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Creative Projects at Home

A guide with information on how to begin a variety of creative projects from the comfort of home.

Mask Making: Introduction & Materials

masks hanging on a wall; machine sewing masks

 

There are many reasons you may want to make your own cloth face mask -- because you have old clothes that you'd like to repurpose; because you can't find exactly the mask you want in a store or online; because you want to have something to match your favorite shirt; because you want to embrace your creative side while doing your best to keep your community safe. Are any of these ringing a bell? Then keep reading. 

There are lots of different masks you can make with a sewing machine, but did you know you can also hand-sew a mask or make one without having to do any sewing at all? Some masks can even be made without scissors! Here are some things you might need, depending on how you want to make your mask -- remember, some of the options shown in the links below only require a single article of clothing, so don't be discouraged by this long list!

  • A piece of fabric - if you don't have regular cuts of fabric on hand, try a pillowcase, an old t-shirt or other article of clothing, a bandana, or any other cloth item you have laying around that you wouldn't mind cutting up.
    • Important!: If you are using fabric that is previously unwashed (bought straight from a store), make sure to run it through a hot wash & dry cycle three times before making your mask - this will stop the mask from shrinking when you wash it later. 
  • Something to tie the fabric to your face -- this can be 2 hair ties, shoelaces, elastic, bias tape, or any thin piece of fabric with some stretch to it. If you don't have anything like this, you can cut two small circular pieces (these should look like rubber bands) from an old pair of socks or tights. 
  • Scissors
  • Needle(s) and thread
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Tailor's chalk, a pencil, or anything else that can write on fabric and wash off later
  • Crafting pipe cleaner, twist tie, floral wire, or any wiry material that will help shape the mask around the bridge of your nose
  • Mask pattern
  • Sewing machine

Here are a few other things to keep in mind: 

  • To be effective, a cloth face mask should have at least two layers of fabric.
  • The mask should cover both your nose and mouth and fit securely without making it difficult to breathe.
  • Try not to touch your mask while wearing it, especially not without washing your hands before and after.
  • Wash your mask frequently by machine or hand; after each use if at all possible.
  • If you have any questions about the safety of wearing a mask, contact a health care professional.

Want more information? Feel free to look through the CDC's page on cloth face coverings here:

Are you ready to start? Let's go!

Useful Links

Don't have a sewing machine and don't want to hand sew? Here are some great no-sew mask options for you: 

If you're comfortable with a needle and thread but don't have a machine to sew with, try these hand-sewn options (all of these require fabric, a needle, and thread at minimum): 

Have a sewing machine and itching to use it? See which of these tutorials might work best for you:

Need to print a pattern for a mask, but don't have a printer? Our libraries have printing services; learn more about making a computer reservation and printing here:

One last link: Do you wear glasses? Are you annoyed at how much they fog up when you're wearing a mask? Try this trick to keep them clear:

Eco-Friendliness

This one is simple -- instead of buying new fabric, elastic, hair ties, or other items, use what you already have around the house! Think about: 

  • Old clothes that you no longer wear -- pants, t-shirts, skirts, tights, and even socks can be used to make masks
  • Pillow cases or other bedding that you don't use often
  • Fabric bags that have been sitting at the back of your closet for ages
  • Thin twist ties sitting in the junk drawer (can be used to make a nose clip)

If you live a minimalist lifestyle and genuinely don't have any fabric items that you aren't using, considering buying fabric, bedding, or clothing from your local thrift store instead of buying it new.

In the Catalog

For more information on basic sewing and upcycling, browse our catalog and / or look at these books: