From is a project of the nonprofit Helpful Engineering. It is a group of 3,400 volunteer engineers, scientists and doctors helping fight COVID-19.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expected to increase its recommendations for more use of masks in public, there are people wanting to create their own.

It is not considered a way to completely avoid COVID-19, with officials stressing at a news conference that people should add cloth masks to their outfits — but they should continue to frequently wash hands and maintain social distancing.

“We don’t want people to feel like: ‘Oh, I’m wearing a mask. I’m protected and I’m protecting others,’” Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said. “It will be an additive piece.”

While authorities note cloth masks are not as effective as medical, a Cambridge University study stated in 2013 cloth masks help reduce a wearer’s potential to expel potential illnesses.


Cloth masks are also able to be washed — and disinfected by putting in boiling water for 10 minutes, according to experts at, a side project of Helpful Engineering.

Helpful Engineering is a nonprofit of engineers, scientists and doctors “dedicated to helping the world address the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It currently has about 3,400 people involved in its effort.

According to its Maker Mask project, it offers up instructions for the MakerMask: Cover and MakerMask: Surge.

“The MakerMask:Surge is designed to wear as a standalone mask for droplet protection and filtration,” it states. “The Surge design provides a water-resistant alternative to cotton masks, optimized for ease of construction by home sewists.”


What you need, according to the website:

• Sewing machine.

• Freshly washed “non-woven polypropylene” bags, like totes used for grocery bags — not plastic bags.

• Bias tape used in sewing projects or similar ties

• Pipe cleaners or coated paper clips

• Scissors, pins, measuring tape or ruler

After having the materials, cut three sheets to be 8 inches high by 9 inches wide. Then top stitch three layers. After that, according to the website, sew 1/4 inch from the edge all the way around.

Maker Mask then says to turn both sides and the bottom in; fold the three sides in about 1/2 inch, “leaving the top open for the nose band.”

After completing that, stitch a seam on the three folds, about 1/4 inch from its edges.

• Twist two pipe cleaners together to allow the mask to be pressed down over the bridge of a nose and “forming an acceptable seal.” The website notes this can also be done with coated paper clips.

Then cut pipe cleaners to length and trim nose bridge material “just shorter than your mask is wide.”

It notes to check for sharp ends, and if they exist, work to fold over tips. After that:

“Fold the unstitched top over the twisted pipe cleaners; Lay the pipe cleaners 1/2 inch from the top edge, fold the fabric over them, and stitch this in place. Stitch the channel closed on both ends,” it says.

After that, you can make “three folds to pleat the mask for expansion.”

The website says: “Pleats should be approximately 1/2 inch wide. If it helps, mark lines on your fabric at 1 ½, 2 ½, 3, 4, 4 ½, and 5 ½ inches from the bottom of your mask...Fold the 1 ½ inch line up to meet the 2 ½ line, crease, and if helpful pin in place on each side. Repeat by folding the 3 inch line up to the four inch line. And finally, the 4 ½ inch line up to the 5 ½ inch line.”

It suggests stitch those in place “by sewing both sides 1/4 inch in from the edge again.”

The cloth ties should be measured for “a snug fit.”

“Ties should be long enough to tie behind the head ... and hold the mask comfortably to the face. Sew ties to the front of the mask, 1/4 inch from the edge.”

It states people should sterilize the mask before each use. That can be done by submerging masks in boiling water for 10 minutes, the website states.


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