How to make your own reusable cloth face mask (with or without a sewing machine)

As news comes of the government now advising people to wear face masks or coverings when in enclosed places where they could potentially come within two metres of another person, such as in shops and on public transport, now is the perfect time to make yourself a cloth face mask at home.

While there are many ready-made face masks out there to be bought online, it’s just as easy to make your own, with or without a needle and thread.

homemade face masks
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that wearing a face mask won’t necessarily protect the wearer from contracting the virus, but it can help to stop you from spreading it if you are carrying it. This is why it has become advisable to wear one in public spaces as you could be carrying and spreading the virus asymptomatically and not know.

WHO explained that ‘masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.’ You must also be careful not to put the mask down anywhere while out or to touch the mask with your hands, as this could in fact spread the virus further.

face mask
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While a homemade face mask does not provide the same level of protection as medical grade PPE, it does go a fair way in helping to stop the spreading germs. Social distancing should still be practiced and latest government guidelines followed at all times, even when wearing a face mask.

Here are two methods for making your own washable and reusable face mask.

How to make a face mask: The no-sew method

Materials:

  • A large square piece of cloth such as a bandana or cut-up T shirt
  • Two hairbands

Method:

  1. Lay your square piece of fabric flat and fold it in half.
  2. Take the two bottom edges and fold up halfway and do the same with the top edge so the two edges meet in the middle.
  3. Slide the hairbands onto either end of the fabric, about 6 inches in on either side.
  4. Fold each end of the fabric where the hairbands are so they meet roughly in the middle.
  5. Pull the hair bands over your ears to wear the face mask. Make sure it covers your face from just above your nose to just below your chin.
  6. TIP: For an extra layer of protection you could insert a piece of kitchen roll within the folds of fabric, but remember to take it out before washing, and you must wash the fabric after every use.
homemade face masks
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The sewing method

These are the government guidelines for sewing your own face mask.

Materials:

  • Two 25cm x 25cm squares of cotton fabric
  • Two 20cm pieces of elastic (or string or cloth strips)
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors

Method:

  1. Cut out two 25cm x 25cm squares of cotton fabric. Stack the 2 squares on top of each other.
  2. Fold over one side by 0.75cm and hem, then repeat on the opposite side. Make 2 channels by folding the double layer of fabric over 1.5cm along each side and stitching this down.
  3. Run a 20cm length of elastic (or string or cloth strip) through the wider hem on each side of the face covering. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle to thread it through. Tie the ends tightly. If you only have string, you can make the ties longer and tie the covering behind your head.
  4. Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the covering on the elastic and adjust so the covering fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping. These elastic loops fit over the ears.