Face Masks

Check out the information below on how to get started

Why do we need face masks?

The Center for Disease Control notes that fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies are not available. N95 masks are in short supply, and people who don’t need them are using them. Surgical masks can serve lighter duty uses. Fabric face masks are best used to protect existing N95s and surgical masks.


What considerations should I have in mind when getting started with making a face mask?

  • Fabric masks provide different levels of filtration depending on the materials used.
  • If you are producing for clinicians, it is best to ensure your local hospitals and local clinicians will accept the mask design you are considering as every hospital/clinician will have their own guidelines.
  • Almost any breathable design that fits over a respirator and can be worn securely can be used to protect an N95 respirator from soiling, in turn potentially prolonging its availability for use as PPE.
  • Different materials have different filtering capabilities, and different breathability. You want the mask to filter, and for the person to breathe. Here is a website with more information on good fabrics to use:  https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/best-materials-make-diy-face-mask-virus/
  • When you submit your mask, be sure to include details about materials/fiber content. Documentation should also clarify whether the mask is intended to be worn over existing PPE to prolong the life, or if it is intended to provide filtration (higher number of layers, includes disposable filter and information about how to replace filters). See notes for each design if you are unsure of its intended use.


  • When making masks to protect PPE:
  1. Finer weaves are better when using woven material alone.
  2. Lighter colors are better because they make it easier to see soiling
  3. Use no more than 2 layers for this as no filtration is needed – the goal is protection from soiling, only
  4. Ensure coverage if using over an N95 (these come in several sizes and from different manufacturers) 
  5. Fit is important, and ties that go around the back of the head are preferred
  6. No latex should be used in designs for clinical settings – do not use elastic.
  7. Use different colors on the front (outside facing; lighter is better) and back (inside facing) part of the mask is ideal so that the sides can easily be recognized.

What projects can I get involved with to make Face Masks?

Project Name: HelpfulEngineering Cloth Mask

Recommended Modifications:
-Non-latex elastic or adopt ties behind the head – ties preferred because hair elastics may hurt some people/be too tight.

-“Non woven polypropylene (NWPP) is commonly used in surgical masks and can be easily sewn into masks that can block the spread of droplets from coughs and sneezes” – Community Pleated Masks.

Project Name: University of Florida Mask

Stand-alone mask that offers more protection than a stand-alone fabric mask when properly fit-tested to the wearer’s face. Both variants of this design are not intended to be worn over existing PPE. The specific fabric used is what gives this mask its advantages over other designs.

Important Note: The link categorizes both variants as an alternative N95 but it is critical to present it to your donation site as a standalone face mask, it has not been thoroughly tested or validated as a replacement for a respirator. Do not mention N95 or respirator when donating. Provide links to website and design to recipient for full transparency.

Project Name: “We Can Sew It” Mask

-Please see documentation regarding the filtering properties of various fabrics
-Good for use over existing PPE (surgical masks and N95s) as designed.
-Uses ties not earloops

Download PDF

Project Name: Phoebe Health Mask

Recommended Modifications:
-This design works especially well as a protective cover for the duckbill shape of some N95 masks; please ensure fit.

-Non-latex elastic or adopt ties for behind the head.

Download PDF

Project Name: Providence St. Joseph Health Face Mask Kit

-Uses ties
-2 designs available – community and clinical; the clinical design uses surgical wrap fabric and 4 ties instead of 2
-Very similar to “We Can Sew It”

Download PDF - Community Pattern
Download PDF - Clinical Pattern

Project Name: Maker’s Habitat DIY Fabric Mask

-Please use our filtering resources/documentation. Without the filter, this design is good for use over existing PPE
– For the filter, consider non-woven polypropylene (see HelpfulEngineering Cloth mask above).
-Ties are preferred over loops.

Download PDF

Project Name: How to Make a Face Mask (Deaconess Hospital)

-Please see documentation regarding the filtering properties of various fabrics; will only be useful to clinical settings if worn over existing PPE as designed.
-Do not use latex elastics if designing for healthcare (use linked design with ties or non-latex elastic)

Download PDF

This information was produced in collaboration with OSCMS – click here for more information and documentation.