How to Make a Mask Without Sewing (With Video)

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).

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.

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.

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.

How to Make a No-Sew Face Mask with At Home Materials

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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″.

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.

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.

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″.

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.

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.

Related: How to Sew a Medical Face Mask

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