Essentials You Need to Make a Fabric Face Mask

With the public still being urged to try not to buy or use N95’s or surgical masks, you may be looking at creating your fabric masks.

Whether you are seeking to create your very first cloth mask, or you’ve done it a few times before and your mask needs replacing there might be important information you’re missing out on. New research and new studies involving materials and the effectiveness of layers may have changed the landscape of making your fabric mask since the last time. Or, if you’re new, there are some important things to consider.

If you’ve never made a fabric mask before, or need a refresher, we’re happy to share the essentials you need to make a fabric mask.


Fabric is one of the most essential parts of making a cloth mask, and not just any fabric will do. The material which you use for your face mask needs to be able to keep as many respiratory droplets from spreading as possible. Cotton is one of the most recommended fabrics for making a face mask and it is encouraged that you choose a very tightly woven cotton as well. The WHO also recommends that face masks be at least 3 layers for a higher level of efficacy in keeping droplets within the mask, as well as any droplets that may be lingering outside of it from getting within.
  • Tightly woven cotton for comfort and easy folding as well as carrying around. Plus, cotton is machine washable and holds up well to hot water.
  • At least 3 layers to help trap and keep out larger viral particles and respiratory droplets that are ejected when speaking, coughing, or sneezing.
  • One of 3 layers may be used as a filtration layer.

Of the three layers for your face mask, if possible, spun-bond polypropylene is one of the highest recommended to use as a filter in between the first layer of a mask that touches the face, and the outer layer of fabric that faces outward. Polypropylene is an excellent middle layer as it can look and feel like fabric, but is resistant to fatigue, holding up well to multiple washes, as a fabric mask should be washed after every use. This material is also naturally water-repelling.

Layering Suggestions:
  • Cotton for the innermost layer
  • Polypropylene for middle and filtration layer
  • Polyester or polypropylene fabric for the outermost layer (the layer exposed to the world)
Fabrics to Avoid:
  • Don’t use any fabrics that are waxed or coated. These coatings may inadvertently block the pores of the mask making it difficult to breathe through. Also, this may force air to escape the sides of the mask every time during exhalation. The coating is not recommended by the WHO.
  • Avoid stretchy fabrics.

General Supplies

  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Elastic or comfortable fabric for ear bands or ties
  • Scissors
  • Cotton, polypropylene interfacing material, polyester
  • Pattern (if needed)
  • Optional: 16-gauge craft wire to create a nose bridge to better-fit the nose and cheeks. Alternatively, a plastic twist tie is just as useful here.
Design is Crucial

Surprisingly, the design and pattern for a face mask are also one of the most essential items for making a fabric face mask effective. The design you choose for your mask should create a leak-proof seal around the nose and mouth. Mask shapes such as the flat-fold or the duckbill work exceptionally well to fit over the nose, cheeks, and chin of the wearer.

When the edges of a fabric face mask are not close to the face and begin to shift when a wearer is speaking, internal and external air leaks from around the edges. This circumvents the entire purpose of wearing a mask, which is to protect the wearer of the mask and others around them from droplets.

These essentials you need to make a fabric face mask will all work together to provide you, or those who wear fabric face masks, better security, and protection against exposure when unable to social distance properly. Doing our best to keep our customers, community, and each other safe during this pandemic is so important to us. We hope that we’ve been able to help you and yours safe and guide you toward creating better, more comfortable, safer masks for wearing