Whether you’re making face masks for healthcare workers or for you and your family, cloth masks can serve as an extra barrier to protect the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially important now New Jersey has mandated that all customers entering supermarkets must have their face covered

Expert  guidelines on who should be wearing a face mask are changing but the bottom line is that we need to preserve N95 face masks and protective equipment for healthcare workers on the front lines. 

There are plenty of resources online to fashion your own face mask, from cutting up a basic T-shirt to a more form-fitting mask around the chin. We’ve come up with a DIY mask that has the option to insert a washable filter. Even though it’s not a medical-grade N95 mask, we know that using a face mask is better than not so we’ve put together a step-by-step tutorial to help you make your own washable mask with its own filter.

What You Need:

Sewing machine
Cotton fabric
Jersey material (T-shirt) or light flannel
One 54” flat shoe lace cut into four ties, trimmed at the ends. (Elastic or bias tape can also be used as ties)
Tape measure or ruler

Watch our video how-to, or skip below for the step-by-step directions:

  1. Cut a 9-inch x 6-inch rectangle from the cotton fabric.
  2. Fold two pleats lengthways. Iron flat and pin in place.

  3. Sew along each of the shorter sides to secure the pleats.

  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the jersey fabric.

  5. Using a few stitches or a pin, secure the ties to the right side of the cotton in each corner at a 45 degree angle. Gather the ties in the center and pin. This will prevent the ties from getting caught when sewing the two fabrics together.

  6. With right sides facing each other, pin the two rectangles of fabric together.
  7. Starting approximately 3-inches from one end of the longer side, make a few stitches, back stitch, then sew all the way around the rectangle, but finish approximately 3-inches in from the opposite end of where you started sewing so you’re left with a 3-inch opening at the base of the mask. Back stitch to secure. Snip all corners at a 45 degree angle being careful not to cut across the stitching you just made.
  8. Turn the rectangle right side out and pull ties to pull the corners into shape.

    [Note: At this stage you can insert a filter to act as an extra barrier for your face mask. High-filtration vacuum bags work well, but not all filters are washable, so check the package for details. We used a Shop Vac filter which can be rinsed, meaning our face mask can be gently hand washed].

  9. Tuck the fabric at the opening to make an inward fold and iron the face mask flat on all edges.

  10. Starting at one corner, sew all the way around your face mask about ⅛-inch from the edge of the mask. Back stitch to finish. Trim thread. Done!

For more more advice and tips on how to properly use and wear a face mask, visit the World Health Organization.