Businesses and cities across the nation have implemented requirements for wearing masks. Government and health officials are recommending their use in places where they are not required.

The mask can be as simple as a scarf or piece of fabric. Or it can be elaborate with cute designs and comfort straps.

“At this point, any face mask is going to be helpful,” said Tammy Von Busch, Geary County Health Department director. “When you’re wearing a cloth face mask … it helps prevent you from spraying saliva and particles into the air that that can become infectious to other people.”

As function meets fashion, masks are beginning to show up sporting team logos, smiley faces, flowers, skulls — there one to fit just about any style and personality. They are easy enough to make that people can color coordinate them with just about any outfit.

While people can go online and order masks from a countless number of places, which have jumped into the mask-making business, they can also make their own.

How to make a mask

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website guidance on making masks says the best fabric for masks is tightly woven with a thread count of 180 or higher. For example, sheets and dress shirts often have high-thread counts.

“One hundred percent cotton is the best,” Von Busch said.

They should be made with materials that are easily washed. Von Busch suggested having several masks so a different one can be worn each day and they can all be washed at the same time.

Ideally, they should be snug but comfortable. While a simple bandana is suitable, they are not as effective as a mask, which forms around the face. If the mask is uncomfortable to wear people will have a tendency to reach up and touch and adjust it, which deletes the purpose of wearing it.

There are many styles to choose from, some more complicated than others.

To make a basic mask you will need:

2 six by nine rectangle pieces of fabric

4 Fabric ties

Scissors

Sewing machine or a needle and thread

Instructions:

Place the two pieces of fabric on top of each other with the right sides facing.

Sew a ¼-inch seam on one 9-inch side.

On the other 9-inch side sew a ¼-inch seam but keep about three inches open in the middle

Put the ties inside the mask with a small piece of each tie sticking out of each corner. Pin them in place

Sew a ¼-inch seam along both 6-inch sides, stitching over the ties to secure them

Turn the mask inside out; topstitch all the way around the edges.

Fold the fabric down to create two pleats across the mask and pin

Sew the pleats in place.

Several places online give directions to make different styles of masks. For ideas check out:

www.thesprucecrafts.com/diy-face-masks-4800726

www.clarkscondensed.com/diy/sewing/free-face-mask-patterns-and-tutorials/#anchor-5

www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/DocumentCenter/View/441/Kansas_Homemade_Mask_Guidance-PDF---4-10-20

www.nytimes.com/article/how-to-make-face-mask-coronavirus.html

Proper wear and care of a mask

The face mask has a function — to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If it is not worn and cared for properly its effectiveness is eliminated.

“Let’s assume that every surface is covered with Coronavirus,” Von Busch said. “You’ve put on a mask to prevent spreading Coronavirus and hopefully to some extent protecting yourself from becoming infected. You touch a doorknob, you touch a light switch, you touch whatever — every time you reach up and move that mask or adjust that mask, take it on and off, if you have not washed your hands, you’re getting whatever is on your hands on that mask.”

When it’s on, don’t touch it. When it is time to take it off, wash the hands first, take it off and put it in a bag where it will not get contaminated until it is time to wash it.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website says machine washing is effective and masks should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.

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