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To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that everyone wear non-surgical cloth masks while out in public. Experts have recently discovered that some people may be asymptomatic, making it difficult to self-diagnose. All Americans are now expected to take extra precaution. Fortunately, a DIY face mask is fairly easy to make. These cloth masks are intended to protect others from your germs. There are pre-fabricated surgical masks, but sometimes it’s more fun to make your own.

1. Make a Pattern

Get a piece of paper and cut out a rough surgical mask shape. Hold it up to your own face and look in the mirror. Is it too big or small? Does it extend too close to your eyes or down below your chin? Keep trimming away paper until you have the shape you want. This is now the pattern for your surgical masks. If you’re planning on making lots of masks, transfer the paper pattern to sturdy cardboard.

2. Choose the Right Fabric

Put your pattern over some soft, thick fabric. Draw the pattern onto the fabric as many times as necessary to make the number of masks you need. Leave a little extra to account for any mistakes you might make. After all, you can always trim the fabric a little, but you can’t put any back.

3. Cut the Fabric

Cut 1/2-inch strips of the fabric. Fold these in half and sew them around the edges of your masks to make the edge strong and keep them looking even. These also make the seal a little stronger to keep your breath from spreading too much.

4. Add the Elastic Strips

Attach elastic strips to the surgical masks so you can loop them around your ears, securing the surgical mask in place. You have many options. You can get small cords of elastic and run them through the top and bottom seams of the masks. You can simply sew the lengths of elastic cable to the masks at the top and bottom of the sides, making ear loops.

Try on the first surgical mask you make to ensure you’re on the right track. Make adjustments to the length of elastic for a tighter or looser fit. This is also an opportunity to see how the mask looks in use. If the elastic pulls the mask too close to your eyes, trim the next mask a little bit to see if you get a better fit. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also created guidelines on how to apply and take off masks in the most sanitary way.

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