How to Make DIY Face Masks While Hospitals Have Shortages

Getty Stephanie Cave tries on a finished mask at Stitch House in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

As coronavirus cases grow in the United States, a number of hospitals are asking people in their community to donate any extra masks they may have or even to sew masks to help with the shortage. Although certified N95 masks are best, some hospitals are still turning to sewn masks as an alternative. If you’re wanting to make your own mask, here’s a look at how to do so.

Some hospitals and medical centers are asking the public to make homemade masks to donate. Kootenai Health provides medical services to patients in north Idaho, eastern Washington, Montana, and the inland Northwest. Due to the shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment, Kootenai is asking people in the community to make masks and drop them off. No, these can’t replace N95 masks for healthcare practitioners, which are still the best resource. But with so many shortages, some hospitals are turning to cotton masks as a backup plan.

Kootenai has provided a detailed breakdown on how to make a mask. You can read the full instructions here. To make masks, you’ll need two pieces of cotton that are 9″x6″ in size (light-colored, prewashed and preshrunk, tightly woven and not flannel.) You’ll also need rope elastic, beading cord elastic, or 1/8″ flat elastic. Kootenai’s sewing instructions note that the elastic should be cut seven inches long, with a knot at each end (but last elastic should not be knotted.) Read the full breakdown here.

Full instructions are in the video below, but Kootenai recommends using cotton for both layers and not flannel for one of them.

HowToSewASurgicalFaceMaskHow to sew a face mask for medical reasons. Great for patients with compromised immune systems and those with COPD. You can find the pattern on and our Facebook page The Turban Project.2018-07-17T18:50:33Z

Joann also offers instructions for creating your own face mask in the video below.

How to Make a Face MaskHelp support medical personnel by sewing non-surgical protective face masks to donate to hospitals and medical clinics. You may even already have cotton or flannel at home to make these masks. When you're finished, you can donate them at any JOANN store location. This will greatly help facilities that are in short supply due to…2020-03-20T21:06:42Z

According to The New York Post, if you can’t find elastic, then ponytail bands, rubber bands, or baker’s twine can be used. As for the mask itself, of course surgical masks are better as they are about 89% effective at preventing the transmission of particles .02 microns in size (which is smaller than the coronavirus.) Vacuum cleaner bags are next at 86%, followed by a dish towel at 73% (but breathability is an issue with this), a cotton-blend T-shirt at 70%, and an antimicrobial pillowcase at 68%, New York Post reported. Doubling the material increases filtration, which is why many of these instructions recommend sewing together two layers of material.

You can also find patterns and instructions on Joost De Cock’s FreeSewing Open Source Project. He put mask instructions together after his wife, who is a surgeon, saw that shortages of masks would likely happen, Forbes reported. A one-page instruction on making masks from scratch is here. First, here’s a video.

Make your own face mask (from scratch)Do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and learn how to sew your own face mask. Download the pattern at:

The pattern for their Fu Face Mask is here.

Detailed instructions on making the face mask are here. The instructions come with pictures, so they’re pretty easy to follow.

Deaconess also has a set of instructions for making facemasks here. They also have information on how you can donate masks that you’ve made or request masks if your organization is in need.

Here’s another instruction video:

How to make a face mask for doctors, nurses and health care workers – COVID-19 – Deaconess HospitalDeaconess Hospital provides instructions on how to make a face mask for doctors, nurses and other health care workers during COVID-19 coronavirus. Visit to learn where to donate your home made sewn masks.2020-03-20T15:54:27Z

As you can see, making a mask really isn’t that difficult. If your local hospital has requested homemade face masks, this is a great place to start.

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