5 DIY No-Sew Face Masks That You Can Make At Home

New CDC guidelines advise all Americans over the age of 2 to wear a mask.

Face masks on a table.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

New CDC guidelines advise all Americans over the age of 2 to wear a mask.

Many people are making their own no-sew face masks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since medical-grade masks are being used by front-line responders and most people don’t own a sewing machine, DIY no-sew masks may be the way to go.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Americans over the age of 2 — especially those in densely populated areas — wear masks whenever they need to be in public. They offered the following guidelines for creating DIY masks.

Cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

While there are a few good options that involve sewing, for those that would rather avoid the needle and thread, here are five ways to make no-sew face masks from everyday materials that you probably have at home.


No-Sew Mask Using A Bandana

Materials needed:

— Bandana or piece of square cloth measuring 20 inches by 20 inches
— Coffee filter
— Two hair ties or rubber bands

To create such a mask, first, fold the cloth material in half from top to bottom. You should then fold the coffee filter in half, placing it in the middle of the folded bandana. The cloth should then be folded again in thirds, with the top pulled down to the bottom, and then the bottom pulled up to the top. After doing that, rubber bands or hair ties should be placed about six inches apart around the ends of the material. The ends should then be folded horizontally together and one end should be tucked into the other.

Should no hair ties or rubber bands be available, any elastic round material — like socks or pantyhose — could be used to secure the cloth.


No-Sew Mask Created With A Sock

Materials needed:
— One adult-sized sock
— Scissors

To create this mask, all you need is one half of a pair of adult-sized socks. The first step is cutting the foot off the sock if it’s a long, tube sock (leaving about six inches of material to work with) or just cutting the toe off if you’re working with an ankle sock. Next, lengthwise, you should cut down one side of the sock, opening the sock up so it forms a sort of square.

Now it’s time to cut the ear holes. To do this, keep the sock folded in half and measure about half an inch from the outside edges in toward the center, on each side. Then make a vertical cut down toward the open end of the material, leaving about an inch uncut. The mask is now complete and can be fitted over the face. Most suggest putting a paper towel between the mask and your face for an extra layer of protection.


No-Sew Mask Made From A T-Shirt

Materials needed:

— T-shirt
— Scissors
— Ruler or tape measure (optional)

This method is fairly simple and can be used with any old T-shirt or cotton tank top. To begin, the T-shirt should be laid out flat on a hard surface. You should then measure 7 to 8 inches from the bottom hem of the shirt. If you don’t have a measuring tool available, this can be determined to be about the width of your hand. Once you have found your line, you should cut horizontally across, removing the bottom part of the shirt. The top part of the shirt can now be set aside.

Next, choose one side of the bottom and cut up along the seam, opening the shirt up so it forms one long piece of material. Measure the length of your shirt — if it’s more than three hand-spans, you should cut off the excess to make the mask less cumbersome. This extra material can also be left to make longer ties. About one thumb-width from the top and bottom, start cutting horizontally, one hand-width at a time. You can now open the cloth up, as the mask is complete.

To tie the mask properly, it should be fitted over your nose and mouth. The upper ties should be tied around your head, secured near the base of your skull. The lower ties should be fitted around your chin and tied on top of your head. If the mask is loose around the nose, the T-shirt scraps can be used as extra layers of filtration or to stuff in any open areas.


No-Sew Mask Using Fabric & Glue

Materials needed:

— Cloth about 20 inches by 2o inches

— Two rubber bands or hair ties

— Hot glue or fabric glue

— Iron

This method starts with the piece of fabric laid out flat on an iron-safe surface. The cloth should first be folded in half and then pleated, with 1-inch pleats. This is done by measuring about an inch from the folded edge of the cloth. That inch of material will be folded onto the rest of the cloth, forming the first pleat. The pleat should then be ironed to ensure it lies flat. The next step involves flipping the fabric over and creating another 1-inch pleat on the backside, ironing it again. This pleating, flipping, and ironing should be continued until it is completely pleated.

After the pleating is done, one rubber band or hair tie should be looped on each end. Their location should be adjusted so the mask fits your face. Any excess fabric should be cut off. Ideally, about an inch or an inch-and-a-half should be left at the ends. These ends now need to be glued down. To do so, a layer of glue should be added between each pleat, ensuring maximum security. The whole end will then be glued to the rest of the cloth. Once the glue dries, the mask is able to be used.


No-Sew Mask Created From Leggings

Materials needed:

— One pair of leggings

— Scissors

An extra pair of leggings — or any form of spandex — can easily be converted into a mask. To start, the leggings should be laid out on a flat surface. As only one leg is needed to make a mask, one pair can give you two masks. Starting from the ankle-side of the pant leg, you should measure your face from ear-to-ear and mark that location on the leg. You should make your cut a bit smaller than what you measured to ensure a secure fit. An average-sized mask would require a cut about 8 to 9 inches from the bottom. After that initial cut is made, the rest of the leggings can be set aside. The bottom hem should also be cut off, leaving only one seam in the material.

To better fit your face, the corners should be cut to give the piece rounded edges. Each corner should be cut in an arc to give it that round shape. Next, one layer of the leggings should be cut in a semicircle to reduce the thickness of the ear straps. You should ensure the double layer is left around your nose and mouth, so the rounded cut should be made only about an inch into the rest of the fabric. Once that’s complete, the ear holes can be made by folding the single-layer portion in half lengthwise. Then a small triangle cut should be made in the center of the single layer, careful not to cut into the double layer part. You can unfold it and the mask is finished.

Because the leggings naturally have a pocket between the two layers, additional material can be placed in that space for an extra level of filtration. This can be anything from another piece of fabric to a paper towel or coffee filter.