Homemade protective mask project/Instructions

From Noisebridge
Revision as of 03:12, 27 March 2020 by Boredzo (talk | contribs) (Assembly: Clarified why you might care how you frame the cut.)
Jump to: navigation, search

This is a set of instructions for making your own face mask out of cotton, based on Deaconess Health's instructions and clarified and expanded.

The expansion of this to include variant construction methods (because some things, like 1/8-inch elastic, are sold out everyone) is a work in progress.

What you will need

  • Cotton fabric, printed or solid-color.
    • For adults: Cut out one 9-by-12-inch piece or two 9-by-6 pieces.
    • For children: Cut out one 7.5-by-10 or two 7.5-by-5.
    • If you're working with a print, think about how the cut will frame the pattern (e.g., for licensed characters). The mask is horizontal (9-inch or 7.5-inch is the longer side), and you should cut straight across the fabric or along the fabric (with the grain).
  • Two 7-inch lengths of rope elastic (beading cord elastic will work) or 1/8” flat elastic
    • OR four lengths of 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch grosgrain ribbon to use as strap
    • OR four lengths of scrap fabric turned into straps.
  • A box of paper clips to use as nose-pieces.
    • OR a roll of floral wire and wire-cutters to cut it (note: beware of sharp points!).


Cut two 9-by-6 pieces (or one 9-by-12 piece, and fold it over) for an adult mask, or two 7.5-by-5 pieces (or one 7.5-by-10) for a child mask.

Note for printed fabrics: The longer (9-inch or 7.5-inch) dimension is the horizontal dimension. Keep this in mind when choosing a portion of your fabric to cut out, especially if the fabric has a printed design with a right way up.

  1. Put right sides of cotton fabric together.
  2. Starting at the center of the bottom edge, sew to the first corner, stop. Sew the elastic into the corner with the end sticking out. A few stitches forward and back will hold this.
  3. Sew to the next corner, stop, and bring the other end of the same elastic to the corner and sew a few stitches forward and back. The elastic between the ends should be on the inside, between the right sides of the fabric.
  4. Now sew across that top of the mask to the next corner. Again put an elastic with the edge out.
  5. Sew to the next corner and sew in the other end of the same elastic.
  6. Sew across the bottom leaving about 1.5” to 2” open. Stop, cut the thread. Turn inside out.
  7. Pin 3 tucks (pleats) on each side of the mask. Make sure the tucks are the same direction. Each should be 3/8-inch below the one above it.
  8. Sew around the edge of the mask twice. It is so easy to make this.

After assembly


Launder your masks after you finish making them, especially if you buy new supplies during the pandemic, and especially if you're giving them to others (e.g., neighbors or donating to health care providers that accept them). Don't let homemade masks become a vector.

If you machine-wash your masks, a bra bag made of fine mesh will help ensure any elastics or nose-pieces don't get caught on the machine's drain holes. Be sure to pay attention to the washing instructions on your fabrics and other parts; you may need to use cold water, and count on your detergent to obliterate and/or remove any germs.


Some health care facilities accept donations of homemade masks when commercial PPE is scarce. Maintaining a list of such facilities is outside the scope of this article; if you can't find a current list, call up your local hospitals, clinics, etc. and ask whether they accept donations of homemade face masks.