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3 DIY Face Masks—Easy and Effective

The Center for Disease Control recently recommended the use of cloth face coverings in public. That directive goes on to say acceptable face coverings can be “fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials.” Easy for them to say. But which household items?

A close up of a woman in glasses looking at the camera, with Question mark


Not all of us just happen to have supplies and equipment stashed away in the event we might ever need a proper face covering.

It didn’t take long for a few very creative folks to come up with and then share their solutions.

No-Sew Face Mask

This is super clever. You will need a piece of fabric that is about 21-inches square, like a  cloth napkin, a bandana-type scarf, or even a piece of fabric cut to this size. Next, you’ll need two stretchy things like hair ties, rubber bands or pieces of narrow elastic.

This video below will quickly walk you through such a clever way to put those items together.


No-Sew Knotted Face Covering

Got an old t-shirt you don’t mind turning into a face covering? Great! Watch this video for complete directions.

Generally,  you’ll need a t-shirt, ruler, and scissors. Cut that shirt into two rectangles. Cut 1-inch “fringe” along the short sides of the rectangles. Next, cut off the hem of the t-shirt, which you will use for ties.

Now, tie the front and back rectangles together at the fringe area. Confused? Watch the YouTube video and you’ll get it in no time.

Some-Sewing-Required Face Mask

A pair of scissors


Joann, the national fabric and craft store, moved into action and created this online tutorial.

A green and white tiled floor

For this face covering, which is kinda’ cute, you will need:


  • cotton fabric – at least 12”x 9”
  • lightweight Fusible Interfacing 12” x 9”
  • 1/4” elastic
  • basic sewing supplies


  1. Download the pattern by clicking here.
  2. Cut 1 pattern piece, on the fold, out of the cotton fabric and lightweight interfacing
  3. Apply fusible interfacing to the wrong side of cotton fabric using an iron.
  4. Fold fabric right sides together, matching 9-inch (8-inch) sides.
  5. Sew along the 9 (8) inch side, using 1/4” seam allowance and leaving a space 3” wide in the center to turn mask right side out.
  6. Cut 2 pieces of elastic 7 inches long. Insert into the corners of the two open ends of the mask and pin it into place. Sew across sides, backstitching well over the elastic, to secure the elastic in place.
  7. Turn mask right side out and press seams flat.
  8. Using pattern as a guide, fold up three pleats on each side, making sure the pleats are folded in the same direction. Pin into place.
  9. Topstitch around the entire mask, securing the pleats and closing the opening.

There you go … three ways you can stay safe should you need to be out in the public.

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  1. Gwen says:

    Very cute in the photo, but I would really like to know who the adult mask is supposed to fit? I got one made to the point of turning it right side out. Following the pattern and the instructions there is no way that thing will properly cover an adult’s face as it is supposed to do. Back to square one after wasting some nice supplies. I will make my own pattern off a mask I got at my cancer clinic when I was doing the chemo. Sorry, but this one was a complete waste of my time.

  2. KC says:

    A doctor we know is using coffee filters to line their DIY masks. Obviously it hasn’t been tested so your mileage may vary.

  3. Fran Gibson says:

    Mary — great information for homemade mask making which will soon be a requirement for being out in our COVID-19 world: “no mask, no service” signs are going up everywhere in northern California. Two suggestions: use a folded paper towel inside the mask for the filter (makes it even better at preventing the virus from traveling outward). Also, light a candle and try to blow it out with your mask on. If you can blow it out, you need another layer of paper toweling inserted inside your mask.

  4. Nancy says:

    The first pattern, which is basically the same as the one the Surgeon General demonstrates, actually leaves just one thickness in the middle after all that complicated folding. Why make it so complicated and compromised? Just fold in half and in half again, and you have 4 thicknesses throughout.

    • Cathy says:

      Dr. Oz made one similar to the first one also. He used a bandana, laid it out flat, folded up one edge about 3″ and kept folding. He took two rubber bands and twisted where the pic above has the hair ties, then took each end and folded over towards the other tucking one into the other. This gave multiple layers and the rubber bands were used to wrap around your ears.

  5. Sue says:

    Thank you, Mary! I used the Joann Fabric pattern, but modified it a bit. I had interfacing to use as a filter, but when I ran out, I used another piece of fabric, t-shirt material is recommended, but I didn’t really have any. The filter must allow for breathing! I used elastic, but some I was making them for preferred the ties (4 ties in each corner). I like the ties better, it gives some flexibility, tighter, or if I’m walking, a somewhat looser fit. Although in CA, I’m not even walking right now, as they are suggesting we just stay in at least this week. For the ties, I used 17″ each, I had shoestrings and bias tape (sewed down), and you can also take fabric about 2″ wide and fold it in twice so edges are in middle. I’ve made around 40 so far. Stay safe, everyone! Looooooooove your columns, Mary, you have really helped us all:)

  6. Laura Rickelman says:

    I have been adding an extra layer of fabric instead of the interfacing. Can’t find interfacing anyway so had to improvise. May have to go to the no sew options since elastic has also become a scarce commodity. Making masks for an assisted living facility where my mom-in-law resides, as well as some for family. Glad so see the no sew options!

  7. Jean Marshall says:

    My neighbor Jennifer Griffin devised this snug fitting mask. Little sewing.


  8. Cindy Harsch says:

    Thank you for making this information available to your readers! I work for an internationally known health system and we receive updates with information from the CDC and WHO several times daily. Masks are now being recommended for everyone if they have to go out, and there are a couple things to add to the directions above:
    1. Masks should have 3 layers of fabric [some say 4], or fabric around a layer of foam.
    2. Cloth masks should be washed daily and dried on HIGH heat. Yes, HIGH heat. It’s important.
    3. When you remove the mask put it in something to keep it segregated from other household items or being touched by others, or put it right in the washing machine.
    4. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before putting it on and especially when taking it off.

    Stay safe!

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