How to Make a Face Mask

Masks made by EPL staff for mailing to family and sharing locally.
The City of Everett is accepting mask/face covering donations. Instructions can be found here.

The CDC is now recommending that everyone wear a face covering when going out in public places to help control the spread of the coronavirus that caused COVID-19.  

“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.”

From “Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19” This article contains three designs; two are no-sew.


As you’ve probably heard, masks for medical professionals are in very short supply. In response, many people were sewing hundreds of thousands of masks for hospitals through Providence’s “100 Million Mask Challenge.” According to that website, no more are needed because local manufacturing companies have now jumped in to help and are mass producing masks and shields – great news indeed!

We can keep from spreading the disease to others by wearing a mask, and possibly make ourselves safer at the same time, but finding one can be very difficult. Since medical masks should be reserved for medical professionals, we are being encouraged to make our own – hence, the mask making craze that’s sweeping the nation.

Before jumping in to the video tutorials, here a some suggestions I have read multiple times:

  1. Use tightly woven cotton fabric, such as quilting cotton. Tip: Hold two layers up to the light to see how dense it is.
  2. Make sure the fit on your mask is good – gaps are to be avoided.
  3. Make sure to follow good hygiene with your mask. This article “How NOT to Wear a Mask” from the New York Times is full of good information.

There are many, many tutorials out there on making masks, and there are several styles as well. Some incorporate a pocket for a filter, some do not. Some patterns are form fitting, some pleated, some gathered. Many require a sewing machine, but there are plenty of no-sew versions as well.

Speaking of sewing, check out the Creativebug Sewing Machine Basics class. There are many other sewing classes to discover in that fun, new-to-EPL resource, so check it out.

I spent some time looking at different tutorials and found these to be easy to follow. They range from very easy with no sewing involved, to requiring a bit of machine sewing familiarity.

A simple pleated mask from Providence St. Joseph

This pattern, suitable for beginners, uses straight lines and ties. The most difficult part is probably sewing through the thick pleated sections.

A fitted mask that has space for a filter

This pattern, similar to the style I made, conforms to the face nicely with little gapping. The presenter, who happens to be a doctor, explains the process clearly. It is intended to be safe enough for medical professionals.This pattern requires a bit of sewing experience, but isn’t really difficult.


A simple but effective drawstring pattern that uses cord instead of elastic

This is a well thought out design and provides great coverage. It has no pleats to deal with and only uses straight lines. It features a filter pocket and a wire to conform around the nose.
I made one of these and it is comfortable and very easy to make. You have to be careful how you put it on so that there is no gapping – check out the Q&A video she made here. If you follow the directions for putting it on, it fits very nicely.



Besides sewn fabric masks, there are face coverings you can made from socks, bandanas or t-shirts, shop towels, and NWPP reusable shopping bags.

A quick and easy mask made from shop towels

If you have a roll of paper shop towels around, you may want to try this out. All you need is one towel, a stapler, and two rubber bands.


My mask

I wanted to make a mask to wear when visiting my 95 year old mother, so started with a free pattern from Peanut Patterns. After making one, I decided I wanted more coverage below the chin, so added about 1.5″ to the length. Here is the process I used in images. If you like the looks of this one, follow the link to get the free pattern and directions. I will admit I messed up and had to fix my first one, so consider making a test one first with a fabric you don’t love. I find this mask fits well and is sturdy, easy to wash, and quick to dry, and it fits in a small pocket in my purse for when I head over to help my mom.

1. Copy pattern onto card stock if you want to make several – it’s quick to trace. Then double fabric and cut out two of these shapes, resulting in four pieces. 2. Stack two pieces right sides together and sew the long, most curved edge at the top of the photo. Use 3/8″ seam allowance. Do this to both sets. 3. Press the seam apart (I found it easier to press them back as shown. 4. Open the two sets and place right sides together, making sure you have the curves matching (It would be easy to turn them opposite ways) 5. Sew along the top edge. 6. Turn right side out and press. 7. Open out and press 3/8″ seam along sides, fold over and press again. 8. Attach elastic at the same time that you sew down the seam pressed in step 7. (I used looped hair ties) 9. Close up photo of attached elastic. 10. Fold mask closed and top stitch top edge 1/8″ from edge. 11. Turn inside out and sew bottom edge. 12. Turn right side out through open ends. 13. Sew ends closed and top stitch bottom edge. Done!

If you make a mask or two, remember to wear them wisely, as described in this article, wash after use, and definitely keep washing your hands! Use what you have at home for mask making instead of leaving home to find materials. If you enjoy it and want to make more to donate, visit this City web page and follow the specific instructions on how to properly and safely donate masks. Stay home, and stay safe.


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