During this unprecedented time of social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus, facial masks are essential for those leaving home to visit grocery stores, gas stations, work, and anywhere else they will encounter other people. Though not mandatory for the general public, wearing a mask protects both the wearer and those in the surrounding area from respiratory droplets. The CDC has advised the use of nonmedical cloth so that N-95 masks may be used by health professionals and those at serious risk. If you don’t already have a face mask but have cloth available, you can easily make one yourself. This cloth should be thick, tightly woven, and large enough to effectively cover your nose and mouth. If possible, use 100% cotton. We’ve compiled several ways in which you can do this so the next time you leave home, you’re better protected against COVID-19.
Creating Mask Ties
If you will be sewing your masks, you’ll need to make ties for them. You may use elastic ribbons if you have them or more of the fabric you plan to use. You’ll need about one 11” and one 9.5” strip of fabric that should measure 1” wide. For the method requiring no tools, you’ll use elastic hair ties or rubber bands.
Sewing Machine Method
- Measure your face length and width.
- Using these measurements, cut your fabric into four pieces.
- Symmetrically combine two of these and sew the center seams, which will be where your nose goes. Do the same with the other two pieces.
- Stack your sewn pieces together and then with your mask ties—one 11” and one 9.5”—place them on the corners of one side of the mask. They should meet the edge, going inside the mask.
- Now, you should see the following: one mask layer, the mask tie, then the other layer. If this looks right, sew the mask edges together.
- Do the same process for the other side. Make sure the ties are symmetrical, with the longer pieces at the top and the shorter one at the bottom. Next, sew around the mask but keep one side open so you’re able to turn the mask inside out.
- Turn it inside out and then sew this gap closed.
Needle and Thread Method
- Cut your fabric into two equally sized pieces according to your face length and width.
- Stack these pieces atop one another.
- Take your mask ties and place them in-between the layers. Sew them into the corner. If using elastic ties, sew one at each end to create a loop. For fabric ties, use one piece at each mask corner so there are four strings to tie around your head.
- Make 3 staggered horizontal pleats on the mask. Sew all the way around the mask. This should result in a rectangular mask.
No Tools Required—Fabric and Ties Only
- Cut a large square out of your fabric measuring 20” x 20”.
- Fold each side in so they meet each other at the middle. Then, fold the fabric lengthwise. This should create a rectangular shape with the edges inside. Take your hair ties or rubber bands and pull one around each end of the mask. Think of a candy wrapper—this is what the mask should look like at this point.
- Fold the ends towards the middle.
- Time to put it on! Place the ties around your ears to pull the mask on. Be sure that the ends are close against your mouth and nose so it’s as effective as possible.
With the above ways to make your own fabric mask, it’s important that you keep your mask clean. In fact, we recommend making several to cycle through them, so you always have a clean option. Most of the time, you can get away with wearing a single mask twice before washing. However, if you’re consciously in the presence with someone who is symptomatic, the mask should be washed right away. With your mask on, try to not touch it, since you’ll be touching grocery items, the gas pump, or whatever else. When home, remove the fabric mask from the back to the front to keep germs off the mask portion.
At Best Fabric Store, we’ve repurposed our workroom facilities so that volunteers can make and donate 100% cotton face masks to healthcare workers. If you’re making your own masks for your family, friends, or to donate, we carry dozens of 100% cotton fabric options to create your masks in colors and patterns that you and the family will love. Note that we do not stock elastic. To see masks others have created, visit our Facebook page to engage with our vibrant crafting community! If you create masks with our fabrics, feel free to tag us in your photos—we’d love to see them! As always, be mindful and only leave home when necessary.