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How to make a face mask at home

Choose a DIY method that works for you — even if you don't know how to sew.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that we all wear face masks in public and around those who don’t live in our households to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This means if you want to lead life like in pre-COVID days, you’ll need a variety of face coverings.

If cloth or N95 masks are hard to find or out of stock online, consider sewing your own. People all over are pulling up to their sewing desks to make masks for themselves, friends and family — and, in some cases, for sale or donation. And it’s not as complicated as it sounds: In a pinch, you can even ditch the sewing machine and make a no-sew face covering instead.

What materials do I need to make my own face mask?

For most types of face masks, you’ll need:

  • Two 10 x 6-inch rectangles of a tightly woven fabric
  • Two 6-inch pieces of elastic, string, cloth strips, hair ties or rubber bands
  • A needle and thread or bobby pin
  • Scissors
  • A sewing machine

How to make your own face mask

You can make a mask with a small swatch of fabric about the size of a napkin, shoelaces, scissors, a needle and thread.

Where can I buy materials to make my own mask?

Most mask tutorials require cloth, elastic, rubber bands or T-shirts. Get what you need from craft stores such as Spotlight or from sites like Etsy.

Face mask patterns

You’ll find plenty of patterns online to get you started, like the sewing blog Threads Monthly, which offers 41 free, printable sewing patterns.

If you’re after something more fashionable, pick up cute and quirky face mask patterns on Etsy for a few dollars.

How to sew

Sewing veterans and newbies alike can look to helpful online tutorials for machine- and handmade masks.

How to sew a mask on a sewing machine

This video from Good Housekeeping can take you from beginner to pro in 30 minutes:

How to sew a mask by hand

Cosplayer and crafter the Woodland Elf provides this 6-minute tutorial to a handcrafted face covering:

No-sew mask methods

If sewing ain’t your thing or you don’t have access to a sewing machine or kit, look to other ways for crafting a homemade mask. For instance, you can make a simple mask using a bandana and some rubber bands or get creative with an old T-shirt.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers detailed explanations on cloth masks you can make to do your part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Should I make my own mask or buy one?

When deciding whether to get to whipping up your own mask or picking one up at the store, weigh such factors as:

  • Quality. A homemade mask will not offer the same protection as, say, a surgical mask. Though wearing a cloth mask does help protect the community against a virus you might be carrying — and it could help in other ways, such as stopping you from touching your face.
  • Cost. The demand for masks rises as coronavirus spreads, with prices varying significantly by retailer. You can pay from $5 to $100+ for a pack of cloth or surgical masks, depending on the number per pack. For an industry-standard particulate-filtering mask, the cost is often even higher. The materials needed to create your own mask, on the other hand, are relatively cheap — as little as $5, if you make yours from a T-shirt.
  • Availability. You can find industry-standard masks through plenty of online retailers, or use one for delivery of materials to make your own at home.

A quality mask at an affordable price is ideal. But if you can’t find any in stock or afford to pay surging prices, a homemade version is an alternative.

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