When I visited Japan it wasn’t uncommon to see people wearing a simple face mask when out and about because in Japan (and other Asian cultures) when you are sick with the cold or flu. In Japan it is polite to wear a mask when you are sick and out in public so you don’t accidentally pass it on to anyone else around you. That is something I wish we had in American culture (how many times has someone given you their cold because they weren’t wearing a simple face mask?) but I really hate that we have to go through a deadly global pandemic to adopt it.
As of April 7, 2020 the United State Centers for Disease Control (and well as the Governor of Ohio) recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering when out in public. The idea behind wearing a face mask in public is not what a someone yelled at me for falling for “pandemic panic” or a “false sense of security.” My reply was just as less than kind because I'm battling an allergy related sinus infection that never seems to end and don't want to pass this misery to anyone else (unlikely but I get horror looks when I sneeze with and without the mask.)
I sewed my first cloth face mask to use as a dust mask when deep Spring Cleaning because my allergist suggested I wear one due to my dust allergies. I made a few more for myself when I walk Lacey and for my husband when he runs (our running trails and neighborhood sidewalks are sometimes unusually crowded these days) after our Governor recommended it.
I started collecting reusable face mask tutorials to use when family and friends asked me to sew for them after seeing on my social media (follow me @condoblues on Instagram pretty please?) I've been sewing and giving away reusable masks ever since. Because frankly, I can use the project to keep me occupied (and from endless news reports) as I use up my fabric stash.
Tips on Reusable Cloth Face Mask Materials
- It is recommended that you make your mask from a tightly woven 100% cotton fabric. Quilting fabric works very well. If you don’t have any you can buy fat quarters of cotton fabric here. Some people say it is OK to use cotton blend fabric. Most don’t. I went with the majority's recommendation and used 100% cotton for the mask itself. I used cotton blend fabric for the ties which allows me to make more masks overall. (Disclosure: I am also including affiliate links for your convenience)
- Some sewiests recommend you use two different color or patterned fabrics for the front and back of mask so you can tell which side is which.
- For the center wire I use (again, this is all what is in my workroom stash) floral wire like this, pipe cleaners AKA chenille steams like these, 24 gage jewelry wire, and 22 gage jewelry wire
- I ran out of bias tape (it looks like this), I used a bias tape maker like this to make ties. While I like the look of bias tape better, I was able to fold thinner fabric scraps in half and make ties from them with this exact serger sewing machine foot which I use more often than my actual serger.
- If you have a walking machine foot (it looks like this) it will make sewing the pleats so much easier (it only took me 12 masks to realize I should have been using my walking foot for this)
- If you can’t find elastic for sale, try using hair elastics like this kind. They work!
- It is a good idea to make more than one mask per person. Most suggest having three on hand because you are supposed to use a new mask every time. You can clean the cloth masks by boiling them in hot water (I've also washed them in the washing machine when I do a load of laundry on the HOT setting.) Do not try to clean your mask by microwaving it. It will not work and might melt due to the metal wire.
How to Sew a Bias Tape Surgical Face Mask with Flexible Nose
This is the tutorial I used to make the mask my husband is wearing in the photo above. I used fabric to make the bias tape.
How to Make 2 DIY No Sew Face Mask Tutorials
This is a no sew reusable cloth mask tutorial from the Centers for Disease Control. It is an option if you do not know or have the means to sew.
I used this Instructibless tutorial and print out pattern to make the cupcake fabric mask I am wearing in the photo. The first one I made using the last elastic I had in my workroom. I used a hair head band in half to use for the elastic for the second mask I made (the one in the photo.)
If you don't have elastic, you could run ribbon, drawstring, a cloth tie through each side of the mask and tie it in place around your head. You can use this tutorial to make both a solid fabric face mask and a face mask with a pocket that will hold a non medical grade filter.
Photo courtesy of Instructibles
How to Sew a Face Mask with Fabric Ties
I quickly ran out of what little elastic I had. I started using this tutorial to sew face masks because it uses less fabric yardage to make the ties which allows me to make more face masks from the scraps in my fabric stash.
How to sew a reusable face mask - Quick and easy tutorial with Billette's BaublesThis cloth facemask takes 5 minutes to sew. It is perfect for beginners and folks who want to sew a lot of reusable face masks in a short period of time.
How to Sew a Reusable Face Mask with a Filter Pocket
How to sew a simple pleated face mask with just 5 lines (with nose wire and filter slot)
This tutorial shows you how to make the rectangle style mask with a non medical grade filter slot with either elastic or cloth ties
This fabric dust mask is takes more fabric and is a little more involved to sew than the other tutorials I have listed here but you might find this style more comfortable or desirable than the others.
If you are looking for more reusable cloth dust mask making supplies, check out the following options - and more! - below!
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