Non-Medical PPEs: Some Advice and Resources

Non-Medical PPEs: Some Advice and Resources

All throughout March and April of 2020, Fabrications received many, many, (oh, so many) phone calls, emails and instant messages about facemasks. Were they a good idea? Did we have suitable elastic? What about interfacing? And cotton? Would we donate to drives to provide facemasks to hospitals? Would we sew facemasks ourselves and donate them?

At that time, our position was that until there was a definitive statement from the Canadian government and the various responsible health authorities, we preferred to stay neutral. We would not be recommending OR discouraging the sewing, wearing and distribution of facemasks.

Well, as of April 6th, 2020, Dr. Teresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer made that definitive statement:

“Wear a facemask to help cut down the spread of the novel coronavirus when you are in situations where you can’t always maintain proper physical distance from others.”

Dr. Tam said this measure is now being advised to help cut down on transmission by Canadians who are infected by the virus but are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.

In other words, wearing a facemask WILL NOT protect you from getting sick – only social distancing, frequent hand washing, and not touching your face will do that – but wearing a facemask WILL prevent you from passing the virus on to others around you if you are infected with the virus but do not have symptoms yet.

Wearing a facemask is very similar to getting vaccinated. It’s uncomfortable but necessary. It protects the vulnerable, those who for whatever reason can’t be vaccinated, the very young, the very old, the immune-compromised. It’s the responsible thing to do.

With that in mind, we’ve found some good resources for you, first to learn how to safely wear and care for your facemask(s) and second how to make a facemask.

How to Safely Wear a Facemask

  • Wash any fabric mask before wearing.
  • Wash hands well before putting on mask.
  • If mask gets wet or humid, switch to a new mask and wash damp mask.
  • Never use a mask after single use without washing it.
  • Wash after each use. If you go into a store, or are in public, remove mask and safely store in a bag before getting into your car or walk into your house so you’re not bringing any possible germs with you into those areas.

How to Safely Remove a Facemask

  • Don’t touch the front or any surface of the mask - only remove via the elastic loops.
  • After removing, immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer (70%+ alcohol based)
  • Place used mask in a bag, or directly into the washing machine.

How to Limit the Spread of Corona Virus COVID 19

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick; keep your children at home if they are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Making a Facemask

All facemasks use the same basic materials:

100% tightly woven fabric:

Quilting cotton is perfect, and comes in a ton of fun patterns and colours too!


Most facemask patterns call for elastic, usually 1/4 inch, but bias tape or narrow twill tape can also be used with some patterns.

Optional Interfacing:

For additional (optional) filtering you can add a layer of non-woven interfacing (such as Pellon 880, Pellon EK130 White, or EK130 Black) to the lining of the facemask. Non-woven interfacing is less porous than woven interfacing. Use non-fusible sew-in interfacing if you are concerned about off-gassing from the fusible glue or if the facemask will be worn by someone who is sensitive to such things (like me!).

Basic equipment:

  • Sewing machine, universal sewing machine needle
  • Thread, measuring tape, scissors and pins,
  • Iron and ironing surface.

Facemask Links and Tutorials.

Here are links to several different tutorials to make several different types of facemasks. 

Which pattern and which fabric will you use for your facemask?