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How to make face masks for yourself, family & friends

Thanks for being here. I know that you are going through a lot right now. Let’s try to get some normalcy back into our lives with making your own face mask.

We’ll show you how to make two different fabric face mask designs. The first face mask is the Pleated Face Mask which features three horizontal pleats that allow the mask to expand. This is especially useful when the fabric face mask is worn outside of N95 respirators as an additional barrier and helps to prolong the life of a N95 respirator.

DIY Pleated Face Mask

2 variations: elastic or fabric ties

Materials and tools you will need:

  • 2 pieces of 9″ squares made of tightly woven 100% cotton per mask
  • 7-8″ elastic per mask OR two pieces of 1.5″ by 20″ for fabric ties (bias tape)
  • sewing machine (optional if you plan on hand stitching)
  • an iron and ironing board (optional)
  • sewing notions

Step by step instructions

Watch how to sew your own cotton face mask with elastic attachments in the video above.

Version 1: Elastic

  1. Place your 9″ fabric squares on top of each other with the right sides facing each other .
  2. Start sewing from a corner and sew about 1/4″ past the corner and pause with sewing needle down.
  3. With the needle down, insert one end of an elastic in between layers and back stitch multiple times over the elastic area. Make sure the end of the elastic is aligned to the fabric edge.
  4. Continue sewing along the same edge until you’re 1″ away from the next corner. Find the other end of the same elastic and insert it in between the fabric layers and stitch over this area multiple times.
  5. Continue sewing along the edges until you reach the 3rd corner and repeat steps #3-4.
  6. After you are done installing the elastics, you will continue your stitching into the first edge where you started from. Stop about 3 inches away from where you started sewing.
  7. Remove the project from the sewing machine and flip the right sides out and press with iron.
  8. Tuck in the unfinished edges and sew the opening shut. Note: if you want to add an exchangeable filter or a shapeable tie for fitting the nose, then you can do so before sewing the opening shut.
  9. Prepare your pleats and manipulate the folds until you have 3 roughly equal folds. Clip or pin in place as shown in the video. Secure the pleat placements by top stitching over both edges.

Version 2: Fabric ties

  1. Prepare your fabric ties (bias tape) by fold both pieces (1.5″ x 20″) in half lengthwise and press. Open and fold sides in toward center and press. Now your bias tapes are ready.
  2. Place your 9″ fabric squares on top of each other with the right sides facing each other .
  3. Start sewing about 3 inches from a corner around the square until you are 3 inches away from where you had started sewing.
  4. Remove the project from the sewing machine and flip the right sides out and press with iron.
  5. Tuck in the unfinished edges and sew the opening shut. Note: if you want to add an exchangeable filter or a shapeable tie for fitting the nose, then you can do so before sewing the opening shut.
  6. Prepare your pleats and pin in place as shown in the figure. Find the the bias tape midpoint and overlap on the center of of an edge and pin in place Secure the pleat placements by edge stitching the bias tape over both edges. Fold in the unfinished ends of the bias tape as you edge stitch through it to finish the end points. Repeat for opposite sides.

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Are you able to help? We need you.

As of March 25, 2020 there are 68,440 COVID-19 cases and 994 deaths in USA with Washington, California, and New York experiencing the largest number of state reported cases to CDC.

Around the world, countries are shutting down and practicing social distancing in an attempt to flatten the curve of the infection rate. We highly recommend you to get your latest COVID-19 information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization.

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic crisis, grass root volunteer groups are popping up all over the world. If you are in the southern California San Diego county area, there are three particular groups that are highly active and sharing information to support our communities.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”

Martin Luther King Jr.

San Diego Community Volunteers for Coronavirus Response

This group was started by Adriana who noticed that people are having a hard time keeping up with the new life dynamics as well as where to find local resources and volunteer opportunities in San Diego. We’ve put together a comprehensive San Diego Resources and Volunteer Opportunities document right here.

Two dedicated volunteer groups are focusing on sewing masks for healthcare workers, immunosuppressed patients, hospital works, and more people in the San Diego community.

Project Masks: Southern California COVID-19 Mask Making

Uniting with Homemade Masks – San Diego County

Local fabric boutiques like Olga’s Closet and BOHO Fabrics have stepped up with FREE supplies for people who can sew to get started. Even big box retailer Joann’s is contributing to the mask making efforts.

Are you ready to get started with mask making?

Gather your sewing supplies. You will need the following:

  • 2 pieces of 9 inch squares made of tightly woven 100% cotton per mask
  • 8 inch elastic per mask
  • sewing machine (optional if you plan on hand stitching)
  • some pins
  • an iron and ironing board
  • scissor

We will be following this face mask tutorial.

“Do good for others. It will come back in unexpected ways.”

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Learn how to turn trash into a functional new bag part 2

Welcome to part 2 of learning how to turn single-use plastic bags into functional and multi-purpose new bags! Part 1 link is here, just for you if you need it.

