t think that if you don’t have a 100% effective material that you shouldn’t even bother with a mask! This is like saying I am not going to take my heart medicine because it can’t guarantee that I won’t have a heart attack. It reduces the risk. As discussed in the science section above, masks will catch a lot of the large particles before they become small. Here are our top 3 material tips:

  1. Moisture
  2. Fiber orientation
  3. Breathable


First you want the moisture from your breath to be wicked away to prevent skin irritation. Secondly on the outside of your mask you moisture to bead up and not penetrate your mask.

See how the sprayed water beads up on the material on the left and soaks into the material on the right

Fiber Orientation

Woven materials like cotton clothes have distinct holes between the fibers. This is great for breathe-ability and often allows moisture to escape. Moisture wicking material is perfect for the inside of a mask.

Materials with spun fibers have smaller holes at random intervals. Polypropylene is an example of this type of material and is the material used to make the coveted N-95 masks. Many reusable grocery bags are made from polypropylene. Recycling surgical wrap can be another great option for those who have access to this material. We highly recommend polypropylene for the outside of a 2 layer mask or a thin sheet of it in the middle for a 3 layer mask.


Let’s face it. You need to be able to breathe when wearing your mask. This is also where moisture wicking properties come into play.

Comfortable and Effective Fit…

A comfortable it is much easier to wear. And you want your masks to be as effective as possible. Take a look at our top 5 tips:

1 – Keep the inside as smooth as possible.

  • For comfort, limit seams that touch the face.
  • Smoothness against the check can create a slight suction seal.

2 – Glasses fogging up? Fogged glasses are caused by a poor fit that lets your breath escape around your nose. Here’s what to do:

  • Add a noise piece – see below.
  • Wear your glasses down over the top of mask to help seal mask against your noise.

3 – An adjustable nose piece will help you get a better fit

  • When constructing a mask, using an straightened paper clip works well. We ended up breaking needles when zig-zaging over the wire. Check out our video to see how to make a simple sleeve to house the wire. We likes plastic coated paperclip. A chenille stem, aka pipe cleaner, also works well.
  • Use duct tape to add a wire to the outside of a premade mask. Remember to make additions to the outside of the mask to reduce chances of skin irritation.

4 – Look for a shaped mask that will fit snugly. Check out our design for FREE.

5 – Keeping your mask on.

  • Ties work fine for wearing a mask over long periods of time. But are not very convenient.
  • Elastic that wraps around the head in 2 places is our preference. It is comfortable and easily adjustable. Check out our video.
  • For short term wear, elastic ear loops are convenient and work well. Your ears may get sore over long periods of usage so we suggest getting an extension. Affiliate disclosurePlease read before purchasing products from links

Cleaning it…

Be sure to follow CDC guidelines for removing a mask and wash you hands afterwords. If a mask is washable, machine wash it with laundry detergent in the hottest water the material can handle. Then completely dry in the dryer.

Have a different mask for every day of the week. This way you can rotate thru your supply. There current information is that the virus can live on surfaces for about 32 hours. Just because the virus can live doesn’t mean it is viable enough to cause infection. Err of the side of caution and give the virus time to die.

When not in use, hang masks in the sunshine and let the sun’s ultraviolet rays help kill the virus. Don’t depend on sunshine alone to kill it. A UV light is another great option. Just be sure to use it safely and protect your pets from it. We typical plugin ours into an Amazon Alexa Echo enabled outlet. After leaving the room (no people or pets) and closing the door, when turn the light on and let in work for a period of time. After turn the light bulb off with Alexa, we unplug and store the bulb in a safe place.

      Prices subject to change. As participants in affiliate programs, we may earn small commissions on products and services linked in our blog/website. There is NO additional cost to you however it gives us a boost and allows us to continue to provide you with easy link access to items we use. We are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Cricut affiliate program. An affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to products and service of affiliated sites.

Masks and More

Information presented here is to the best for our knowledge and online research please refer to CDC for guidance. Please review our policy page.

Sew-Quilt · Fix & DiY · Hacks & Tips · MainelyDIY Full Disclosure · Masks · Projects

Mask Updates – New Sizes – Updated Patterns

Due to popular request, we have added two new sizes of our mask pattern. The child size pattern is for preschool aged children and the small size is for kids in between.

All 3 designs contain our updated written directions which include the option of adding a wire such as a paper clip along the nose area for a better fit.

Patterns are free for personal use . Finished masks may be donated to charity at no cost. Please mention to your recipients.

Please remember to save N-95 masks for first responders and health care workers. Their risk for contracting COVID-19 in substantially greater than the general population. If these professionals become ill who will be there to help you when need it most?!

Please follow CDC guidelines

You may also like these ideas:

Hacks & Tips · MainelyDIY Full Disclosure · Masks · Sew-Quilt

Learn About COVID-19 & Protecting Yourself

Want to learn about COVID-19 in easy to understand terms and learn ways to help protect yourself and others from infection? Understanding some to the characteristics of the coronavirus will help you appreciate why mask material selection is important. There is more than just face coverings included. Information is presented in a download pdf document that contains links to free mask designs.

Coronaviruses are tiny averaging .12 μm in diameter. So what does that mean?  The abbreviation μm stands for micron. A micron is one millionth of a meter or a thousandth of a millimeter (mm).  A typical piece of copy paper is 0.1 mm or 100 microns.  So it would take about 1200 COVID 19 viruses stacked up to equal the thickness of a single piece of basic copy paper.

While people refer to a virus as a bug, it does not have legs to move as an insect does.  Instead a virus is thought to travel by droplets which are about 5 microns in size.  Therefore about 240 droplets are equal to the thickness one piece of paper.   

