This past week I shifted my focus to making some DIY face masks for my family. We were one of the many families who were not able to purchase them before they sold out. I originally was O.K. that we didn’t have them, but this past week it was mentioned all over the media that it’s recommended we wear them when out in public.
Normally I would have pulled out the sewing machine, created a pattern and made them. However, my sewing machine is in need of repair right now. Then it occurred to me that there are many people who don’t know how to sew and do not have a sewing machine. This motivated me to figure out a work around. Here is a picture of my husband wearing his mask.
We both wore them for about an hour while at the grocery store this past week. They are very comfortable and easy to breathe through. I would say they are durable for light use, i.e., trips out to the store.
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I designed these masks to be made from three layers of cotton. Further down in the article, I show you how to make a disposable paper towel liner to keep the inside surface of your mask clean. I recommend hand washing the masks and letting them air dry. I chose not to add a vacuum cleaner filter/bag layer, because a few articles mentioned that they could be chemically treated and not safe to breath through.
PLEASE NOTE: These masks are a last resort for the many people who cannot obtain a N95 mask. Research shows that having a mask, even a homemade one, can provide some level of protection. Use of a proper respirators (e.g., N95, N99, or N100), if obtainable, would be a preferred method of protection.
- TIGHTLY WOVEN COTTON FABRIC (I USED DISH TOWELS)
- GROSGRAIN RIBBON
- FABRIC SCISSORS
- PAPER TOWELS (OPTIONAL)
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR USING THERM-O-WEB
- Always pre-wash all fabric and pre-test the thermo-o-web on a scrap piece of fabric you will be using.
- When working with cotton, you’ll set your iron to the cotton/linen heat setting for this project.
- Always allow the material to cool after ironing. The Heat n Bond will not be fully set until the fabric is cool.
- Overheating the adhesive, will ruin it, causing it to not bond properly.
STEP 1: DOWNLOAD THE FACE MASK TEMPLATE
To download the face mask and therm-o-web templates and receive instant access to my free library, just subscribe at the top sidebar or at the bottom of this post. You will be sent a welcome email with the password to the library. Go to the library page and enter the password, then download any of the designs you would like. This file is available as a PDF, SVG, and Silhouette Cut File.
STEP 2: CREATE A SAMPLE MASK FOR PROPER FIT
Having different ages and sizes in my family, I decided to make a quick sample mask from paper towels. This is super easy to do and it will allow you to adjust the size of your mask before you begin making it. You can also use it later as a disposable cover for the inside of your mask.
Take a paper towel and fold it in half. Then trace your face mask template on the towel.
Cut out the mask. Since the paper towel was folded in half, this will give you both sides. Now, run a double sided tape runner along the long curved edge of the mask. Take the second side of the mask and place it directly on top and press the two long curved edges together.
Flip it inside out and you will have a sample mask, like the image below. Take your sample mask to a mirror with a pencil and mark any areas that need to be trimmed down. Make a new pattern accordingly. Save this paper towel mask as a disposable insert for your fabric mask.
STEP 3: TRACE AND CUT YOUR THREE LAYERS OF FABRIC
Place your cotton dish towel flat on a heat resistant surface. Using your iron on the cotton/linen setting, press all of the wrinkles from your towel.
Trace your template on to the towel. If using a pattern, ensure it is the same on both sides of the mask. See the image below.
Once you have traced the template, cut the pattern out using your fabric scissors.
Before moving to the next step, you should have three sets of fabric. I chose to use the striped pattern for the front of the mask and the white for the middle and back layer of the mask.
STEP 4: PREPARE YOUR THERM-O-WEB/STRONG BOND
It might save you time to pre-cut strips of the therm-o-web to assemble your masks. There is a PDF file to use as a template. You can use the template to trace your pattern on the therm-o-web and cut it out with scissors.
If you have a cutting machine, there is a Silhouette file and SVG file for this.
For cutting machine users, cut a 12 X 12 piece of Strong Bond and place it on a strong grip mat, adhesive side facing down. Then roll the Strong Bond with a brayer to ensure that it sticks to the mat well. Load the mat into your machine. The Strong Bond can be cut with the copy paper settings.
When done, it will look like the image below.
STEP 5: ASSEMBLE YOUR FACE MASK LAYERS
Place your face mask sides facing each other, like the image below. Then take a strip of strong bond and place it on the long curved section of the right side of the mask, like in the image below. Now press it in place with your iron for 2 seconds.
