That's awesome. Good for you. We can't all find or afford N95s, and they look ugly to boot. There's an old saying "better than nothing" that needs to be applied here, but let's at least talk about some things you can do to improve on "okay".
First shot out of the box, you need to make absolutely certain there are no "gaps" in the exterior coverage of your mask. See the way the woman in the picture has a mask that goes below her chin and far beyond the sides of her mouth? It also well covers her nose. As long as you're making it yourself, what's another 30 cents worth of fabric? The more coverage you have, meaning the less chance that particles can make it into your nose and mouth, the better.
Second, what real good is one layer of t-shirt material? The answer: almost no good at all. A thicker mask will be hotter and make breathing something of a chore, but it'll be MUCH more effective than some thin thing that lets through most everything. You don't want to suffocate yourself, but if you can hold a lighter to your face and blow out the flame, you have a crappy mask and need to try again. Buy a lighter if you don't have one, and do this test before you walk out of the house with your homemade mask!
Are there any good tricks I can use? Heck yes there are.
1) Instead of just using elastic (which is running in short supply these days because of all the homemade mask-makers), try some nice soft form of stretchy material that won't end up hurting the backs of your ears. If a mask is uncomfortable you're more likely to take it off at an inopportune time. Make it comfortable and you'll be more likely to wear it. You probably have an old pair of sweats or pajama pants that have a nice soft covered piece of elastic and you can sew that right on.
2) If you really want to get safe with your mask, Google a pattern that contains a large pocket. It will take a little more sewing, but it'll pay off big in safety. Now that you have a pattern with a pocket, get online (or raid the shed) and buy large flat sheet-like HEPA filters. These are generally made for vacuum cleaners. Some vacuum cleaner bags are HEPA. You could buy a HEPA vacuum filter or bag and cut it. Grainger.com sells them. If you can't find them there, CPAP supply places sell filters designed for CPAPS and you can "batch" in four to six of those in place of one "cut to shape" HEPA filter. Slide your HEPA filter (or CPAP filters) into your stylish homemade mask and you are in business!
3) Make at least three per person. I know, I know, that's a lot of sewing, but what the hell else do you have to do today? Here's why you want to do that. Say today is Monday. Wear one of your epic homemade masks all day. When you get home spray the bloody hell out of it with Lysol, or a 10% bleach mixture (if you used fabric that won't bleach-out), or something like Spic and Span, and hang it to dry in a well-ventilated place. Go ahead and really pound that thing with cleaner. Now on Tuesday you wear one of your other masks. On Tuesday you disinfect and hang that mask. Wednesday you do the same. Now it's Thursday, and you're back to wearing the Monday mask. Anything on that Monday mask will be LONG dead from being hung in a well-ventilated space and doused with an antiviral/antibacterial spray. If your mask is washable, do that. Make sure to remove your HEPA filter and throw it away though. This can get a little expensive with all the filters you'll go through but it's better than ending up on a ventilator. Disinfecting and hanging should work just as well.
4) Have some fun with it. Make a mask that makes you look like Darth Vader. Use cloth that has dogs on it, dogs that look like yours. Everybody needs a little joy right now and as long as you're talking to someone else who's wearing a mask it's nice to have a conversation piece on your face that might bring a smile to someone, even if you can't see it behind their mask.
So that's it. Just remember: maximum coverage, some kind of filter, multiple masks you can disinfect/hang and reuse after a few days of airing out, and try to have a little fun.
Send us pics of you in your homemade mask and we'll have a random drawing to give away free Vitamin 3 (immune booster) shots!