How to make a face mask

Wearing a face mask helps to stop the spread of COVID-19. You can make a face mask easily and cheaply from material that you might already have at home.

Our rules for wearing face masks are changing from 4 February 2022.

Most people can still make and wear cloth face masks. Cloth face masks should have at least 3 layers and can still be effective for short periods of time in well-ventilated areas.

They must be attached to your head with loops around your ears or head — you cannot use scarves, bandannas or t shirts that have been pulled up over your face. You must also make sure your face mask covers your nose and mouth properly.

Workers who are mandated to be vaccinated must wear a medical-grade face mask when working in public-facing roles. In this case, you cannot wear a cloth face mask.

When you must wear a face mask

How to sew your own face mask

You will need

  • Tightly woven cotton fabric, 39 x 19 cm
  • Water-resistant fabric, 19.5 x 19 cm. You can use nylon or polypropylene, for example a running-short fabric.
  • 2 x 20 cm pieces of elastic
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Cotton thread
  • Sewing machine

Steps to sew a face mask

Step 1: cut your cotton fabric for the outer layers

Cut out 2 rectangles from your tightly woven cotton fabric, each measuring 19.5 cm x 19 cm.

Step 2: cut out your middle layer

Cut out a rectangle from the water-resistant fabric for the middle layer, measuring 19.5 cm x 19 cm.

Step 3: cut your elastic

Cut 2 pieces of elastic, each measuring 20 cm long.

Step 4: pin your elastic

Take 1 piece of your cotton fabric, with the side you want facing outwards turned up.

Pin the ends of the elastic to the sides of your fabric. Make a semi-circle with your elastic so it does not catch when you sew it. Pin the elastic in place.

Step 5: lay your fabric together

Lay your pieces of cotton fabric together. Make sure the cotton that will be on the outside of your face covering is turned inwards here.

Lay the water-resistant fabric on top of your cotton fabric. Pin all the pieces together.

Step 6: stitch your fabric together

Stitch your fabric together with a 6 mm seam allowance. Leave a small opening on one side.

Step 7: turn right side out

Turn the fabric right side out and sew a 3 mm seam around the outside to close the opening and finish the edges neatly.

Step 8: gather your pleats

Make 3 evenly spaced folds along the right and left sides of your face covering. Pin these in place.

Step 9: stitch your pleats

To complete your face covering, stitch across the pleats, 3 mm away from your first line of stitching.

Step 10: wash your face mask

Wash your face mask in hot water and detergent, either by hand or in a washing machine. Dry your face covering completely before using it.

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