As states begin recommending that everyone wears face masks (in some cases fining those who do not), everyone is looking for cloth masks. I started making my own DIY masks a couple of weeks ago. After testing many patterns, I found the ones that work best. To help others begin making masks I put together this How To Make Homemade Masks tutorial, which included five design options.
In early March my childhood friend (a talented seamstress) started making masks for her mother who worked in a doctor’s office and was already feeling the lack of masks. That was the moment I realized I needed to help. While not nearly as talented as my friend, this was something I could do. I could make masks to help protect nurses.
So I researched patterns and found one that I can make rather well. (My seams aren’t the straightest, but they hold.) I posted pictures of my work on my personal Facebook page and my public Instagram page. The requests started slowly, but soon I had a list of requests. A nurse friend, an elderly lung cancer survivor, etc. And then a respected doctor friend who at first chuckled at my mask making asked me for one. Not for his work in the ER – thankfully he is covered, but for when he goes on supply runs for his family. That’s when my mission became real.
I’m not fast. Each mask takes me 20-25 minutes to make. But I am determined to make as many masks as I can to give to as many people as I can.
I went through my elastic supply quickly, and it has become scarce so I asked my neighbors via our neighborhood Facebook page and they delivered! People I know and strangers have been leaving elastic and bias tape at my door. (Of course, it all goes into quarantine for a couple of days before I use it, but I am so grateful.)
I don’t charge for the masks I make because I truly feel this is one thing I can do to help. This is a war we are fighting, and this is my contribution.
Now that some states are beginning to mandate masks and the rumor is that the White House will start encouraging even healthy people to wear masks, I can’t keep up with the requests. So I am writing this post.
My hope is that it will help someone make a mask for themselves and maybe they will join my mission to make as many masks as they can to help!
My favorite quote (from one of the videos linked below):
My mask protects you, your mask protects me.
Make a mask, wear a mask, share a mask. Let’s fight COVID-19 together.
*** For the record, homemade masks are not a fix for the problem. There is evidence that they can HELP prevent COVID-19, but they are not a replacement for STAYING HOME. These should be worn only when you have to go out or by essential workers. STAY HOME, wash your hands and wear your maks. Do everything you can do. ***
How To Make A Simple Homemade Mask
The first tutorial is a simple surgical-style mask. This is the style I make. People refer to this as the Deacconess mask because the Deacconess hospital was one of the first to ask people to make masks and put out this tutorial. After making more than a dozen, I have adapted it some.
Many medical professionals are requesting straps instead of elastic because the elastic digs into their ears after long shifts. However, I’ve found that most people who are using these for quick runs still prefer elastic. Of the strap types, I prefer the straps with loops method. Not only does it conserve materials, but it’s very comfortable to wear.
Be sure to refer to the care information at the end of the post.
- 2 x 100% cotton* size 9 x 7 inches
- Elastic 7 inches (x2)
- OR strap at least 16 inches (x4)
- OR strap at least 16 inches (x2) plus 4.5-inch loop (x2)
*Hospitals are requesting 100% woven cotton for medical caregivers. If you are making it for personal use, the higher the cotton percentage the better and the tighter the wave the better.
What to use for straps. Bias tape works great. In the images below I made my own bias tape straps. Ribbon is another option, stick with a ribbon with texture, not a slick satin, so it will stay tied. Whatever you choose, remember your mask needs to be washable.
Directions (with options)
Place two right sides of the 9×7 fabric together.
The elastic, straps or loops will be placed in each corner with the end sticking out of the fabric and the bulk inside the mask.
If using elastic, place one end in the top corner and the other end in the bottom corner along the same short side. (Photo below is a finished mask with elastic.)
If using four straps, place one end of each strap in each corner. (See picture further down.)
If using two straps, place one end of each of the straps in the top corner and the loop in each of the bottom corners. (Photo below is a finished mask with two straps and loops.)
Be sure to backstitch at each corner to secure straps well.
Sew around the edge leaving a 2-inch space on one long side (to turn the fabric right side in).
Turn right-side in.
Make three tucks on each of the short sides of the mask and pin.
Sew all the way around the mask twice to secure everything.
Homemade Cloth Mask With Pocket For Filter
Some people are requesting a pocket for a filter (mostly nurses). I’ve seen a paper towel, coffee filter, dried baby wipe and more used as a filter. The mask above can be made with a pocket for a filter.
To leave a pocket, when you sew around the finished mask leave the two-inch hole you left to turn the mask unsewn. It has a bit of a raw edge, but it allows the wearer to change filters as needed.
Alternative Face Mask Pattern
Remember my sweet friend who started making masks for her mom? She made a different style mask than mine. You can watch her video tutorial on Instagram.
No-Sew T-Shirt Mask
Anyone can make a mask, but not everyone has access to a sewing machine. If you need a mask and cannot sew, this guy does an excellent job explaining why people should wear masks. Then he makes a no-sew mask out of a t-shirt. All you need is a shirt and a good pair of scissors.
How To Care For Homemade Cloth Mask
The whole point of a homemade mask is to protect your mouth and nose from the coronavirus, which means if your mask did its job the outside is contaminated.
When you wear your mask, you should leave it in place the entire time you are out. When you return home, remove your mask (touching as little as possible) and ideally put it directly into the wash (or wash pile). You should also remove your clothing in case it has been contaminated.
The video about the t-shirt mask has excellent information about why soap works to break down the virus. If you can’t wash everything right away, put it away from your family and let it sit alone until you can wash it.
I wash and dry my masks, then reshape as needed.
I hope this post helps someone make a mask to protect themselves and others. Good luck!