How to make a face mask from a T-shirt

In a previous blog we shared our favourite mask tutorials as recommended by attendees of our workshops. In this ‘how to’ blog we want to show how to turn an old t-shirt into a collection of face masks.

We’ve used a large men’s unwanted T-shirt.

We cut around the seams to create larger, flat pieces of fabric. We saved the buttons from the placket for another project.

We then ironed the fabric flat, smooth out the creases to make it easier to cut out the shapes for the masks.

There are so many great patterns and videos out there demonstrating how to make masks we haven’t done our own one. But what we have done is pulled together our favourite videos and those recommended by our workshop attendees.

For these masks we followed the Leah Day tutorial. We’ve made lots of these masks so we already had a paper pattern ready, created from the measurements given. Making a paper pattern speeds up the process rather than measuring out the squares each time.

We laid the pattern flat on the fabric and pinned around the corners and edges before cutting. We managed to get 5 mask patterns from one T-shirt.

Instead of using elastic to hold the mask around the ears, we cut thin strips of the T-shirt fabric. We used a piece of ribbon as a pattern, cutting it to the required length. Pinned the ribbon to the T-shirt fabric and cut 10 strips (5 pairs).

Once cut, we pulled the short ends of the strips gently away from each other. This caused the ends to curl in on each other and now work perfectly to hold the mask on around the ears, in place of elastic. Jersey doesn’t fray so the edges don’t need to be hemmed or finished with a zig-zag stitch.

The leftover pieces, too small to make a mask, have been saved for future projects. T-shirt fabric is useful for patching leggings, T-shirts and other stretch clothing.

We found that using a zig zag stitched worked best on the T-shirt fabric. We also used a jersey needle for our machine. Another tip: we used a purple thread for the bobbin so one side of the mask has a different colour thread. This is so when you wear it and take it off briefly, you know which way it was so it can be worn in the same way.

We recommend for the masks to only be worn at a few hours before being washed. Or if it has been worn for a length of time. For example, when we are travelling on the train, we wear one mask and then put it in a draw string bag at the end of the journey. We then wear a clean mask for the return journey home. We keep our clean masks in one bag and carry a spare bag for the dirty masks. Then wash the masks and bag in hot soapy water once we get home. Click here for details on how to make bags for your masks.

Important to note

All the videos note that the masks are not suitable in a clinical setting. Wearing a mask is required in the UK for shopping and travelling on public transport. They could possibly stop the wearer spreading the virus to someone else but they probably do not protect the wearer from catching the disease. The mask must be washed after each wear. Place the mask over your mouth and nose before leaving home. Do not touch your face or remove the mask whilst out and about. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face to remove the mask. Place the mask in a drawstring bag and wash them both on a hot soapy wash.