Sewing Face Masks for Covid-19 Emergency

On top of this page, I'm listing basic information you may need now. Below that is a list of databases with organizations requesting home-stitched masks. Next are links to information about sewing patterns and science. At the bottom, where I'm coming from. Email me at This page is being updated frequently.

My two free mask-making tutorials are on my blog - the easy, pleated, fast one is here, and the roomier version is here. I've made and given away over 1,000 masks, most of them made with my easy pleated  pattern, and they get very good reviews for a snug fist. 

The Latest News

1/26/21: TWO MASKS ARE BETTER THAN ONE!  Medical authorities, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, are now suggesting that people wear multiple masks. This is because of the newer, more contagious mutations of the virus. So even if you are making multilayer cloth masks, you should recommend to your recipients that they put it over a disposable paper mask, like the  KN95s (widely available online). New York Times article is HERE. Dr. Fauci making the recommendation this week is HERE

Which Fabrics?
Here's my ongoing list of research into which fabrics that are most effective in cloth masks. There's no absolute consensus, but virtually all researchers have found that high-thread count fabrics like quilters' cottons do well; that 2-3 layers are better than one; that the mask should be snug around the edges. Some research indicates that at least one layer might be a silk or synthetic; others disagree. 

  • Multilayer cottons are good. Duke University scientists created a simple laser device that counts particles emitted when people spoke, wearing different masks. They tested 14 different mask types, ranging from hospital grade N-95 respirators to bandanas. The N 95 performed the best (but only if it didn’t have an exhalation vent). The homemade three-layer cotton mask performed nearly as well. CNN summary with equipment images is HERE. Washington Post summary HERE. The article in peer-reviewed journal Science Advances is HERE. (8/9)
  • Quality cottons outperformed all polyesters in study by US Institutes of Standards and Technology, of their ability to filter nanoscale aerosols, published HERE. "Three of the top five best performing samples were woven 100% cotton with high to moderate yarn counts, and the other two were woven synthetics of moderate yarn counts..." In answering questions about the study on Twitter, the lead author says he wears a mask made from two layers of lightweight cotton flannels, HERE. (7/19)
  • 3 layers: cotton, polypropylene, polyester: New WHO guidance (6/5) on masks, recommending them for all areas with widespread COVID. It describes the most effective materials, based on new research. "Ideally, masks should consist of three layers: an inner layer made of an absorbent material like cotton, which can trap the wearer's own respiratory droplets; a middle layer made of non-woven material, like polypropylene, that acts as a filter; and an outer layer made of a non-absorbent material like polyester, which stops outside particles from getting in." (6/5) Time article HERE, and briefing introduction HERE.
  • 3 layers are better than 1. Researchers at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, studied the effectiveness of one, two, and three layer masks’ ability to stop droplets and aerosols while real people are speaking, coughing and sneezing. They found a single layer cloth face covering is better than nothing; but two+ layer masks perform significantly better. They conclude: “Guidelines on homemade cloth masks should stipulate multiple layers (at least 3)”. HERE. (7/24)
  • Paper towels, lightweight denim and 80-120 count cotton sheets did best. Came out on top in tests by an air filter company. They balance good filtration with breathability. (Fabrics with the most of one tend to have the least of the other.) Also check out their "Poor Man's Fabric test" - holding fabric up to the light to assess filtration ability. Educational, common sense article, HERE. (5/1)
  • Quilters cottons North Carolina test found the best-performing masks had two layers of high-quality quilter's cottons, including batik fabric. New York Times summary of research, HERE.  More HERE. (4/20)
  • Mix up layers Army study finds masks should have layers of different fabric: absorbent layers, like cotton, alternated with at least one polyester fabric, HERE (4/29)
  • Consider silk and polyester Polyester chiffon, as well as natural silk, flannel, and/or cotton-polyester batting, had a filtering effect close to an N-95 mask, U Chicago study finds. But the mask must be properly fitted. (4/28) HERE
  • Polypropylene, a scientist group, recommends non-woven polypropylene (NWPP) - the stuff in cheapo tote bags and in OLY-fun fabric. It combines breathability with better filtration and water resistance than cotton, HERE. (4/25) More research HERE. Unfortunately, OLY-fun is now impossible to find, but you probably have polypropylene tote bags in a drawer. (Wash them and cut them up!)
  • Wrap it in pantyhose? Northeastern U scientists found that wrapping a home made mask with a loop cut from nylon stockings improves the mask's filtering ability to the level of medical grade surgical masks. HERE. (4/25) How to do it HERE.

