Mask Making with Jes Walters
Updated: Apr 22
Season 2: MASK MAKING with Jes Walters
Studio ATAO’s Community Skillshare is a virtual learning series that tackles specific, actionable and pertinent topics with subject matter experts. Each season (1-4 episodes) is centered on one main topic and raises funds for the expert's charity of choice. Each episode is also paired with a thorough resources document (such as this one) containing additional information and relevant links. Community Skillshares take place on Studio ATAO’s IG Live and we will announce upcoming episodes via our Instagram.
This particular resources document was compiled by Studio ATAO’s core team with leadership from Jes Walters. We hope Jes’s Skillshare session and this resource document can guide you through making a mask for yourself, your loved ones, and perhaps also your community. Please feel free to share this resource widely with anyone who you think may need it.
If you’re interested in joining in on the next Community Skillshare, please follow us on Instagram at @StudioATAO. If you’ve benefited from this free resource and want to give back to our community, we are also raising money for Jes's chosen charity! You can send a one-time gift via our GiveLively page, just please let us know which session you're donating to. If you are enjoying the series and want to help our team at Studio ATAO, you can become a monthly patron of ours at Patreon. We thank you for your support!
Table of Contents
Video of Jes’s Mask Making Tutorials
Mask Making Without A Sewing Machine
Mask Making With A Sewing Machine
Mask Making Without A Sewing Machine
What You Need:
Fabric teeshirt (of any size)
1 - 8x10 sheet of paper (this is your pattern)
Chalk or pen
1. Fold your 8x10 sheet of paper into thirds width-wise, much like a 3-part pamphlet.
2. Flatten paper so you can clearly see each of the 3 lines.
3. Place your teeshirt on a flat surface. Use your scissors to separate the front and back sides of the shirt and cut off the sleeves. Your teeshirt should now look like a large rectangle with a collar.
4. Cut off the hem of your teeshirt; discard, or save as scrap for different project.
5. Place the 8x10 paper at the center of your teeshirt, with the 8 inch side touching the bottom of the teeshirt.
6. Using chalk or pen, outline the entire 8x10 paper on the teeshirt, as well as the level of the 1st fold (from the top) to the left and the right of the paper.
7. Now place the 8x10 paper to the left of the center outline, with the top edge of the paper lined up against the level of the 1st fold. Outline the top and left sides of the paper with chalk or pen.
8. Now place the 8x10 paper to the right of the center outline, with the top edge of the paper lined up against the level of the 1st fold. Outline the top and right sides of the paper with chalk or pen.
9. Using scissors, cut out your fabric along the farthest edges of your outline. It should resemble the tetris T-shape below:
10. Cut a strip roughly 1” thick from below the top section of the left side, ending at the edge of the middle outline (see dotted lines below).
11. Cut a strip roughly 1” thick from below the top section of the right side, ending at the edge of the middle outline (see dotted lines below).
12. Cut a strip roughly 1” thick from above the bottom section of the left side, ending at the edge of the middle outline (see dotted lines above).
13. Cut a strip roughly 1” thick from above the bottom section of the right side, ending at the edge of the middle outline (see dotted lines above).
14. Leaving the cut strips flat, fold over the left side fabric to cover the center of the mask, then the right side fabric to cover again.
15. Now you have a tri-layered mask, with ties you can use to secure it above your ears and below your chin.
16. If desired, you can sew or pin the base of the mask and tuck a filter into your mask.
Mask Making With A Sewing Machine
What You Need:
Cotton fabric at least 18” x 6”
Piece of paper cut to 9” x 6”
2 - 7” long, ¼” thick elastic strips
1 - 3” piece of pipe cleaner or floral wire
8 sewing pins
1 sheet of paper, cut into 9” x 6” rectangle (this is your pattern)
Cut 1 pattern piece on a fold-out of the cotton fabric that is 18” x 9”.
Fold the fabric’s two right sides together, matching 6” / 9” sides.
Sew along the 6” side, using 1/4” seam allowance and leaving a space 3” wide in the center to turn the mask right side out.
Cut 2 pieces of elastic 7” long. Insert into the corners of the two open ends of the mask and pin into place.
Sew across the sides, backstitching well over the elastic, to secure the elastic in place.
Turn the mask right side out and press seams flat.
Using pattern as a guide, fold up 3 pleats on each side, making sure the pleats are folded in the same direction. Pin into place.
Top stitch around the entire mask’s sides and bottom, securing the pleats. Do not top stitch the top where there is an opening.
Place a 3” pipe cleaner into the 3” opening at the top of the mask, then topstitch the top of the mask.
Wiggle the pipe cleaner into the top center of your mask. Pin into place.
Zigzag stitch over 3” pipe cleaner. Now you have a moldable nose piece!
Q: What are the components of an acceptable mask?
A: Via the CDC, masks should:
fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
be secured with ties or ear loops
include multiple layers of fabric
allow for breathing without restriction
be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Q: What fabrics are allowed for face masks?