Once it has slightly cooled, peel the paper backing from the adhesive.
Line up the two layers with the pattern side facing in. Then press the the two layers together for 6 to 10 seconds with a hot iron. Your iron should be set to cotton/linen for this whole project if using cotton fabric. Concentrate the heat on the edge of the fabric where the Strong Bond strip was placed.
Once it has slightly cooled, press the seam together with your fingers while it is still warm (not hot). This just helps it bond better to the fabric. When it has cooled, flip the mask inside out. It will look like the image below.
Snip off the triangle of fabric sticking out of the top of the mask.
Now open the mask layer and observe where the wrinkles are along the seam.
You want to make a relief cut/slit where the wrinkles are. Then place the strong bond strips below the seam, like in the image below.
Iron the Strong Bond in place for 2 seconds and peel the paper backing away.
Then close the mask and flip it over. You want the side of the mask with the Strong Bond inside facing up, so it’s closest to the heat. Now press this area with an iron, so the extra fabric along the seam is adhered to the the mask and laying flat.
When cooled and you open the mask, it will look like the image below. This step reduces the bulk in the middle of the mask and allows all the layers to stay flat and smooth.
Repeat this process for all three layers of the mask before moving on to the next step.
STEP 6: COMBINE YOUR FACE MASK LAYERS
Add the Strong Bond along the entire perimeter of the mask and press it in place with an iron for 2 seconds. The remove the paper backing.
Taker your second layer of fabric and place it inside of the first layer.
Close the mask. Place your hand inside to make sure the layers fit together snugly in the center. Check your edges to ensure they are lined up properly.
Press all of the edges with your iron for about 12 seconds and let cool. Flip the mask over and press it again on the other side and let cool.
Add the Strong Bond to the third mask layer, along the entire perimeter of the mask and press it in place with an iron for 2 seconds. Then remove the paper backing.
Now place the third layer (back of mask) in place. Be sure the ugly side of the seam is facing the inside of the mask. Line all the edges up and ensure the middle is pressed in snugly.
Now iron the edges of the mask from the inside for another 12 seconds.
The strong bond helps keep the edges of the mask from fraying. Take a pair of fabric scissors and cut a clean edge all around the mask.
The Strong Bond is only about 1/4 inch thick, so you only want to trim the very edges. Otherwise, you could cut through your seams.
When this step is completed, your mask should look like the images below and it will have three layers bonded together.
Here’s a picture of the back side of the mask.
STEP 7: CREATE A NOSE AND CHIN GUARD FOR YOUR MASK
Take some of your leftover fabric and cut it into a rectangle, approximately 5 inches long by 2 inches tall. Fold each end in about 1/2 inch and iron a crease. Then place a line of Strong Bond under the folded edge and iron it into place for 2 seconds.
Now place a piece of Strong Bond on top of each of those and press it into place for 2 seconds. Peel off the paper backing.
If you would like extra support and the ability to mold the nose guard around your face, place a twist tie in center.
Now place your mask on top of a rounded item. A coffee mug would work well. Center the mask over the cup and then line up your fabric rectangle in the center of the top of your mask. Press one side of the fabric strip for 16 seconds until the fabric bonds to the mask. Since the fabric is thick, you may need to iron it longer.
You only want to attach one side at a time.
Place your twist tie in the center of the fabric strip and then fold it over, encasing the twist tie along the top edge of the mask. The twist tie will help form the mask to your nose. Now bond the strip to the inside of the mask with your iron.
STEP 8: ATTACH YOUR TIES TO THE MASK
Cut your ribbon into four strips measuring approximately 15 inches.
Add a Strong Bond strip to the inside of your mask (heat 2 seconds), remove the paper backing and press the ribbon into place for about 12 seconds. These ties hold up pretty well, but for added protection, I recommend using a needle and thread to tack them into place. You could also use a safety pin or staple on each one.
Take your paper towel template and place it in the middle of the mask. This will serve as a disposable layer for the inside of your mask to help keep it clean.
Here are my boys wearing their masks.
Here is my mask. This was the first mask I created. I’ve made several adjustments to the design since making this mask.
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Hopefully this no-sew mask tutorial will help you and your family. Thanks for stopping by!