Basic Information

Evidence review: Wear them.  A meta-study of evidence about face-coverings concludes that public wearing of masks limits the spread of coronavirus and can substantially reduce the death toll and economic damage. The study is HERE. (5/17) It's one of many such studies, with new ones emerging regularly. (See "Useful Information" below for the latest.) 

Low sewing-skill project: If you have beginner's skills, the New York Times' super-easy DIY mask, HERE. (3/31)

Low sew and no sew from the CDC: Two easy designs, plus the basic criteria for a good mask, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, HERE. (5/2)

Want to mass-produce? The Deaconess hospital pattern is the easiest, fastest, most popular one I've found for making large numbers. But you must have elastic, and, once the mask is finished, the elastic length can't be adjusted. It's HERE

Other popular hospital-requested patterns: Thoughtfully organized, HERE.

A medical professional's design, with filter pocket, no elastic, no pleats, no curves. Requires only cord and fabric. Video HERE.  Her fitting video is HERE.

Pleat bleat? A homemade cardstock "jig" helps you fold perfect pleats every time. Video HERE. (4/18)

Glasses fogging? Five tricks HERE, including nose wires and shaving cream. For several days of relief, a friend recommends pricier wipes HERE.  (4/14)

No elastic? Make "tee shirt yarn" - by cutting a 3/4" to 1" high strip crosswise from a tee shirt, then pulling on the ends. More comfortable than elastic and can't trigger latex allergies. Photos towards the bottom of my first mask tutorial HERE.

Making long ties? Genius trick for turning bias into finished ties - with no special tools - HERE.

How to put on and take off a mask  Masks won't protect if they're not handled carefully. World Health Organization guidelines HERE. Another list of guidelines is in this Washington Post article. And in this San Francisco Dept. of Public Health article.

Why a DIY Mask? It reduces transmission, and won't take  professional masks away from health workers. The case is in the 3/28 Washington Post, HERE. Similar article, by a biologist, examining "cough and sneeze ballistics," is HERE. One more, by a professor of "exposure and assessment," is in the Washington Post HERE. The CDC finally recommended everyone in public situations use masks, on April 3, HERE.

Calls for Home-Sewn Masks

These are databases with national, or even international information. If you want to make and donate masks; or you are part of a community that needs masks, these sites can help.

  • Masks for Heroes has a searchable international map database, HERE. (4/19)

  •, has a database of requests organized by state, HERE.  (4/9) They participate in the #millionmaskchallenge. Not the same group as the next listing, with a similar name....

  • #GetmePPE, an organization of scientists, has a national map with thousands of requests on their interactive map; but not all accept home made masks - You must click each to find what they need, HERE. (4/3)

  • From Sew to Stop Covid 19, a national stitchers' group, a website with lots of terrific information for stitchers, and a US map where you can find requests, HERE. (4/1) 

      • UC Berkeley School of Public Health, is keeping a US state-by state list in a  google document, HERE.

