I have made a fabric face mask video tutorial. In this simple face mask sewing video, I have included the detail on how to cut and sew a face mask step by step no sewing machine needed. Using the plate helped me create a simple and quick pattern. You can make a face mask at home from fabric or similar materials!
Many makers have asked for a pattern to sew homemade surgical masks for hospitals and their communities. The DIY pattern in this post will teach you to make a cloth pleated face mask with elastic ear loops or fabric ties.
The fabric face mask can be made with an interior pocket in which you can insert additional filter material.
If you can’t find or don’t want to use elastic ear loops, there are additional instructions for making and using fabric ties. You can make fabric ties from cotton fabric, t-shirt material, or use ready-made bias binding.
Is there a need for Fabric Face Masks?
Currently, the supply of surgical masks is at a critical all-time low throughout the entire nation.
Orders for the standard disposable masks used in hospitals are back-ordered, and there is a high demand for protective equipment for health care workers.
According to the CDC, fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted.
Due to these concerns, many hospitals across the country have requested homemade surgical masks as an emergency stopgap measure.
The CDC Now Recommends the Use of Cloth Face Coverings
What’s more, federal health officials now recommend people cover their mouths and noses with cloth face masks when in public.
This is a voluntary public health measure meant to help stop the spread when people must visit to public spaces such as grocery stores and public transit stations.
CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
Sewing a cloth face mask for yourself will allow medical grade surgical masks and N95 masks to be reserved health care professionals and patients.
An Important Distinction
Homemade face masks are not as effective as the N95 filtration mask recommended by the CDC, and are not a substitute for proper PPE.
Rather, they are meant:
To respond to the hospitals’ requests for emergency backup masks.
To help community members “slow the spread” in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Sources for further reading: Cambridge Study, Nature, Occ. Env Med, Annals Occ Hygiene)
Homemade Face Masks are a Last Resort
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has explained that in times of crisis, homemade masks are acceptable as a last resort. On the CDC website, Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks, they explain that while homemade masks are not a substitute for PPE, they can be used in settings where facemasks are not available.
HCP use of homemade masks:
In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.
I strongly caution you before you spend time sewing these masks:
Follow the CDC guidelines as the situation develops.
Contact your local hospital and clinic to ensure that they are accepting masks, and that any masks you make will meet their individual guidelines.
Some Hospitals are Requesting Homemade Surgical Masks
Some hospitals and clinics accepting donations of homemade face masks. Organizations like Masks for Heroes have a searchable database of facilities currently seeking donations. If you are wondering where you can donate masks, they can help you find a hospital or clinic that needs them.
Before you spend time sewing a large batch of masks to donate, please call first to ask if they are accepting them. You should ask if this pattern (2 layers of fabric with a pocket for additional disposable inserts) will meet their requirements. You should also ask about drop-off/pick-up procedures.
The Best Fabric to Use to Make A Face Mask
Researchers at Cambridge University tested the effectiveness of a wide range of household materials for use in homemade masks. They measured how well the household materials could capture and filter small particles.
Test data shows that the best choices for DIY fabric masks are cotton t-shirts, pillowcases, or other cotton materials. Using a double layer of material for your DIY mask adds a small increase in filtration effectiveness.
Other research has found that most effective masks were constructed of two layers of heavyweight “quilters cotton” with a thread count of at least 180, and had a thicker and tighter weave.
This pattern has 2 layers of fabric, and an internal pocket in which you can add additional layers of disposable filtration material if desired.
DIY Surgical Mask Pattern
The finished adult mask will be 7.75″ wide and 3.75″ tall.
100% cotton fabric (with a tight weave)
- 1/8″ flat elastic for ear loops, or 4 fabric ties (you can use the same cotton fabric to make strips, use pre-made bias binding, or strips of cotton jersey)
- fabric scissors
- pins or clips
- sewing machine and thread
For an adult size mask:
- Cut 1 fabric rectangle 16″ long and 8.5″ wide
- Cut 2 pieces of elastic, each 7″ long (or up to 8″ for a larger adult size)
For a small child-size mask:
- Cut 1 fabric rectangle 14″ long and 6.5″ wide
- Cut 2 pieces of elastic, each 6″ long
For a large child-size mask:
- Cut 1 fabric rectangle 15″ long and 7.5″ wide
- Cut 2 pieces of elastic, each 6.5″ long
For fabric ties, if you aren’t using elastic:
- Cut 4 rectangles 18″ long by 1.75″ wide. Fold the long sides to meet in the middle, then fold in half again to encase the raw edges. Stitch down the length of the rectangles along the edge to create the ties.
- 18″ may be too long for some people, especially kids. Please feel free to trim this down.