Masks and Filters and Such

In an attempt to a) keep friends, family, and folks in our community safe, and b) keep myself entertained and out of the pool hall during our shelter-in-place adventure, I’ve been making fabric masks with custom-made replaceable liners from blue shop towels.

Why blue shop towels?

A recent study found that of all the material likely to be available to home-grown mask makers, the blue shop towels had the highest performance of microbial filtration available (

Why custom-made to fit these particular masks?
Because trying to just shove a square of shop towel into the pocket results in an uncomfortable bunched-up mass of material in front of your nose and mouth that are hot and hard to breathe through.

Wearing masks is weird enough for most of us without making it more uncomfortable than it needs to be.

By cutting and sewing them into a shape that matches the exact contour of the mask, they fit smoothly and keep the structure of the curve snugged up tight to your nose for a better seal while giving you (literally) more breathing room.

Upside to the filters? Safer, more comfortable peeps.
Downside? They can be maddeningly fiddly to insert smoothly.

So, I made a quick video to show the easiest way to get the little buggers in. (Please pardon the accidental advertising for those amazing Persian pickled vegetables on the counter, although they are pretty darn tasty if you’re into pickled veggies.)

I also made a mask for Winston, who immediately had some thoughts he wanted to share on the subject.

On a final note, may I just say how much it sucks when your dog’s video is better than yours?


7 thoughts on “Masks and Filters and Such

  1. Brenda

    We want to thank you so very much for the gift of the two masks you placed on our doorstep the other day! We will use them and think of your kindness when we do so. Beautifully done!
    We do regularly donate to our favorite organizations.

    Take care, stay safe and thanks so-o much again!
    Brenda and Nick, your neighbours

  2. Kathy P.

    Thanks, Kath! I like your pattern’s simplicity, but didn’t see it in the BI links. Is it posted anywhere online, or can you make it available?
    Also, are you using behind-the-ear loops, not thin elastic? How do they work for snugness & fit?

    1. rickandkathy Post author

      Hi Kathy!

      I use this pattern from the North Memorial Health youtube channel. You can download the paper pattern in their link below the video. I added thin wire in a small channel in the nose to keep it snugged in tight.
      I am using doubled-over lingerie elastic that a lovely neighbour donated on a large commercial spool. I cut it into 8-inch lengths, stitch it in half lengthwise, then connect the ends in a one-inch overlap, stitched in place. The lingerie elastic is super soft, and the 8-inch loops seem to work well for most adults. I’ve worn mine on several shopping trips now, and they are snug yet comfy.

  3. Peggy Wilson

    Kathy the pattern you created having a filter inserted, is great. Do you have any masks for sale? Or do you have the pattern for sale? Sewing is not my expertise, I’m a painter. I would attempt to barter for a mask/painting trade, but since Rick is an artist, that might not be so attractive! Winstons video is a hoot!

    1. rickandkathy Post author

      Hi Peggy!
      Thanks for your kind words.
      I don’t sell the masks, although if people insist on donations, I steer them to the Comox Valley Transition Society who provide shelter to women and children in domestic abuse situations. (Unfortunately, organizations like this are seeing staggering increases in need for their services.) Where are you generally located? Most areas now have local mask makers who are selling or donating their masks. I know of a few I could steer you towards…

  4. Louise

    I called our local auto supply place after reading about the wonders of blue shop towels. I decided I didn’t love people enough to spend $1.55 +hst on each 10″ square (May be one mask worth). Not sure of that is the regular exorbitant fee or if they read the article and decided on a get rich quick scheme.

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