Introduction: No-Sew T-shirt Face Mask
This DIY homemade cloth face mask is made from 3 layers of t-shirt. All you need to make it is a t-shirt and a pair of scissors. If you can cut out a rectangle and tie a knot, you can make this mask.
It’s quick and easy to make, and very comfortable to wear.
It is no substitute for an N95 mask, however since they are in short supply and need to be reserved for healthcare workers, the CDC recommends a homemade mask as much better than nothing. Here is more information on why t-shirts are one of the best household materials for making a DIY mask: https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/best-materials-make-diy-face-mask-virus/
More about why you should wear a mask: https://shouldiwearafacemask.com
If you get ahold of material that filters even better (such as blue shop towels), you can tuck the extra filter layer inside of this mask easily. https://www.businessinsider.com/homemade-mask-using-hydro-knit-shop-towel-filters-better-2020-4
1 pair of scissors (sharp enough to cut t-shirt)
1 sheet of 8 1/2” x 11” paper (letter or A4 size)
A marker or pencil
A long straightedge or ruler
Step 1: Cut Off Top of T-shirt
Cut off the top of the t-shirt right below the neck band.
You can use some kind of straight edge to help make a line (like a piece of paper or ruler), or eyeball it.
Step 2: Cut the Top Edge of the Sleeves
There might be a bit of the top edge of both sleeves that is still connected after you cut a straight line all the way across. Cut this top edge apart on both sleeves.
Step 3: Flip the T-shirt Over to the Back Side
Flip the t-shirt over to the back side and lay it flat.
Note: If you’d like a plain mask instead of one that shows the design on the front of your t-shirt, follow these directions but treat the back of the shirt as the front from here onward.
Step 4: Cut the Tshirt’s Back Vertically Down the Middle
Cut the t-shirt vertically from the bottom center all the way to the neck.
WARNING: make sure to ONLY cut through the back of the t-shirt in this step, and not through both layers. You should not be cutting through the front of the shirt at all during this step.
Step 5: Cut Apart the Bottom Seam of Each Sleeve
Cut apart the small bottom seam of each sleeve
Step 6: Cut Off the Back Half of Each Sleeve
Cut off the final seam to remove the back half of each sleeve
Step 7: Cut Off the Extra Fabric Near Each Sleeve
Cut off the fabric that would have been the upper back of the t-shirt at the height of the sleeve (see photos). Do this on both sides.
When you are done, you should have a piece of fabric that you can lay flat in one layer.
Step 8: Lay the T-shirt Flat Face Down
Lay the t-shirt down flat in a single layer, face down, with the bottom edge closest to you.
Step 9: Fold Up the Bottom Third of the Shirt
Fold the bottom third of the t-shirt up. Smooth the fabric so that it is flat again.
Step 10: Fold Down the Top Third of the Shirt
Fold the top third of the shirt down towards you. After you fold it down, you should see the front of the shirt, upside down.
Smooth out the fabric so it lies flat again.
Step 11: Use Paper and a Marker to Mark Where to Cut the Ties
Use a letter (or A4) sized sheet of paper if you have one, and place the top edge in the center of the t-shirt.
The paper should be horizontally centered, and its top edge should be vertically centered on the shirt (see photos).
Mark both corners of the paper with a marker dot.
(If you don’t have a sheet of paper, try to eyeball about that size (8”)).
(If you don’t have a marker, try using tiny stickers or pieces of tape, or you can use the scissors to make a tiny notch hole to mark each spot).
Step 12: Cut From the Side Down the Middle All the Way to the Mark
Starting from the middle of the left side, cut through all of the layers of fabric, and keep cutting straight until you reach the mark you made earlier.
Repeat on the right side.
Step 13: Make a Square Knot With the Two Ties on Each Side
Take the two ties on the right side and make a square knot (a square knot is just two half knots). Tie it very tight and right at the mark you made. Remember that each tie is made up of several layers of material- you should tie all of them together. Make the knot extra tight.
Repeat on the left side.
Step 14: Cut Off Extra Layers of Ties
You’ve basically finished making the mask at this point, but we can do some cleanup to make it a little nicer by making the ties less bulky.
Each of the 4 ties has 3 layers at this point, and we really only need 1 layer for each tie. This makes it easier to tie a knot when you are putting on the mask.
First, double check that your square knots are really really tight.
Then, find the 2 ties that were originally part of the sleeve (they are a little shorter and have a funny angled hem on the edge). Carefully cut these two ties off near the square knot.
Choose one more tie layer from each of the top ties and cut it away too near the square knot.
Cut away two of the three layers of the bottom ties as well. I would recommend that one of the ones you cut is the one with the bottom hem from the t-shirt.
When you are done with this step, you should have 4 total ties that each have only one layer of fabric.
Step 15: (Optional) Make the Ties a Little Narrower
This step is optional but will make the mask a little nicer looking and easier to tie.
Cut each of the 4 ties narrower, tapering them to the square knot using the scissors, so that they are about one finger length wide (see photo).
Step 16: You’re Done!
You made a face mask!
Step 17: Tie on the Mask
Place the face mask over your mouth and nose.
Tie the top ties at the crown of your head.
Tie the bottom ties at the nape of your neck.
Tie them securely (double knot) so the mask won’t loosen. The mask should fit very comfortably, but be fairly tight to your face at the edges.
Step 18: Wear Your Mask Whenever You Need to Leave Your Home
The safest thing for us all to do during this pandemic is to stay home and avoid any in-person interactions.
Whenever you do need to go outdoors for any essential activities like getting groceries or walking your dog, you should wear a mask. This mask will not protect you like an N95 mask would, but the CDC guidance is that a homemade mask is measurably better than no mask, and if we all wore them consistently we would see reduced community spread.
Be careful as always not to touch your face, wash or sanitize your hands frequently, and consider the outside of your mask to be contaminated if you wear it outside.
You should be able to take your mask on and off easily without untying the ties, since they are a bit stretchy, which makes it much more convenient than most masks that tie. The tighter tie is the one that goes at the nape of your neck. Slip that tie on first, then the top tie, when you put your mask back on.
Regularly launder your mask after use. To sterilize it even more you can boil for 10 minutes. If the ties loosen with washing you can always retie them.
Step 19: Bonus: Enhance Your T-shirt Mask With an Extra Filter
There’s new evidence that disposable blue shop towels are effective at filtering virus-sized particles while still being breathable enough to use in a mask.
Specifically, Toolbox or ZEP brands of disposable blue shop towels were highly effective at filtering small particles.
If you can get ahold of some of these, I’d recommend sticking one in between the layers of your t-shirt mask to add additional filtering.
You should remove any additional filter material such as blue shop towels and dispose of it whenever you wash or sterilize your mask, and replace it with a fresh layer.