How to Make Your Own Face Masks:
Four different ways
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I’ve been interested in making my own face masks. This past weekend, I finally did it! My main impetus was the fact that Joss has been back at school for a month, and during that time has lost two reusable masks. Since I’d purchased them for $7.50 each (or so), that’s the kind of loss that could add up quickly. I looked up a few different options online, but between shipping costs, etc., I just didn’t want to spend the money.
If you’re curious, Old Navy has some affordable reusable masks. Also, Joss’s favorite mask (which we lost), came from LemonBerry Dancewear. It was very comfortable and fit perfectly. But they’re now $10 a piece, and for something that could get lost so easily…I just couldn’t do it. So off to Joann Fabric we went!
Reasons to Make Your Own Masks
It’s cost effective. A year or so ago, Daniel went to Joann to buy fabric because we wanted to make Joss a cape. They told him it’d probably be cheaper to just buy one pre-made. However, because masks use so little fabric, I think you can definitely save money by making your own.
Unlimited fabric options! I love browsing fabric. I ended up getting way more than I needed because there were so many fun choices.
You’ll feel very productive. If you’re familiar with a sewing machine, you can knock out a face mask in under 20 minutes. I was practically falling asleep all day Saturday, but still managed to make several masks – by hand, no less, due to some sewing machine difficulty.
It’s a useful skill! Now that I know how easy it is to make face masks, we have plenty at home. Plus, I have enough extra fabric to make some for gifts, to donate or even sell. Although I’d have to sell them pretty cheaply, since my sewing skills aren’t 100%. But I do love the idea of giving face masks as gifts in the time of Coronavirus. What could be more appropriate?! People need them, and they’re cute!
Mask Version 1: The Rectangle
Shout out to Joann Fabric. When I checked out, the woman asked what I was planning to make. When I said, “Face masks,” she handed me two patterns (adult and child sizes) and instructions for making an easy rectangular, pleated mask. I could have made my own pattern, since it’s just a rectangle, but this was really helpful. Plus, when I mentioned that I hadn’t been able to find 1/4-inch elastic, she told me they had a bunch behind the counter and cut me three yards.
Here is the Joann’s video for how to make their pleated mask. The first half of the video is teaches you how to make the pattern. If you’re like me and prefer to eyeball everything, basically all you need for the pattern is a 9×6-inch rectangle for an adult mask, or 8×5-inch for a child mask. Get printable instructions and templates here.
Elastic and Interfacing: Because I hadn’t been looking at the pattern when shopping, I didn’t buy the interfacing. I’m sure that would help the masks be more protective, but what I have is better than nothing. (Right?) Also, the video recommends cutting your elastic into 7″ strips. The woman at Joann said she prefers 8″ strips, and I think mine worked best around 6.5″. So you can figure out what works best for you.
For Joss’s masks, 5.5-6″ worked best. I made a few with 5″ elastic bands, and they were too small! 🙁 It may also depend on the stretchiness of your elastic. I used up my three yards pretty quickly and ended up buying 100 yards from Amazon. I think theirs was less stretchy.
Sewing: They have you use fabric folded in half, and then start out by sewing the opposite length before sewing the sides. If you just start by sewing your elastic in first, you can cut out a step by sewing down the sides and then rotating your fabric to sew half-way down the length.
Also, we had some leftover black fabric, so I realized I could use that as a backing instead of making a reversible mask. This just means I could make more masks with my cute fabric! If you do this, since you’ll be sewing an extra seam, just cut your fabric rectangle about 1/4″ wider than you would have otherwise.
Pleats: This is where I really used the “eyeball method.” If you watch the video, she very carefully measures out her pleats. And they do look better than mine, so I may have to watch this and try her method. However, I just folded my fabric down and pinned it in place to make pleats, no measuring required. Just make sure you don’t accidentally sew your top or bottom pleat to the top or bottom edge of your fabric, as I did a couple of times!
Mask Version 2
I didn’t make as many of these because I didn’t have a pattern. However, here’s a really great tutorial that shows you how to make your own pattern using just a plate and paper!
If I’d had a pattern, I probably would have made more of these. They’re very comfortable. Plus, because the elastic is not sewn into the mask, it would be easier to make adjustments. And although the shape is a little more complex than a simple rectangle, I think it’s just as easy to make this style as the other. (To make them without a pattern, I just used some of my existing masks as a template and cut around them.)
Here is a blog post from The Crafty Quilter with details for how to make this version, as well as a downloadable PDF if that’s easier.
I think the most comfortable mask I have is in this style. I made it using one of the cotton flannel fabrics I bought with Joss in mind. Most of my masks are just straight-up 100% cotton, but the flannel is soooo soft. I love it!
CDC No-Sew Version
If you aren’t comfortable sewing but still want to save money on reusable masks, here’s a really easy tutorial from the CDC. You just need a T-shirt, towel, scarf, or some other cloth item lying around your house.
Epbot Foam Mask
Finally, I haven’t tried this style because I’m not familiar with craft foam. However, I love the Epbot blog. Jen and her husband have developed many crafty tutorials, and they always looks amazing. So when she says that they’ve designed the most comfortable, breathable face mask, I believe it! Plus, they’re from Florida, so having a mask that works well in the heat is a big motivator. Definitely something we could use here in Oklahoma!
Here’s their short video version:
Go to her blog post here for a longer video as well as their free, printable templates.
Have you made your own masks? What style do you enjoy wearing or making the most? Feel free to share your thoughts or tips in the comments!