      • Deaconess hospital chain now has a database with requests from hundreds of organizations - hospitals, senior residences, and much more - throughout the USA, as well as Canada and farflung continents. It's HERE. (3/29)
      Also: As September 2020 approaches, and some schools plan to reopen, many school districts are asking for childrens' masks. Contact your local school district to see if they need masks.
      Useful Information

      January 26, 2021: TWO MASKS ARE BETTER THAN ONE!  Medical authorities, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, are now suggesting that people wear multiple masks. This is because of the newer, more contagious mutations of the virus. So even if you are making multilayer cloth masks, you should recommend to your recipients that they put it over a disposable paper masks, like the  KN95s (widely available online). New York Times article is HERE. Dr. Fauci making the recommendation this week is HERE


      August 8 Mask Science Duke University scientists created a simple laser device to count particles emitted when people speak wearing different masks. They tested 14 different masks, from hospital grade N-95 respirators to bandanas. The N 95 performed the best if it didn’t have an exhalation vent. The homemade three-layer cotton mask performed very  well. CNN summary with images of the equipment HERE, Washington Post summary HERE. The article in a peer-reviewed journal Science Advances is HERE. (8/9) Worst performers: Thin acrylic neck gaiters, and N-95’s that have an exhalation valve – the former may have been worse than no mask at all. “The high droplet count could be linked to the neck gaiter’s porous fabric breaking up bigger particles into many little ones that are likely to hang around in the air longer,” an author said. (8/9)

      July 30 Mask Science Leading researcher into mask effectiveness published a NYTimes oped summarizing research. Findings include:
      -         - Masks not only protect people around you, but scientific evidence is building that support the common sense that masks protect the wearer from breathing in aerosols.
      -          - Properly fitted N 95s or KN95s are the most effective masks tested. Surgical masks vary – studies find them able to filter from 10% to 98% of aerosols, depending on design.
      -         - Homemade cloth masks that fit tightly over the face are the most effective, but even loose bandanas worn over the face make a difference. Softer fabrics that fit tightly tend to be more snug and therefore effective, than stiffer fabrics, which may create gaps around the edges. Find the entire article HERE.

      July 28 Mask Science Research has long shown that masks can protect people around someone who has the virus. But growing evidence says they protect the wearer, too - sometimes, preventing infection entirely, and sometimes, creating a situation where the wearer gets less sick. “Masks lead to milder disease, potentially reducing hospitalizations and deaths.”  The importance of viral dose in the development of disease - the more virus you get, the sicker you get. New York Times summary new paper in the  Journal of General Internal Medicine. HERE.

      July 24 Mask Policy How many will die if we don't adopt mask-wearing? A June study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projected a death toll of 180,000 in America by October 1- but if mask wearing is adapted by 95% of Americans, that number will drop by 40,000. Look up your state in their chart comparing how many will die if people do and don't adopt mask wearing in a widespread way. Study HERE.(7/24) 

      July 4 Mask Policy and Science Mask mandates in 15 states and Washington DC, prevented up to 450,000 COVID cases in just one month (early April to early May), according to a study by University of Iowa-College of Public Health scientists, published in the June 16 Health Affairs journal, HERE.

      July 1 Mask Science Four types of masks were tested at Florida Atlantic University's College of Engineering and Computer Science, and results were published in the journal Physics of Fluids. A well-fitting home-sewing masks made from two layers of 70 thread/inch quilting cottons performed best in reducing the travel of droplets expelled by a sneezing and coughing mannequin. With no mask, the mannequin's droplets traveled 8 feet (2 feet longer than the CDC recommendation of 6 feet for social distancing.) With a bandana-style single layer mask, droplets traveled 3 feet, 7 inches; with the Surgeon General's recommended folded cotton handkerchief, droplets traveled 1 foot, 3 inches; and with a drugstore cup-shaped mask, droplets traveled 8 inches. With the quilting cotton homemade mask, droplets traveled 2.5 inches. Find the study HERE and a summary HERE. The photos are pretty cool! 

      June 26 Policy: Coronavirus cases are rising in states with relaxed mask policies. In those states - including Texas and Arizona - new coronavirus cases have risen by 84% in the last two weeks. In the 11 states that mandate public mask wearing, including NY, Illinois and Michigan - new cases have fallen by 25% over the last two weeks. HERE.

