Face masks at the Convention
A guide to Face Masks at the Convention
The Convention COVID policy mandates the wearing of face masks, unless you are exempt. That doesn't mean that everyone must go around in disposable surgical masks - many members will want to match their mask to their costume, or to their T-shirt, or to stand out in other ways.
This guide is intended to set out the do's and don'ts of masks for the Convention. If you would like more information please email email@example.com.
Things to avoid
- Don't trust anything calling itself a buff or snood or other stretchy cloth that covers the lower half of the head and neck to be protective unless it has an actual facemask with filter built into it. They do not meet the Convention's requirements even if made from cloth that claims to have antiviral properties.
- Leather or plastic are right out, you will breathe around it not through it.
- UK regulations say no beads, glitter or sequins on face coverings in case of inhalation. Lungs do not want glitter!
- if you’re using cloth masks, bring at least one spare and keep them dry- wet masks are both uncomfortable and not as protective as dry ones.
Buying and embellishing Face Masks
- Look for masks with either three layers of cotton, or two layers of cotton and a non-woven filter layer. This is the best compromise between filtering out virus-containing droplets and still being able to breathe.
- If you're embroidering onto a premade mask, embroider on the outer layer only! You don't want to make stitching holes all the way through the mask. Try to stick to light designs that don't cover too much of the surface because you want to be able to breathe through it.
- Painting: As with embroidery, don't cover too much of the surface with paint, you need to breathe! Craft-grade acrylic paint will work and should be non-toxic because they sell it to kids.
- Covering a purchased mask with lace or net fabric is fine, adding a whole extra layer might make it too thick to breathe through.
- If you have a mask that looks good but is not protective (eg it's too thin, or made of leather with ventilation holes) you can wear it over the top of a disposable surgical mask. This also applies to masks with valves- you need protection while breathing both in and out!
Making your own Face Masks
- Face coverings should be made of material that you can breathe through but that isn't loose-woven. Quilting cotton (the sort of thing pillowcases are made of) is a good compromise between flair and making a mask that actually protects.
- If your costume needs a medieval-ish appearance, you might find tightly woven linen cloth but make sure the fibres are small and the holes are even smaller. A good search term for mottled/subtly colour-shaded fabrics that are slightly more interesting than working with plain colours is “quilt blender”.
- You want two layers of this, with a filter layer ideally of meltblown polyester (search ebay for mask filter fabric!) or failing that, a third layer of the outer fabric, or t-shirt fabric.
- If you are embroidering the mask, make sure to only embroider the outer layer so you don't put stitching holes through the entire mask that will let droplets through.
Some free patterns
These have all been tested by ConCom member Rosemary Warner, who has made masks from all of them and confirms they work. All but the first come in multiple sizes. To add a sewn-in filter layer, just cut it out along with the lining and treat the two as one fabric.
- Very easy low-sewing pattern from the Welsh government:
- Pleated front mask:
- Flat-fronted contoured mask:
- Pointed-front contoured mask: