I've seen a lot of people frantically trying to find and buy face masks to comply with Covid-19 recommendations, but they are easy to make at home and allow you to create something with a little of your individuality!
Lightweight cotton and t-shirt fabrics are recommended so that you can still breathe easily while wearing it. A good quality quilter's fabric, high-thread count bed sheets, pocket handkerchiefs, and t-shirts can all offer good fabric choices. You should avoid linen weaves where you can see small holes in the fabric. Synthetic fabrics like polyester should not be used as they will make your face hot.
Terra Creators who have landed on these instructions will find two white cotton handkerchiefs in their tie-dye kits. These can be used plain or dyed (or one side plain and one side dyed). If you plan to use dyed fabric against your face, make sure you wash the fabric well (a few times) after dying. Otherwise, you may end up with blue, red, or purple dye stains on your face!
These instructions are for a two fabric layer mask, but you could add a third fabric layer if you want. You can also mix fabrics, such as using a cute quilted fabric print or custom tie-dyed design, with a softer t-shirt fabric on the inside against your face.
Many people like to use elastic for face masks, but I like and teach using ties instead. This is why. Ties are more comfortable because they don't rub against the back of your years. Ties also make the mask size more flexible - you can adjust the ties looser or tighter as needed. Elastic masks have to be sized more precisely for the size of person wearing them.
My favorite material to use for ties is t-shirt yarn. You can buy skeins of t-shirt yarn already made, or cut thin strips from old t-shirts. This yarn is soft and stretchy. I can then tie the knots once after placing mask over my face, then the stretchiness allows me to slip the mask on and off after wearing without retying.
You can also use ribbon, bias tape, or cut fabric from the same material you're using to make the body of the mask.
Washing and Use
These handmade masks are not medical grade and offer no guarantee of effectiveness. However, when worn properly and cleaned often, they will offer some degree of barrier that is likely better than going without! I have several masks that I rotate between. When I come home, I place the used mask in a container of hot/boiling water and dish soap and let soak. Then I rinse in cold water and lay flat to dry. You can iron to return the pleats to pristine condition if you like. I would not put these in the washing machine unless using a net bag, as the ties will get tangled in the washer and the masks won't hold up as long. Do not use bleach with the masks. It will ruin any color and cause the fabric to deteriorate faster.
Cut 2 pieces of fabric that are 9 inches long x 7 inches wide. Cut 4 pieces of "yarn" that are 16 inches long. This size will work for older kids and adults. For a young child or toddler, you may want to reduce size slightly to 8 inch long x 6 inch wide.
Place one fabric piece down with the print side facing up. Lay a tie (yarn piece) from each corner and cross towards the middle. Lay the second piece of fabric with the print side facing inward. Pin the corners so that the ties are sandwiched between the two layers of fabric.
Stitch around the outside of the fabric leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. You may do this on a sewing machine, or stitch by hand. Either way, it's a good idea to reinforce the corners with a few extra stitches to keep the ties secured. Make sure to not sew the ties into your seam except at the corners.
Leave an opening of about 2 inches on one long side. This is where you will turn the seam to the inside.
Using the 2 inch opening where you didn't stitch, turn the ties and fabric from the inside to the outside. Lay flat. If you have an iron, it's helpful to press the layers now to flatten.
Create 3 horizontal pleats in the fabric, that are about 3/4 inch tall. Ideally you want to compress the height of the mask by about half, so that it's around 3 inches tall. Your iron can help to create the pleats, but you can also just pin them in place.
Sew a 1/4 inch seam around all sides of the mask. You can optionally leave a 2 inch opening to allow for filters to be inserted inside the mask. If you won't use filters, you don't need to leave this opening.