      June 12 Mask Science: British epidemiologists find that even homemade masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates, if everyone wears them, including people with no symptoms. "If widespread face mask use by the public is combined with physical distancing and some lockdown, it may offer an acceptable way of managing the pandemic and re-opening economic activity long before there is a working vaccine." News article about findings HERE. Journal article is HERE.

      June 1 Mask Science: International meta study, newly published in The Lancet, concludes that face mask use can bring a large reduction in transmission. HERE 

      May 26 Mask Science: Wide-ranging review of the literature - including basic science, mathematical modelling, and case studies of asymptomatic transmission and super-spreader events - supports mask wearing. HERE.  

      May 25 Mask Science: Detailed advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada on the best ways to launder masks. Maybe even more than temperature (hot or warm, depending on fabric), "Soap is our superhero right now - soap acts to break down the virus and to detach the virus from whatever surface [it's on], including skin." Dish soap as well as detergent are recommended. Article HERE.

      May 12 Mask Science: Children under 2 should NOT wear masks - they're a suffocation risk, according to a TN doctor interviewed by a news station, HERE. Older kids should wear them.

      May 2 Mask Science: Blue shop towels did well in study conducted by LA designers HERE (5/2) I bought some, but found they rip easily - I wouldn't sew them into a permanent mask. I did sew them into temporary masks. They can also be used as a replaceable filter.

      April 25
      Mask Science:"Researchers at Northeastern University have found that adding an outer layer made from nylon stockings to a home made face covering can boost its ability to filter out small particles...In some cases, that extra...layer helped homemade cloth masks match or exceed the filtering capability of medical-grade surgical masks." You will look even more like a bank robber, however. Article from NPR, here.

      April 22
      Polypropylene: New Army lab research suggesting the effectiveness of both quilters cotton and polypropylene in blocking virus-sized particles is reported on here.

      April 21
      Sturdier Tee Shirt Ties: Pauline Karasch Salzman's brilliant technique for zigzagging over tee shirt ties, to make them sturdier and more fun to look at, in a video tutorial here.

      April 6
      What should go into a mask? Pillowcases? Polyester? Coffee filters? A New York Times article cites evidence, including research showing quilting cottons do well. High thread count sheets and pillowcases did well too, if in multiple layers. HERE.

      April 4. 

      Nurse's clever mask design, with filter pocket, no elastic - Very easy mask that requires only synthetic clothesline and fabric - and with no pleats! Machine stitched. Video is HERE.

      Quilter's cottons do best A North Carolina doctor tested fabrics for filtration; quilters' cottons came out on top.  Tee shirts did badly. If a fabric allows a significant amount of light through, it's probably also going to allow viral particles through. HERE.

      Talking and singing can spread the virus, but masks can stop it, according to research quoted in the LA Times, HERE.

      April 3
      Easy tee shirt mask by a scientist. One tee shirt, one scissors, makes one mask, with three layers. (middle layer is a disposable paper towel.) Clever design by UCSF Scientist Jeremy Howard, HERE.  His group,, presents evidence that universal mask wearing dramatically lowered the curve in Czechoslovakia and other countries, HERE.

      Easiest, no-sew mask Cut three layers from almost any fabric, cut slits for your ears, and you're done. Designed by an ear, nose and throat surgeon. HERE. This is a good emergency mask, but ideally a mask should have 2-to-4 layers. 

      April 2
      Mask from tote bag -  From Popular Science magazine, a fairly easy hand-sewing project, HERE. Made from a polypropylene tote bag.

      Mask Science: "You Need to Wear a Mask." Washington Post op ed by a professor of exposure and assessment science, lays out benefits: protect yourself, others, reduce face touching, and social cues that you mean business. Excellent guidelines for putting on and taking off masks, HERE. 

      April 1
      Best Tutorials at a Glance: Terrific photo page of options, just posted at Sew to Stop the Spread of Covid 19, a national stitchers' group, HERE.

