Materials Needed for DIY Personal Protective Equipment

Item # X-HT-300463

Please Note: We are working hard to keep the materials detailed in this blog in stock. Though we might be currently out of stock on certain items, we ask that you check back at a later date to see if the item you want is back in stock. We thank you for your patience, and we're doing everything we can to reorder these in-demand products.

Amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, we are getting a lot of calls and emails from customers wanting to help their local communities and medical facilities by sewing masks and other protective gear. As a DIY sewing supplier, we do carry supplies that can be used to sew masks, face shields and medical gowns. Please note that Sailrite is in no way an authority on medical supplies, medical safety or health code protocol. This blog includes a list of materials that we offer which can be used to make DIY face masks, face shields and medical gowns. Please check with your local hospitals and medical facilities to make sure they will accept donations made with these supplies.

Basic Supplies

Most of these projects need the same basic supplies:

    • Sharp fabric shears
    • Sewing needle and thread (needle size and thread weight depend on fabric)
    • Ruler
    • Marking pencils
    • Patterning material
    • Sewing machine (note that Sailrite's Face Mask Shield design requires a walking foot sewing machine, but any home machine should be fine for the face masks)
    • Sailrite® Edge Hotknife (for cutting elastic and shock cord without fraying)

DIY Face Masks

Face masks can be worn in conjunction with a face shield, which offers the outer level of protection against airborne particles and contaminants. The CDC states that homemade face masks do not qualify as PPE (personal protective equipment) but they are now recommending everyone wear a face mask in public, especially if you live in an area with high COVID-19 infection rates. If making DIY face masks to donate to your local hospital, please check with them first to make sure they are accepting donations of homemade masks and whether they have any guidelines or material requirements. We designed a reusable face mask that is contoured to your face shape. Find the how-to instructions by searching for X-HT-300465.

Supplies for making medical face masks.

Materials You Can Use:

  • Spun Bonded Polypropylene Non-Woven Material for Masks (#122502, #122503, #122504, #122505)
  • Melt Blown Face Mask Filter Material (#122475, #122476)
  • Sunbrella® Canvas, Spectrum and Cast Collection fabric for mask outer layer
  • Flat, Non Roll Elastic
  • 1/8" Shock Cord (#104327, #29302)
  • Leech Line Dacron® 1/16" (#21206)
  • Grosgrain Binding
  • YKK® Barrel Lock Cord Closures 5/32" (#122197, #103973)

A protective mask design should consist of two layers of mask material with an opening at the bottom which allows you to insert a disposable layer of Mask Filter Material. Our Spun Bonded Polypropylene Non-Woven Material for Masks is lightweight, easy to sew and breathable and is a great choice for the two mask layers. Polypropylene material is water-repellent, so contaminated droplets won't penetrate the material. And its nonwoven design offers even more protection and a barrier against airborne particles. You can use two layers of our Spun Bonded Material for your mask, or use the Spun Bonded as the inner layer against your face and use a different protective material for the mask outer layer.

Sunbrella recently stated that certain of their upholstery fabrics — Canvas, Spectrum and Cast — can be used for the outer layer of a DIY face mask due to the weight and weave of these fabrics. However, Sunbrella fabric is harder to breathe through than the Spun Bonded material. We still recommend using the Spun Bonded mask material for the inner mask layer that touches your face and our Melt Blown Filter Material for the disposable filter layer

For the best protection, add an inner layer of filter material. Our Melt Blown Face Mask Filter Material is a type of HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. It has been tested and has passed all required certifications for use as the filter layer in personal face masks and respirators. It has a BFE (Bacterial Filtration Efficiency) rating of 95%, which means it blocks 95% of airborne particles with an average particle size range of 3.0 ± 0.3 microns. This filter material should be thrown away after every public use. The Spun Bonded Polypropylene or Sunbrella mask can be washed and reused.

Any of the cording materials listed above can be used to create mask straps. Our 1-inch and 3/4-inch grosgrain binding is very easy to sew and ties to the back of the heady very securely. You can add optional YKK barrel closures instead of tying the straps.

The key feature of a material used for face masks is that it is breathable but thick enough to offer protection. Take two layers of your chosen material and hold them up to the light. If you can not see light through the material, but you can still breathe easily when the material is held tight against your face, then it is suitable as a face mask. We are hearing from customers and other sources that DIYers are making face masks with Protect-It™ fabric as well. We have not tested this fabric so we aren't sure of its effectiveness, but we wanted to share this information with you as we have heard of these materials being used. We strongly recommend not using any fabric that has been chemically treated. The chemicals may be harmful or toxic when breathed in so close to the face.

DIY Face Mask Shields

These face shields are meant to be worn over protective eyewear and face masks. These face shields are disposable and are intended to prolong the use of the masks and eyewear. We have a step-by-step photo tutorial and how-to video for how to make disposable face mask shields (#300462XHT). Please refer to this blog for the full materials list and instructions.

Supplies for making medical face mask shields.

Materials You Can Use:

  • Fabric Backed 1/2" Sew Foam (#121507)
  • Clear Monofilm 7mil (#122489), 4mil (#122449) or 5mil (#2314)
  • Nylon Loop White 2" (#100515) OR 1" (#471100)
  • Nylon Hook White 2" (#100514) OR 1" (#467100)
  • Elastic White 2" (#68911), 1" (#22202) OR 1-1/2" (#122453)
  • Dinner plate (to round bottom corners of clear shield material)

DIY Medical Gowns

Sailrite carries two fabrics that are certified for medical gowns. Odyssey® is certified to meet the requirements for PPE (personal protective equipment) gowns in healthcare facilities. Odyssey, by Marlen Textiles, has been tested and passed Levels 1, 2 and 3 of certification ANSI/AAMI PB70:2012 Liquid Barrier Performance. This fabric is appropriate for the widest range of surgical procedures where moderate fluid protection is indicated.

Our other fabric choice is Sur Last® fabric. Sur Last has passed the AATCC 24 Test Method, which measures the resistance of fabrics to the penetration of water by impact. It has also passed the AATCC 127 Test Method, which measures the resistance of a fabric to the penetration of water under hydrostatic pressure. The passing of both of these tests means that Sur Last is qualified for use as a medical gown for Levels 1, 2 and 3, the same as Odyssey. We recommend sewing both of these fabrics with a #18 needle and V-69 polyester thread.

Another fabric that can be used to make medical gowns is Protect-It. This fabric is soft and breathable, making it comfortable to wear. The fabric's unique four-layer construction provides the right level of protection for shorter, less fluid-intensive procedures.

Supplies for making medical gowns.

Materials You Can Use:

  • Odyssey fabric
  • Sur Last fabric
  • Protect-It (#122679)
  • Seamstick Basting Tape for Canvas (#129 — optional but will help with patterning)
  • Grosgrain Binding 3/4" (optional — for ties in the back)

If you don't want to use grosgrain or other material for the ties, you can use leftover Odyssey. Cut thin strips, fold in half and sew the strips together to fashion gown ties.

We hope this list of materials and supplies needed to sew DIY face masks and other medical supplies has been a helpful resource. We do not have patterns or instructions for making medical gowns or medical face masks. We encourage you to contact your local hospitals for their guidance or see what other DIYers are posting online and recommending as far as templates and designs. Join the makers movement and help combat the spread of COVID-19!

NOTE: Sailrite makes NO CLAIM that these face mask shields will protect you from contracting coronavirus/COVID-19. Use at your own risk. These face shields are meant to be used in conjunction with CDC approved masks and eyewear.