DIY Masks and FAQ

Over the past few weeks, recommendations on the use of fabric masks have evolved rapidly. At first, there was skepticism that homemade alternatives were effective. However, since the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that everyone should wear a fabric face cover in public, I’ve seen an explosion of mask-making information online. With Governor Cuomo's new decree requiring everyone to cover their mouths and nose in public, we will likely see even more. Sorting through the sheer number of patterns, and the contradicting information about the effectiveness of various filter materials, has been overwhelming and even paralyzing. With the understanding that any mask is better than none, I’ve curated a few resources that will hopefully help keep information overload at bay.

DIY Masks

No-Sew Masks
The CDC offers two more no-sew patterns. One calls for a bandana and two rubber bands, and the other uses a t-shirt.

Hand Sewn Mask
Grace Jun of Open Style Lab offers a pattern that is easy to sew by hand or using a sewing machine.

Sewing Machine Patterns
The Tri-State Mask Making Facebook group, linked below, is working to provide masks for healthcare professionals and essential workers. They’ve shared a Google presentation with links to a variety of mask patterns and instructions.

Choosing Materials
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center tested fabrics and recommends quilter’s cotton as the ideal mask material.
I’ve found so much conflicting information about the effectiveness and safety of various filter materials, from coffee filters to HEPA vacuum bags. has a handy list of filter materials; for each item, she lists availability, filter effectiveness research (if any exists), and breathability.

Mask FAQs
The Washington Post features an FAQ with accessible graphics, including information about the coronavirus and traditional medical masks.

The New York Times provides further tips on wearing your mask safely.

Masks for Healthcare and Essential Workers
Looking to use your sewing skills and stash of fabric to crank out some masks, surgical caps, or gowns for people on the front lines? Do you happen to have a 3D printer or a laser cutter for making face shields? Even if you don’t have this equipment, you can sign up to donate materials, cut fabric or deliver supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for one of these groups.

Hastings-on-Hudson (HOH) Mask Project
As featured in a recent New York Times article, Hastings Sewing Studio has teamed up with Hastings-on-Hudson Mask Project Facebook group, where home sewists have already made over 2,000 masks for healthcare professionals and other essential workers. The library has loaned a couple of our sewing machines to members of the group, to help maximize production of PPE for local healthcare workers.

Tri-State Mask Making Group
A private Facebook group; join to access even more local mask requests and instructions. As with the Hastings-on-Hudson Facebook group, users share helpful links and even supplies with other makers.

This Facebook page is run by a group of doctors in New York City who are concerned about their colleagues’ safety at work. In the last few days they’ve met their goal for homemade masks, but are accepting homemade surgical caps and face shields.
This website aggregates patterns for different masks styles and mask requests from local healthcare organizations.
A Westchester-based group of people using 3D printers, laser cutters, and sewing machines to create PPE to donate.

Categories: COVID-19, eNewsletter, Featured, Homepage, Homepage Kids, Homepage Teens, Kids, Library News, and Teens.


  1. Jane Cohen

    I’m desperate and need instructions for non-sewing machine masks that will keep out the virus.
    I’m only 91 and scared.


    Jane H Cohen

    • Kathlyn, Teen Librarian

      Hello Jane,

      I’ve updated the post to make it clearer which masks can be made without a sewing machine: here’s one option, and there are two more on this page if you scroll to the bottom.

      Unfortunately, cloth masks are not meant to protect the wearer from the virus. Instead, we wear cloth masks to help prevent infecting others. If everyone wears cloth masks, hopefully that will be effective in keeping the virus from spreading.

      I hope these patterns are helpful. Take care!

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