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[With Video!] How to Make Homemade Masks Using Tenugui, Handkerchiefs, or Towels

This article is a must-read for those who are struggling to get their hands on masks. Beginning with hand towels that have been used in Japan for many years, you will be introduced to a number of different ways to make masks using items that you can find in your home. Moreover, as they are handmade, you can make a mask that perfectly fits the features of your own face.

1. Making a Mask from a Tenugui

The first type of mask to be introduced here uses a type of material that is very common in Japan: a hand towel. The type of hand towel used here is a rectangular fabric made out of cotton that is said to have existed in Japan for over 800 years. It is called "tenugui" in Japanese. Tenugui have been an indispensable item in the daily lives of the working class in Japan. Nowadays, they come in a beautiful and varied array of designs, their charms enjoying a renewed popularity.
With that said, let's get started with making the "tenugui mask".

1 tenugui
2 x 30 cm flat elastic bands (Known as 平ゴム in Japanese. If you don't have these, you can also use hair ties)
1. Lay the hand towel out horizontally in front of you and fold it in half. (You can also cut it in half)
2. Fold from the top and bottom into the center.
3. Pinch the center of the cloth and fold it upwards, making a small pleat.
4. Make rings with the elastic bands and pass the ends of the cloth through them, folding the cloth to the left of the left band towards the right band and the cloth to the right of the right band towards the left band.

Other Convenient Ways to Use Tenugui

There are lots of different ways to use tenugui besides making masks. Because they are thin, they dry quickly and they don't take up a lot of storage space. In the kitchen, they are widely used when wiping hands or as dishcloths. Many people also enjoy wrapping their bento boxes with them and using them to cover bottles.
Moreover, as there are a wide variety of cute designs available, they can be used outside your kitchen to decorate your home by hanging them on the wall. An added benefit is that tenugui can be used as a fashion item if wrapped around the neck like a scarf. This can help protect you from the cold as well as preventing sun burns in hotter months!
You can pick up these cloths at specialist cloth retailers, as well as 100-yen stores, gift shops, and stores selling anime goods. There are specialist cloths featuring popular characters from companies like Pokemon and Studio Ghibli, so be sure to check them out.

2. How to Make a Mask from Handkerchiefs

The next way of making a mask uses something you will find in any home, a handkerchief. This article will show you how to insert a handkerchief into a disposable mask. You can make a mask from the handkerchief itself, but because handkerchiefs are quite thin, it will be stronger and more comfortable if you insert it into a disposable mask.
Once you have it made, you will notice that because that cloth is thin, the mask will look neat and tidy.

1 square handkerchief with 30-48 cm sides
2 flat elastic bands: 30 cm (If you don't have these, you can also use hair ties)
Disposable mask (Optional)

1. Lay the handkerchief out in the shape of a diamond and fold the bottom pointing up towards the center so that the width is two times that of the mask. When doing this, make sure to leave the fold 4 or 5 centimeters below the top point.
2. Place the mask in the center of this shape and fold the handkerchief so that it is wrapped around the mask.
3. Pass the the handkerchief and mask through the flat elastic bands.
4. Fold the edges inwards.

3. How to Make a "Towel Mask"

A mask made from a towel feels great against the skin and has the added benefit of being simple to make. If you use a thicker towel then it may feel lumpy and heavy around the mouth, but this shouldn't be an issue with a thinner towel.

1 square towel (with sides of around 22cm)
1 flat elastic band (平ゴム): Approx. 60 cm

1. Form a single loop with the flat elastic band long enough to be hung on both ears.
2. Place the flat elastic band in the center of a square towel and stretch it out to match the size of your face.
3. Fold the towel over the loop of the elastic band.

You can also put a cut-out extraction fan or air-con filter into the towel mask. If you stick the filter in with double sided tape, it won't fall out.

4. How to Make a "Bandana Mask"

As bandanas are larger than handkerchiefs, you can also make the bit that hangs off of both ears. This means you can create this type of mask even if you don't have any elastic bands. If you have forgotten your mask when you are out and about, as long as you remember the steps listed here, you will never be stuck without a mask again.

1 bandana (At least 48cm per side)

1. Follow steps 1 and 2 as if you are making the handkerchief mask.
2. Fold the edges of the mask into each other like an accordion.
3. Tighten both ends leaving the central mask portion intact.
4. Next you will make the bit that hangs on the ears. Loop both ends of the knot, pass through what you made in step 3 and tie tightly.

5. How to Make a "Kitchen Paper Mask"

While these look exactly like disposable masks, they are in fact "kitchen paper masks" that are made with parts taken from used disposable masks.
When you are finished using a disposable mask, make sure to keep the parts. If you take a look at yourself in the mirror after completing this mask, it will look just like the real thing. It certainly left this writer impressed!

1 piece of kitchen paper/paper towel (or a piece of non-woven fabric)
The elastic part of a disposable mask
The wire from a disposable mask (Teckno Rote)

1. Cut around 1 cm from both edges of the disposable mask, leaving the elastic still attached.
2. Take out the wire (Teckno Rote) that sits on the nose. 3. Cut one side of the kitchen paper to your desired mask width.
4. Stick double-sided tape to both sides of the Teckno Rote and place it about 1cm from the bottom of the kitchen paper. Then fold the edge up around the Teckno Rote.
5. Fold the kitchen paper so that the Teckno Rote is at the top (sitting on the nose). Use disposable masks as a guide for how to do this.
6. Cut off the excess and leave 1cm remaining on the upper and lower edges. Fold in the edges and hold them in place with double-sided tape.
7. Stick some double-sided tape to the back of the elastic parts to be hung from the ear that you cut out in step 1, and then attach this to the kitchen paper.

All of the masks introduced here are very convenient to make, even for those of us who are not necessarily good with our hands. Why not try making them while at home, and then showing off what you have made on your social media? *The masks introduced in this article are not guaranteed to completely prevent viral infections.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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