How to make a coronavirus face mask – all you need is an old T-shirt

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TO prevent the spread of coronavirus and get the UK out of lockdown, Brits are being told to wear face masks in public.

But with surgical masks and respirators reserved for frontline workers, people are being encouraged to make their own – and all you need is an old t-shirt.

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The government have issued new advice on how to make your own face mask
UK Government

Based on the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the Government has today said wearing masks could help stop the transmission of the disease.

It means that while a face-covering might not protect you from catching Covid-19, it could protect others if you are infected but haven’t developed symptoms.

No 10 says that this could include scarves and homemade masks – and added surgical masks used as vital PPE should be left for NHS and healthcare workers.

But stressed that anything handmade should be washed after use and proper hygiene should be followed when using them.

The Government also said today that it would not be supplying face masks or coverings to the general public.

Instead, they have released a handy new guide to explain how you can make your own mask at home – either with a T-shirt or, if you are a bit more skilled with a needle, a hand-sewn one.

Four simple steps to make your own face covering from a t-shirt

Step one: Using the scissors cut a line across the width of the t-shirt around 20cm

Step one: cut a line across the t-shirt
UK Government

Step two: From the top of the right hand corner of the fabric, measure 2cm below this and then make a 15cm horizontal cut through both sides of the fabric

Step three: The next step is to cut downwards until you reach 2cm above the edge. Now make another 15cm cut that runs parallel to the bottom to make a rectangle that can be thrown away.

Step three: cut out a rectangle
UK Government

Step four: Now, to make the ties that secure the mask you need two long strips of fabric. Then unfold the main piece of fabric and place over the mouth and nose to secure. This then needs to be tied around the head and around the neck.

How to make a sewn mask in four steps

As well as the simple four step face mask , the government also issued guidance on how to make a sewn face covering.

In order to make that you will need a needle and thread, scissors, two 25cm x 25cm squares of cotton fabric and two 20cm pieces of elastic (or string or cloth strips).

This process is a little more complicated but can also be completed in just four steps…

Step one: Taking your fabric cut out two 25cm x 25cm squares of cotton fabric and then stack the two squares on top of each other.

Step two: Fold over one side by 3/4 cm and hem, then do the same on the opposite side. Make two channels by folding the double layer of fabric over 1.5cm along each side and stitching this down.

UK Government

For step two you need to fold over the top and bottom hem[/caption]

Step three: Now for the tricky part, you need to run a 20cm length of elastic, string or cloth strip through the wider hem on each side of the face covering. These will be used as the ear loops and you can use a large needle to thread this through.

For step three you need to thread the ear loops and sew them into place
UK Government

Step four: Pull on the elastic and adjust the fabric so it fits well across your face. The elastic loops should then fit over your ears.

The completed face covering is seen above
UK Government

The advice from the government however came with a strict warning that people must use materials they already have at home and not try to order PPE online that could otherwise go to to frontline NHS services.

It also stated that face coverings did not need to be worn outdoors while exercising.

The government also stated that they did not need to be worn by children or by people who may find them difficult to put on themselves. It also stated that the coverings do not need to be worn in schools for children who are still attending.

Health Minister Jo Churchill said the strategy has been guided by the science and that thanks to updated advice today, people should consider wearing the masks in public spaces where social distancing is not possible.


“You do not need a clinical mask which are prioritised for our healthcare workers.

“Instead a face covering is sufficient and we encourage people to make these at home with items they will already own”, she added.

This is while Professor Chris Whitty said the face coverings were just added precautions and highlighted that the most effective way to protect yourself from the virus was to stay at home.

Previous guidance from the World Health Organisation has stated that when people had worn face masks for prolonged periods of time, they were more likely to put others at risk by not strictly following other hygiene standards such as hand washing and social distancing.

When issuing the guidance on face covering making, the government highlighted that it did no endorse any particular way of mask making and that children should be supervised at all times if making the masks at home.

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