Introduction: Washable Face Mask for Shopping or Travel

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This is a washable face mask for shopping or travel in line with UK guidance.

It is adapted from this page

It is reversible and has a little pocket in for a metal strip so that you can mould it to the bridge of your nose (so your glasses don't steam up as much).

Most of the sewing is on the inside so doesn't have to be neat.

All measurements are VERY approximate, you could probably still wear a mask that was 20% smaller.

Fabric cut from old clothes is softer than new fabric.

It is not a medical mask, it helps to protect other people from you but is not adequate if you have coronavirus symptoms.

It has room inside to slip in an extra layer of protection, maybe a folded piece of fabric, but that will make breathing more difficult.

Wash after every trip (remove the metal strip before washing).


Two squares of cotton or polycotton woven fabric about 10" (25cm) square.

About 32" (80cm) narrow elastic or cotton tape or strip of fabric.

Optional: a clean foil dish from a small fruit pie or something else you can make a softish metal strip from.

Tools: Sewing machine. Darning needle or small safety pin.

Step 1: Cut Two Squares of Fabric

Iron the fabric first so that it will cut neatly.

Cut two 10" (25cm) squares.

If you don't want your mask to be reversible you could just cut one rectangle 10" x 20" (25cm x 50cm) and fold it in half, this saves sewing down one side.

Step 2: Sew the Little Pocket for the Metal Strip

Have one piece of fabric (the piece you like most) face down on the table.

Fold down a 1" (2cm) strip along the top edge.

Sew a 2" (5cm) line of stitches at the bottom edge of the folded bit, in the centre where the bridge of your nose will be.

Step 3: Pin the Squares Together

Pin the squares, right sides together, with their tops folded down like in the picture

Step 4: Sew Around

Sew around leaving gaps at the corners and a big gap across the top above your little pocket.

Step 5: Turn It the Right Way Out

Turn it the right way out though the big gap at the top.

Now you have a big pocket about 9" (20cm) square, with holes in the corners and a little pocket concealed in the top fold.

Step 6: Thread Elastic Through the Sides

Thread a piece of elastic in through the top left corner hole, out through the bottom left corner hole, back up through the bottom right corner hole and out through the top right corner hole.

Tie a knot to keep the ends together.

This is easier if you have a darning needle. If not, you can fasten a small safety pin to one end of the elastic and use that to feed it through the hole.

If you haven't got elastic use cotton tape or a thin strip of fabric. A fabric strip would need to be 1/2" to 1" (1-2cm) wide to avoid fraying and breaking.

If you have a long darning needle, you can leave the threading step until after the next step if you like.

Step 7: Sew Down the Sides to Make a Channel for Your Elastic

This step is optional, it makes the mask a bit neater.

Sew down the sides to make a channel for your elastic which keeps it in pace, make sure you don't sew through the elastic itself.

Step 8: Make a Metal Strip

Fold a small clean pie dish to make a metal strip that will fit in the little pocket.

Or fold one from foil sheet, or use metal bag ties, or cut one from a thick pie dish.

Step 9: Put the Strip in the Little Pocket

This bit is fiddly (and optional).

Don't forget to remove the strip before washing your mask.

Step 10: Adjust the Elastic

Try the mask on.

Pull the elastic so that it fits comfortably around your neck at the bottom and above your ears at the top.

Tie a good overhand knot to keep it the right length.

Trim the long ends.

Step 11: The Finished Mask

You can reverse it before setting out to suit your outfit, don't reverse a worn mask until it has been washed.

It is comfortable to wear around your neck whilst walking in wide open spaces, pull it up if you go into a shop or bus or are about to walk past someone.

UK government advice on wearing a cloth face mask is here

Wash after every trip (remove the metal strip before washing).