A: The CDC recommends fabrics that are composed of several layers of tightly knit cotton, such as durable teeshirts, tea towels, flannel pajamas, pillowcases or cotton quilting fabric if you can acquire some. A easy test of fabric efficacy from the NY Times:
“Hold it up to a bright light,” said Dr. Scott Segal, chairman of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health who recently studied homemade masks. “If light passes really easily through the fibers and you can almost see the fibers, it’s not a good fabric. If it’s a denser weave of thicker material and light doesn’t pass through it as much, that’s the material you want to use.”
Q: How do I wear a mask properly?
A: From the WHO:
Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
Cover your mouth and nose with the mask, and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
Avoid touching the mask or your face while wearing it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not reuse single-use masks.
To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
See an infographic from NY Times here.
Q: Should I put a filter in my mask? What does it do?
A: Some people are inserting filters such as HEPA vacuum filters, coffee filters, air conditioning filters, or even just layers of paper towels into a pocket in their masks. This helps add another layer of filtering power alongside the actual fabric; according to the NY Times:
An engineer at an air purifier firm ran his own test and found a single paper towel filter 23 percent of 0.3 microns and two paper towels filtered 33 percent.
While it is not necessary to use a filter, you may consider doing so for added protection. However, please note the potential downsides of using vacuum and air filters:
Scientists trying to find effective alternatives for medical workers have cut up layers of air filters and tested HEPA vacuum bags. Both can work quite well, but both have significant downsides. Air filters, when cut up, can release fibers that can be dangerous to inhale, so the filter material should be sandwiched between layers of heavy cotton fabric if used in a mask. Vacuum bags are good filters but not that breathable. Plus, some brands of vacuum bags may contain fiberglass so should not be used to cover your face. - NY Times
Q: Why wear a mask? Do I have to?
A: Wearing a mask is extremely important because it protects other people from what you may be carrying. While wearing a mask is not the answer to stopping the spread of the coronavirus, it’s a big step in helping slow down and #flattenthecurve by limiting exposure across different people in public settings. From the NY Times:
Without the masks, the infected people exhaled contagious droplets and aerosols, tiny particles that linger in the air, about 30 percent of the time they were tested. When the infected patients wore a mask, it blocked nearly 100 percent of viral droplets and some of the aerosol particles.
Even if you are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it is possible you are asymptomatic and can transmit the virus to someone else. By wearing a mask, we as a community can protect each other by doing something very simple. Be proud to wear your mask because it signifies to everyone around you that you care about their well-being and are doing your part in protecting them.
Q: Where should I wear my mask?
A: Preferably in all public settings, but especially where social distancing is difficult (e.g. grocery stores, pharmacies) and many people are typically present at once.
If there is someone sick at home, you should also wear your mask indoors.
Q: Is there anyone who should not wear a mask?
A: Yes, the CDC recommends that children under the age of 2, those who have trouble breathing regularly, and those who cannot remove the mask easily themselves should not wear a mask.
Q: How should I clean my mask after I return from a public place?
A: Make sure to remove your mask with clean hands and place it on a sanitized surface. Always assume that your mask is contaminated, so you can either wash it if you have enough time to do so in-between wears, or if you need to use it again quickly you can place your mask in an oven set at 170F for at least a half an hour. The fabric and paper will not burn, but it will sanitize.
Q: What setting should I wash my mask on?
A: Set your washing machine to the highest heat setting and your dryer to the same. You want the water to be at least 104F to kill any bacteria and viruses. If you can, using bleach (or color safe bleach) is recommended.
Q: I’ve made a mask for some family/friends, how do I give them to the recipients without transferring any contaminants from myself?
A: Before starting your project, make sure to thoroughly wash your fabric without any dyes or fragrance. As you are making these masks, ensure you also have good hygiene: wash your hands often, wear gloves and wear a mask during the process. Once your mask is delivered, give instructions on how to wash the mask (see above) in a verbal or written message to the recipient so they understand to wash the masks immediately upon receipt.
Q: Can I make masks to donate to a hospital?
A: Yes! You can totally make masks for hospital workers. You can find out which hospitals are accepting donations searching for “name of your city” + “mask donations” -- many local hospitals have donation pages on their websites with instructions on how to get in touch. You can also take your mask to your local Joann Fabric store, and they do the legwork to get it to the front line responders.
Q: What types of places are looking for mask donations?
A: Hospitals, vet clinics, retirement homes, fire stations, food banks, any essential business that’s still open, even your own neighbor! Masks are currently mandated by many counties in the country, and with a shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) many are looking for help in securing a mask. If you’re able and interested in making + donating masks, search online to see what organizations may benefit from your masks, and post on social media to see if there are people in your network who may need masks.
Donate & Support
If you’ve enjoyed this Skillshare episode and want to give back to the community, we are raising money for Jes's chosen charity ABC! You can send a one-time gift via our GiveLively page, just please let us know which session you're donating to.
If you are enjoying the Community Skillshare series and want to help our team at Studio ATAO, you can become a monthly patron of ours at Patreon. We thank you for your support!