No matter where you live, you’re living through a pandemic. As Covid-19 continues to spread, you’ve probably been spending a lot more time at home. This could be the perfect opportunity to deep clean your home, finish some projects from your to-do list, or really invest in your garden. This is also a great time to pull out your sewing machine and make yourself a face mask. This way, when you do need to go out to buy groceries or get some fresh air, you can give yourself an extra layer of protection.
These masks are non-medical. However, they can at least stop you from touching your face – spreading germs from your hands to your nose or mouth is one of the easiest ways you can potentially catch the virus. In fact, while recognizing that these are not surgical masks, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings.
Here are a few tips on how to get the best use out of a do-it-yourself face mask, followed by five tutorials on how to make your own mask. I’ve included several options, including two that don’t require any sewing and can be made with material you already have at home.
DIY Face Mask Tips
- Wash your hands! You’ve probably heard these three words a million times over the past couple of months, but they’re important. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water before putting on your mask.
- Don’t touch your face. Masks are great because they help remind you not to touch your face while you’re out. But that also means you shouldn’t be fidgeting with the mask or taking it on and off while you’re in public.
- Wash your mask. When you get home, you should wash your mask before wearing it again. For the masks included in this guide, you can wash them by putting them through the washer with warm water.
- Use layers. The most effective masks are the ones with more than one layer of fabric. While I included some simple mask tutorials, it’s always better to use one of the multi-layered masks if possible.
- Make sure you can breathe. While it is important to have many layers, you also don’t want so many layers that breathing becomes difficult. Hold the fabric against your face before making the mask to make sure you can breathe.
- Don’t use it on young children. If you have children two or under, they shouldn’t wear masks since it might cause breathing difficulty. It’s best to leave your children at home when you go out if you can.
5 Types of DIY Face Mask
Cloth DIY Face Mask Model 1 (Sewing)
- Cut out two rectangles of fabric that are ten inches by six inches.
Having two layers of cloth increases the effectiveness of the mask in preventing the spread of germs.
2. Cut out four one-inch strips of fabric ten inches long.
3. Stack the two rectangles together, and fold over the long edges about a quarter of an inch. Sew these edges down.
Use pins to hold down the edges while you sew.
4. Sew the shorter edges, creating half-inch folds along the edge.
The more folds you can manage for this stage the better. The folds will help tighten the mask so that it covers your nose and mouth better.
Here’s how the mask should look once you’ve sewed over the folds.
5. Now take the strips of fabric and fold them in half so that each is about a half-inch wide. Sew these together.
You can skip this step and instead use elastic bands, shoelaces, or even hair ties.
6. Finally, sew each strip to the mask. Attach the strips to the four corners of the mask.
I discovered while sewing that it works best to attach the straps right at the corners instead of in the middle of the mask.
7. Put the mask on and secure by tying the strips together behind your head.
As you can see, this mask doesn’t stay neatly around my nose. This is why I decided to try the second method listed below.
Cloth DIY Face Mask Model 2 (Sewing)
1. Cut out two rectangles of fabric, ten by six inches.
You can use any fabric around your home for this, though you want to make sure there are no large holes and that it is easy to breathe through it.
2. Cut out four strips of fabric twelve inches long and one and a half inches wide.
The strips will help you tie the mask around your face. You want them thin, but wide enough to fold and prevent fraying.
3. Fold the edges of the thin strips down, then fold in half and sew a line down the middle. This will prevent fraying.
Pins will hold the folds in place while you begin sewing.
Try to sew in a straight line right down the middle of the folded cloth.
4. Sew the two rectangles together, with the patterned side facing in. Leave a one inch gap on one edge.
Don’t sew the entire rectangle or else you won’t be able to turn it right-side-out again.
5. Pushing the fabric through the gap, turn the face mask inside-out so the patterned side is showing.
6. Attach the strips to each corner and sew them on, making sure to secure them well. You may want to go over the corner stitching a couple times. (You can also sew the straps on to the patterned side of one rectangle before sewing the two together.)
Although I attempted to attach my straps first, it’s much easier to attach the straps at this stage, once the two rectangles have already been sewed together.
7. Place the mask on a flat surface and make two or three folds from top to bottom. Secure these with pins and sew along the shorter edge.
The folding can feel intimidating. If you’re having trouble, starting with only two folds instead of three will be easier to manage.
8. Finish the mask by sewing a border around the entire mask.
9. Tie the straps behind your head to secure the mask.
Functional and fashionable. Just make sure it fits well and doesn’t leave a large gap around your nose.
T-Shirt DIY Face Mask (No Sewing)
1. Cut off the bottom of a t-shirt. Cut seven or eight inches up from the bottom edge.
Got an old T-Shirt you don’t mind getting rid of? Perfect! You’ve got the material for a no-sew face mask.
2. Cut out a rectangle from one end of the t-shirt. Leave one inch strips on the top and bottom, and leave about seven inches of fabric on the other end.
Starting at one end, cut out a rectangle so all you have left is a 7” square and 1” straps.
Here’s what your cuts should look like once you’ve unfolded.
3. Use this remaining fabric to cover your face, and secure by tying the one inch strips behind your head.
4. The t-shirt fabric may be bigger than your face, but use the extra fabric to create folds for extra protection.
You can use excess fabric to create folds and adjust the fabric more tightly around your face.
Bandana DIY Face Mask (No Sewing)
1. Lay bandana (or square cloth, such as kitchen towel or t-shirt fabric) flat.
Any square of fabric will work for this easy no-sew face mask.
2. Fold twice from the top and bottom so the ends meet in the middle of the fabric.
This double-fold system adds extra layers of protection and some flexibility to the mask.
3. Slide the hair ties or rubber bands over the ends, about a quarter of the way.
Hair ties are perfect for this mask, though you want ones with enough stretch that they won’t hurt your ears.
4. Fold the ends toward the middle, over the bands.
This fold can be a little tricky. You want to tuck in the corners as you fold so that you don’t have fabric brushing against your face and chin while you wear this.
5. Put the mask on, placing the folded side against your face. Secure by stretching the bands over your ears.
Though this doesn’t have the same look and longevity of a sewn mask, it’s still functional for preventing the spread of germs and it’s super easy to make!