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I see so many posts online that are offering face mask patterns. That is awesome assuming you like to follow a pattern, have everything that the pattern calls for and the time to do it. Simply put… I like to create and problem solve. Here is how to make a face mask without a pattern!
To be clear, cloth face masks are not the same as N95 masks but during a crisis or pandemic, they can be helpful.
CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
You don’t need anything fancy when it comes to how to make a face mask without a pattern.
I had a bunch of fabric shoved in a closet that I pulled out. My son didn’t like any of them so he grabbed an old stained t-shirt for his.
Stick with cotton fabric, pillowcase or bed sheet material rather than a t-shirt because the t-shirt fabric is too stretchy and tears easily which defeats the entire purpose. I did one for my son but more for fun for him!
Should I make my own face mask? What does the CDC recommend?
Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor. Homemade face masks aren’t meant to replace N-95 masks and obviously are not the ideal option.
During unprecedented times we have to do what we have to do. There may be times such as now where the CDC is recommending that face masks be worn.
Maybe Home EC Class was important after all!
Please visit the CDC website if you have any questions regarding how to make a facemask and why.
Quote from CDC website:
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
Who Should Wear A Face Mask?
Here are the recommendations according to the CDC website for who should not wear cloth face masks. I am not the person to say who and who should not wear a face mask. If you have any questions, ask your doctor.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
What Do I Need To Make A Face Mask?
Having worked as a Dental Instructor and as a Surgical Assistant in the past, creating a mask was simple.
That being said, if you plan to make masks for friends, family, or organizations you will want to know if they require and/or want a specific pattern style.
- Pre-washed COTTON fabric
- Bias Tape, 2″ wide 6″ long, prewash (Optional, as nose wire sleeve)
- Nose Piece. Paper clip, wire, pipe cleaner.
- Tie Piece: Elastic, ribbon, thick yarn, etc.
- Sewing Machine, you could also sew by hand.
- Fabric pen – or a pencil will do the trick!
- Scissors – fabric scissors are amazing!
- Iron – if you want, I didn’t.
- If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can fo this with a needle and thread.
Face Mask Filter
- HEPA filter
- Coffee filter
- Vacuum filter
- Quilt lining
Do You Need A Filter In A Homemade Face Mask?
You can make your homemade face mask with or without a filter but I suggest having one.
The best material that I found from my research was the HEPA filter. They are the filters that you use in your HVAC system.
You can use any filter that you would use for your HVAC but HEPA is a designation given to deem the highest standard.
You can use other items that serve the same purpose such as a coffee filter or the material used in between homemade quilts. I had some quilt liner at home so that is what I used.
Instructions For How To Make A Face Mask Without A Pattern
Time needed: 20 minutes.
Learn how to make your own DIY face mask in a few easy steps and 15 mins!
- Pre-wash your fabric
Fabric, especially cotton can shrink. Make sure to wash your fabric in hot water prior to making a mask.
If not, your mask can change shape if you wash it afterward. Yup, I have done that…
- Cut Your Fabric
Here is my big secret! Hold the fabric up to your face, holding a corner at the point of each cheekbone. That is where you want your mask to reach and provide enough coverage.
Not too difficult. Now, for your kiddo. Repeat the exact same step. Just hold the fabric up to their face and pin it at the highest point of their cheekbone.
Don’t have pins? Use paperclips, use marker. Honestly, perfection is not necessary.
Once you know the width, hold the fabric back up to your face (or the kiddo) and measure from the middle of the bridge of the nose to the bottom of chin where the chin meets the neck.
Once you add in the pleats you will have a perfect size.
- First, sew the top line. This is the top of the mask that will go over your nose.
You want to sew one line about an inch from the opening.
- Add your nose piece.
Center it in the middle of the mask. Then, sew a second straight line close to the seem. This will hold that nose piece in place.
You can use a pipe cleaner, floral wire, or paperclip. I tried both the regular silver paperclip and the colored ones. I liked the regular ones since they are not as thick and are easier to bend.
- Next, make your pleats.
This is really not difficult. Just fold the fabric onto itself and you have a pleat. I like 3 pleats but some prefer 4. If you find your mask is big from your nose to chin, just add an extra pleat.
Again, no need to be perfect. My pleats were all about 1″ each.
Place a pin at each pleat to hold it in place. Then, you can sew the side and pleats in place. If you don’t have pins, you can use clips or paperclips, or just hold each pleat as you go.
- Repeat the same on the other side.
I recommend that you hold the mask up to your face at this point. See if you are happy with the width from cheek to cheek.
If you want it smaller, you can cut some off of the side you have not sewn yet.
- Add face mask ties.
I like the ties around my ears but I don’t like elastic, so I used a fabric ribbon. I have seen some pictures of people using hair elastics but I think they would be too tight.
The big thing is you need to be able to wash the mask so use something durable and that can be easily cleaned.
I used a very thin fabric elastic for my husband since I had some kicking around and he liked it.
For all of the ties, I made them long enough to tie around the ear or the back of the head. For those that get headaches from the masks, they can change them up.
- Filter Pocket
You should have one side left unsewn. This is going to be your pocket for your filter. If you don’t want to use a filter, go ahead and sew it shut.
All you have to do is sew about 1/3 of the way on each side. That leaves a hole in the middle for you to slip a filter in and out.
I did fold the fabric over where the hole is. I just sewed a straight line tidying up both sides of the hole so that you don’t see the raw scissor cut edge.
- Add filter
You can use other items that serve the same purpose such as a coffee filter or the material used in between homemade quilts.
Some people are sewing the filter to look like little masks before inserting them into the face mask but I didn’t see the point.
I just cut the filter piece to the same size as the mask and slipped it into the insert pocket.
If you would like to follow a pattern, She Can Sew has a great pattern on her site. Her pattern is for the Olson face mask which seems to be in style.
Instructables has a step by step picture tutorial as well for the Olson mask with the option of a filter pocket.
I personally like the regular cut. Having worked in Oral Surgery for several years, I am well acquainted with having to wear masks all day, every day.
The style that I made and how I made it came from what I know I like from a mask. The most important thing for me has always been the fit around the nose.
What If I Want To Donate Face Masks For Health Care Workers?
It’s Always Autumn has two resources that she found to be the best options should you want to make masks to donate.
There are many types of health care workers and not all work in a hospital setting.
Some places are looking for donations while others are not accepting any so make sure you do your research and call around your local area.
How to make a face mask without a pattern isn’t difficult. You can use materials that you likely already have at home.
Remember to check the CDC website for their current recommendation during any pandemic and/or crisis as suggestions can change depending on what is going on at the time.
I would love to see what your homemade facemask looks like! Feel free to leave a picture in the comments!
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