Testing Out Many DIY Face Mask Options

You don’t even want to see the first cloth mask I went out in. It was a no sew idea: cloth napkin folded over two hair ties with a tissue folded inside of it. I think it was about 3 inches thick… Okay, okay, here it is!

My first cloth-napkin wrap around mask before it was required.

I had a feeling about a month ago that we’d soon be required to wear masks well before our state made it a mandate. I thought I needed to learn how to make something we can reuse, as this could quite possibly be a longer term need and something we’d need when we went back to school.

At the time, there were few, if any, non-sewing patterns. I didn’t have a sewing machine, and I didn’t like to sew by hand. I thought I’d look for a crochet mask pattern to add a layer for a filter in, but those were few and far between. Many were related to being a doctor costume for Halloween.

Crochet DIY Face Mask Attempt #1

I scoured all over to find some sort of free pattern. I came across a lovely older woman’s YouTube video that she made a face mask step by step with crocheting worsted weight yarn. I followed it and wrote the pattern as she went so I could refer back to it (she didn’t have a written pattern). I made a mask out of cotton yarn and it worked out pretty well!

On the back side, I extended the top and bottom to wrap around a bit to make room for a tissue or other filter/cloth to fit snuggly inside. This was a good start, but it was not an easy to use pattern and was uncomfortable to make with the cotton yarn. I wanted to find something else.

Crochet DIY Face Mask Attempt #2 – Success!

My next attempt at crocheting a comfortable mask was a pattern that was put together by Yarnspirations. Now we were getting somewhere, as it was super simple to follow, their video tutorial made it easy, and I remembered it easily to make several sizes and adjusted for the children.

Cotton yarn crochet mask.

The interior is for a hand-sewn two layer fabric for a filter. You could modify this with crocheted straps on the interior to make filters that easily swap out as well.

With this iteration, I crocheted fitted ear straps, as the ties around the head would’ve been difficult for the kids to use. It also made it easier to slip them on and off as needed. The fit was very comfortable.

Crab loved his face mask so much, he’s been wearing it quite a lot. I needed to make a few more, but then I decided to dive in and learn to…


I had been intimidated by the idea of sewing machines for quite some time in my life. My Dad had a Brother sewing machine I attempted to use after he passed away twelve years ago, and I messed it up so much that I just was afraid to use another one. At the time, there weren’t YouTube videos to help you along when you twisted up the thread so badly that the entire machine had to come apart to fix it.

I never used a sewing machine again. I hand sewed, but I always just felt like it wasn’t something I could accomplish or learn to do. Maybe, one day… and last year I had started researching sewing machines and trying to figure out what does what, what would work best, and talking to my Mom about them a lot.

She has a 40+ year old sewing machine from her 16th birthday that flips out of a big wooden table. It doesn’t function anymore, and she said any newer machine has so many options that I couldn’t go wrong.

After having several sewing machines bookmarked and looking around, now as they all disappeared from online shopping stores, I was able to snag a machine directly from Singer that was on sale and in my lower-end budget. I actually got it for over $100 less than it’s listed for now.

Sewing DIY Face Mask Attempt #1

Just because I bought a sewing machine didn’t mean I felt ready to learn how to sew. I was still so nervous! I don’t know why…

I watched a ton of videos on face masks. Tried to learn how these things work and am now learning about fabric types, and all sorts of new things! It’s wild how much there is to know, but getting into crochet clothing patterns last year really helped me understand patterns and stitching pieces together. All along I’ve been sewing… just using yarn and yarn needles on my larger projects!

Monkey was happy to watch sewing videos with me and we both took a keen interest in the whole world that is now opened up with a sewing machine. My old ideas of DIY t-shirt hacks are transformed! No more just glue and tying up loose ends. And from those old experiments, I already had fantastic fabric scissors to start with!

My idea of thrift store shopping (whenever we can do that again!) is at a whole new level. Clothes that are cute, cheap, but too big? Easy peasy, I can make that fit me well (once I learn how… but I have the option now!).

