Wearing face masks is a great tool in preventing the spread of a viral infection. During the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks became a daily essential. Here are the best free sewing patterns for making your own face masks at home.
Face masks, paired with proper hand hygiene and social distancing, cut out the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and help save lives. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, that emerged in late 2019, then rapidly spread throughout the world.
Below you will find awesome resources – free patterns and tutorials – for how to make face masks for your family, friends, and community.
Pro and cons of DIY fabric face masks
Pros: DIY fabric face masks are both comfortable and fit tightly to your face. On top of that, since they became part of a new normal two years ago, these accessories went from functional to fashionable.
One of the biggest advantages of fabric face masks is they are washable and reusable, in contrast to surgical face masks that you have to throw away in the trash after each use. Many people prefer them for comfort and style.
Cons: Frequent washing and drying of fabric face masks can decrease their filtration capacity.
Health experts also warn that cloth masks do little to prevent tiny virus particles from getting into your nose or mouth and aren’t as effective against the newest COVID variant.
Related: DIY kids face masks. 10+ free sewing patterns
According to CDC, fabric face masks should:
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include multiple layers of fabric
- allow for breathing without restriction
- be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
You should wash your fabric masks regularly, depending on the frequency of use. Machine-washing is enough to clean and sterilize your cloth face mask.
And you should not touch or adjust your face mask while wearing it. Never touch the outside of the mask – that area could be contaminated. A recent laboratory study found that the virus that causes COVID-19 could survive on a face mask for up to seven days.
To remove the mask, only touch the ear loops or the ties – remember, the front of the mask is possibly contaminated. Wash your hands immediately after removing it.
The best materials for making DIY face masks
The best fabric for homemade masks is a closely woven, high-thread-count 100% cotton fabric, so bed sheet material seems to be the obvious candidate.
In times like these, making DIY face masks is a great way to upcycle your old bedsheets and pillowcases.
Some other good options for making your own cloth masks are denim, percale, poplin, and sateen.
It’s recommended to avoid knits, as they create holes in the fabric when they stretch. Thus, knits might not provide an effective protection against diseases transmitted by airborne droplets.
I tested three face mask patterns
For my masks, I used three different patterns that appealed to me.
The green mask is made from the See Kate Sew pattern, the navy-blue one from Made Everyday, and the red mask from Sweet Red Poppy.
For this project, I used tightly woven bedsheet cotton fabric, and fabric ties, instead of elastic. The elastic can get uncomfortable behind the ears, with prolonged wear.
All of these face masks are easy sewing projects and have a good fit. I had to adjust the curve of the Sweet Red Poppy mask to fit my face, but I was pleased with the result. This pattern takes just a few pieces of fabric and very little time to complete. The mask is kind of lightweight – but I like that – and is easy to wear.
It’s completely different from the See Kate Sew mask – that one is composed of three cotton layers and has a sturdy feel to it. I have a feeling that you may find this mask uncomfortable to wear during summer days. It can get hot under the mask. But three or four layers offer better protection than two layers – an important point made in a study published in The New York Times.
The Made Everyday pattern provides a simple, good, and reliable face mask.
What can you use as a middle layer filter for your DIY face mask?
Many people use as a middle layer filter for their face masks materials like kitchen paper towels, kleenex, coffee filters, and even inserts of vacuum cleaner bags.
Also, this meltblown, non-woven cloth is the material that is used in professional masks and seems a pretty good choice.
Face masks making supplies
This is everything you need to start making fabric face masks:
If you’re new to sewing, you’re going to need basic supplies like:
Here are more than 10 free sewing patterns and tutorials for making your own face masks with size options for kids, teens and adults.
3D Face Mask | Best Fit- Comfortable And Beautiful Face Mask. PDF Pattern from Thuy Phan
The free Olson Mask PDF pattern, designed by medical professionals – download here
New design – a face mask that won’t fog glasses. A very quick & easy 3D face mask sewing tutorial from Mia
Fabric face mask pattern with ties or elastic from Made Everyday (adult and child size)
Face mask with filter pocket and no elastic from See Kate Sew
Fitted fabric mask with bias tape or elastic and a flexible nose wire from Sweet Red Poppy. Sizes included – toddler, child, teen, adult
Fitted fabric face mask with filter pocket and nose support from Daisy Multifacetica
Versatile face mask pattern and tutorial from The Crafty Quilter (one size only)
Fabric mask pattern for a nurse, by a nurse – from Instructables
Free facial mask with filter pocket pattern from I Think Sew (sizes included S – XL)
Free face mask pattern & tutorial from Craft Passion. 4 sizes included: men, women/teenager, kid 7-12, kid 3-6
Face mask – free pattern from Sarah Maker (adult and child size)
Face mask sewing pattern and tutorial from Button Counter (adult size)
Reusable DIY cloth mask with disposable middle layer filter from DIY Mask. 5 sizes included
The statement below, regarding fabric face masks, comes from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.