When making a mask, you need to think about what materials a going to best at filtering out tiny particles.  Plain cotton fabric like from a bed sheet is made from weaving fibers in straight lines.

As this photo illustrates there are gaps between the fibers.  If the fibers were laid out in a random pattern the gaps are lessened.  To accomplish this fibers are bonded rather than woven.

N-95 masks are made from bonded polypropylene fabric.  The number denotes the percentage of particles blocked. Hence the N-95 mask would filter out 95% of particles.

Another greater feature of this bonded polypropylene fabric is that it is water resistant.  This is easily demonstrated by squirting water from a plant mister bottle onto polypropylene fabric.  The water visually beads up on the fabric instead of being soaked up by the fabric.  Yet the fabric is easy to breathe through.

Where can you find bonded polypropylene fabric?  Hospitals routinely place surgical instruments into plastic trays and the warp the trays in two layers of polypropylene fabric (aka surgical wrap). This package then goes through a sterilization process and then sits on a shelf in a clean room until it is ready to be used.  Prior to surgery the package is unwrapped and the wrapping material is discarded.  Thus there is an under utilized supply ready to use.  An anesthesiologist in Florida has staff making masks from these surgical wraps to combat their supply shortage. 

Another source for the material, albeit not surgical wrap quality, is reusable shopping bags like this one.  Click on the image or click here to find out where to buy some of these bags.

We recommend two to three layers of bonded polypropylene fabric for my masks.  Our research suggests a 99% effectiveness in blocking particles. A layer of flannel makes a greater interior fabric as it is soft against the face.

Another important thing to consider is fit.  Noses can be a challenge to fit around. Using a pipe cleaner, aka chenille stem, or uncoiled paper clip attached between the mask layers makes a simple and effective adjustable nose bridge.  We offer several designs for FREE. Just click on one of the buttons to go directly to the corresponding design page.

Since the virus may live for 3 or more days on soft surfaces, we recommend making a mask for each day of the week for each person.  Sewn masks are machine washable yet repeated washing may reduce their integrity. Old fashioned fresh air and sunshine certainly won’t hurt either.

Wash hands before putting on any mask.  Once adjusted, try to keep your hands off from the mask.  Wash your hands again after taking off a mask and after touching a mask you are wearing.

Keep in mind the virus needs to be viable in order to infect you. Just because you touched something contaminated does not mean you will automatically be sick.  The best ways to protect yourself are hand washing, keep hands away from your nose and mouth, and physical distance of 6 or more feet between people.  It has been scientifically determined that droplets travel about six feet.

Information provided  is the opinion of MainelyDiY. Statements are not based on testing nor expertise.  The material provided is to the best of our knowledge and is not to be construed as scientifically proven facts. Mask effectiveness depends on factors such as materials, fit, and proper usage.  General public should use homemade masks in conjunction with social distancing not instead of physical distancing.

      Prices subject to change. As participants in affiliate programs, we may earn small commissions on products and services linked in our blog/website. There is NO additional cost to you however it gives us a boost and allows us to continue to provide you with easy link access to items we use. We are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Cricut affiliate program. An affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to products and service of affiliated sites.

Hacks & Tips · MainelyDIY Full Disclosure · Masks · Other Crafts · Sew-Quilt

Extend Mask Life with Easy to Make Cover

   With N-95 respirator supplies in question, extending the life of a mask may become important during the pandemic.

   Quilters will especially appreciate that these covers are made with scrap batting. We chose quilting batting because it tends to cling to masks. We have included a casing for elastic or ties should you desire to secure it in place.

   We designed this mask cover to be disposable yet it can be washed a few times.

Please follow CDC guidelines to help you, your community, and beyond be safe and healthy!
MainelyDIY Full Disclosure · Masks · Sew-Quilt

DiY Face Mask – FREE pattern to Protect supply of medical masks for medical workers and first responders

It is important for every one of us to do our part in trying to impede the spread of the corona virus. Three important actions you can take right now are social distancing, washing your hands, and reserve the supply of masks for the frontline health care professional and first responders.

It is of the utmost importance that the health care and first responders are protected so that they will be there to save lives when they are needed the most. Conservation by the general public of the professional grade masks is why has developed our own mask.

Covid-19 and other viruses are tiny – in the micron range or smaller. How small is that? Move the decimal point 6 points to the left or 0.000001. Our mask likely will not be able to filter out particles of this size. However the virus may be carried by other larger particles which the mask could offer some protection from. If your handmade mask gets the least bit wet with potential contaminants remove it immediately.

Another way our mask can help is that is will protect your nose and mouth from being touched by your hands.

We considered several factors when designing our mask:
  • Snug fit against the face
  • Breathability
  • Reusable
  • Comfort
Standard surgical style masks gape at the side. Our mask is designed to fit snuggly against the skin to eliminate this.

It also needs to be breathable as you don’t want your body to work harder than normal to getting air into your lungs. Adding more layers will make it more difficult to breathe and thus is not recommended.

The medical grade masks are one time use. Our mask can be laundered with disinfectant agents.

Comfort makes out mask wearable. Face it if isn’t comfortable your won’t use it.

We used a fun cotton fashion fabric for the outside. Why not be fashionable by choosing a fabric theme you love. Cotton flannel was chosen for the inside due to its softness against your skin. This is important because you want it to seal against face for best effectiveness.

We do not recommend you wear any mask constantly. Just wear it when needed and keep it clean. You may want to make several to have a clean one readily available.

The information contained in this blog is the opinion of Please follow CDC guidelines
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