Sewing DIY Face Mask Attempt #2

After I slept on it, I watched a few more videos, learned a little more about shaping, and simple options with the side pieces and using options like long strands of t-shirts cut up for straps around the head, or modifying them for around the ears. I like the idea of folding over the sides to sew a space for an elastic or piece of yarn/stretched shirt strap to tie around one’s ears with ability to swap it out/remove or change it.

This was another version of a similar face mask and I did a better job pleating, and since have ordered small clips like Wonder Clips that appear to work much easier than pinning. Pinning I have yet to be good with, but I think these clips are going to be a game changer for me!

Sewing DIY Face Mask Attempt #3

Once I got down the idea of how to put these rectangular masks together via sewing the patterns, then pleating them (horribly with pins) and sewing around the edges without getting the strap sewn in, I started to get better at the design.

This design is a simple 9.5″ rectangle mask with two layers, a space on the bottom left unstitched to allow another layer if one desired to be put inside, and then the edges are folded over a strap, sewn on, and then a pleat sewn across the sides. The pillow case was super smooth against my skin, and I had a few people test it out and say they liked it with the ear strap options.

Sewing DIY Face Mask Attempt #4 – Success!

I recently came across the Olson Face Mask pattern as another method of designing and wearing a face mask with a filter pocket. My Mom needed something that came below her eye line, as she has some issues with her eyes and this seems like a good idea for her.

I was hesitant to veer away from simple rectangle shapes to sew with, because I’m such an absolute beginner, but I have a bunch of shirts and sheets Chris, my Mom and my Aunt have given me, that they said go ahead and try a few things to see what works!

So, in what seems like never ending rainy days, I attempted to make that version of contoured face mask. I like that it contours, has a filter pocket for added use, and the sides easily fold over to be sewn over a hair tie or t-shirt straps to loop over the ears. It also has a good wide length that will adjust to several sizes of faces, so I can easily adapt it to fit all of our faces.

I spent a little time constructing my first mask, and figured out the simple pattern after a try or two. Once it all came together, I figured this was the best mask for us and to share with my family who needed one. Plus since it’s so wide, it limits me from touching my face unknowingly!

The face mask has 3 different parts you need to cut out (6 in total) to sew together. It’s a bit more time consuming, but the contour and the filter pocket are worth the extra time. Plus, it’s easier to sew together than the pleated masks (though, I have clips I hope to attempt it again with now).

Olson Face Mask Pattern Finished Example

After making this mask and sharing it online, friends have reached out to Chris and I interested to purchase a few. I can customize them a bit to fit well around the ears, so that has been beneficial as well. I guess I’m a sewer now…

Of course, I take up a new hobby when I can’t go to any store to touch, feel, or see fabric to create with. I’m sure we have enough old things lying around for awhile though to keep me busy, and I sure have a ton of yarn to make a bunch of sweaters out of I’ve been meaning to work on.

I definitely have a lot to keep my hands busy these days!

Updated end of 2020: Latest iteration with proper adjusted elastics when I could finally get them and an adjustable metal nose bridge from pipe cleaners sewn in.

Another interested party.

With all my excitement and nervousness about sewing, Monkey has been just as excited and supportive. He’s reminded me I can learn anything, I just have to try, fail, and try again. We’ve been looking for super simple children’s projects to get him started as well.

He’s already sewed two cloth bookmarks with a card stock insert to keep them sturdy. He’s learning right along side me…

It’s been fun to get crafty with a hobby he’s interested in. He has a huge interest in vacuums, but one can only listen to stories about cleaning brush heads so much. He’s shown a slight interest in crocheting, but doesn’t have the patience to take the slow path to completion. He also attempted friendship bracelets this week, but without the immediacy of completion, his desire waned. Thus far, with sewing, he’s been interested, but he doesn’t want to do the hard part of patterns, measuring and such just yet.

Hopefully this will be a fun shared hobby for years to come. I already can’t wait to make a cozy fleece poncho pattern I found. I just want to be warm and snuggly these days.

Have you picked up any new hobbies or reignited old crafty interests recently?