It's So Sew Easy: Face Masks for Health Care Workers

Tanya Giroir, Franks, Meggan

Currently, those in the health care industry are trying to extend the life of the N95 masks by using your homemade surgical facemask. Those of you with sewing skills are needed, and those who do not know how to sew can help as well. Below are links to information about the virus, PPE, and patterns and instructions for the face masks. You can sew for our health care workers and some for your family and friends. Remember, homemade facemasks are NOT Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), since their capability to guarantee protection is unknown. Continue to use virus protection protocol even when wearing a mask. This includes washing hands, coughing into your elbow or disposable tissue, and practicing social distancing. While there are a lot of sources of information available to make the facemask the best it can be, know that no mask is guaranteed protection from viruses.


Masks are worn all day, so make them comfortable, breathable, form-fitting to the face, nose, and chin, and of different sizes.

  • Wash fabric before cutting the pattern. The material must be washable in HOT water and machine dried.
  • Use four layers of tightly-woven fabric at a minimum if using regular material.
  • Use antimicrobial fabric if possible. Products made of antimicrobial material include bedding, shower curtains, game bags for hunters, athletic wear. This fabric is made antimicrobial with a chemical spray. There are some fabrics with an antimicrobial treatment that are good for 50 washes.
  • Use wicking fabric that pulls moisture away from the face. While the virus is the enemy, it rides in the moisture.
  • Flannel fabric can be sandwiched between as lining layers.
  • Use a wire at the center top of the mask, so it hugs the nose area securely. You can use multiple twist ties, pipe cleaners, wire, or something strong enough that holds its shape; be sure to stitch all around to hold the wire in place.
  • The mask must hug the face. This is the purpose of the design of the pattern or the pleats, wire, and elastic.
  • Some prefer elastic loops; others prefer ties (ribbon). Some prefer elastic only around the ears; others prefer around the head. If possible, ask your health care workers.
    • Round cord elastic.
    • ΒΌ" elastic.
    • If you cannot find elastic, use fabric-covered hair bands.
    • Ribbon long enough to tie a knot. Ribbon can be made from the same fabric.
  • Some are requesting a filter pocket. Filters are removed before washing.
    • The pleated surgical mask can be inserted to extend its life.
    • If using an a/c home filter, there are antimicrobial filters available, make a note of which side of the filter must be placed away from the face for proper airflow and filtration. The wire can be removed, but if not, make sure the ends of the wire are turned flat with needle-nose pliers.
    • A charcoal filter will help with odors with repeated use of N95 masks.

Patterns are available online for surgical masks. See this pattern available from Craft Passion.


Allbrands face mask effort.

Face Mask Sewing Pattern from Craft Passion.

5 free DIY Face Mast Tutorial using Fabric.

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks.

A Beginner's Guide: What is Antimicrobial Fabric?

Mask Construction

Photo of a mask being constructed.

Side View

Side view of completed mask.

Front View

Front view of completed mask.

4/6/2020 3:24:01 PM
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