A Malaysian crafter shows us how you can DIY your own fabric face mask

Reta Lee
Editor-in-Chief, Lifestyle

Malaysian sewer and crafter Ching Ng shows us how to make a fabric face mask. (PHOTO: Maker's Habitat screenshot)

Malaysian crafter Ching Ng first learned to sew her own bags and mended clothes when she was 13 - a skill she picked up after watching her mum. As a trained graphic designer and a certified sewing instructor, Ng designs sewing patterns that are easy to understand and construct. Since 2015, she has been teaching the art of sewing to adults and children as young as 6 years old in her craft shop in Plaza Damas, Kuala Lumpur.

With the current coronavirus outbreak, Ng was inspired by Taiwanese medical practitioner Dr Chen Guanting's post on fabric masks to create a video tutorial on how to make your own DIY fabric mask. While professionals have advised us that surgical face masks are generally not required when one is not sick, a fabric mask will suffice as a form of general protection, as long as there is a non-woven layer inside the mask. The non-woven layer will act as a filter. According to Ng, the easiest non-woven material would be dried out wet wipes, or brand new polyester floor wipes.

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Ng tells Yahoo Lifestyle SEA that she’s always been skeptical of fabric masks until a friend shared an article by Dr Chen. “There has been a shortage of surgical masks, and by using fabric masks, we can do our part to save the surgical masks for healthcare workers and sick people who will need them more. Since COVID-19 is a matter of public health, I wanted the video tutorial to be available for free and easy to follow so that anyone with basic sewing skills can learn how to make their own fabric mask in the comfort of their own home.”

The rough estimate of the cost to make a fabric face mask is about RM6 to RM7 (about S$2) to make. Ng advises that we could also repurpose old cotton clothing as long as they are washed beforehand. “Anyone with basic sewing skills, even our beginner level students as young as 8 years old can attempt it,” Ng shares.

Ng advises that fabric masks will need to be washed and worn carefully as you would a surgical mask:

  • Wash and dry your hands before putting on and removing the mask

  • Be careful that you don't contaminate the inside of the mask, ie. don't pull the mask down to rest on your chin

  • Practise good hand hygiene as best as you can!

Watch the tutorial below: