Seeking Volunteers to Make Homemade Masks – Help Conserve Precious Reserves of N-95 Masks

We appreciate your interest in helping during this unprecedented time. Unfortunately we’re at that point in this pandemic, that homemade masks are being made to supplement the national shortage of N95 masks and to replace the desperation use of bandanas and scarves. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not suggest cloth material as a first-line defense against the coronavirus causing COVID-19, cloth masks work well for other conditions and can help conserve precious reserves of N95 respirator masks. The homemade versions are also being worn on top of N95 masks to help them last longer. 

If you are willing and able to help make these cloth masks or can share with someone who is, it will greatly help conserve the N95 respirator masks that are needed for emergency and healthcare workers as well as the potential and confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Hand-sewn masks can be dropped off at the CSEMS Training Center. Please contact the office to schedule a timeframe when the office will be open and accepting masks. You can reach out by phone at 540-886-3676 or email: csems@vaems.org Please see the following link for map and directions.


We have collected two sewing instruction options from different resources and listed them below. One from VCU Health and a second one from Vanderbilt University Medical Center who has made and received thousands of masks and has shared their pattern to help others in need.


Click here for VCU Health’s version.
They recommend you use 65% polyester and 35% cotton cloth material in their mask instructions listed HERE.


A recommended sewing pattern, along with suggested cloth materials, provided by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center can be found below. Note versions with and without elastic because apparently “elastic is the new toilet paper” and in short supply!

A recommended sewing pattern, along with suggested cloth materials, can be found below. Note that there are versions with and without elastic because apparently “elastic is the new toilet paper” and in short supply!

INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOMEMADE FACE MASK (with elastic)

Materials needed (with elastic)

  • Tight-weave cotton fabric (i.e. quilting cotton)
    • Fabric must be newly purchased within approximately the past year and never used.
    • Wash and dry fabric without fragrance or dyes prior to sewing.
  • Rope Elastic, beading cord elastic will work (you may also use 1/8” flat elastic if ¼” is unavailable. Some have used wider flat elastic and cut it in half with some success).

One adult mask requires two (2) 9”x6” pieces tight-weave cotton and two 7” pieces of 1/4 inch elastic. Therefore, one yard of 44” wide fabric yields 12-15 masks. You need 7.5 yards of elastic for 25 masks (14 inches per mask).

You can make two sizes: Adult or Child. Adult-sized masks will be the greatest need.

  1. Put right sides of cotton fabric together (Be sure any fabric design is placed horizontally.)
    1. Cut 9×6 (Adult) or 7.5 x 5 (Child)
  2. Starting at the center of the bottom edge, sew to the first corner, stop. Sew the elastic with the edge out into the corner. A few stitches forward and back will hold this.
  3. Sew to the next corner, stop, and bring the other end of the same elastic to the corner and sew a few stitches forward and back.
  4. Now sew across that top of the mask to the next corner. Again, put an elastic with the edge out.
  5. Sew to the next corner and sew in the other end of the same elastic.
  6. Sew across the bottom leaving about 1.5” to 2” open. Stop, cut the thread. Turn inside out.
  7. Pin 3 tucks on each side of the mask. Make sure the tucks are the same direction
  8. Sew around the edge of the mask twice.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOMEMADE FACE MASK (no elastic)

Materials needed

  • Tight-weave cotton fabric (i.e. quilting cotton)
    • Fabric must be newly purchased within approximately the past year and never used.
    • Wash and dry fabric without fragrance or dyes prior to sewing.
  • Options for Ties
    • Bias Tape (either ½ or 7/8 as available)

OR

  • Make ties from strips of fabric indicated above (cut strips 2 ” wide by 16″ long)

One adult mask requires two (2) 9”x6” pieces tight-weave cotton and four (4) 16” pieces of bias tape or fabric ties (64” total per mask). Therefore, one yard of 44” wide fabric yields 12-15 masks. You need 21 1/3 yards of bias tape for 12 masks.

You can make two sizes: Adult or Child. Adult-sized masks will be the greatest need.

  1. Place right sides of cotton fabric together (Be sure any fabric design is placed horizontally.)
    1. Cut 9×6 (Adult) or 7.5 x 5 (Child)
  2. Starting at the center of the bottom edge, sew around the edges of the fabric leaving about 1.5” to 2” open.
  3. Stop, cut the thread. Turn inside out.
  4. Pin three (3) ½” tucks on each side of the mask. Make sure the tucks are the same direction.
  5. Make ties using Bias Tape or Fabric.
    1. Bias tape: stitch closed.
    2. Fabric: Fold in half, turn under 1/4 ” on each long side, iron in place. Stitch long edges closed.
  6. Pin one (1) tie at each corner.
  7. Sew around the edge of the mask twice, catching the bias tape as you go.

Post expires at 9:00am on Wednesday July 1st, 2020