Mask Pattern Info

NOTE! THIS PAGE WAS DESIGNED FOR OUR GROUP OF VOLUNTEERS WHO ARE MAKING MASKS. We don’t pretend that we know any more than the other well-meaning groups out there trying to help. Evaluate several sources of information before you choose which mask to make. THANKS! 

(This is evolving each day, so check back once in a while)

We had a seamstress evaluate patterns and materials and this is the design our group of volunteers is working with. The video below has the instructions and shows the use of a nonwoven fabric filter, but we are using four layers of fabric and leaving the bottom unsewn so that a filter may be inserted as the material becomes available. If nonwoven filter is available, we’re still using a denser cotton than the light weave scarf she shows in the video. A different color for front and back may be helpful so that users can easily keep track of which is which (even though the outer tie side should be evident).


SANITATION: Make your own mask first and wear it when sewing the others. Don’t try your donated masks on or handle them unnecessarily. Check with your recipient organization to see if they would like them washed after manufacture by you or if they plan to do it at their facility. Wash hands frequently while working and don’t touch your face, glasses or mask.

FABRIC: Tightly woven cotton cut to 8″ x 8″ or 8″ x 9″ for a little extra width. Be sure fabric is pre-washed.

Optional Nonwoven filter material shown in video: You might find that you have shoe bags, disposable painter’s overalls or other items that contain this material. We tested it for washing, and drying at high temps, even pouring boiling water on it, and it held up fine. BUT, it WILL MELT if you use an iron on it, even through other fabric, so don’t press the mask it or you may ruin it or make it ineffective without realizing it, especially if you’re put the nonwoven between two pieces of other fabric. If using sew-in interfacing, do a test first. We’re recommending making with fabric and being sure to leave the bottom seam unsewn so that as material becomes available the nonwoven filters can be inserted. 


TIES: Instead of elastic, some of our group is using fabric ties as shown in the photos above. These are constructed from 1″ wide strips that are folded lengthwise to the middle, then in half to create 1/4″ ties that are overstitched. Each mask needs two 32″-36″ ties, which are sewn onto the pleated sides as shown in the photo above. Fabric ties aren’t as convenient for healthcare workers to take on and off, but reduce the chance of latex allergic reaction and address the elastic shortage.

We did get a bit of black elastic chord that has been used in some, threaded through a small sleeve on each side and loosely tied for laundering, then the wearer can adjust and tie as needed. It has all been distributed, but we wanted to share this photo in case others were working with a similar material. Some people found the pleated edges too bulky for tuning over into sleeves for ties (elastic, cloth or other cord) so they used a 2″ wide strip to create a pocket.

NOTE: I made two masks for my volunteer at work and I because we had to do a job that required us to be in close quarters, and the elastic cord didn’t work well for me, even when I adjusted the tie lengths. I ended up tying a ribbon to each loop and tying it at the back of my head. The input we got from one physician today is that cloth ties are preferred for him.

Some people also used regular 1/4″ flat elastic, and we’ve seen some with the elastic attached at the top and bottom of the mask and some with the elastic more at ear-width.

BREAD TIES: (this will make sense when you watch the video) If you need bread ties for your group, contact Roberta at 541-310-7413. Many groups are leaving this step out, but we felt a better fit would be helpful.

LABELING: It might be helpful for each batch to contain a note stating materials used (# of fabric layers, whether the nonwoven filter material was used, etc.). Someone also recommended adding whether they were sewn in a pet-free home or not.

A Basic Instruction Video. (See notes above, and sorry about the YouTube ads, some of them are a bit wacky and beyond our control). Note that we don’t recommend gauzy fabric as shown in this video, or the single fabric layer. Read all the instructions on this page to get the full picture.

We also made a quick video for how to measure the mask pleats, which for me was the clumsiest part of the project.

THANK YOU for pitching in!

Here’s a great video for making a mask if you don’t sew. Seems like you could roll the top down around a bread tie or a 4-5″ section of pipe cleaner to make the nose fit better. There are caveats: People should make sure their DIY masks are clean (a dirty mask might be worse than no mask), and they shouldn’t use the masks as an excuse to violate social-distancing orders.  Get in the habit of only touching the ties of your mask.