Instructions to make a washable mask to evade a deadly foe.

Circumstances in China look bad right now because of nCoV or novel coronavirus 2019. People are dying of this virus in China. It’s called novel because it’s new and people have less immunity to new viruses. The index case, I have read, was probably in early December. The doctor who warned about deadly pneumonia cases being caused by nCoV was censored and now he has died of the virus. China suffers with illness and fear right now. Let’s have a moment of compassion for the suffering of the people in China.
Elsewhere in other nations, because we were warned, the virus may not have gotten loose into the population of our largest cities. Thank you to China for warning us and thank you Dr. Li Wenliang the doctor who warned China.

This virus is extremely contagious according to several reports. It is much more contagious than ordinary flu. In order to give our disposable face masks to healthcare workers, it’s important not to hand them over to those outside of healthcare.

But don’t worry, you can make your own washable masks just in case this virus ever becomes a danger for you or your family. If you make several, you can wash the ones that need it without going without one.

You will need polyester thread, a yard of ordinary cotton fabric that most craft stores sell to quilters, a yard of cotton flannel that will touch your face and feel soft and some narrow quarter inch wide elastic for the straps that go over your ears. In making masks for my family, I found a breathable liner product called Insul-Bright that has a metal and plastic center which could give you some extra protection if you put it into the center of the cotton sandwich. It’s an insulating product made to line potholders.

I cut both of the cottons into 6 inch by 6 1/2 inch rectangles. I cut the liner into a 5 inch by 5 1/2 inch rectangle. The bottom and top of the rectangle are the long side and the sides are one half inch shorter. I laid the cottons on both sides of the liner fabric and I turned the liner fabric 45 degrees to make a diamond. The corners of the diamond will stick out of the top, bottom and sides (but you will cut off these small triangles later). This makes the mask less rigid so that you can add pleats near the corners later to make the mask more 3-dimensional to make room for a person’s nose inside the mask.

Making the mask longer along the top than the sides, I sewed one inch in from the shorter sides of the mask rectangle, sewing a line an inch from each edge using the running stitch. I cut off the triangles sticking out of the sandwich from the liner. I made 2 elastic straps for holding the mask on by cutting 2 elastic ribbons into a length 14 and one quarter inches long and I overlapped the ends a quarter of an inch and sewed them together. I took each elastic strap and placed it into the narrow rectangle at the seam just sewed on the sides of the sandwich of cottons and liner. I pinned the elastic strap out of the way inside the skinny rectangle so that I could sew another seam along the edge of the sides. Then I sewed up the sides of the skinny rectangle with the elastic strap inside using the blanket stitch. Then I sewed closed the top and the bottom of the mask using the blanket stitch. The elastic will help cinch up the sides of the mask when it is worn. The straps can be adjusted for size by tying a loop you put in the middle of the straps. The elastic loops make it easy to pull the mask over your ears.

To finish, I located a point one inch from the top and one inch from the side. That is, I came down one inch from the top edge (along the first seam sewed) of my almost finished mask and folded over a small amount of the cotton fabric sandwich on both sides (one inch from the top and one inch from the side along the seam) facing the center. This location of fabric was outside the liner diamond, an ideal location to make a pleat or pucker. I did this on both sides one inch from the top edge securing the fold by sewing it in place in one spot twice through. I did this for the bottom part of the mask also, turning it upsidedown so the pleat would fold towards the center. Now there are 4 pleats. The middle of the mask rectangle was left puckered by these folded portions one inch from each edge near the corners.

The purpose of a mask is to make transmission of a microorganism or virus less likely. If you are infected it protects others from your sneezes and sniffles which will make the mask dirty and in need of a wash. A mask can also help you if you are caring for a loved one who is sick. The most important thing that a mask does is to keep you from touching germs and then touching your face. Make your own washable mask. Leave the disposable ones to healthcare professionals. You should also wash before you eat and after you go to the bathroom. Even if you aren’t wearing a mask, don’t touch your face unless you have washed first.

I hope that this nCoV virus won’t come here, but just in case, in addition to making masks, you might want to stock up some extra supplies for a possible quarantine. Food staples, medicine, various essentials like bleach, just-in-case. If you want some reading to keep your mind occupied with the issues of American politics, economics and history, buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries available at

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