      Which Pattern? Washington Post article reviews the science and design considerations  Snug fit, three layers, and inclusion of nonwoven material like car shop towels are recommended. Drying in the sun is good - "sunlight is germicidal."  HERE.  

      Easy Sewing Tutorial: The New York Times published a very easy mask tutorial,  requiring basic household items like shoe laces and kitchen towels. It can be hand-sewn. It's HERE

      No-Sew Mask from a Yarmulke - Not a joke -this makes sense. An ingeniously simple way to make an almost-instant mask with a folded nylon yarmulke, a stapler, and two elastics. Video tutorial HERE.

      Emergency no-sew masks While your friends await your home-sewn mask, tell them about this disposable mask made with rubber bands and a paper towel, HERE. (3/31) A reusable no-sew mask, involving a bed sheet, a paper clip, and a stapler, is HERE (4/16)

      March 30

      Science: Masks work. A biologist writes, "We conclude, by considering cough droplet ballistics and the latest research findings on the biology of transmission of the SARS-CoV2 virus (which causes COVID-19) that any physical barrier, as provided even by make-shift masks, may substantially reduce the spread of COVID 19." HERE.

      Sewing Video A doctor takes you through the process of making an easy mask from vacuum cleaner bags. The bags are supposed to have excellent filtration ability. Video here. 

      March 29

      Sewing Video: Popular 7 minute tutorial for an easy double-layer pleated mask, with bias on the sides that encases the elastic, and an opening for a filter and a nose wire. Find it HERE. The drawback: brief captions and no spoken words, but if confused, you can then look at....

      Clearer Sewing Video: Similar to, but better explained than, the one above! This tutorial is by terrific quilting teacher Leah Day - it's for a even simpler pleated mask, with wire and filter pocket, and elastic stitched in the corners (rather than sent through a casing.) Leah shows every step and explains in a 20 minute video. HERE.  (And if you don't like that one, a DIFFERENT but similar project video is HERE. In this one, the pocket opening is on top.)

      Science: has an exceptionally clear article explaining in lay terms the scientific issues involved with mask materials' ability to filter, while maintaining breathability. It's geared to explaining why N95 masks are so much better than DIY cotton masks (no surprise), but it does give mask designers the basic principles to think about, including fit. It's HERE.

      March 28
      Sewing Patterns: is a site with two  easy patterns HERE. One can work as an N-95 cover. They say the best widely available material for masks is non-woven polypropylene, what's in  inexpensive totes. There's a lot of materials science info. The site was put up by volunteers from Helpful Engineering, a group of scientists, engineers, and doctors. 

      Science: Science News article summarizes the evidence for homemade masks, efforts to create more effective masks, ideas for ways to sterilize them quickly, and more, HERE.

      Science: Journal of the American Medical Association asked readers to brainstorm substitutes for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in short supply. Readers responded with creative ideas, including scuba equipment, water bottles turned into face shields, drones taking temperatures, and much more. HERE.

      March 27
      Science: British study ranks different household materials at filtering sub-virus size particles. From best to worst: surgical mask. vacuum cleaner bag, tea-towel, cotton mix, antimicrobial pillowcase, linen, silk, and tee shirt. HERE

      Science: University of Florida develops effective masks using supplies already found in hospitals - sterile wrapping normally used on surgical instrument trays. HERE. The big question: how do civilians get ahold of this to make masks?

      March 26
      Sewing Pattern: The "Gather Here" pattern, by the quilt shop of the same name in Cambridge, Mass, is a simple pleated rectangle, and has a pocket for a filter. It is being requested by some Boston hospitals. It does require elastic. Find the pattern HERE. Boston-area hospitals requesting this pattern are HERE

      Are you a healthcare provider, thinking about requesting home-sewn masks? Issues are well organized HERE.

      Sewing Pattern: If you're a machine embroiderer, Emblibrary and Urban Threads if offering a free pattern for a pleated mask to make with a machine hoop, HERE. It requires elastic or bias tape for ties.

      March 24
      Mask History -A history of face masks to prevent illness, and the development of the N95, in Fast Company magazine, HERE.

