DIY Reusable Face Masks

04.27.20

0600

Materials:

  • Paper- Graph paper might be easier to follow the grid system
  • Pencil- If you plan on sketching out the templates
  • Fabric Crayon- If you plan to sketch the templates on dark fabric
  • Ink pen- For tracing the templates onto the fabric pieces
  • Ruler (Centimetres)
  • Fabric
  • Elastic bands/ribbon/surge fabric together to create straps to tie around head

Tools:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Kit

So I’ve been seeing a lot of YouTube videos, blog posts and Instagram posts of DIY reusable face masks recently. I wanted to try to figure out how to design a face mask that anyone could make and use.

However, I didn’t want my readers to have to print out a template if you were not able to. I wanted to teach my readers how to be able to build your own template. Not everyone has access to a printer, printer paper or even printer ink right now, so that was my overall goal for this blog post.

So I decided to design my own templates, but I wanted to give you guys the measurements as well as the templates. The following 6 images are of the designs I created (they are in JPEG format). You can download them or use the measurements and create them yourselves. These were all drawn on 8.5″ x 11″ sheets, or 21.59cm x 27.94cm sheets. The light, dashed lines, around the bold black boarder on each image, is the edge of the paper. I decided to create these drawings in centimetres since the metric system is more universal. The fabric filter insert templates are not a guarantee of protection from any virus, but it will give you an extra layer of fabric, along with the mask.

I had drawn out the first templates, so what you’re looking at (below) was my own first round of the templates. I cleaned up the design for the downloadable images for you guys.

First decide which fabric will be the exterior layer of your mask, then decide which fabric will be your interior layer of your mask. After that, you can choose a fabric to be your filter layer. I tend to chose a lighter color for my filter layer, so it stands out from the rest of the mask. For my fabric filter inserts, I used whatever leftover fabric I had.

I decided to show you how I created the child sized reusable face masks and reusable filter inserts in this blog post. The same steps are used to make the adult fabric masks and adult filter inserts.

REUSABLE FABRIC FACE MASKS:

First I cut out fabric pieces for each of my masks. There are two fabric pieces for each of those six cutouts in the next photo. I chose my exterior layer fabric and interior layer fabric and I then traced the child mask template onto each set of fabric piles. I didn’t trace the templates onto each fabric piece, since I like to cut my fabric, two at a time.

I cut up the fabric I chose for my filter layer for each mask, and then I traced the child filter templates onto the fabric pieces.

Once I traced all of my templates onto the correct fabric piles, I pinned the fabric piles together and cut out each set accordingly.

For each pile of the filter layers, I placed each set with the ugly side facing up, so I could hem the edges. I simply folded over the edges, pinned them in place and then sewed them together. I used a back stitch so I could secure the ends of the sew lines. I used a zigzag stitch throughout this whole project.

So each set of fabrics for each mask will include, two exterior pieces, two interior pieces, two filter layer pieces. I had already cut out my ear straps, which were 12cm each. But I wil elaborate on the ear straps later on.

Now you have to sew each set of fabric layers together. For each set of fabrics (ugly side facing outwards), sew along the arch edge, from one end to the other.

Now we have to line up each fabric pieces to get ready to be assembled. First, interior layer (ugly side down), then on top of that is the filter layer (ugly side down), and lastly, the exterior layer (ugly side up). Pin together the stack so they wont move during the sewing process, and sew along the top and bottom of the mask. Trim the excess thread on the ends of each sew line.

Flip the face mask inside out, between the filter layer and the exterior layer.

Once you flip the mask inside out, you should be looking at the pretty side of the exterior fabric on one side of the mask, and then the pretty side of the filter layer fabric on the other side of the mask.

I folded in the sides of the mask so I could pin the fabric together. You can also iron the folded sides too, so there is a clean and crisp edge. I just needed the edges to build their shape until I added on the ear straps.

I actually cut out straps, about 12cm in length. In order to test the fitting of the straps, I actually pined the straps in between the exterior layer and the interior layer, on the side. The pins are pushing from the interior layer, outwards. If you want to use this method to test the fitting of the ear straps, please be very careful when trying on the mask.

