What Type Of Face Mask Is Best For Me?

What Is The Best Face Mask For Me?

What Type Of Mask Do I Need?

If you are a healthcare worker and your job requires you to wear proper respirators then there is no real replacement for that. Cloth masks in hospital settings should only be considered if there is no proper PPE protection available. N-95’s and similar respirators do a good job at blocking viruses. But as there is still a huge shortage they should be left for our frontline health workers who need them the most. Quite frankly, respirators are not something that are needed for just popping to the supermarket or sitting on the bus. 

Surgical masks are subject to conflicting recommendations when it comes to virus prevention. But one thing’s for sure; unlike N95 respirators that filter in both directions, a surgical mask is designed to filter the air during exhalation only. In addition, they rarely provide a tight enough fit for proper protection. 

We are also increasingly seeing more single use masks littering the streets and the seas. So let’s leave the respirators and surgical masks with our frontline health workers where they belong and focus on the different types of cloth masks.


What Style of Cloth Mask Gives Better Protection?

A tight fitting mask made with good breathable, filtering materials is the short answer.

There are now hundreds of patterns and videos circulating the internet on how to make DIY cloth face masks and as many people selling them. But when it comes to washable cloth face mask types, we can narrow it down to two different styles:

The ‘pleated’ mask VS. The ‘fitted’ mask

Here’s the lowdown.

The pleated mask is easy and quick to make; you don’t need a pattern or a printer to print out the pattern. All that is required is two rectangles of fabric, elastic/string or ribbon.

Many sewing heroes around the world are making pleated masks right now.  You don’t need to be an expert sewer so you can churn them out and get them to where they are needed, fast. However, the fit of the pleated mask is not always the best choice. They often squish the nose down, gape at the sides and can be a bit bulky. And without the addition of a flexible nose-wire, they do not offer a tight fit above the nose.

The fitted mask takes a little longer to sew and comes in a variety of patterns. It is ergonomically designed with a vertical seam down the centre.

These masks require a pattern in order to make them, so a printout is needed in order to properly replicate them. They are more conical in shape, creating space for the nose which also make it more comfortable to wear. Although they take a little longer to make, the end result is usually a much better fitting mask that doesn’t necessarily require a nose-wire.

The materials used need to be carefully considered, but what is most important is having a good fit, with smaller gaps around the nose, chin or cheeks.

For this reason alone we prefer and sew the fitted model.

What Are The Best Materials To Use For a Cloth Mask?

In short, a good quality cotton with a high thread count.

New research is emerging daily on what materials filter the most efficiently. There is currently no definitively endorsed material to use, but there is lots of information about how to maximise efficiency of recommended materials.

When considering breathability and filtration, the following score high.

  • 100% cotton (80-120 thread).
  • Paper towels

A single layer of fabric is rarely sufficient on its own so doubling up or layering different materials is a much better option. For extra protection, a layer of interfacing fabric can be used too.

What is interfacing fabric?

This non-woven material is made from short fibres fused and mashed together similar to pulp made into paper. It is a melt-blown material like polypropylene (the fibre used to make disposable respirators) and can be found in many fabric stores. It can either be sewn into a fitted mask as an extra layer or inserted as a separate filter. 


Do I Need a Filter With My Reusable Face Mask?

Filters can improve the capabilities of cloth face masks. Choosing a mask with a filter pocket will enable you to insert non-washable materials with good filtering abilities (like paper towels) and then remove them prior to washing.

There are manufactured face mask filters on the market like the PM2.5 but there is no information stating how they protect from viruses.

We recommend paper towel, interfacing fabric filters or home made saline filters.

Masks For Good!


Our washable and sustainable face masks are hand cut from our own ergonomic pattern using high quality salvaged fabrics or organic cotton. They are designed to protect you and others around you.

We also like to extend our help to the less fortunate:

So for each mask you buy from us we donate 15% to our favourite charity Purple Community Fund.

Have Questions?

Chalk Paint Furniture

Sometimes I get the urge to paint furniture instead of working with textiles. Even tough in some cases I’m really against it. If you have a good condition, antique hard wood piece of furniture, please don’t ruin it with chalk paint! This piece however really needed a rescuing. It was scratched and somebody had already attempted to paint parts of it. (Forgot to take a before photo sadly)

I used two different tones of grey chalk paint. The darker tone underneath, and the lighter on top, plus finish with a generous rubbing of wax.

It only lasted 3 days in Shabitat before it got snapped up!

If you have a piece of furniture that you think is in need of a facelift, get in touch!

We also do painting classes.

Chequered Coffee Tables

My client had a nest of tables that she wanted painted in chequered black and white. I knew there was going to be a lot of layers of paint and masking tape involved but I took on the job as I like a challenge as well to learn new techniques.

This was a style of furniture painting I had never made before.  But I thought, “How hard can it be?” It wasn’t particularly hard, just very time consuming…

I chose water-based matt paint in black and white. I also needed an undercoat, plus a matt varnish to go on top. Ronseal Diamond Hard Varnish came recommended to me.

After two layers of undercoat and having to wait each layer to dry, I finally got the first layer of white paint on all the three tables. Then I had to watch more paint dry…

Now it was the task of measuring out the lines and using masking tape, followed by two coats of black paint. “This is going to well!” I thought, until i peeled off the masking tape and realised the black paint had bled under the tape. Aggghhhhhrr!!  I do some research and find a type of masking tape called Frog Tape. I head down to B&Q and grab a roll.

Masking all the lines take two.Paint with white, wait to dry… Peel tape off. Guess what? It does exactly what it says on the tin. No bleed!! Yes! Oh if had known this before it would have cut my workload by half! With all the waiting for paint to dry, correcting mistakes and 3 layers of varnish, it took a week to complete. Luckily Breeda loved them. Phew! And here they are in her home looking very Alice in Wonderlandish.

Would I take on another commission like it? Yes, now I know what I am doing, but with an increase in the price 😉


Cushion Cover Making Classes in Brighton

A great way to utilise smaller bits of fabrics is cushion making.

You could either sew a patchwork top with the smaller pieces you have, or if you have big enough pieces (half of a meter should be plenty)  create a simple cushion cover with a zip like these below. Not experienced in sewing?  We run cushion cover making classes at our Brighton based shop.  Check out our workshops page for dates.

Eco Gifts- Hot Water Bottles

That particular time of the year is approaching fast.  People are stressing out about what to buy for each other and end up getting something completely random and unwanted. One thing to take in to consideration is how much we buy around Christmas and how much of it goes pretty much straight to the bin -or the charity shop – best case scenario.

Consider getting something secondhand, remade, upcycled, organic or edible. I have been covering some hot water bottles with old woolen jumpers. You can make these pretty easily yourself or you can buy them in Shaboutique.

Lets consume a little less this Christmas shall we?


Chair Painting and Upholstery Workshops & Classes

Painting chairs is an easy way to give them a new look, but the real change happens when you replace the fabric on the seating. Even a non-painted battered old chair looks so much better with a newly upholstered seat. Here are a few samples of what we have made in the last few weeks.  Some were sets of four. Some sold as singles.

If you are Sussex based and  want your dining chairs recovered let us know! We will also be running workshops in the new year too where you can learn how to paint and recover your own chairs Please check our Shaboutique website or Shaboutique’s Facebook page for dates. Or subscribe to our blog and we will let you know.