Information and instructions for sewers on making face gaiters and masks
Thanks for your interest and we hope you will join us. Instructions for making a mask or face gaiter are available here. Directly below is information on face gaiters and masks, with links to sewing patterns.
Information on face gaiters
We knew we couldn’t make an N95 mask at home so our engineers, who specialise in fabric architecture, set out to make the best possible homemade mask that could be made from common fabrics and put together with a basic sewing machine. We started by thinking out of the box, using just the materials we had available and applying basic engineering principles. We developed the design to make it simple and comfortable to wear. The design also overcomes the fit issues with traditional designs – allowing you to breathe through the fabric and not by sucking air through the leaks at the sides.
How does the face gaiter work?
The face gaiter works by significantly slowing the speed of the air you exhale when you breath, speak, cough, and sneeze. By slowing the speed, water vapour, particles and any virus contained in what you exhale cannot travel very far. It is either trapped in the face gaiter or falls to the ground close to you. In this way it enhances the effect of social distancing by making it more difficult for the virus to travel to those around you. The face gaiter is not a fine particle filter, so it will not trap what you exhale as well as a medical mask might, nor does it filter incoming air to a medical standard.
Homemade masks and face gaiters do they work, are they any good?
Will it protect the wearer? Will it protect others?
The primary function of a face gaiter is to act as a shield that benefits other people. COVID-19 has been extremely contagious in part because a person can be infected with the virus but not have symptoms. The face gaiter protects the people around you by reducing the risk that you, the wearer, will transmit COVID-19 if you are infected but not aware that you are. In other words, the face gaiter helps us keep our germs to ourselves. By wearing face gaiters a community gains protection when virtually everyone is wearing one and trapping a good bit of what they would otherwise exhale, such as the virus. A wearer is not protected well from others, but we can protect our communities from transmission by supplying a face gaiter to each person in our community. We can do that by producing them in the community, starting with individuals and growing to larger, more strategic efforts.
Hover over the spots to find out more
The important features of the face gaiter.
The face gaiter is a simple low-tech solution but it has been carefully thought out – as Einstein said, “everything should be as simple as possible but not simpler.” You need to wear it whenever you are away from your home and in the proximity of others, so we designed it to be comfortable to wear and simple and easy to put on.
It also has been designed to be made quickly and easily from locally available fabrics, and it can be sewn on a domestic sewing machine and washed at home. Everyone needs one, so face gaiters need to be well-made so people do not need to replace them. That way, we continue to keep transmissions down.
The face gaiter is designed to trap the COVID-19 virus, therefore it will become contaminated with this virus and any other bugs and germs the wearer may have. You can easily kill the COVID-19 virus at 40°C/(100°F) with washing detergent. So, it is important to use a machine washable fabric that can withstand lots of washing.
Like shoes you need the size that fits you well. With a good fit, there is less of a chance the wearer will adjust the mask during use and risk touching their face. Take care when removing the face gaiter, so you contain the viruses contained in it – follow our (soon to be published) user guide carefully.
Unlike a respirator it does not need a perfect seal in order to be effective – but the better the seal the more likely it is to protect the wearer. Unlike a mask, the face gaiter design does not try to contain your breath in a small area in front of your mouth. The face gaiter seals are formed away from your mouth, and this design allows the air to spread out within the face gaiter and then dissipate through a much larger area of fabric. This minimises the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the face gaiter when you breathe, which in turn reduces the transfer of the water vapour and everything in it through the fabric.
Choosing materials for face gaiters
You will want to choose fabric that is breathable but has no visible holes (pin holing). Having around 30% stretch in at least one direction will make it comfortable to wear and help create the seal at the top, which – as described above – is one of the key features of the face gaiter. Synthetic fabrics allow a face gaiter to wick, which will keep it dry and the area in front of your face cooler.
For the face gaiter MK2 – we have used 210g/m2 (7oz) simplex double knit 100% polyester.
Good alternative fabrics
Fabrics between 180-240g/m2 (6-8oz) should be similar
Simplex, Tricot or Jersey knit
Dense knit with no visible pin holes
20-40% stretch in one direction – any stretch in other direction
Polyester, polyester/elastane, Nylon and Nylon/elastane
We have also used stretch fleece fabric and this is suitable, providing that you test it and find it sufficiently breathable for an extended period of use, e.g. over an hour. (we will add details of how to make this option soon)
How to sew information
Sewing information for our face gaiter – for synthetic knit fabrics
Below are the details for a new liner and nose seal – this is a significant enhancement to the face gaiter and can be added to new ones and any you have already made.
Any polyester fleece is suitable – a little bit if stretch is preferred but not essential. A good seal test for the nose fit is you should not fog up reading glasses that have been chilled in the fridge.
The liner catches and holds more of the water vapour in front of your mouth for enhanced source control. The liner makes it more comfortable to wear especially of you have sensitive skin and the nose seal improves the protection YOU get from wearing the face gaiter.
Making a face gaiter from a tee shirt
Below are details on using a tee shirt as your fabric source for the face gaiter. Watch the video below to see how to do that and check out the instructions (above) for additional information. The tee shirt can be made from cotton or synthetic fabrics but should be knitted and of sufficient weight (thickness) that you can’t see through it when held up to the window at arms-length (you can double the fabric to achieve this if you need to).
Information on masks – non-medical “surgical” mask
Be advised that, as with the face gaiter, a homemade mask is more likely to protect others than the wearer. We believe the face gaiter is a better solution for the current COVID-19 requirement but, barring the needs of health care staff, any mask is better than no mask. A face gaiter requires stretch fabrics but these masks do not.
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (USA) recommends – use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19
The following are some sites with helpful patterns and information for making masks for non-medical use.
Making a single use no sew disposable mask
If like me you do not know how to sew you can still make this No Sew disposable mask until you can get something more durable. This is a single use mask and you should follow the guidance for handkerchiefs Catch it – Bin it – Kill it and dispose of it safely after use.