I wear my mask to protect you, and, you wear your mask to protect me. 

It is wonderful that so many people are making masks for neighbors, family and friends. This page is born out of the many questions I’ve received, and, the hundreds of masks we’ve made over the last few days for people who need them to continue their work serving my community.   I hope this helps makers on their journey to help out their community. I’m humbled by the magic of these sewers working in isolation and making magic with their fabric. 

If we all practice social distancing, wash our hands and wear a mask when outside our homes perhaps the world will be a little safer.  My view. 

Information About Masks

I’ve chosen a couple of references in deciding why and how to make these masks.

1. What are the best materials for DIY masks 
2. Community Face Mask instructions from Providence St. Joseph Health 
3. Marketwatch.com “After watching surgeon general’ Twitter video on face masks, door sent him research regarding the best materials to use” Article by Elisabeth Buchwald Published April 7, 2020 
4. Shorefast.org  (I have learned so much from my time on Fogo Island. I wear my cauliflower pin as a reminder that we are all on this planet together. It has informed my thinking around this project). 

Before making any mask please wash the fabric in hot water and dry in a hot dryer. The best fabric is one you cannot see through when you hold it up to the light. Two layers of quilting cotton will work well.

The Providence St. Joseph Health article has some very good advice around the preparation and handling of masks while you are making them, including not making masks when you are ill, keeping all face mask material away from household pets, sanitizing your work area. 

All masks should be washed in hot water by the recipient before wear. 

How to wear and care for your mask:

Download the infographic on how to wear and care for your mask here.

Clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching the mask. Hold the mask by the ties to put it on. Adjust the nose band if it has one and then don’t touch the front of the mask again. 

Tie the top tie and then the lower tie. Make sure the mask fits snugly and you can breathe comfortably through your nose. (If the mask is too dense it will be very uncomfortable and unwearable). 

Wash the mask every day in hot water and then a hot dryer. Do not touch the front of the mask after wearing it. Don’t reverse the mask to extend the wear. 

I didn’t use elastic loops as they cannot take the hot water. Jersey ties don’t slip and can be adjusted easily. 

On these masks the pleats are folded downward on the right side.

How to make a non-medical mask:

Use the directions and photos below or download the PDFs at the end of this page.

  1. Cutting the mask: Diagram A.
  2. Use prewashed 100% tightly woven cotton 
  3. Cut to 8 ½” x 16” (photo 1)
  4. Making the mask: Diagram B.
  5. Mark the notches 3”apart along short side (photo1)
  6. Cut 4 jersey ties 1 ½” x 18”.  Use jersey for the ties.  Elastic doesn’t hold up to washing.  Jersey is thought to be more comfortable. (photo 2)
  7. Fold the ties and pin inside the seam allowance at the top and at the fold mark at the bottom (photos 3-5).  
  8. Pile the ends of the ties in the middle of (photo 6)
  9. Fold over the second half 
  10. Stitch from notch A to B to C and then from notch D to E to F.  NOTE: the top seam allowance is 5/8” and side is ¼” (photo 7)
  11. Turn the mask right side out through the opening (photo 8, 9)
  12. Pull on the ties to make the corners (photo 10). Check for pins!
  13. Press the edges (photo 11)
  14. Insert the nose band, if you are using one (between notches A and D) and carefully sew around it to keep it in place (photos 12-16). (My brother made the nose bands for me from annealed aluminum which is flexible.  You can use twist ties or pipe cleaners.)
  15. Making the pleats: Diagram C.
  16. Turn the mask right side up with the nose piece toward you. Make the first ½” pleat at the bottom and pin in place (photos 17, 18)
  17. Make the next ½” pleat at the top and pin in place (photo 19, 20)
  18. Make the third ½” pleat evenly spaced between the top and bottom pleats (photo 21, 22)
  19. Press the pleats and sew the side seams (photo 23)
  20. Wash in hot water to curl the ties and protect the wearer (photo 24). This should be done by the recipient.


Legal Disclaimer

Our lawyers insist on the following: 

Cloth masks and cloth mask covers are not considered personal protective equipment since their capability to protect healthcare providers and others is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. The cloth masks and cloth mask covers are used at your discretion and you are solely responsible for determining the appropriateness of using cloth masks or cloth mask covers for any purpose. It is solely your responsibility to decide whether to issue cloth masks or cloth mask covers (or other protective gear such as surgical masks or N95 masks) and to whom. 

Scrub Cap

Download patterns and pictures:

Mask wear and care INFOGRAPHIC (PDF Pamphlet) by Colin White

Mask wear and Care INFOGRAPHIC (PNG – entire) by Colin White

Mask Wear and Care INFOGRAPHIC (PNG – individual pages) by Colin White

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