Masks, which used to be one of the most accessible essentials in Japan, have now become a luxury item all over the globe. In Tokyo, they have been sparse for over two months now, and most of us have either completely run out or keep them safe until we develop apparent symptoms. But as we came to learn following the numerous global debates on the efficiency of face masks in preventing the spread of coronavirus (or any other viruses), we should be wearing masks to minimize the risk of propagation.

But what is one to do when masks are nowhere to be found?

Here in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is tackling the problem of mask scarcity by coming up with a ¥20-billion-plan of distributing two washable cloth masks to every household — an idea that has caused him another 15 minutes of fame on social media with the spread of the hashtag #abenomask. These masks will supposedly be delivered in the next couple of weeks, but while you’re waiting, you can try making your own. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of several helpful tutorials from the web.

The Pro Mask: For Expert Sewers

Ideally, you want to make your face mask comfortable and durable. Something you can easily adjust. This thorough tutorial is all about making homemade masks that are functional enough to also be worn over N95 respirators, if that’s something you have to wear regularly. Note that this technique requires quite a few sewing tools and extra fabric (and a bit of experience).

The Go-To Mask: For Beginner Sewers

Most of us probably lack complicated sewing skills, or even a sewing machine. But worry not! The following tutorial teaches you to make a face mask with nothing else but a few pins (or anything that holds fabric together) and an iron.

The Minimalist Mask: For Simplicity Pursuers

The two tutorials above teach us how to make pretty and solid masks, but they use a pattern that involves some high-tech creases in the fabric to accommodate the nose and tuck the mask under your chin. For those who prefer simplicity, however, the following video teaches you how to make a non-pleated mask, which only requires some thread, needles, an old (but clean) t-shirt, and a pair of hair elastics.

No-Sew Masks: For The Busy Bees

While most of us have probably turned to complete self-distancing by now, there might be times when we still have to go outside and be in places with poor ventilation and a lot of people. For those types of occasions, if you don’t have any masks at your disposition, there are quick, easy ways to create a mask of something you already have in your house, like a bandana or a scarf, for example. Plus, you don’t need any needles, sewing machines, or even an iron.

Another way is to use nothing else but a t-shirt. The following tutorial, perhaps the simplest and most practical on our list, teaches you how to turn your old t-shirt into a solid mask. Useful when you’re in a real hurry.

And now that you know how to make your own mask at home, here are a few creative ideas we came across on Instagram — for your inspiration!

Stay safe, stay at home, get creative!

Disclaimer: `Please note that homemade masks do not replace medical-grade masks. They should be washed daily. It’s recommended that the inner lining be replaced frequently, particularly if you are using filters.

For more information about COVID-19 in Japan, check out our special section.