Handmade Masks to Help in the Fight Against Covid-19

Tasked with making masks for my husband and some of his coworkers who are on the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic, I set out to find the best pattern to use for handmade masks. While searching, I came across this article by The Washington Post.

It mentions that Peter Tsai, “the materials scientist who invented the electrostatic charging technology that N95 masks… rely on,” recommends using car shop towels for making handmade masks. It is strong and washable, so the masks can be reused, and it offers more protection from the virus than cotton fabric.

The towels also make great filter inserts for fabric masks. (My favorite pattern for cotton fabric masks which incorporates a pocket is this one by Pins and Needles. )

The photo to the left shows some masks that I made from the Pins and Needles pattern.




I know we all have a lot on our plates right now. (I would have never guessed I’d be running my small at-home business while suddenly needing to homeschool 5 children and try to protect my family from a pandemic), but if you can find the materials and a little extra time to help make even just a few masks for your local community, please consider doing so. I’m sure the people who receive them will be very grateful!

Step 1 Photo










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Step 7

This pattern is provided at no cost to anyone who would like to use it. If you would like to help cover the costs of supplies so that I can continue to make masks for those who need them, you may donate using the button below.






Step 1:

Gather materials

– Scott shop towels, cut into 8″ x 8″ squares

– Twist ties

– Elastic

– Thread

– Scissors

– And of course a sewing machine


Step 2:

Place twist tie at top of square. Make sure it is centered right in the middle. This doesn’t need to be exact, just eyeball it.









Step 3:

Fold top down over twist tie about 1/4″ and straight stitch along inner edge. Then go back and sew a few stitches vertically on either side of the twist tie to keep it from shifting out of place.






Step 4:

Now turn under the bottom edge 1/4″ and stitch. Then turn under each side 1/4″ – 1/2″ and stitch. All 4 sides have now been hemmed.





Step 5:

Orient your square so that the side with the twist tie is facing towards the top and the right side is facing out.

Beginning about 1″ from the bottom edge, fold down the first pleat 1/2″ and pin. Now fold down the second pleat directly above the first. Again 1/2, and pin. Repeat for the third and final pleat.


Step 6:

Stitch along each edge to tack down pleats, removing pins as you come to them.





Step 7:

Cut a 1/8″ – 1/4″ wide piece of elastic into 7.5″ strips.

Sew one end of the strip to the top corner of the wrong side of your mask, then sew the second end to the bottom corner as illustrated in the photo. Repeat these steps for the other side.

Make sure to backstitch and sew over the elastic again 1 or 2 times to help keep it from coming loose.

Colorful Rolags for Spinning

Back when I was new to yarn spinning I purchased a few pounds of merino top. Turns out, I had no idea how boring it would be to spin bobbin after bobbin of undyed wool. I had to find a way to add some color! This tutorial shows you how to add color and texture with add-ins using minimal tools. You will want to be familiar with how to load fiber onto the handcards and how to brush the fiber from one carder to the other. I was unable to really show those steps in photos, but there are plenty of youtube tutorials that cover the basics of hand carding.



Gather Supplies

A pair of hand carders and a set of wooden dowels (I’ve used chop sticks in a pinch), are the only tools needed. You will also need some fiber and add-ins. I used merino top and tussa silk, but feel free to experiment with locks, tinsel, or any combination of fiber and add- ins that you’d like for yarn spinning.

First Layer

Place one layer of your main fiber on the hand cards. You will most likely want to use some sort of wool fiber in a solid or semi-solid color for best results.

Second Layer and Carding

Now place a layer of silk or any other other add-ins you would like to use. Then make one pass with the carders to lightly blend your fibers together.

Using Dowels

For this step you can lay the carder flat on a table or hold it by the handle between your knees with the fiber facing away from you. Place one dowel behind the fiber that is sticking out from the top end of the carder, and place the other dowel in front of the fiber.

Rolling the Fiber

Now, grasping the ends of the dowels, roll the fiber from the top of the carder to the bottom, keeping it close against the tines of the carder. If you’ve ever used a blending board, you might be inclined to pull on the dowels in order to draft the fiber as you roll. For these rolags, don’t pull/draft! Just roll them right up like a jelly roll.


Lift the dowels along with your newly rolled fiber off the carder. You may want to roll it like a rolling pin over the carder a couple times just to tighten up your rolag and make sure it holds together well. Finally, pull one dowel out of the center of the rolag, then pull the second dowel out. Make several and spin up a colorful skein!



Have fun experimenting with different fibers and add-ins! I would love to see your creations if you try out this method. Tag me on instagram @mcgehee_textiles.