Masks, No. 2

I have three seperate sets of instructions on how to make a homemade mask. There are literally hundreds of instructions/spoofs/tutorials on how to make a face mask, most of which are online. (And, yes, I have seen the one of someone using one cup of a bra. Look, it has pretty lace!)

My three guides came from two friends and Joann’s Fabric, a national chain which is giving away free materials as kit which can make up to ten masks. I went to one of their stores and got one. This is easy; you just walk in and say you need a mask kit, and they hand you a plastic bag with the materials.


Which contains the following: 10 pre-cut pieces of material, one spool of machine-suitable cotton/poly thread, a little package or coiled length of elastic, a half-page of paper with printed instructions, and a pattern piece if you want to cut more material of your own.


There are two additions the instructions recommend: fusible or non-fusible interfacing to increase the filtering power of the fabric, and a pipe cleaner, twist tie, or wire to allow the mask to be molded over the nose.

I had these things. I cut interfacing and ironed it on the fabric.


Pinned the fabric as instructed, sewed down the sides.


Turned it inside out, sewed the pipe cleaner into the top to create a moldable nose cover.

Folded and pinned the sides, positioned the elastic pieces to form loops that go over your ears.


Then pinned pleats on each mask going across the rectangle, so the mask can be expanded to cover nose and chin.


I did this a bunch of times.


And ended up with 13. (I actually started with two kits worth, but ineptitude, failure, mismeasurement, and shortage of interfacing resulted in 13 rather than 20. It is what it is. This quote is on a wall in one of the schools where I work: mistakes are proof that you are trying!)

Now, positives and negatives.


  • My family thought this mask was too small. James couldn’t get it to comfortably fit over his nose and chin. And the elastic was kind of short and pulled at the ears of the larger people here. On smaller people, both these things were OK.
  • The elastic was murder to try and sew with. I broke a machine needle after two elastics. Joanns had two kinds of elastics and the second one was better for sewing, but still a little uncomfortable to wear.


  • The facing provides a lot of filtering.
  • The pipe cleaner is a fantastic shaping tool – this mask fits nicely over the top of your nose.
  • Mask is machine washable!

James ended up taking this first batch to his workplace so they could be offered to employees and families. He works for a hospice company, and several of the nurses expressed appreciation for them.

I kept the one that we had all tried on for comparison purposes.