There are a lot of different face mask patterns and tutorials with different variations including filters, ties, pockets, different sizes, and easy to more difficult construction.
In addition, some tutorials require sewing while others are for those who can’t sew. But all have the same goal… protection.
While the ultimate goal is protection, the fabric you choose allows for an element of fun, too.
It Started in March
Back in mid-March, a call went out to people with sewing skills to help fill a need, and the conversation about sewing face masks for medical workers began.
This sparked an internal conflict in me that needed a resolution. With some research and soul searching, I was able to figure out how to use my sewing skills to help those who needed and would be able to use face masks I made.
Fabric Face Mask Recommendations
In April 2020, the CDC posted information on their website about the general public using cloth face masks.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
Saving surgical masks and N-95 respirators for healthcare workers and other medical first responders provides the general public an opportunity to use problem-solving, sewing skills, and creativity as a way to DIY their own face masks.
DIY Face Mask Patterns and Tutorials
As we all learn to navigate in a world with a pandemic, one way we can protect ourselves, according to the CDC, is with a cloth face covering.
IMPORTANT: Wearing face masks does NOT replace other safety recommendations by the CDC.
There is definitely NOT a shortage of patterns and tutorials on making your own face masks.
A quick search online results in an overwhelming number of printable patterns, tutorials, and videos.
Differences among all this helpful information include such things as
- size and shape of the masks
- tie supplies and elastic
- a nose piece
- a filter pocket
- construction method
I have made over 150 masks for friends, family, and people I don’t know personally. Depending on if I’m making one or two masks, several at a time, who is going to be using them and how often, and the supplies I have all affect the construction method I use.
Through trial and error and feedback from mask users, I have combined several different patterns and construction methods to find a mask-making system that works for me. In addition, I’ve had to pivot as my tie and elastic supplies have dwindled.
One alternative to ties made from binding strips or elastic is a t-shirt. My husband has plenty of old t-shirts, so I’ve been using those.
If you’re unfamiliar with this method, you can start watching around 3:10 in the video below.
One thing that is the same for all the face masks I have made and for almost all the DIY face masks patterns and tutorials I’ve seen is that they require fabric.
The best fabric for DIY cloth face masks seems to by 100% cotton and with themed fabric, you can have all kinds of fun!
Update: An article published on May 4, 2020, in Fast Company, suggested a combination of a high thread count cotton and other fabrics may also result in a mask that filters small particles.
Fun with DIY Face Masks
As you’re selecting fabric for face masks, think about who is going to be getting them and where they’ll be used.
A little planning as you choose fabric allows you to be creative and have some fun with sewing face masks.
Not to mention, how surprised and happy the recipient will be when they receive a face mask that features something personal to them.
Because themed fabrics are personal, they are more enjoyable to wear, too, and can actually make wearing the face mask fun.
Where to Buy Fabrics with a Theme
First, before you buy any fabric, you want to check your stash. Depending on your past projects and purchases, you may already have what you’re looking for.
If you don’t already own a themed fabric you want, there are several options for locating a particular theme or concept.
Searching online either at a specific website or with a more general search is easy and yields pretty quick results allowing for comparison of options and pricing.
Places I’ve searched online:
- I’ve searched on Etsy and have found several shops that have what I’m looking for.
- Sometimes I Google the fabric theme I’m looking for. It never fails, I always get results from a variety of online shops that allow me to easily compare prices.
As you search, try looking for fat quarter bundles. (A fat quarter is 18 x 22 inches.) This is one way to get multiple fabric choices related to one theme.
Remember, the fabric should be 100% cotton.
Hobbies and Favorite Thing Face Masks
Fabric that features certain images is a great way to personalize masks with someone’s favorite thing or hobby.
Work-Related Face Masks
Think about the job or career someone has. What items and objects can be associated with it?
University and College Face Masks
Anyone a super fan of a specific college or university? Many of the large ones have specialty fabric.
Professional Sports Face Masks
Most, if not all, professional sports teams have fabric. Etsy is a good place to look for these specialty fabrics. I’ve made Dallas Cowboy, Chicago Bear, and New England Patriots face masks.
Military Face Masks
Patriotic fabric is a great choice for veterans and the military. This could include fabric that is red, white, and blue as well as more specific fabric that features stars and other military symbols.
I discovered this fabric connection by accident. When my sister asked if I could make face masks for several people in her department at work, I told her I would. She just needed to get a count of who actually wanted them and how many they each wanted.
The final count was 70 masks. Since I didn’t know anyone personally, I selected a variety of colors and patterns. (However, she did tell me her boss is a Patriots fan like my sister-in-law. His masks are the red ones in the picture below.)
A couple of the fabrics were red and blue with stars. They had a definite patriotic feel. (Unfortunately, you can’t see them in the box of masks.)
When I finished the masks, my sister divided them up and put them in bags to distribute to the people in her department.
She knew some of the people were veterans and made sure they got masks made from the patriotic fabric.
Color Inspired Face Masks
Selecting a fabric by a person’s favorite color is another way to personalize face masks.
When my nieces asked me to make face masks for them and a friend, I asked what their favorite colors were. They replied back green, pink and lavender.
Since then, I’ve made masks for 3 other people in their favorite colors…another pink, a black one, and an orange one.
Wearing a favorite color is fun enough to brighten anyone’s day!
A friend from high school had a daughter who was getting married and asked if I could make some face masks in the wedding colors of white and olive.
These were fun to make. Using ribbon for the ties was a way to dress them up a bit.
Just Have Fun with the Face Masks
Wearing a fabric face mask provides an extra layer of protection, so there is a pretty good chance many people will follow the recommendations of the CDC and wear them in public.
It’s really unclear how long this recommendation will be around. There is a likelihood it could come and go depending on the season of life we find ourselves.
Don’t let the themed fabric face mask options I shared with you limit your selection, but let your imagination run wild.
Consider holidays, seasons, pets, and collectibles. There really isn’t a short supply for the options of themed fabric.
A hand-picked fabric definitely makes DIY cloth face masks fun to sew and wear!
My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.
Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work together to get it figured out!
Make sure you sign up for Snappy Scissors (my FREE newsletter sent directly to your inbox) for ongoing sewing inspiration and education. You can find the sign-up box at the bottom of the post.