How To Make Your Own Mask at Home

You Can Help Front Line Heroes!


The Dehm family wearing masks made by Morgan Reed

Morgan Reed, Head Editor/Chief

During this time of Covid-19, those of us who are able to stay home like we’re told to are lucky. For those of us stuck inside, there are ways for us to help those on the front lines of the virus from the safety of our homes.


The reality is, there are a lot more essential workers in every community than most would expect, and each and everyone of them is risking their lives every day. People working in hospitals, delivery people, grocery store employees, and so many more are doing their part to keep life for the rest of us as normal as possible, and the couch potatoes of the nation have a responsibility to do what we can to help our heroes. 


In addition to having a responsibility, it can be stressful to watch a friend or family member go to work every day while the rest of us stay inside and enjoy bingeing our favorite show or having a movie marathon. If you’re feeling stuck in a sense that there is nothing more that can be done for essential workers, here’s just one solution. 


Fashion designers and clothing manufacturers have been doing their best to provide the masks so desperately needed by our nation’s heroes, but with cases spreading so fast, it’s impossible to keep up with the demand. According to the New York Post article Shop towels filter better than T-shirts for DIY coronavirus masks, blue shop towels are the new savior for people who want to make masks at home. According to the manufacturer, who has tested several different materials in their quest to find the perfect DIY mask material, two layers of shop towels sandwiched between two layers of cotton block about 95% of particles up to .3 microns. This is as close as any homemade project has come to stacking up against the recommended N95 masks. 


Below I have provided instructions for how I made masks at home using only scrap fabric, string, and blue shop towels, and step-by-step pictures of how I made mine. If having a visual is more helpful here is Hobby Lobby’s instructional video, or step by step pictures of the making of my own mask. I am an avid sewer so I had ample fabric for this project, but if you do not, here is an instructional video on how to make a mask without sewing. 


For the following instructions you will need: 

  1. 15” x 8” piece of fabric
  2. Scissors 
  3. A sewing machine/needle and thread
  4. Pins
  5. A tape measure/ruler
  6. String, fabric ties, or elastic
  7. An iron
  8. A pen/maker



  1. Fabric          


Materials: fabric, a ruler or tape measure, scissors

      a. Choose a fabric that is a cotton or thicker to ensure maximum protection. If you don’t have access to thick fabric doubling up thinner fabrics works as well. 

      b. Cut a 8” by 15” piece of of fabric


  1.   Sewing

Materials: pins, a sewing machine/needle and thread, a ruler or measuring tape

      a. Lay the fabric right side(1) up

      b. Fold the fabric in half, lining up the two short edges (hamburger style) 

      c. Pin the two corners of the short edges 

      d. With another pin, mark two inches from each corner, leaving a 4 inch whole between the sewn ends 

      e. Sew each of the ends together *make sure to backstitch(2) anywhere you start or finish sewing*


1: The right side of the fabric is the side that is going to be visible once the project is finished, is is often brighter and the pattern more defined than the wrong side, some fabric do not have a right and wrong side 

2: A backstitch is done at the beginning and end of sewing to ensure the stitch is secure. To do so on a machine, begin sewing and a few stitches in, hit the back stitch button until you get back to where you started, then continue in a straight line. To do so at the end of a stitch, stitch to the end of the fabric, then stitch backwards a few stitches and then continue back to the end of the fabric/sewing line. 


  1.   Adding Ties

Materials: pins, string or fabric ties/elastic

      a. Move the seam so that it is in the center of the fabric *It is important that the seam stays in the center, so pinning the fabric in the center may be helpful at this step* 


(1) The following steps are for using string or fabric ties to secure your mask: 

      a. cut two 28” pieces of string or fabric ties 

      b. Position your fabric so that the seam in going horizontal

      c. Stuff one piece of string/fabric tie in between the two pieces of fabric, lining up and pinning each of the ends of the string         with each corner of the long edge of the fabric. At this point the ends of the string should be pinned so they are horizontal to the seam. *Make sure all of the excess string is stuffed between the fabric* *Don’t worry about the rest of the bunching in between the fabric, only the placement of the ends is important at this stage* 

      d. Repeat again with the other string or fabric tie on the opposite side 

      e. Sew along the short edges of the fabric, making sure to sew over the ends of the string as you do so *Make sure none of the excess string is sewn into this seam*

      f. Don’t forget to backstitch each end of the fabric, backstitching over the string/tie


