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Help prevent the spread of coronavirus by making and using this upcycled fabric face mask with a non-woven coffee filter insert.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has put forward a recommendation for the general public to wear non-medical masks or face coverings, in situations where it’s difficult to maintain two meters distance from others while indoors.

This means we should all wear masks at the grocery store, pharmacy, and on public transit. And while medical masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, we can make our own upcycled non-medical mask using items we might already have at home (bonus points if you don’t buy anything new!) 

Together, we can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, keep our communities safe, and reduce our collective environmental impact.

What’s the best fabric to use for your face mask?

You should use plain, tightly woven cotton, not a stretchy knit, and wash it in hot water to shrink the fabric prior to making your mask. 

How to make a no-sew non-medical fabric face mask

You will need these materials:

  • Cotton fabric (you can use bedsheets, pillowcases, t-shirts, pyjamas, handkerchiefs, bandanas, tea towels, tote bags, or denim)
  • Ties (you can use hair ties, elastics, bias tape, string, twill cord, shoelaces, strips of fabric or jersey knit, or cording)
  • Non-woven insert (you can use piece of a non-woven fabric bag, shop towels, coffee filters, dry wet wipes, or kleenex)
  • Safety pins
  • Tape (you can use duct tape, scotch tape, masking tape, or electrical tape)

You will need these tools:

  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Pencil

Instructions:

How to make your own upcycled DIY no-sew fabric face mask
Start by gathering your tools & materials: you will need cotton fabric, non-woven layer (e.g. coffee filter), hair ties, safety pins, tape, ruler, pencil and scissors

1. Cut your cotton fabric into a rectangle of 13 inches (33cm) tall by 14 inches (35.5cm) wide.

How to make your own upcycled DIY no-sew fabric face mask
Cut your fabric to size

2. Cut your coffee filter to size to fit the cotton fabric. Remove one inch from the tip of the coffee filter. The wide rounded side will be the top of the mask.

How to make your own upcycled DIY no-sew fabric face mask
Measure one inch at the tip of your coffee filter
How to make your own upcycled DIY no-sew fabric face mask
Cut your filter to size

3. Place your filter on top of the fabric and roll the fabric over the filter.

via GIPHY

4. Fold your fabric around the hair elastics or other ties and safety pin the fabric to secure the elastic or ties.

How to make your own upcycled DIY no-sew fabric face mask
Fold fabric through the hair tie and secure with a safety pin

6. Use tape to close the safety pins. This is to ensure the safety pin is secure, so there is no way for it to open around your face. 

7. To wear the mask, fit each elastic or tie around your ears.

How to make your own upcycled DIY no-sew fabric face mask
Greenpeace Canada’s Action Coordinator, Jef, models the upcycled DIY no-sew face mask

Watch out! Even with tape, under enough tension the safety pins can deform and be pulled free, becoming hazardous. Always check safety pins before putting on the mask.

You don’t have any safety pins? The mask should still work without them, provided the fabric is long enough.

How to sew a non-medical pleated face mask 

You will need these materials:

  • Cotton fabric, cut into three rectangles of 9”x6” (23cm x 15cm) each (you can use bedsheets, pillowcases, t-shirts, pyjamas, handkerchiefs, bandanas, tea towels, tote bags, or denim)
  • Ties (you can use bottom hemmed part of a t-shirt, string, twill cord, shoelaces, strips of fabric or jersey knit, or cording)
  • Cotton thread
  • Coffee bag twist-tie (optional)

You will need these tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape or ruler

Instructions:

1. Gather your materials and cut your cotton fabric into three 9”x6” rectangles.*

How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
Start by gathering your materials and cutting your cotton fabric to size

2. Place ties on top of two layers of cotton facing in, place last layer on top and pin cotton and ties in place.

How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
Place the ties on the top two layers of fabric facing in
How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
Place the remaining layer of fabric on top of the ties and pin the cotton and ties in place.

3. Sew sides, top, and part of the bottom of the mask, leaving a space to turn the mask inside out.

How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
Sew the edges of the mask, leaving space to turn it inside out

4. Turn the mask inside out.

How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
Turn the mask inside out

5. Optional: add coffee bag twist tie into the mask and sew it in place.

How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
You can add a coffee back filter to give the mask more structure on the nose

6. Pin and sew bottom of mask

How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
Pin and sew the bottom of the mask

7. Fold mask twice to create symmetrical pleats, iron, fold and pin in place. Sew both sides.

How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
Fold, iron, and pin the mask.
How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
Sew in place on both sides.

8. Remove all pins and snip excess thread.

How to sew your own upcycled DIY fabric face mask
Greenpeace Canada’s Action Coordinator, Jef, models the upcycled DIY sewn fabric face mask

* To include an opening for inserting a removable non-woven layer to the mask, hem two rectangles together along the top horizontal edge. Hem the remaining rectangle along the top horizontal edge. Continue with the following instructions, but when sewing, do not sew the hemmed edges together. This will create an opening at the top of the mask where you can insert a non-woven layer.

How to use your fabric face mask

  • It’s important that your mask fits snugly but comfortably and that there aren’t big open gaps around your face. 
  • Remember not to touch your face or the mask when wearing it.
  • After taking off the mask, remove the non-woven layer and dispose according to your local municipal waste guidelines. Wash your hands immediately.
  • The fabric mask should be laundered in hot water with fragrance free, non-toxic detergent and rinsed well.
  • You can air dry the mask in sunlight.
  • Before using the mask again, insert a new non-woven layer.
  • If you need to use masks regularly, you may want to have more than one mask (one being laundered, the other to wear).

Remember, masks are not a replacement for handwashing and social distancing guidelines ✌️

Have you made your own upcycled face mask? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Note: Your best source of information to protect your health and the health of others from COVID-19 remains official sources, such as these Government of Canada public health education resources.