If you don’t have elastic bands, you can quickly sew long pieces of fabric together and use the long pieces as ties, to tie around the user’s head. I used four pieces of fabric that were 72cm in length and made my straps 4cm wide, for one mask. Technically, you probably only need each strap to be 25cm in length, as long as it can be tied around a large adult head with enough extra slack for an extra knot. Each strap will be sewn to each corner of the mask.

I cut out each strap, folded them into thirds and then used only two pins to secure one beginning end of the strap together. I didn’t pin down the whole strap, because with a fabric this small, it’s quicker to sew and fold simultaneously, as the fabric is passing underneath the presser foot of the machine. The machine will feed the fabric under the pressure foot, so just hold the folded fabric steady and taut.

I also created a back stitch at the beginning and end of the strap to secure the sew line.

Once you decide if you want to use elastic bands or sew your custom straps together, you can tuck the ends of the straps between the exterior layer and interior layer, and sew the edge of the mask together.

Using my ink pen, I drew tiny triangles on the top straps of each mask to indicate the top verses the bottom of the masks.

REUSABLE FABRIC FILTER INSERTS:

Using my templates, I cut out fabric pieces for both my adult template as well as my child template. For each template, there are two fabric pieces per set. I then pinned them together, so they wouldn’t move when I had to sew them together.

With the ugly side of the fabric facing outwards, I cut out filter insert pieces and then sewed them together. I sewed in one direction, around the edge of the mask, but left one side open. This opened side will be the location of where the filter insert needs to be flipped from the inside to the outside. I used the back stitch lever to secure the sew line, as always. I then trimmed the extra thread.

I flipped the filter insert, inside to outside and using a chopstick (you can use a slim stick), I made sure all of the corners and edges were fully stretched out from the inside.

I then ironed all of the fabric inserts I had sewn and then tucked in the open end to pin the fabric closed. I then hand sewed that edge of the filter, using a running stitch.

So there you have it. My templates are available for anyone to download and you can make as many as you like. Please keep in mind that these masks are not a guarantee against any type of virus, but they will help protect you from other people’s exposure to you. There are a lot of fabric mask tutorials on social media right now, and I hope you can find one that you prefer to use and make. I hope this blog post helps anyone it can reach.

PLEASE STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY EVERYONE AND I HOPE TO SEE YOU GUYS SOON!

☁️

My Trash Doesn’t Fit In A Jar

​06.17.2019

0600

My trash doesn’t fit in a jar anymore. When I started my zero waste journey, my trash did fit in a 16 ounce mason jar. However, int he past few years, I needed to purchase items that had extra packaging in which would not fit in my nice little jar anymore.

A lot of the time, when we shop at bulk bins in grocery stores, although we don’t bring home trash into our homes, products do get shipped to grocery stores in packaging. We as consumers don’t see it, but it doesn’t mean that the packaging doesn’t exist. Now, I’m not saying that every company is wasteful, but truth be told that is how our products are packaged from the manufacturer and then transferred to the distribution companies.

Trash pollution, plastic pollution is hidden in plain sight. We as consumers, do have the choice to not bring trash into our homes, and that’s a privilege. But packaging does exist, it’s not always compostable, and it may not even be sustainable. We as consumers can still vote with our dollar, and we still need to remind manufacturing companies that our trash pollution is at the highest quantity right now. I do think the tide is turning, but with The daily production of trash in the speed at which it is produced, we’re going out to tackle a very, very large problem and that’s with magnified with an unimaginable speed.

I live in the Bay Area, and bulk food items and products are readily available here. There are plenty of other states and areas, which bulk food is not available. If you can fit your trash into a small jar and continue to do so, I think that’s amazing and admirable. If your trash can’t fit into a jar, just keep in mind, the trash you’re producing and keep putting effort towards living a more zero waste lifestyle. I think using the glass jar as a standard is a bit unreasonable, because not all of us are lucky enough to live and afford certain amenities where we are located.

So my trash doesn’t fit in a jar this year, maybe next year it will be less. If not, I’ll keep trying to continue to strive to live a zero waste life.

How to Store Vegetables And Fruit Without Plastic Bags

04.25.2017

0700

When I was growing up, I understood that fruits and vegetables were stored in the refrigerator. As I slowly transitioned to being an adult, I realized that my assumptions were pretty wrong.

