Face masks… that phrase is a hot topic right now. Whether you believe we (or our kids) should wear them or not, it looks like face masks and coverings will be a requirement at a large number of schools this year throughout America and other countries. I also know that a lot of us (myself included) are struggling to figure out how our kids will keep masks on for an entire day of school. The best way to psyche my kids up is to have them make their own masks. Then, they will be proud and excited to show off what they’ve made! So, I began the quest to answer not only “how to make a face mask at home,” but also how to make a face mask that kids can sew on their own (without a sewing machine)! P.S. the method works perfectly for adults and all beginner sewers, as well!
On my mission, I made dozens of different mask patterns. Ultimately, I decided to combine my favorite aspects from several patterns to create instructions for the EASIEST face mask that kids can actually hand sew themselves!!! Legal disclaimer: these are obviously not as protective as medical grade masks and there are no guarantees that wearing these masks will prevent you from infecting someone else with COVID-19 Coronavirus (or contracting any illnesses yourself).
Craft Classes for Kids
We had so much fun teaching cooking classes for kids last week, and love this week’s virtual camp theme of crafts for kids! Don’t forget to join our Facebook group to see our live classes and follow us on Pinterest, so you won’t miss a thing! You definitely need to follow Hannah at Inspired Sparks too, because she is posting all kinds of awesome videos to teach kids about science, crafts and cooking! Here are the links for the other craft classes we have done thus far, in case you missed any:
- How to Make Envelopes (the perfect way to get your kids excited to write!)
- Tissue Paper Flowers (these HUGE flowers make awesome decoration and are so fun to make!)
How to figure out the size for your face mask
Before we get started, let’s figure out what size fabric you need for your DIY face mask. This technique works for both adults and kids masks! Take a soft tailor’s tape measure and measure from one ear, across your mouth and to your other ear. If you only have a regular ruler, take a string and stretch it from one ear to the next (in the same way as outlined below). Then, use a ruler to measure the string. The photo below shows where we started measuring my 8 year old for her mask.
We stopped at the other ear, as shown in the following photo.
Then, we added 2 inches to that measurement. My daughter’s face mask measurement was roughly 9 inches, so for the short side of fabric, we used 11 inches. We will adjust the exact length later on, so when in doubt, it is best to round up for now!
For the “long” side of fabric, we used 16″ for my daughter’s 11″ wide mask. However, here is a chart for the measurements we used for all of our kids and me.
- 12″ wide x 17″ long (mine)
- 11″ wide x 16″ long (my 8 year old daughter)
- 10.5″ wide x 15.5″ long (two of my 6 year olds)
- 10″ wide x 15″ long (one of my 6 year olds)
The length has some definite flexibility, since the accordion folds let you expand it out.
DIY face mask materials
Here are the materials you will need to make your DIY face mask
- wonder clips (You can use straight pins instead, but if you are going to sew with kids, these are a MUST buy!!!)
- soft tailor’s tape measure
- fabric scissors (If you are a new to sewing, get a separate pair of fabric scissors and ONLY use them for fabric! You will thank me!)
- thread to match your fabric
- a needle
- cotton fabric (size calculated above)
- two hair ties (I highly recommend thinner hair ties, like these, especially for kids!)
How to make a face mask at home
Here are the steps for making your DIY face mask!
1. Cut your fabric out
Measure and cut your fabric out to be the size you determined above. For this article, we will be making a mask for my 8 year old daughter, so we cut a piece out that is 11.5 inches by 16 inches. It was really supposed to be 11 inches wide, but since there was a thick seam on one side, we added an extra half of an inch. We used white chalk to draw the lines to cut on, because that is how my grandma taught me to do it! You could use a pen or pencil, but that will be harder to wash out.
2. Fold your fabric short side to side short (with the back of the fabric facing out)
We actually deconstructed a pair of thin cotton shorts to make this mask. So if you see an extra seam down the middle, that is why! Don’t worry, the seam won’t be visible at all in the end! I wanted to point this out though in case you have cute fabric with a seam (like outgrown Lilly Pulitzer pieces)!
Below is a photo to show you how we folded the fabric in half (short side to short side), with the back of the fabric facing out.
