I got a call from my son several months ago and he said "Mom you're pretty talented with sewing; (true fact). How about you make me a mask."
Chris is an essential worker (and first and foremost thanks to everyone who has been working all along). Well, I told him I heard that masks did not help. Yet... being a mother never stops... so I started to do some research and talking with folks in my inner circle.
My brother Steve told me a story about Dr. Wu Lien-teh, a Cambridge-educated Chinese physician who pioneered the use of masks during the Manchurian Plague of 1910-11. Often change/progress is met with complete resistance. His contemporaries thought the idea had no merit. So he challenged the doctors to a test; he would wear a mask and the other Doctor could go bare faced. The other Doctor died. Masks, while inconvenient, serve a purpose.
So I started looking into how exactly should one make a mask. The CDC, bless them, published the bare minimum. The first one of theirs I made (just the one) looked like a diaper on the face. Sigh.
I began searching for what the nurses who sew were saying about masks. This one nurse pointed out that there were two broad types of masks.
Type One Mask
Masks that do not seal (square ones; one's of any shape that leak air) primarily keep YOU from spreading whatever you might have.
Type Two Mask
The surgical style cloth masks and the N95 provided they are occlusive (seal) intend to protect YOU from others.
Notice I said 'intend'? If a mask is not occlusive it is a Type One.
Both types serve their purposes but are constructed differently.
So I made an amazing amount of the surgical style masks for family and friends and many contributed funds for materials and provided much needed encouragement. We each have the opportunity to improve life for those around us. We make each mask as if it were for our BFF. We want you to be safe and comfortable.
The key to a good mask is what you can not see. Our waterproof liner is made of a non woven breathable polypropylene that covers the entire inside of the mask. There are a couple of problems with 'filter inserts'. First and foremost those little PM 2.5 inserts often lack quality control; are expensive; and head for the landfills after about a week of use. Then the size is wrong. If the filter does not cover the inside of the mask it is going to 'leak'.
Masks look simple yet it is a neat trick to get them to seal and fit properly. There were fit issues which as it turns out are built in to the design. Ties were too complicated. Then several guys that were important to me could not wear a standard surgical mask. So I started doing more research into alternative designs. I tried several different styles and non worked that well.
Then I came across a study done in 2007 on masks. What they concluded was that masks were not designed for the human face. The moving part of the face is the jaw. They also complained that the fabric of a mask should stretch which would allow for a better fit.
Armed with this information I decided solve the mask problem. I combined several of the patterns I had and modified both the cut and the angles. My brother Steve had the core idea for our tension system which attaches at the jaw and just lets you tug our mask on and off.
He also kept asking if I couldn't make the ties curly. I am sure I told him no quite a few times before I sorted out how to get them to curl.
Along the way we handled the problem with fabric getting in the mouth which is no good at all. Then he went all OSHA on me about nose wires and wanted them eliminated. You guessed it, at first I thought this was impossible. He was right again.
The most surprising part was that the final mask fit almost everyone from 5' to 6'3".
It's comfortable; convertible from a Type One to a Type Two. The more you wash it the better it fits.
Here at BFF Masks we are doing our part by providing a better mask designed for the human face that is waterproof and easy to wear and use. We believe that we are all in this together; and it is together that we will get though this pandemic.
Stay safe and please wash your hands!