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Learn how to make face masks

Person making face mask

What’s the Idea?

Learn how to make face masks and help protect yourself and others from Coronavirus

What’s the story

Many years ago, my kids bought me a sewing machine for Christmas.

I certainly was surprised and with a quizzical smile said, “Wow! Why a sewing machine!?”. “Because you like to make things daddy!”

And ‘sew’ it began… I taught myself to use a sewing machine!

As soon as the coronavirus started to spread in the UK, I was asked if I can make face masks.

There are so many YouTube videos and so many different designs.

I’ve tried two which I’ve detailed below.

A simple surgical mask version is fairly easy to make, if you don’t find handling the pleating too fiddly.

And a more fitted version. Some have a pocket in them to add a filter material, others are more simple.

I prefer the look of the fitted ones, and they would work just as well.

People should do this because…?

Simply, it gives those of us who aren’t care workers the chance to help.

You can learn how to make face masks for yourself, your family, or even your local community.

Some might want to make masks to give to people who cannot afford to buy them.

And it’s fun to make stuff!

How do you do it?

I would suggest having a sewing machine to make masks especially if you plan to make a lot.

But if you have time, hand stitching is also do-able.

The first mask I made was the Olson mask.

  • You may need some skill to make it neatly.
  • Something I found with this mask is that it is at least 3 layers thick, then you can add a filter material too.
  • This gets warm very quickly on your face.
  • If you wear glasses then beware of fogging!

The latest pattern I found is this one.

  • It has 4 layers (if you count the interfacing as a layer)
  • I did not stitch on the last layer, only the 2 main ones… without the interfacing.
  • I have really liked the results with this pattern, and if you don’t have a printer you can easily follow how to draw it up on some paper.

Top tips:

  1. I tried a variety of ways to tie the mask:
    – Ribbon (good)
    – Flat elastic (slips around on the back of your head, getting the length right isn’t easy)
    – Hair ties (as suggested in the 2nd mask pattern, I like these).
  2. Nose wire finishes the mask off properly. But you need a wire that won’t corrode with lots of washing. It also needs to be comfortable. I am still experimenting with options:
    – I have some soft garden tie coming soon which I feel will work well, watch this space!
    – Otherwise try pipe cleaners.
  3. Material is important as this is the part that will dig in and start to hurt if you don’t get it quite right:
    – I used old work shirts at first, then dug out some other fabric I had squirreled away.
    – Medical staff have said it’s useful to use a different material front and back.
    – Oh, and t-shirt material, I haven’t tried this yet.
    – Note: Since this pandemic started, there has been some difficulty getting some fabrics and haberdashery.

Stuff you may need

Pinking shears are very handy, but not a necessity.

A sewing machine if you are making a lot of masks.

Wire for nose part


Your choice of tie (ribbon, elastic or hair ties)

Links to other stuffer pages

Give your local postie a Thumbs Up!

Links to other videos on the web

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