All Houstonians should wear a face mask when out in public, Harris County County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced yesterday, but Houston designer and Project Runway alum Chloe Dao was already on this weeks ago. 

“I truly believed that everyone should have a mask,” Dao says, explaining why she shifted her company's focus to mask making so quickly once it became clear the pandemic would be arriving in Houston. “Right before the medical community was calling for masks, a lot of elderly people and sick people with autoimmune diseases reached out to me, and it was very touching.”

On March 18, she announced that she would be utilizing her temporarily closed boutique to create masks for the medical community and the general public. Since then, Dao and her team have crafted and donated over 1,200 masks to help out in the Bayou City so far, and she has also been selling them online. Yep, that's right. You could have a Dao mask of your very own! 

Eventually, at least. Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed its recommendation as of last Friday and is advising the general public to wear cloth face coverings when venturing out to the grocery stores or any other places where you may find yourself in contact with, well, other people, Dao has a waitlist going for her masks. But that doesn't mean you have to go without (if you must go out at all, of course)... 

Considering her experience—she's been making masks for at least roughly three weeks longer than the rest of us—we asked Dao to walk us through how to make a mask if we aren't, you know, a famed fashion designer who knows what she's doing with a sewing machine. 

She noted that the mask material should be made of some fabric with a higher thread count since studies have found those are better at keeping germs away from a person's nose and mouth. People should also pair their homemade masks with frequent hand washing and social distancing, since these masks do some good, but are by no means full-proof barriers against COVID-19. (Only N-95 masks can do that and we don't advise rushing out to try and find any of those just now.) 

For those making masks at home, here's the DIY route—now CDC approved—Dao recommends for creating your own mask using a bandana, no sewing required.

  1. Fold the bandana in half.
  2. Loop a hair tie on each end of the bandana where the fold is.
  3. Fold each end, and use the hair tie as the loops for your ear, and you are done.
  4. For more protection, insert a paper air filter—like a coffee filter or a long napkin—between the fold. And voila, you have your very own mask. 

For a visual of the bandana method, visit this CDC tutorial.

Chloe Dao Boutique is selling protective face masks starting at $14 with a four-masks-per-household limit. Contact the boutique through its Facebook and Instagram pages to be put on a waitlist. To make a donation, click here.

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