Introduction: DIY Cloth Mask

  • UPDATE!!! I revised the nose-wire instructions to include an option to make the wire removable for washing (and it makes the sewing easier!!!)
  • UPDATE!!! I found a faster way to construct the mask using a single strap. The pattern has been updated accordingly. The main pieces are still the same size, but it only requires one strap and less overall sewing.
  • UPDATE!!! The straps can be made by cutting 1" strips of t-shirts - no sewing required because they don't fray.
  • This pattern is a mashup of the patterns I’ve found online trying to incorporate all the different things being requested but keeping it simple. I know people may be using this that don’t sew much, so I tried to add details for them.
  • This mask is NOT EQUIVALENT to the N95. It will fit over an N95 mask to extend its life or be used as an emergency alternative
  • This mask has a pocket to hold a filter and a metal nose adjustment. The filter should be non-woven material to provide increased protection. Some filter material others have used are HEPA vacuum bags, surgical sterile wrap, or paper furnace filters (NOT fiberglass!). The efficacy of these filter materials has not fully been tested and so can NOT be considered equivalent to N95.
  • It can be made with either cloth ties or elastic (if you can find it!)
  • Use 100% tightly woven cotton fabric for the three layers. Pre-wash in hot water to ensure the mask size stays the same when washed and sterilized during use.


Supplies Needed

Mask – cotton fabric

Cut three pieces 6.5”x11”

o Front (F – cut 1)

o Middle Layer (M – cut 1)

o Pocket Back (B – cut 1) – use a different color than the Front, if possible

Straps – Fabric ties (Can use Bias tape, hem tape, shoelaces, ribbon (not satin) or make your own from cotton fabric or cutting up t-shirts)

  • Approx 40” long
  • ·If making your own from T-Shirt, cut 1” strip
  • ·If making your own from Cotton Fabric, cut 1.5” strip

Sleeve for Nose wire (if making it removable)

  • 5" piece of bias tape or 1.5" strip of cotton fabric

Nose piece – 4” piece of plastic coated metal wire, preferably copper or aluminum. I used speaker wire because that’s what we had. Others are using floral wire, plastic coated twist ties, and pipe cleaners. Just note that steel will not hold up to multiple washings since it rusts.

Thread – doesn’t have to be matching colors – just use what you have!

Tools needed

Rotary Cutter & Mat or Scissors – something to cut with!

Ruler – so your cuts are straight and accurate

Wire Cutters and Pliers – Please don’t use the sewing scissors to cut the wire!

Sewing Machine

Iron & Ironing board (nice, but not required)

Step 1: Prepare the Back Pocket

  • On Back Pocket (B), fold down one long edge ½” and press, then fold that edge underneath so you have a rolled hem edge (no rough edges exposed) and stitch down

Step 2: Making Fabric Strap (if Making Your Own From Cotton Fabric)

    • Press the edges of your 1.5" strips to the center of the strip.
    • Finger press the end of the strip inward (to create a finished end) then fold the strip in half (like a hot dog). Stitch and backstitch to secure the end, then stitch along the length of the strip.
    • Fold under the other end and stitch and backstitch to secure

    Step 3: Assemble the Mask

    • Stack the Back Pocket (B) on top of Middle (M), with the hemmed edge facing out, matching edges on the sides and bottom. There will be a gap between the top edge of the Middle (M) and the hemmed edge of the Back Pocket (B)
    • Lay the Top (T) right side down on the top of the stack of Straps/Back Pocket (B)/Middle (M), matching corners and edges.
    • Stitch along the long edges (bottom and top) so you end up with a tube using a 1/4" seam allowance
    • Turn the tube right side out

    Step 4: Insert the Nose Wire - Two Options

      Option 1 - Making it Removable (easiest option)

      • Mark the center of the top edge of the mask
      • Fold the 5" strip of fabric with the long edges to the middle and tuck under the ends (to create a finished edge)
      • Pin it, folded edges down, centered along the top edge of the Middle (M) piece
      • Secure the strip to the mask by stitching along both long edges, making sure to leave the ends open, creating a sleeve
      • Insert the wire into the sleeve

      Option 2 - Permanent Installation (old method)

      • Using pliers, fold over the ends of your 4” piece of wire (so the ends won’t poke through the fabric). Place the wire inside the tube and center it tight against the top edge.
      • Secure the wire by stitching the Top (T) and Bottom (B) layers together along the wire, staying as close to the wire as possible.

        Step 5: Make the Channels to Thread the Strap

        • Lay down the mask with the Back Pocket (B) side facing up.
        • Fold over one of the short ends about ¼” and finger pin.
        • Fold the end over again about 1”.
        • Stitch down close to the inside edge of the fold to create a tube on the end of the mask.
        • Repeat on the other side.
        • These tubes are where you will thread your strap.

        Step 6: Finishing the Mask

        • Make a small pleat (about ½”) in the center of the mask along the bottom edge (from the bottom up) and stitch and backstitch to hold in place.. This will help the mask fit snugly under the chin.
        • Attach a safety pin (or bobby pin) to the end of your strap and thread it through one of the ends of the mask from bottom to top. Then thread it through the other end of the mask from top to bottom. You will end up with a continuous sliding strap with a loop at the top and loose ends coming out the bottom.

        • Clip all loose threads. You’re done!