(2) The Following steps are for using elastic to secure your mask:

      a.Cut two pieces of 7” elastic 

      b. Position your fabric so that the seam in the center is going vertical 

      c. Pin the ends of your first piece of elastic to the corners of the shorter edge of the fabric. At this point the elastic the ends of the elastic should be pinned so they are perpendicular to the center seam *Make sure all of the excess elastic is stuffed between the fabric*

      d. Repeat these steps with the second piece of elastic on the opposite side

      e. Sew along the short edges of the fabric, making sure to sew over the ends of the elastic as you do so *Make sure none of the excess string is sewn into this seam* 

      f. Don’t forget to backstitch each end of the fabric, backstitching over the elastic 


  1.   Turning Out

Materials: A pencil/chopstick, scissors 

      a. Reach through the hole in the center seam and pull out the fabric and the ties

      b. Use a pencil, a chopstick, or your finger to poke out all of the corners of the fabric

      c. If you used string or fabric ties, cut them in half


  1.   Adding Pleats

Materials: an iron, a tape measure/ruler, pins, a pen/marker

      a. Position the fabric so that you are looking at the side with the hole (this will be the back of the  mask

      b. With an iron, press(3) the seam down so that the un-sewn edge of the fabric is not visible 

      c. Flip the fabric over to the front side 

      d. Line up a ruler so that the 9” mark is lined up with the bottom edge of the fabric *I used the 9” mark for this step but you can use any whole inch integer on the ruler* 

      e. Using a pen or pins, mark at 8”,  7”, 6.5”, 5.5”, and 4” 

      f. If you did not use pins to mark the pleats, do so now 

      g. Beginning at the second to last pin, pinch the fabric on each side in your fingers so that that you make a small mountain with a pin at each peak

      h. Fold the fabric over the last pin, leaving a ½” of fabric at the bottom

      i. Repeat these steps, moving from the bottom of the fabric to the top *Depending on the fabric, it may be beneficial to press each of the pleats before moving onto the next* 

      j. Sew along the short edges of the mask, making sure all of the pleats are sewn and down unfold *Make sure none of the excess string or elastic is sewn*

      k. Depending on how thick your fabric is, it may be easier to hand sew, or you may need to use a denim needle in your machine 

3: To press fabric, use an iron and press it over the desired part of the fabric. Do not move the iron back and forth, leave it for a few seconds and then check on the fabric. Leaving the iron down for two long can burn the fabric. 


  1.   Adding Filters

Materials: Blue Shop Towels, scissors

It was recently discovered by clothing manufacturers that two layers of blue shop towels block about 95% of particles up to .3 microns. Since this is as close as a DIY project has come to being as effective as the N95 masks, I will be using blue shop towels for the following steps. 

      a. Cut two pieces of blue shop towel that are slightly smaller than the edges of your mask

      b. Turn the fabric over so the backside is facing up, and open the hole as best as you can *Because the pleats are pressed into the fabric, this part may take some maneuvering, but don’t try to put the pleats back as they were until the filter is in*

      c. Stuff one corner of the filter into the mask and hold it on the outside to prevent it from moving

      d. Stuff the corner below the first one into the mask, at this point one of the short side of the towels should be in the mask

      e. Work the second two corners in, and do your best to get the towels as flat as possible (This takes practice)  

      f. Flip the masks over to the front side, you’ll notice some or all of the pleats have come undone, but since they’ve been pressed you should be able to simply fold them back to normal 

      g. Keep in mind that the mask will be bulky because there are two layers of fabric and two layers of blue shop towels in the pleats, but when it is put on this will no longer be an issue 

*Depending on which way you want to wear your mask, you may want to position the towels closer to the top or the bottom of the mask. Whichever side is the top for you will be the part covering your nose and mouth, which is where the shop towels are most important.*

Stay safe, stay healthy, but most importantly, stay home!