You can make a hand sewn face mask when you don’t have a sewing machine. Not everyone has a sewing machine or access to one, and may never want one! Sewing isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure.
Some of us babyboomers grew up making doll clothes either hand sewn or on sewing machines. After the doll clothes, we made our own clothes and then our children’s clothes. The last time I did any sewing it was for my granddaughter during her toddler and preschool years. I had tons of fun making princess dresses and other costumes for her. Now, she’s almost ready to graduate high school…..so that was the end of my sewing days. Until the need for face mask arose.
I have had two or three sewing machines in my life and when we downsized a couple of years ago, I sold them. Wouldn’t you know, that that I needed one them again I didn’t have one. So, it was a good opportunity to pick up on a new one)))
We have a tutorial on the blog that shows you how to make a fabric face mask using elastic, shoestrings or cloth ties. Here’s that link: How to Make a Fabric Face Mask
Supplies for Hand Sewn Face Mask
Bandana (or other cotton fabric)
Note: You can use other types of cotton fabric, 100% cotton from old shirts or new fabric. We did try making a mask from a cotton tee shirt, but it was harder to sew than regular fabric so we abandoned that tutorial.
Cut the Bandana
We chose an old bandana that had been washed several times for our hand sewn face mask. Press it with an iron. It measured about 21″‘ square. Not a perfect square of course, but that’s okay.
The previous tutorial said cut fabric 6″ x 9″ Since the cotton bandana was 21″ we just split that difference and made the cut 6″ x 10.5″
Press the bandana and fold up six inches from the bottom. Cut across the bandana. Then make a second cut up through the center of the bandana at around 10.5″ This will provide material for two masks. The extra piece leftover can be re-folded and also cut up for a mask. So, one bandana should yield three face masks.
Stitch the Bandana
Make the hand-sewn face mask by putting the wrong sides together. The fabric is the same on both sides, so you can tell the right and wrong side by the hemmed edge. Honestly, this step doesn’t matter, but old habits are hard to drop!
One edge will be the folded edge, so you won’t have to stitch along this edge. The other three edges will have to be hand-stitched. Leave about a 2″ opening along one of the edges to turn the mask once you have stitched.
You can use just regular sewing or quilting thread for your hand sewn face mask. Choose a color that matches the bandana if you have it, or just use what you have on hand. Sewing needles are very inexpensive and come in a packet of several sizes. Shorter needles are harder for me to hold, so I usually choose one in the mid-range size. A metal thimble is handy to wear on your finger too, to help push the needle through the material.
Thread the needle and knot the end. I did my sewing with a single thread since double threads tend to get tangled more easily.
Start at any corner and make small stitches around the mask. Stitch about 1/4″ to 3/8″ from the edge. Don’t forget to leave the opening so that you can turn it. When you reach the corners, reinforce that area by making a few extra stitches. Make small stitches that will hold better.
Once you’ve stitched around the edges, turn the mask to get the right sides up. To push your corners out, you can use the handle of a wooden spoon or your scissors, but just be careful that you don’t push through the fabric with scissors. A wooden spoon is safer)))
Test your stitches by pulling gently on the seams. If the seams appear to pull apart too easily, you may have made your stitches to long in length or too loose. If this happens, just stitch again using shorter, tighter stitches. You don’t want the stitches so tight that it gathers the material, but you do want the stitches snug enough not to pull open at the seams.
Make two tucks (or pleats) in the mask and pin to keep them in place. In previous tutorials, we did make three tucks, but two works just fine. Live and learn as they say.
Stitch along the tuck and reinforce with extra stitches right at the folds. Once you reach the end turn and stitch again. As an extra measure, insert your needle through to the back of the mask and stitch down that side too. Continue to reinforce stitches at folds.
We stitched this hand-sewn face mask with 45″ shoestrings. But you could use 36″ or 54″ if necessary. Fold the mask and mark the center point with a pin. Fold one shoestring and find the center.
Pin the center of the shoestring to the center of the mask and pin along the edges.
Remember that area we left open so we could turn the hand-sewn face mask? Well, now you’re ready to pin your shoestring right over that area. Just make sure the raw edges are tucked to the inside and pin your shoestring right on top of it.
Sew the shoestring in place using small stitches and reinforce at corners with extra stitches. You can stitch down one edge of the shoestring first, turn and stitch down the other side.
Stitching the shoestring in place like this instead of just using pieces attached to the corner, should make the strings more stable when they are tugged on.
Reinforce any stitching in the hand-sewn face mask that you feel needs it. Tug on the shoestrings to make sure they are secure. If you want your face mask to be more layers than two, there is extra fabric, just sew three or four layers together. You still need to be able to breathe through it.
Remember that no cloth face mask is going to protect you like proper protective equipment and you still must keep your hands off your face. Put the mask on, and leave it alone. When you remove it. take it off without touching the outside of the facemask and put in the laundry soon as you remove it. Keep your distance from folks and wash your hands. We just can’t hear this too frequently.
Here are some of our spring posts that you might enjoy.