How to make a face mask

You can easily make a fabric face mask. It should have 3 layers, with 1 layer of moisture-resistant fabric. It should have loops around your ears or head.

Key points

  • You can still make and wear fabric face masks.
  • Fabric face masks should have at least 3 layers and are 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.
  • Your face mask should cover your nose, mouth and chin.
    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
  • Moisture-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
  • Optional: Swap a cotton piece of fabric for a non-woven fabric like spunbond to enhance filtration, 19.5 x 19 cm

Steps to sew a face mask

Step 1: cut your cotton fabric for the inner and middle layers

Cut out 2 rectangles from your tightly woven cotton fabric, each measuring 19.5 cm x 19 cm. To enhance filtration of your face mask, you can swap the inner layer to use spunbond.

Step 2: cut out your outer layer

Cut out a rectangle from the moisture-resistant fabric for the outer 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 the outer piece of 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 fabric together (with the spunbond in the middle, if using). Make sure the moisture-resistant fabric that will be on the outside of your face mask is turned inwards here.

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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