We are starting out with our newly fused together plastic “fabric” sheet. My sheet turned out to be about 18″x28″ and I’ve decided to make a upcycle the plastic sheet into a water resistant zipper pouch.

Tools and materials you will need for part 2:

  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Wax paper or parchment paper
  • New plastic “fabric” sheet you made earlier
  • Zipper 7-8″ length
  • Optional: Sewing machine and sewing notions
Steps 1-2: Zipper installation
Steps 3-4

Let’s start making!

  1. Cut your new plastic “fabric” sheet into roughly 7″x8″ rectangles. You’ll need 2 rectangles for each zipper pouch.
  2. Sew on the zipper by laying the zipper right side faced down against right side edge (if you have a preference of which plastic side you desire to be on the outside). Seam allowance is up to you. I like to work with 1/4″ seams for easy calculations. Finish one side of the zipper with top stitching. Repeat for other side of zipper working with the second rectangle. NOTE: if you don’t have a sewing machine, you can hand stitch the zipper following the same steps.
  3. Looking at your project, you will have a zipper installed between the two rectangles. Fold the project at the zipper closed (leave 1″ gap) and right sides facing each other. Sew or iron together the remainder three sides of the rectangle with each other.
  4. Slide your zipper open all the way and carefully flip the right sides of the pouch outside and tuck your seams into the inside of the pouch. You made it!

We hope to have inspired you to take on the no-plastic challenge and turn on your creative mind to reduce, reuse, and recycle! We believe every little thing we do counts and adds up into a movement.

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Learn how to turn trash into a functional new bag part 1

From thin and whimsy single-use produce bags transforms into a sturdy multi-use plastic bag.

Do you want to learn how to upcycle your one-use produce plastic bags? At our home we’re pretty good at remembering to bring our cloth reusable bags on grocery runs but we still rely on the single-use produce bags. Today I’m going to show you one way to reuse those bags to start your journey in upcycling and promoting zero waste slow living. Using common household items we’re going to fuse single-use plastic bags together into a sturdier plastic sheet that we can use to make into other things!

Tools and materials you will need includes:

  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Wax paper or parchment paper
  • Single-use plastic bags (I used 4 bags for one project)
Remember to sandwich the single-use plastic bags with wax paper on the top and bottom.
Fusing the plastics together

Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Heat up your iron and set it to medium heat to start. You’ll want to pay attention to this setting and adjust according to what you observe with your plastics.
  2. Cover your ironing board with wax/parchment paper to protect the surface from melted plastic. Just one single layer of wax paper is enough for a couple presses.
  3. Prepare your single-use plastic bags. Cut off handles and the bottom of the bag to create an open circular tube. The purpose of cutting the bag bottom out is to prevent air bubbles disrupting the ironing phase. Flatten this tube on the wax paper on the ironing board. Layer on more single-use plastic bags. I used 4 plastic bags to make one plastic “fabric” sheet. After you’re satisfied with the number of layers then you top it off with a final layer of wax paper.
  4. Now you’re ready to fuse your plastic bags together! Ready your iron and make sure the setting is not too hot. Press gently and keep moving your iron around. You will not need much heat to fuse the plastic bags together. If needed, flip the project over and iron from the back side as well. Check that you are only melting the plastics in between the wax papers. It’s okay if you find yourself accidentally melting the wax paper as well. Add more wax paper and continue ironing until all the plastic is fused together into one single sheet.
  5. Peel off the wax paper on either side.

Congratulations! You’ve just DIY fused single-use plastic bags together to create a stronger plastic material that is strong enough to carry stuff, water-resistant, and yet still soft enough to sew through your sewing machine if needed. Pat yourself on your shoulder for saving the Earth one plastic bag at a time.

Ready to turn your new plastic material into a bag?

When you’re ready… Part 2 is here for you.

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Leather stamping workshop with Mingei International Museum

On a sunny Saturday morning outside Liberty Station’s Cafe Mingei shop, you can hear rhythmic whacks and taps through the windows. 


“I loved this class so much. You were very informative about the leather, tools, and procedures. The best part is I have a leather book which was handmade by ME! THANK YOU for teaching and Mingei Museum for hosting.”


 “At Mingei you’ll find an inviting, fresh and always engaging look at a diverse range of thoughtfully designed, carefully crafted and passionately made objects from around the world, created by artists and craftspeople for everyday use.” from Mingei’s website.


We were honored to be invited to host a leather stamping workshop with Mingei members and community patrons. Our students spent a couple hours learning about leather and different techniques on how to tool leather with stamps and swivel knives. Everyone made a leather-bound journal that they personalized and hand stitched together. Time went by quickly and before we knew it the workshop was over!

We loved having the chance to work with Mingei and we’d jump at a chance to work with them again. Our visions are similar, share the joy of “making, by hand, useful objects of timeless beauty that are satisfying to the human spirit.” Thank you, Mingei for inviting Extraordinary Kits to share the power of using craft as therapy and bring appreciation for locally handcrafted goods to the San Diego community.