This Is the Easiest DIY Cloth Mask Ever

All you need is a T-shirt and scissors. No sewing!

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DIY face mask tutorial screen shot
Becky Shandy models her face mask made from an old T-shirt.

YouTube (used with permission from Becky Shandy)

Cloth masks have become the fashion accessory we never could have predicted a year ago. They've gone from being a rarely-encountered item to a daily necessity, and now most of us keep numerous masks stashed in purses, pockets, cars, and backpacks. 

You may already own a heap of cloth masks, but it's useful to know how to make your own in a pinch. This may be easier said than done. As someone who does not know how to sew and does not own a sewing machine, I didn't have the slightest idea where to start with making my own masks until I came across this helpful YouTube video by Becky Shandy.

Shandy has developed a clever no-sew method for making a face mask from a single old t-shirt. You can use any T-shirt, preferably cotton or a blended cotton, and the larger it is, the better. All you need is a pair of scissors and a basic template cut from a piece of paper, depending on whether you want an adult- or child-sized mask. A men's large T-shirt can make up to four double-layered masks.

The method is amazingly simple, involving cutting strings away from the main part of the mask that allow you to tie it onto your head and/or hang it around your neck. You can make a single, double, or triple-layered mask, or wear it so that each layer is removable for easier cleaning. 

Perhaps the most appealing part of this design is that it can use old T-shirts to create something useful. All of us have old tees kicking around in a drawer somewhere, so this is a great use for them – and a way to avoid the eye-popping prices that some stores are charging for their cloth masks. Your old tees may not be certified organic, but they've had years to soften and off-gas any production chemicals, so they're probably better to put against your face than any new fabrics.

In an email to Treehugger, Shandy desired herself as someone who's spent much of her life repurposing found objects and various things:

"This began as a necessity (I grew up with very little), but it developed into a passion. I’ve always seen the value in everyday things and I never throw anything out hastily. Creating something from nothing is a way of life for me as an artist. Beauty and form were always at the forefront of my work, but with this mask, it’s been all about function: protection from the virus and reducing waste."

Shandy pointed out that her mask design would be useful for emergency situations. In fact, the instructions have been translated into Haitian Creole and have been distributed as a resource for relief workers there. Furthermore, Shandy's design has been shared by the World Health Organization's Emergencies and Disasters Department and by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. 

You can see how to make the masks here: