Anyone making fabric masks? Best patterns/instructions?

I’m thinking of making a few for the immediate household, and maybe also for Mom to use on her daily walks. I don’t have a sewing machine, so this will all be done by hand. We were lucky enough to have 2 N95 masks in the house left over from an insulation project, but they won’t last forever.

This is when being a pack rat comes in handy - I found an old set of cotton sheets in the basement with a couple of rips in them that I hadn’t been able to make myself throw away. They are currently in the dryer and will be cut up for masks. (Bonus - the elastic on the fitted sheet! I don’t otherwise have elastic in the house, though I do have a few hair ties. Some elastic headbands should arrive in the mail from Target in the next few days.)

Has anyone here made masks yet? Any tips/tricks/favorite patterns?

I saw this article on CNN on how to make a pleated mask:

Here is a Youtube on making a no sewing pleated face mask using a bandanna and a couple hair bands. Who knew origami could be so useful?

Here are a few: DIY cloth mask, Hong Kong mask, Ragmask. I think I’m going to make some using the first link.

The CDC has some easy-looking instructions for sew and no-sew masks. I think I’m going to try their sewn one.

If you have hepa bags…

I made five of these today (the sewn ones). I don’t have a sewing machine, so I hand sewed them. I made the elastic 8 inches and sewed it instead of tying it and they fit perfectly. It took me all day, but it was super easy and I just chilled out and listened to an audiobook while I sewed…it was a pretty relaxing activity.

Vacuum cleaner bag material is a good filter. Especially if it is HEPA.

Ok, so Stranger conducted a little experiment demonstrating that masks probably don’t help that much, but wearing one at least signals that hey, I give a shit about you and your well being. That’s worth something to me. Besides, I’m getting a little sick of Barney Miller reruns and cleaning my house. I decided to make a mask or 10.

First I had to settle on which mask design I liked. I reviewed the Popular Mechanics link someone here provided in another thead, then decided I didn’t really want to cut up all my reusable grocery totes. This morning I saw a reference to Masks4All. I have a lot more scrap cotton fabric lying around than reusable grocery totes, and I like the idea of being able to insert a disposable paper towel in between the fabric layers. This is the mask for me! I have everything on hand to make them except ¼” elastic. I only have ½” elastic. It will have to do. Plus, bonus, the youtube video says it only takes 10 minutes to whip one out!

Step One: Make a pattern. (1 hour: Hunt for a rigid ruler and locate all needed materials except one. Also re-run the youtube video 18 times to make sure I understand and mark the pattern correctly. No standout seamstress me.)

Step Two: Cut out the mask fabric(s) from the pattern. (1 hour: Choose the material, pull down the ironing board from its hidey hole, plug in the iron only to discover it doesn’t work, ascertain that the handy outlet must have popped a GFI circuit breaker at some point in the last couple of years. Figure out which GFI circuit turns the outlet back on. Iron the fabric and get it arranged on the cutting surface and finally cut it.)

Step Three: Realize the youtube video requires bonding fabric as well as cotton fabric. Locate bonding fabric and cut it. (15 minutes: At least I knew where to find this item and I have it on hand!)

Step Four: Iron bonding fabric on to cotton fabric. (10 minutes. No issues.)

Step Five: Haul out sewing machine and sew first seam. (45 minutes: Relocate sewing machine from the room where it is stored to the table where I have the best light. These old eyes aren’t what they used to be. Locate the correct extension cord to plug sewing machine into closest outlet. Locate the on/off button on sewing machine. Realize I don’t quite remember how to run the sewing machine. Locate sewing machine user’s manual online to learn the basic stuff I need to know, such as how to reverse stitch. Finally sew 6 inches of fabric.)

Step Six: Pin elastic bands to mask for stitching. (20 minutes: Carefully pin and sew. Realize the bands must be set at a slight angle in order to pull back correctly to fit over ears. Unpick. Re-pin. Re-sew.)

Step Seven: Pin pleats into mask for stitching. (45 minutes: Review youtube video yet again to make sure I am doing this correctly. Stick finger with pin, bleed profusely onto nearly finished mask. Oh, well, it has to be washed before use anyway. Then Evil Aspenglow pipes up: “Say, leave that blood so it looks like you coughed it up into your mask and just watch how far they stay away from you!” I couldn’t do that. Maybe once.)

Step Eight: Stitch pleats into mask and do finish stitching. (15 minutes: Learn that the cotton material I chose, though adorable, is a little too thick for this project. Pleating does not come easy. I finally settle for 2 pleats instead of 3 and force the sewing machine to perform.)