Living a more zero waste lifestyle makes you more conscientious and aware of your choices as a consumer. Not buying excessive food and buying a reasonable amount of perishable foods so that extra trash isn’t produced is also a part of the lifestyle. I had to learn that even as I continued on this journey. This meant that I had to really understand how certain fruits and vegetables ripened and why. There are a lot of articles and diagrams for how to store vegetables and fruit, but I thought I would draw up my own diagrams and create my own chart (which you can download here, Store Vegetables and Fruit Without Plastic Bags)

It’s amazing what you realize you don’t have to store in your refrigerator and how much room that frees up is also a gift in itself. There are a lot of ways to store vegetables and fruit, which will keep them from ripening too soon.

I organized my chart by color coding them with the different ways you would have to store the produce. The images below illustrate how to store the produce listed in the chart.

  1. Vegetables
    1. Yellow = Open Container in a location
    2. Orange = Open container with shallow water on countertop
    3. Green = Airtight/Open container in Refrigerator
    4. Dark Blue = Dry/Damp towel in Refrigerator
  2. Fruit
    1. Red = Open Container in a location
    2. Light Blue = Open container with shallow water on countertop
    3. Pink = Airtight/Open container in Refrigerator
    4. Violet = Dry/Damp towel in Refrigerator

Store Vegetables and Fruits Without Plastic Bags

3d illustration of empty cupboard

Store Vegetables and Fruits Without Plastic Bags- Countertop

Store Vegetables and Fruits Without Plastic Bags- Refridgerator

Download my chart in PDF format here, Store Vegetables and Fruit Without Plastic Bags.

I hope this post gives some helpful ideas as to how you can store your vegetables and fruit without plastic. I certainly have used it and it works great. It’s a lot less work in my own life to organize my refrigerator this way, so Happy Grocery and Produce Storing!

Ethylene Producing Fruits And Vegetables

04.04.2017

0700

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Storing fruits and vegetables can be tricky if you have too much and if they’re stored incorrectly, the speed of ripening can speed up unnecessarily. It’s one lesson I had to take time out to understand when I lived on my own.

As some fruits and vegetables ripen, they release ethylene, a gas that can cause other produce to become spotted, soft, or mealy. To prevent this, keep ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables separate from varieties that emit the gas.

A Few General Guidelines

  • Do Not Store Fruits and Vegetables Together. Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (the ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables. (Think of the “one bad apple” adage.)
  • For Vegetables: Before storing, remove ties and rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. Leave an inch to keep the vegetable from drying out. Make sure the bag you store the veggies in has some holes punctured to allow for good air flow. Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator. The closer they are, the quicker they will rot. Leafy greens can be washed before storing by soaking them in a sink full of water, while soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until right before they are used.
  • For Fruits: Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop, while items like bell peppers, grapes, all citrus, and berries will only deteriorate and should be refrigerated. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly, and will also speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.

 

Ethylene Producing Fruits

•Apricots
•Avocados
•Bananas
•Cantaloupes
•Honeydew melons
•Kiwis
•Mangoes
•Nectarines
•Papayas
•Peaches
•Pears
•Plums
•Tomatoes

Ethylene Sensitive Fruits:

•Apples
•Asparagus
•Broccoli
•Carrots
•Cucumbers
•Eggplants
•Green beans
•Lettuce and other greens
•Potatoes
•Summer squash
•Watermelons

Try to keep the ethylene producing fruits separated from one another and make sure the ethylene sensitive fruits are kept in a separate section too. You can find storage tips and a more extensive list of how to store vegetables and fruits without plastic from Washington’s Green Grocer. The list originated from the Berkley Farmer’s Market, and you can  download their PDF of How ­To: Store Fruits and Vegetables and keep it for reference. There are still many different methods of storing fruits and vegetables, depending on how and if you prepare them before storing. I think this is a very helpful reference for those wondering how to go about eliminating it from fruit and vegetable storage.

Sometimes You’ll Produce Trash

08.31.2016

0800

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There are times when producing trash is inevitable. Living a zero waste life and the steps leading up to an efficient zero waste lifestyle will produce at least some trash. One way or another, it’s not necessarily a crushing result. If you can find a way to get an efficient zero waste lifestyle routine without producing trash, then that’s great, but for those who are attempting it, and may get frustrated with the goal of ‘no trash’ in mind and yet that is the result; don’t be too hard on yourself.

