How to make a face mask in Kenya
In just a few weeks, homemade masks and face coverings have become a common sight in the places people still come into contact — grocery stores, pharmacies and even on the streets. A real shift came when the government through the Ministry of Health recommended that people wear cloth face coverings in places where the risk of transmitting the coronavirus from person to person is higher.
Why did homemade masks gain popularity? The main issue at hand is the severe shortage of N95 masks, which help protect medical professionals like doctors and nurses from acquiring the coronavirus. Another type of medical-grade mask, surgical masks — which aren’t proven to effectively block out the tiniest particles that can transmit the respiratory virus — are also in short supply.
How to make a face mask
We will take you step by step on how to make a homemade face mask.
Materials for homemade face mask in Kenya
- 2 pieces of 100% cotton fabric that measure about 7 inches by 9 inches—cotton T-shirts, dish towels and pillowcases are good options (make sure all fabric is washed and dry)
- 2 pieces of cotton fabric that measure about 1.5 inches by 40 inches for the mask’s strap (in a pinch, you can use something like shoelaces or ribbon)
- A ruler, sewing pins, a pair of scissors, thread, an iron and a sewing machine
Instructions on How to make a face mask in Kenya
Step 1: Sew the two main rectangle pieces together with the “right” sides of the fabric—the side you want to see—facing each other. Sew almost all the way around the rectangles, leaving a small gap (a few inches) open on the long side.
Step 2: Turn the rectangle right-side-out by reaching into the gap you left open and pulling the fabric through. Now your edges are on the inside and you have a neatly sewn two-sided rectangle. At the gap you left open, just tuck the edges inside for now; you’ll sew it closed later.
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Step 3: Make three evenly spaced pleats along both 7-inch sides of the fabric, making sure to keep all of your tucks facing in the same direction, and pin in place. One way to do this is by marking the spacing with pins: place one about 1.5 inches down the short side of the fabric; add the next 1 inch down from that, then the third ½ inch down from that, and keep alternating between 1 and ½ inches until you’ve used all six pins. To create the pleats, just bring the first pin down to meet the second, the third to meet the fourth, and the fifth to meet the sixth. Repeat on the other side.
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Step 4: Once the pleats are pinned, stitch all the way around the perimeter of the rectangle. This will sew the pleats into place and also close the gap you had left open in Step 1.
How to make face masks in Kenya
Step 5: If you’re using a strip of fabric for your strap, fold and iron it in half lengthwise and then fold and iron the raw edges in. Find the centers of your straps and the centers of the long sides of your mask, and match them. Pin the straps in place along the long edges of the mask, so there is a strap on the top of the mask and one on the bottom, with equally long pieces coming out to the sides. If you’re using a strip of fabric, pin it so it’s wrapped around the edge of the rectangle.
Step 6: Sew the strap to the mask by stitching all the way down each strap, catching the edges of the mask as you pass. (If you are using a strap that did not require folding, you can opt instead to stitch around the perimeter of the rectangle one more time.)