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5 Ways to Make a No-Sew Face Mask with Household Materials

If you would like to make a fabric face mask, but don’t have a sewing machine, here are 5 ways to make a no-sew face mask with materials you can find at home (such as bandanas and hair ties).

two types of no-sew face masks using a bandanna and a shirt

The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings such as the grocery store. Using fabric face masks will help “slow the spread” in communities, and reserve medical-grade surgical masks and N95 respirators for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

Now that the CDC has officially recommended the use of face masks in public, you may be wondering how to make a face mask at home.

Many face mask tutorials require a sewing machine — or a significant amount of patience with a needle and thread. But, this post will show you how to make a no-sew face mask at home, regardless of your sewing ability.

Important to Remember

A DIY face mask is not a replacement for a surgical mask or N-95 respirator. Rather, these masks are meant to help protect other people when you must go out in public.

Be sure to practice good hygiene and proper mask-wearing procedure. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing your face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

In addition, masks are not a replacement for social distancing. You should still be practicing 6-feet social distancing and frequently washing your hands for 20 seconds.

What is the Best Fabric for Homemade Face Masks?

Researchers at Cambridge University found that cotton T-shirts and cotton pillowcases are the best at-home materials for making DIY face masks, due to their ability to capture small particles yet remain breathable.

A Wake Forest study found that most effective masks were constructed of two layers of heavyweight “quilters cotton” with a thread count of at least 180.

When you are looking for fabric, try to find cotton fabric with a tight weave. Choose something with a high thread count — like a high-quality pillowcase or a re-purposed dress shirt.

5 Ways to Make No-Sew Masks

  1. With a Bandana and Hair Ties (or rubber bands)
  2. With a Bandana and Fabric Strips
  3. With a Woven Shirt Fabric Strips
  4. With Fabric Ties and Safety Pins
  5. With a T-Shirt

View the YouTube video here.

Mask designs are based on the CDC designs available on their website.

1. How to Make Face Mask with a Bandana and Hair Ties

One of the simplest and quickest ways to make a no-sew face mask is with a bandana (handkerchief or large cloth napkin) and two hair ties. If you have those materials at home, you can make a simple cloth face-covering in about a minute.

how to fold a bandana to make a no-sew fabric face mask

First, lay the handkerchief, bandana, or piece of fabric flat. Fold the top and bottom inward to meet in the middle. Then, fold the bandana in half again. There will be four layers of fabric.

How to use hair ties to turn a bandana into a cloth face covering

Next, use two hair ties to create ear loops. Slip one hair tie over each of the ends. Slide the hair ties a few inches toward the middle of the folded bandana.

Tuck the ends of the bandana together to make a secure fabric mask

Then, fold the ends of the bandana in to meet in the middle. You want the ends to overlap slightly, so you can tuck one end into the other. This will help keep the ends secure.

the front side of a fabric face mask made from a bandana and hair ties

Wear the mask with the smooth side out and the ends against your face.

If the mask feels too tight around your ears, then you can adjust the position of the hair ties to make it wider.

Remember to wash the bandana after each use, or if it becomes moist during use.

Using Rubber Bands Instead of Hair Ties

If you don’t have hair ties — or find them uncomfortable around your ears — then you can substitute simple rubber bands. Fold the bandana in the same way, but use rubber bands instead of hair elastics.

2. Using Fabric Strips Instead of Hair Ties

If you would prefer to tie the mask around the back of the head, instead of behind the ears, then you can secure the mask with fabric ties.

Use fabric strips to make a bandana mask that is secured with ties, instead of hair elastics.

To make the strips, I cut two 1″-wide, 18″-long strips from a t-shirt. Lay the strips down in the same place you would have put the hair ties, and fold the bandana the same way as before.

Wear the mask by tying the fabric strips behind your head and neck.

3. How to Make a Mask from a Woven Shirt

Another way to make a no-sew mask is with the sleeve cut from a (too-big, no longer worn) dress shirt.

For this mask, I used a button-up dress shirt made from a very tightly woven broadcloth fabric. I cut a section from the sleeve that measured approximately 8″ by 9″.