      Sewing pattern The unique Olson mas, uses hair ties for elastic, has a pocket to hold filter paper, uses "double sided skin tape" to hold it against the face, and "waxed cord" to shape the mask over the nose. It's from Unity Point Health in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Instructions HERE.  The hospital will add the tape and filter paper after receiving the mask.

      March 23

      Mask Making, Science, Hospitals - Wide ranging article about home sewn masks, including Southern California hospitals that might soon be accepting homemade masks. HERE. 

      Excellent article from about masks, home made and professional, their degree of effectiveness, volunteers making them, etc. HERE.

      March 22

      Society - California governor Gavin Newsom wishes hospitals didn't have to ask stitchers to make masks. (I wish this, too.) HERE

      Sewing Pattern - Excellent, fast mask instructions that use whatever you have around the house - pillowcases, tee shirts, and rubber bands. Can be hand-sewn. HERE.

      Sewing Pattern: If you have elastic, the Deaconess Hospital system has a video for an easy mask pattern on youtube, HERE

      Sewing Pattern: Two second mask, made from paper towel/napkin/maybe that's toilet paper? HERE

      March 21

      Face Shields from Hardware: HERE 

      Sewing Supplies: JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels are offering curbsite pickup for their items. HERE 

      Science: Homemade masks not as good as surgical or N95, but do provide some protection. HERE

      Science:  A 2014 study found that in a hospital setting, cloth masks led to more infections than disposable medical masks, which is hardly surprising. The study was conducted in a Vietnamese hospital. HERE. But the author of that study says that there were no laundering standards for the cloth masks, in a March 30 Washington Post article, HERE

      Sewing pattern with an opening to put a filter between layers. HERE.

      March 20
      Science: Buffalo, NY, doctor is encouraging local people to make masks. Another  doctor supports making them from materials at home, and points to Hong Kong as an example of a place where masks have slowed down the spread of disease. HERE

      Society, Science History: "You Don't Have to be Asian to Wear a Face Mask in an Epidemic," Japan Times article by culture professor. "The social ritual of wearing face masks may play a role in sustaining humane sentiments of solidarity, decency and cooperativeness in such crises, while keeping...atavism at bay." HERE

      Society, Science: Washington Post reports hospital workers turn to bandannas, sports goggles and homemade face shields amid shortages HERE

      Science & Sewing: "Hospital nurses prepare for COVID-19 with sewing machines" In Colorado, hospital personnel are stitching covers that will allow their staff to use N-95 masks longer. HERE.
      • Similar, in Georgia: HERE
      • In South Carolina, formerly homeless women are sewing masks for a nearby medical center. HERE
      Science: 2006 study in 'Emerging Infectious Disease' journal likes heavy tee shirts.  There's also a good illustration of wearing a mask with ties. "...[A] hand-fashioned mask can provide a good fit and a measurable level of protection... Problems remain. When made by naive users, this mask may be less effective...We encourage innovation to improve respiratory protection options." HERE

      Science: WHO strongly discourages the use of cloth masks. See the last sentence of this paper.

      Science & Sewing: Excellent information and form-fitting masks HERE

      Sewing Supplies. manufactures anti-microbial fabrics and elastics  intended for face masks. Their blog has a very useful information about what to think about when making face masks, HERE. There may be delays in delivery. Fabrics are HERE.

      Sewing Patterns: Links to multiple face mask sewing patterns HERE 

      Sewing Pattern: Easy fast mask directions and sewing pattern by a nurse: HERE.

      Sewing Pattern: Youtube video for a mask with pocket to hold a filter is HERE

      Sewing Pattern: -  In Chinese, with English subtitles, several useful videos on how to sew and how to wear masks with filters, HERE.

      Crafting: How to make a mask with coffee filters, paper clips, stapler, and elastic bands. I was dubious, but it actually looks like it could be helpful (for a few minutes, in an emergency.) HERE.