When I started this journey, there were a lot of blog posts talking about how those people and households were living efficient zero waste lifestyles, but no one talked about the journey and mistakes it took to get there. I even wrote a blog post about what to do first if you want to start this lifestyle, Seven Tips To Begin A Zero Waste Life. I made mistakes as I started this journey as well. My mistakes included testing out products that were recommended, which I discovered to be inefficient, as well as starting out using one product and finding new, package-free versions of the product later on. I still haven’t found solutions for certain products such as my hair ties and am still on the hunt for certain ingredients in bulk to make certain condiments.

The whole point of this journey is to find that happy medium where you can live that efficient zero waste lifestyle and that you’re content with it. Moving forward and making progress is always good. Even if you don’t make great strides everyday. The desire is to at least take positive and productive steps towards this lifestyle. There will be critics, there will be naysayers, but progress is key. Keep growing and evolving as you venture further along this zero waste journey.

DIY Reusable Cloth Produce Bags

03.07.2016

0800

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Materials:

  • Bedding flat and fitted sheets
  • Bedding pillowcases
  • Shoelace/rope to use as drawstrings for the bags

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing kit

I use old bed sheets and old pillowcases to make produce bags with drawstrings to close the top openings. For this project, I used four pillowcases and two bed sheets. The weight of each piece of sheet varies in thickness, so I know that the tare weight will differ. This project does take a little bit of time, but the payout is immensely satisfying.

To size them up, I first divided a pillow case into quarters and I use extra shoelaces to make the drawstrings. I like to have at least two different sized bags so that I can use one size for my staple bulk shopping and the others to be used for standard bulk shopping. The pillowcase that will be divided into quarters would be the smaller size and I would half another pillowcase to be the larger bag template. I only need four large bags so the rest will be the standard bulk bag size.

The easiest and quickest way to finish this project in a short amount of time is to first measure out the size of each fabric piece, but measure out the pieces so that the fold of the fabric will be on the left or right side of the rectangular template. The reason why I recommend this is that when you sew, you can make one continuous stitch line without ending. If you create the fold of the fabric on the bottom, you have to sew both sides with separate stitch lines. Understandably, if you end up with very linear fabric pieces once you measure out your sheets, having two stitch lines will be inevitable. Keep in mind, the top is left alone for the drawstring pocket.

I usually measure the pocket for the drawstring at 1/2″ width and I pin it in place using ball head straight pins. I then sew the pocket for the drawstring and leave the ends open for the drawstring to be fed through. Then for each fabric piece, I fold the opening edge and bottom edge in about 1/2″ and pin it with a few ball head straight pins. You can also fold this hem over once more to secure the hem as well. Once all of the bags are sewn, I tie off all of the thread ends so that the ends don’t dangle and get caught up in the washing machine. Then I take each bag and feed the drawstrings through each pocket using a small safety pin. Once the drawstrings are fed through their pockets, I tie off the ends so that the drawstring won’t slip out.

Because I measured out my fabric into two basic sizes, I take one bag of each fabric type and size and bring it to the grocery store to record the tare weight. My tare weight for my standard bulk bag is 0.07 lbs and for the larger bag it’s 0.12 lbs. I usually write my tare weight towards the top of the bags due to the fact that cashiers tend to look for twist ties there. However, don’t write the tare weight too close to the very top of the bag, being that once you close the bag opening with the drawstring, the writing gets somewhat lost in the folds of the bag.  I usually write the tare weight about 3″ from the top of my bags. I use LYRA Aqua Color Water-Soluble Wax Crayons to write on my bags and I bring them with me to record the PLU codes (Price Look Up codes) right on the bags.

From the four pillowcases and two bed sheets I used in this project, I made 57 bags. I also made two tiny little bags from the leftover fabric pieces, because I really didn’t want to add it to my trash bin. I hope this post helps for those who are looking to make your own produce bags. This was a two day project and although I was exhausted after finishing it, I was beyond ecstatic when these bags were put to use. These bags are used everywhere around my house from using them for lunch bags, to containing my cat’s toys and even using them in the kitchen to keep items organized. So utilize that sewing machine and I hope you enjoy your new DIY bags as much as I do.

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