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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.”