Step Nine: Try on new mask. It’s a little small and the elastic bits too short. They make my ears stick out like a scary elf. Maybe this one will fit my dog.

Step Ten: Try again tomorrow.

Time total: 4 hours, 30 minutes. Tomorrow I’ll do better! Tomorrow, I’ll use C3’s pattern!

lol, Aspenglow…that did NOT sound relaxing!

If lots of people are wearing masks, then people who have a little cough (probably just allergies, they think) will be far more willing to wear one. Otherwise wearing a mask says “I’ve got cooties!” and there is a strong disincentive to wearing one. So even if wearing a mask does little or nothing to avoid catching the bug, it makes it far more likely that carriers will wear one.

My 81 year old Mom in MD has made about 100 so far for her local “heroes” - she found instructions online. I’ll find out where and will update.

She’s MY hero!

I’ve made four for a friend who’s caring for her compromised Mom. Four so she can always have a clean one each visit.
She was extremely grateful. I’m probably going to make a couple of extras tomorrow.

Pro tip: sometimes being a pack rat pays off. Currently hand-sewing g masks out of two sheets that had holes in them that I couldn’t make myself throw away (one cotton percale, one cotton flannel).

Bonus: if you cut the elastic off the fitted sheets, you have already color-coordinated elastic! Especially helpful if you don’t actually have any other elastic and would prefer not to take apart your bungee cords, use hair ties, etc.

Hi! I’m starting by making 20 masks to give to my neighbors and family. I had cut fabric to do 20 masks. I also cut all the elastic for them. Bought pins, little clips, thread and other basic sewing supplies. I don’t have sewing abilities at all but I bought a sewing machine and I’m going to LEARN. I’m working 50% of the time, so I need something to do with this time or I’ll go crazy and anxious. I’m still waiting for the machine to be shipped and is taking forever. I followed a simple pattern posted by YouTuber Sweet Red Poppy. It took a long time to cut 2 yards of fabric but I bought a self healing mat and a rotary cutter which helped a lot. The first squares took longer and then I mastered the skill by simple repetition. I believe that by mask 10 I should get faster. Then, I’m going to do a more elaborated mask that uses bias tape instead of elastics. Wish me luck!

Hi! After I’m done with the ones that I’m starting with, then I will sew ones that will use two panels: one of cotton and the inside of cotton flannel. I bought cheap baby cotton flannel blankets on Amazon since I couldn’t get flannel from any of the normal craft stores. These are hot items and are out of stock.


I sort-of mashed together a few different ideas I’d seen, such as using some wire (I had craft wire on hand) on the top edge to mold to my nose. Didn’t have bias tape, suitable elastic, or even expendable shoelaces on hand, so I took some cotton yarn and crocheted chains 18" long to use for ties, running them down the sides. Used cotton quilting fabric, since that’s what I had. At-home testing says it’s reasonably comfortable, if a bit warm. It hasn’t been tried in public yet.

I too had an old fitted sheet laying around for scraps that I’m making into masks. I ran out of elastic eventually, but I just cut long strips out for the last couple I’m making for ties. I use this pattern . I like that it has the pocket for a filter but it isn’t necessary. I found some of the other patterns just a bit more of a pain or hard to follow and I liked this one’s pictures. I put my first couple completed masks into some ziploc baggies and right into my car so I have no excuse when I go on my weekly shopping trip. I took it for a spin today and even with the added nose piece, my glasses did fog up a bit. It didn’t help that I kept having to move my head funny and trombone my arms because I probably need readers but had my driving glasses on and was trying to read my phone shopping list. Whoopsie. But other than that, it worked great. I mean, it might not have done anything, but it fit snugly and I could breathe.

I don’t have a sewing machine (or room for one) and I don’t have a lot of fabric so I’m probably only going to make fewer than 10 total. A couple for me, maybe chuck one at my postal carrier. My fingers are killing. I sew a lot but sewing through the pleats even with a thimble is wrecking my finger pads.

Update: a friend offered to bring us some TP so my asthmatic self doesn’t have to go into any stores. She lives in NW Indiana, and says supply issues don’t seem to be as bad near her house as they are around here. (She has to drive her teenage daughter into the city for medical appointments anyway, and I made her swear she wouldn’t make a separate trip just for that.) We seem to be able to acquire all other necessities without going into stores except that one. I am going to make some masks for her and her family, too.