How to cut a shirt sleeve to make a fabric mask

Fold each of the cut edges in toward the middle, about 3/4″, and press with an iron. If you have fabric glue, you can use a small amount to secure these folds.

Use ties to finish a no-sew fabric mask made from a shirt.

Then, add fabric strips, bias binding, or other straps. Place them through the opening, and tie them behind the head and neck to wear the mask.

4. Using Safety Pins and Fabric Strips

Perhaps you prefer to use 4 fabric ties on your mask, one on each corner. In this case, you can use a safety pin to attach long fabric strips to your mask.

Use four small safety pins to attach the fabric strips to the sides of the mask.

The fabric strips will tie around the back of the head and neck. Many people find this is more comfortable to wear for extended amounts of time.

5. How to Make a Face Mask with a T-shirt

If you have an old T-shirt, then you can re-purpose it into a face mask.

How to cut out a no-sew mask from a t-shirt

Starting at a folded edge, cut this shape out of a t-shirt. The two strap pieces should measure about 12″ long by 1″ wide, and the rectangle on the folded edge should measure 4″ wide by 14″ tall. Once it is unfolded, the center rectangle should measure 8″ by 14″.

How to fold a t shirt to make a no-sew face mask.

Lay out the cut piece, and fold the top half down over the bottom half. (This will give you two layers of fabric on the main part of the mask.) Once you’ve made this fold, the four ties will be at the four corners.

a finished cloth face covering made from a t shirt

To wear the mask, tie the straps behind the head and behind the neck. You can positions both of the straps behind the head to adjust the fit.

View the YouTube video here.

Free Pattern to Sew a Pleated Fabric Face Mask

If you would prefer to sew a fabric face mask, I have another post with a free pattern and a step-by-step video. The pattern includes instructions for elastic ear loops or fabric ties. And, it has instructions to include a filter pocket. You can view that pattern here: How to Sew a Fabric Face Mask

a mask made from pleated fabric with four fabric ties
How to Make A No-Sew Face Mask

How to Make A No-Sew Face Mask

Yield: 1
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

How to make a no-sew fabric face mask from household materials, no sewing machine required.

Materials

  • Bandana, handkerchief, or tightly woven cotton fabric about 18"-20" square.
  • Two hair elastics, rubber bands, or strips of cotton fabric

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Optional: fabric glue

Instructions

Instructions are given for the most basic version of this no-sew mask. Please see all of the variations explained in the article above for more information.

  1. Lay the handkerchief, bandana, or piece of fabric flat. Fold the top and bottom inward to meet in the middle. Then, fold the bandana in half again. There will be four layers of fabric.
  2. Use two hair ties to create ear loops. Slip one hair tie over each of the ends. Slide the hair ties a few inches toward the middle of the folded bandana.
  3. Fold the ends of the bandana in to meet in the middle. You want the ends to overlap slightly, so you can tuck one end into the other. This will help keep the ends secure.
  4. Wear the mask with the smooth side out and the ends against your face.

Notes

If the mask feels too tight around your ears, then you can adjust the position of the hair ties to make it wider.

Remember to wash the bandana after each use, or if it becomes moist during use.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

how to make a fabric face mask without a sewing machine
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Rithvi Bawankule

Thursday 15th of October 2020

Wow! This is great. Thanks. Nice DIY idea. Useful.

Jimmy

Friday 28th of August 2020

So useful to me. I did try it for my family already! Thank you so much for this post!

Rithvi Bawankule

Thursday 15th of October 2020

Ya it's really useful I also tried it.

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Tuesday 25th of August 2020

[…]  No sew masks are also possible (see https://sarahmaker.com/how-to-make-a-no-sew-face-mask-with-at-home-materials/).  Alternatively, we can buy cloth masks; there are many available in shops and for ordering […]

Margie

Saturday 22nd of August 2020

I am unable to print the pattern for the face mask.

Sarah

Saturday 22nd of August 2020

Hi, Search for the large blue print button at the bottom of the page.

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Tuesday 18th of August 2020

[…] If your child is old enough, you can even let them help make their own mask. There are many patterns for no-sew masks available online. Being part of the creation can make them feel more a part of this […]