It was a big weekend for the humble face mask.
On Sunday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that as of 11.59pm this Wednesday, Melbourne residents will be required to cover their faces whenever they venture outside.
The measure, designed to slow the city’s ongoing coronavirus outbreak, sparked a run on disposable masks. Pharmacy chain Chemist Warehouse claims to have sold 1.5 million of the suckers over the weekend.
Online stores now offer reusable options, but some major retailers have already run out of stock.
Thankfully, the new restrictions leave some room for DIY alternatives.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has provided a how-to guide for anyone with a sewing machine, while fabric retailer Spotlight has also provided a free, downloadable pattern of their own.
Then there’s the sock option.
In May, Belgian TikTok user Safia Aggoune shared her quick, no-sew method of turning a regular sock into a face mask.
With a few precise cuts, Aggoune transforms a simple, stripy sock into a passable face covering.
The video has been viewed more than 260,000 times on the platform, while a version of the video posted to Twitter has landed a cool 3.2 million views.
While the DHHS highly recommends three-layered face masks over a retrofitted sock, their key message is that any face covering is better than nothing.
I’ve been using disposable surgical masks for my trips to the shops, but given the impending mask mandate, I thought I’d give Aggoune’s method a crack.
@safia_aggouneMaak een mondmasker van een sok##mondmasker ##inventief ##hoemaakjeeenmondmaskervaneensok ##2bfunkychick ##covid_19 ##bescherming ##momsontiktok♬ origineel geluid – safiaaggoune
I took Home Economics in high school, and while that class taught me how to patch up a busted crotch – a skill I’ve used more than I ever expected – I wouldn’t consider myself a pro with an overlocker.
Fortunately, all you need for this method is a clean sock, a pair of scissors, and the ability to follow simple instructions.
I settled on an old business sock, well-worn but still in good nick. It was clean, too. I cannot stress that enough.
I picked it for a few reasons: first, it’s grey, making for a pretty inconspicuous mask. Second, it was separated from its sibling sock some time ago, and I’m not holding out for some miraculous return.
Third, and perhaps most importantly: I don’t exactly leave the house as often as I used to, and I don’t see myself conducting ‘business’ any time soon.
Anyway, mask time.
Step One requires you to fold the sock’s toe towards its heel, like so:
Step Two asks you cut the toe section off at the point you made the crease.
I also cut some length off the calf section, because I wanted a mask, not a neck-warmer.
So far, so good.
For Step Three, cut the side of the sock opposite the heel section, from one opening of the ‘tube’ to the other.
Unfold the sock, and you should have a square-ish section of fabric with the indented ‘heel’ in the middle.
Step Four: Fold the sock horizontally. You should have the ‘heel’ section poking out like a little mound at the centre of the fold.
Turn the sock so the heel is now facing you. Then, make the cuts as shown below:
Step Five basically just involves unfolding the mask, marvelling at your creation, and putting it on your expectant face.
Here’s what mine looked like at the end of the process. Note how I managed to use scissors without also severing my earphone cords, an accomplishment in and of itself:
Miraculously, Aggoune’s method left me with a soft and snug-fitting mask.
Is the heel discolouration noticeable? Yes. Would I go with a flat black sock next time around? Yes. Did this method provide me with a reusable face covering in the space of two minutes? Somehow, the answer is also yes – and now I look like history’s sleepiest bandit.
Give this method a crack if you feel like adhering to a very sensible public health mandate and executing an innocent sock at the same time. At the very least, try it out until you can get your hands on a specially-designed mask.
Stay safe out there, folks.