3. Sew straight across the open side, creating a tube of fabric
I actually ironed our fabric first, because it was quite wrinkly and we like clean crisp lines. You don’t have to do that though! Then, my daughter placed wonder clips along the open seam as shown in the photo below.
Next, she started sewing from one side to the next, removing the wonder clips as she reached them. I love how easy the wonder clips are to use (and that kids don’t get pricked, like they can with straight pins!)
For older kids, you can teach them how to do several stitches at once (as seen in the photo below). Younger kids may not have the finger strength to do that though, so they can just do one stitch at a time.
Make a knot when you reach the other end. If you don’t know how to make a closing knot, I will show you a super easy way at the end of this post!
4. Turn your fabric tube inside out, so that the pretty side of the fabric is now facing out
Here is how ours looked after turning the tube inside out.
5. Create 2-3 “pleats” as you fold the fabric down
Do not overthink this step! You can fold it just two times, or you can fold it three times like we did. Here is a photo of fold number one.
Now let’s look at fold number two!
Finally, here is fold number three.
6. Iron for crisp pleats (totally optional)
I think it gives the DIY face mask a little something extra if you run your iron over your pleated fabric. However, it will work just fine without ironing it.
7. Slide your hair elastics over each end of the mask
We originally made masks out of loops of elastic. However, we ran out and wanted to try using hair elastics (since elastic can be hard to come by lately). In our first attempt, we used thick hair ties as seen in the photo below, but wait until you see why we changed our mind!
8. Clip your ends around the hair tie
Fold the ends of your face mask around your hair ties (making sure that any seams are facing toward you!) Use your wonder clips to hold the ends in place, as show below.
9. Test the size out and adjust accordingly
Try the mask on before sewing it! Is the DIY face mask too big? Bring the ends in more! Is the face mask too small? Let the ends out a little bit! As you can see in the photo below, it is a bit too loose around her nose, so we made the face covering smaller before sewing it.
10. Sew the ends in place around the hair ties
Now we will sew the ends in place. Make sure not to sew through the hair rubber band, because your stitches will rip when you stretch the hair ties to put the mask on. Younger kids may need help with some of the center stitches that go through quite a few layers of fabric. If you have a thimble that is helpful! However, it is certainly not required.
Here is what the outside will look like at the end.
Here is what the inside looks like too. You can cut the excess fabric off, but we decided to leave it for a few days, in case my daughter decides she wants any adjustments in size.
The final mask looked like this expanded out.
Below is what it looked like on my daughter.
While the fit was good, her poor ear was uncomfortable!!! Look at how it pushes her ear forward.
We decided that this would not be wearable for an extended period, so back to the drawing board. We used a seam ripper to remove the stitches. This is the BEST seam ripper (in case you don’t have one yet)! It rips seams out like a knife cuts through butter!
Then we tested it out with THIN hair ties (these ones, to be exact!) The difference was like night and day! Her ear wasn’t bending down or turning red, and she said it was MUCH more comfortable. So we repeated the above steps with the thinner hair ties.
Here is what the ultimate face mask looks like from the front. YAAAY!!! No more red, squished ear!!!
Here is what it looks like expanded out.
How to end a stitch (tying off)
Since some of you are new sewers, here is a super easy trick for how to end or tie off your thread, either when you have reached the end or run out of thread.
1. Pull the needle through to the back of your project
You don’t want your knot to be seen, so make sure your needle is on the “back” side of your project.
2. Slide your needle underneath the closest stitch
As shown in the photo below, slide your needle under the stitch that is nearest to it. Make sure that the remaining “loop” of thread is forming a figure-8 as seen in the photo too!
3. Pull your needle through the top loop of the thread
This step is a bit hard to explain in words, but the photo below should make it clear! Do you see how I am pulling the needle through the top loop of the figure 8? Just keep pulling it through and you will have a knot!
4. Repeat a couple of times
I like to be extra careful, so I double or triple my knots by repeating the same steps above 2-3 times.
How to make a face mask at home
So, how did your face masks turn out? What fun prints did you find? Make sure to share a photo of your DIY face masks in our Facebook Group! We are always so inspired by all of our amazing members!!!