Hey, just because we all have to wear masks now doesn’t mean we have to look like grim extras from ER. In Japan, face masks have been a fashion go-to forever, because everyone still wanted to look kawaii while not spreading around their sneezy, cough-y plague-droplets in public. But it wasn’t long before the masters of style realized that masks weren’t just edgy accessories – they could be like wearing a hat on a bad hair day. No time for hours of makeup? No sweat. Clothes, mask, DONE.
Anyone who’s stuck at home with a spare sewing machine can whip up some masks that you’ll still want to wear, even if there isn’t a plague going on.
I made all of these masks from a really excellent pattern on the Craftpassion website – all you have to do is download it and print it out. They have sizes for men, women and children. I used the women’s mask with the seam allowances already added.
Of course, fabric masks can’t protect you from catching (or giving) the ‘Rona as well as genuine surgical masks, but they’re better than nothing. According to this study that was published in Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, masks made from two layers of tightly woven fabric (think tea towels) filter out 83% of germs, and masks made from two layers of 100% cotton t-shirts filter out 70% (compared to genuine surgical masks, which catch 95% of germs).
Important note: Cloth masks lack the waterproof coating that gives professional surgical masks their germ-proof barrier, so airborne droplets that contain virus are absorbed by a cloth mask, not repelled. This makes cloth masks much better at preventing the spread of the virus from you to others, than protecting you from catching it. Wearing a cloth mask when you go out in public to get essentials like groceries is still a good idea – especially if you haven’t been in lockdown for fourteen days, so you could be infected, but without symptoms yet – because you’ll be protecting the other people you encounter and slowing the spread.
In any case, please be well and safe, and I hope your Netflix queues are long and satisfying. Looking forward to getting out the other side of this, when the best reason to wear my new cute masks will be allergy season!
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“I don’t know when I’ve been more caught up in a story. A masterful achievement.”—Terry Shames, award-winning author of An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!