LITTLE CLOUD'S MUSINGS — BEHIND EVERY MASK... A DELICATE DANCE BETWEEN FORM AND FUNCTION
SEP 19, 2020 UPDATE
Which is the Best Mask for Me?
Factors to consider when choosing a mask:
- Number of layers (2-ply or 3-ply)
- Whether or not the mask has a pocket for filter
About Our Choice of Fabrics
We used to use cotton exclusively, as we love the feel of cotton against our face.
- Premium Japanese cotton: Loosely woven. Very absorbent and breathable.
- Cotton lawn: Very light, fine and smooth. We’re using a thin yet relatively hardy version for the lining as it seems to be agreeable for most people.
- High quality Indian cotton: Very soft, light and breathable.
- Normal “cotton” and Japanese cotton: A quilting cotton that’s woven more tightly than the above three cottons, thus providing better protection. But as a result, it is also heavier and less breathable.
- Cotton treated with Swiss HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 technology: Has added anti-viral properties.
This round (the 5th Collection) I’ve decided to try out some polyester fabrics:
- A study shows that filtration efficiency improves when different types of fibers are used in combination: for e.g. cotton and polyester for different layers.
- They are less breathable than loosely woven cotton but more crease-proof.
2-Ply Versus 3-Ply… Filter or No Filter?
- When we find a loosely woven fabric suitable for mask making, we will pair it with a light-weight fine cotton lawn lining to keep the mask very light and breathable. These light masks on their own may not provide the highest protection against virus or bacteria but there is a real need for them by people with breathing difficulties, i.e. the elderly, or those with asthma or sinus issues. One of our healthy customers wears these breathable 2-ply masks when she goes for walks. These 2-ply masks come with a pocket for you to insert a filter should you need extra protection.
- If protection is more important to you, please opt for 3-ply masks and those made with densely woven fabrics, i.e. normal/Japanese “cotton” and Cotton treated with Swiss HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 technology. Polyester-cotton mixed-fabric masks are also another good option.
About the Styles and Shapes
The shape of a mask impacts how well it fits, and fit plays a significant role in protecting you against the spread of viruses. A study shows that gaps caused by improper fit can decrease filtration efficiency by more than 60%, So, even if you wear an N95 or surgical mask, if the fit is poor, your protection against the virus decreases significantly.
Our faces are all shaped differently and come in different sizes. After trying and analysing many mask shapes and designs, we settled on 3 shapes in up to 4 sizes. Production wise, it’s a nightmare for our tiny production team and it’s really not cost effective, but we hope we can provide you with the best and most protective fit possible.
- Sampan boat-style – Constructed out of 3 pieces of fabric, it forms the most 3-dimensional space, which minimizes the fabric touching your mouth. A customer told us that her student can hear her the most clearly when she wears our sampan mask. However, some people find that it takes more time to adjust when putting it on.
- 3D contoured style – Two pieces of fabric joined along the curve from your nose to chin creates a roomy space for breathing and talking. It has a very clean and streamlined shape and look.
- Pleated style – A rectangular piece of fabric with pleats at the two shorter ends, this style is the most accommodating and fits most faces. However, the fabric sits closest to your face, compared to the other styles.
- Pleated v2 style – With a shorter height and more structure, there’s less excess fabric around the nose and mouth, making it more breathable and comfortable to talk in.
You can check out our size chart here.
Disclaimer: These masks are not a replacement for medical grade personal protective equipment such as surgical or N95 masks. There is no guarantee that they will prevent infection or the transmission of viruses or diseases and the decision to use these masks is solely your own. For specific questions and concerns, please consult a doctor, healthcare provider, or visit https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/faqs for more information.
1st Blog: JUN 28, 2020
It all started when I saw an appeal in the USA for volunteers to sew masks for frontline medical workers. The shortage of masks during the early onset of COVID-19 was really drastic, and I was moved to pitch in and help. And so my research project (and adventure!) into mask design and sewing began.
I watched countless mask-making videos from around the world. I stared at the variety of masks that Singaporeans wore. I bought and tried as many different masks as I could find in the market. I went through many design iterations, and made numerous samples. I experimented with many types of fabrics. I quickly learned that the ubiquitous face mask looks deceptively simple, but it is actually very difficult to get the right balance between form and function.
As I searched for the holy grail of that perfect mask, I came to the conclusion that the mask I would want to wear needs to meet these key criteria:
- It has to fit me well. The mask should form a seal (no gaping holes) around my face, to keep out viruses and bacteria.
- I need to be able to breathe easily, so the weave of the fabric/material is important.
- The material should be comfortable, and shouldn’t irritate my skin after prolonged use.
- The material shouldn’t be heavy or cause strain.
- The straps must be soft, comfortable, and easily adjustable.
- The colour and print of the fabric must look good, especially now that the mask has become an indispensable part of every outfit.
- It must be washable and reusable (save the Earth and save the disposable medical-grade masks for the right occasions).
- Last, but not least, the price should warm my heart and not burn a hole in my pocket... even if I buy 7 masks: 1 for each day of the week.
Founder-Designer of Tong Tong