How to Make a Reusable Washable Breathable Mask for yourself or the NHS

by Mikaeel Dada

Handmade fabric masks (face coverings) advice on making.

As the restrictions are being relaxed and the UK Government has agreed the public should use ‘face coverings’ you could make handmade fabric masks.

Please note fabric masks do not protect the wearer from viruses; they simply reduce the risk of transmission.
Fabric masks are not suitable for use in a clinical environment.

Fabrics - use any non-stretch, breathable closely woven fabric which can be washed at 60 degrees. The liner (the part which touches the face) should be soft 100% cotton fabric such as clean pillowcases in good condition, fat quarters or other new fabric. Use a similarly absorbent cotton for the middle layer. The outer layer should be breathable fabric (preferably moisture resistant), with some polyester content, for example polyester cotton mix fabric, or non-stretch polyester.

Pattern - choose one which suits your available time, fabric, and sewing abilities. Making masks with ties rather than elastic will mean they fit different shapes and sizes more easily, don’t interfere with spectacles or hearing aids, and can be repeatedly washed at 60 degrees. Ties can be made of cotton fabric or strong tape.

Nose wires (garden wire, aluminium strip, copper wire, etc) should be added to any mask you make. Please be careful when adding 'nose wires' to any pattern, and make sure you don't injure yourself or the wearer. Pipe cleaner or other types of wire will need to be removable as they will rust when washed.

Filters can be made of a suitable synthetic layer. A product such as Vlieseline’s Vilene M12 or Vilene S13 is suitable because:

  • It is non-woven (no grain)

  • It is sew-in. Iron-on or fusible interfacing isn’t suitable for masks (breathability, the

    likelihood of breaking down in a hot wash)

  • It is medium to heavy weight (heavyweight may be more difficult to breathe through

    take care when choosing mask fabrics not to make them too thick)

  • It is washable at 60 degrees

    There’s advice on using masks (based on WHO guidelines), which can be printed for recipients.



There are several suggested patterns to use

  • Style 1 - Pleated and shaped N95 cover which can also be worn as a ‘face covering’

    (tutorial at

  • Style 2 - Brie drawstring an easy to make drawstring style with a filter pocket and

    information on adding a nose wire. There is a video tutorial and a photo tutorial.


  • Style 3 - Pleated face mask with filter pocket and nose wire (Sweet Red Poppy)

  • Style 4 - Shaped face mask with filter pocket and nose wire options, and four sizes to

    choose from (Craft Passion).