(Updated April 9, 2020) Due to lack of federal planning and overwhelming demand in healthcare facilities, it’s up to us to make our own DIY masks for viruses. There are no “N95” filtering masks available online, so people are rolling up their sleeves and making masks both for themselves and for donation.
There are hundreds of videos and sites about how to make masks. We watched them all so you don’t have to! First we list a few masks that need NO sewing machine to make. Then we help you select the style of DIY masks for viruses you prefer. After that, we list the most informative and well-paced videos we have viewed. Also see our page for “Making Clear Plastic Face Shields“
“No Sewing Required” Face Masks
Make a loosely-made mask in 3 minutes. NBC News Denver shows how to cut up a shirt and use clean shoelaces for a mask with a good fit. (Elastic is really hard on your ears!)
WCCO – CBS Minnesota: show us how to use a scarf or bandana and elastic ear loops
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“Needle and Thread Only” Balaclava 10-Minute Hand-Sewn Hack
The best idea if you don’t have a sewing machine: the Balaclava 10-Minute Hand-Sewn Hack. This “mask hack” fits well, and will wash easily. Order a “Balaclava” sports face mask, and loosely hand-sew in a layer of fabric on the inside mouth and nose area for more protection. The fabric of a balaclava alone will not protect you, but add a layer of soft fleece as shown in the ads below, strap on some eye goggles, and you are ready to go. And they come in a variety of fun styles!
“Sewing Machine Required” Mask Patterns for Duckbill and Pleated
There are two basic shapes for fabric or medical masks. “Surgical masks” are the flat, pleated type, and are easy to make. “Duckbill” are better fitted and take a few minutes longer. If you’re making masks for a specific facility, ask which shape they prefer.
Lorel Studer, Cincinnati’s TriHealth Specialty Clinical Nurse Leader says: “The two best designs are similar to a basic surgical mask with a pocket for their choice of filter, and a protective cover for what’s known as a duckbill N95 mask. The surgical mask is best used for general nursing care, and the N95 protective cover to extend their use for specific procedures for patients.”
Either style requires no more than beginner level sewing skills. All you need is some scrap fabric (sheets, or woven shirts), and it’s best if you include some sewing interfacing.
Note that no masks should be made with *fusible* lining/interfacing due to glue chemicals that would not be healthy to breathe.
Taiwanese anesthesiologist Dr. Chen Xiaoting is pictured below in his pleated DIY cloth face mask. Unlike standard surgical masks, these DIY masks can be washed and reused. The key to this mask’s success is the changeable fiber filter in the middle.
NOTE IF MAKING FOR MEDICAL DONATION:
Use cloth ties, not elastic (with latex)
– Latex cannot be sterilized or used in a medical setting
– Cloth ties are adjustable for better fit
– Elastic hurts ears after a few hours
Sew DIY Masks With Pleats: “Surgical Mask” shape
First in the long list of great tutorials: a terrific video by Professor Pincushion showing how to make one of the patterns from Masks Now. They offer a 3-layer mask pattern intended to have a filtering layer made from one of these midweight-lightweight non-woven polyester facing materials considered desirable by the CDC: Pellon 830 Easy Pattern, Pellon 40 Midweight Stabilizer, Pellon 30 Lightweight Stabilizer or Pellon 810 Tru Grid.
Sweet Red Poppy has a super-fast video on how to make a pleated mask with ties
Froedtert Medical College of Wisconsin offers a printable PDF that shows easy instructions on a pleated mask
Melanie Kham does an easy-to hear, easy-to-understand, cheerful, fast and clear video tutorial for a pleated mask with filter.
Jenny Doan at the Missouri Star Quilt Company has a well done video showing how to make masks for viruses with two fabric ties.
Catherine at Cut and Sew Studio has a video perfect for beginners. She shows each and every step in close up detail.
Deaconess Health System shows How to Make an Adult Mask with Ties
Sew DIY Duckbill Masks with a Curved Fit
The Fabric Patch offers excellent background info on how masks work, at the same times giving clear instructions and suggestions for supplies that are running short. Read the comments for excellent suggestions from nurses and front line workers.
Want to make masks 10 at a time? Angela Clayton gives a great overview about the effectiveness of these fitted masks, while she shows how to make ten of them in a video.
Joost De Cock is married to a surgeon and started the FreeSewing Open Source Project. See his excellent video and instructions and free sewing patterns for the “FU Face mask.” Patterns for this well-fitted mask are available for print in US Letter and International A4 paper sizes.
Craft Passion’s video shows how to make a well-fitted mask. Also supplied: a wide variety of patterns and sizes for Adults, teenagers and kids in age groups 3-6 and 7-12
Jo-ann Fabrics and Crafts offers a 30% discount on supplies and curbside delivery to encourage makers to get started. Check out their pattern for a curved denim mask, and here is the video to teach you.
Design Considerations for Medical Use:
Be sure to load up on the helpful information we’ve compiled from nurses and experts on masks for viruses. Save time and produce a better mask.
Latex should not be used in designs for medical use: DO NOT USE ELASTIC. Use ties.
(1) Elastic has latex and cannot be used in a medical setting
(2) Many people are allergic to latex.
(3) Medical workers are pulling double shifts and the elastic hurts their ears
(4) Elastic is not adjustable for optimum fit
Light and plain colors make it easier to see soiling. Avoid dark colors and busy patterns.
Use different colors on each side if you are able. Lighter fabrics are best for the front, outside facing surface. The back, inside surface of the mask should get the darker or busier choice of fabrics.
Softer cotton, such as flannel from pajamas and bathrobes should be used for the back layer. Wash and dry in hot water first.
Mask Fabric Filtration Issues:
In order for the mask to act as a filter, the person has to be able to breathe. Do not use solid vinyl, plastics, or plastic sheeting.
BEST TO USE: Easy-to-find 100% cotton fabrics. Sheets, pillow cases. Finer weaves are better when using woven material alone without a liner.
Mask Fit Requirements:
Ties that go around the back of the head are strongly preferred because elastic with latex may be too tight or too loose. (Additionally, latex is not allowed in medical use)
When possible, add a nose wire/metal to ensure better fit. These are best made from pipe cleaners and small gauge wire. Cutting pie tins leaves too many sharp edges.
Live near Seattle? Get Paid to Make Masks and Shields!
Donate DIY Masks and Commercially-made Masks:
Rather than list all organizations one-by-one, we provide several groups that have collated hundreds of locations seeking masks. If you want your organization listed on these directories, please contact them. If your organization has a list of donation locations, please tell us in the comment field below and we will add the info here.
Masks For Heros has an interactive map to easily locate hospitals and Medical facilities desperate for your donations. Not just masks, they need many things they list individually.
UC Berkeley students have put together a massive list (43+ pages and growing) of locations seeking mask donations – by state.
Deaconess Health System based in Indiana is taking donations
Find The Masks has pulled together a comprehensive state-by-state list of over 1700+ locations where you can donate PPE. See the bottom half of this page for the map and directory
Holly Figueroa O’Reilly is on Twitter and is collecting masks. At her request do not send her a direct message, please email instead: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank You For Helping!
Thank you to the hard working volunteers running these organizations. Gratitude goes out to everyone willing to DIY masks. If you would like to see your organization on this list, leave a comment with the URL.
Be kind, be safe, and wash your hands.