      Fashion: Need a Louis Vuitton Mask? The fashion industry plans to throw itself into making them. HERE

      MARCH 19, 2020

      Science: Study in Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness Journal, 2013, finds homemade cotton masks are better than nothing. HERE  

      Society/Science: New  York Times article by a professor of information technology discussing how leadership messages about masks have caused confusion, but there is evidence that they are helpful in reducing the spread of flu: HERE. 

      Science: Air filtration company article presents  roundup of studies about different types of household materials' and fabric's ability to filter particles. They found cotton tee shirts and pillowcases made the best filters, because of their breathability.  HERE

      MARCH 15

      Society/Science : March 15, 2020 Los Angeles Times reports public health official are begging people not to hoard N-95 masks, or looser surgical masks - there is a severe shortage, and they are desperately needed by hospital personnel and people caring for the sick. The loose-fitting surgical masks do provide a little extra protection, but not enough protection for nurses, doctors and others dealing directly with many sick people. Article here

      Science: Science correspondent of the British Guardian reports homemade masks provide an extra measure of safety, compared to nothing. HERE

      Sewing pattern Excellent, easy pattern for relatively simple homemade mask - with size options for youngsters and adults - is HERE.  

      Scientist's opinion: My friend Nathan, a PhD biologist who has worked in bio safety labs for years, (where he worked with genetically- engineered viruses and tested their ability to infect cells), tells me a homemade mask can block SOME virus particles. "Viral infection is always a numbers game, and the fewer particles you breath in, the less likely you are to be infected," he told me.

      Sewing: A roundup of 7 face mask tutorials is HERE.

      Science: Two New York Times' experts say homemade helpful if you're living with or caring for high-risk people or people who are already sick, here and here.

      About this Page

      We are in a unique crisis. There are not enough sterile masks  - not N-95 masks, not flimsy disposable surgical masks - for medical professionals and caregivers - let alone high risk people or the public.
      There is a strong scientific consensus that cloth masks, handled correctly, can provide meaningful protection that can save hundreds of thousands of lives. There is plenty of research supporting this position, like here, and here, for example.

      A few months into the pandemic, when the Coronavirus was better understood, US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) told medical personnel that if professional masks are not available in a clinical setting, they should wear homemade masks, or even bandanas and scarves over their faces, here.

      It was tragic and frightening that our health care providers were not getting the top-quality protection they deserve and our whole society needs, in order for them to continue to save lives. But it was important to know that cloth masks could provide significant protection. 

      You and your family can get benefit and protection from homemade masks that you handle carefully (removing it by the elastic or tied back) and washing after wearing in public, in hot water with detergent. The latest research also suggests wearing two masks - a KN95 or other paper mask on the inside, and a cloth mask on the outside.
      In a medical setting, the standards should be so much more higher. But today, desperate hospitals are indeed calling for home-sewn masks - the "Calls for Masks" section above lists the databases that I know about.
      My two mask-making tutorials are on my blog - the easy, fast one is here, and the roomier version is here. But there are many more face mask tutorials on the web, and you'll find links to some excellent ones above. If one doesn't fit your sewing style or the supplies you have at home, another might. 

      Along with being a quilter, I was a journalist for many years at Prevention Magazine, interviewing doctors and scientists, and distilling their research for the magazine's audience of 8 million readers. Since the pandemic began, I have been reading everything I can find on the subject of masks for COVID, as well as talking to health professionals and scientists, and using my best judgement to share what I think is important. At this writing (1/26/21), I've stitched and given away more than 1,000 masks to people at high risk, medical personnel, friends and family.  The vast majority of these are made from my easy mask pattern here

      You can reach me at 


      1. Toledo, OH:

      2. I was searching online to see if there was a need to help sew in MA or RI. If you know of anything.

        1. Karla, I'll post everything I see about calls for masks, thank you!

      3. Thank you for the listing, Kara, and I'm sorry I called you Karla in my last comment! Keep em coming!


      Thank you for commenting!