Upcycled Mask Making

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently made a recommendation for citizens to wear masks while in public during the coming weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It seems this recommendation was made due to the probable likelihood that people can be asymptomatically carrying the virus and infecting those around them.

This recommendation came after we began to get word locally that at least one of our local hospitals was asking for handmade masks to bolster their PPE supply. Several nurses I know stopped what they were doing at home to make a supply of fabric masks. Joann Fabric, including the store near us, was also supplying any interested people with masks making materials and instructions so that masks could be constructed and donated.

Two days ago I jumped on this bandwagon. I used to sew quite a bit.  But, it’s been many years since my sewing machine was out – at least thirteen.  I have not been out of the house during the virus except for the post office and grocery store. Still, I thought that maybe wearing a mask when out wasn’t a bad idea. You might remember that I am a former nurse.

Sure I could whip some up in short order, I found a link in a blog article about how to make no-sew masks out of bananas. I had bandanas and I had hair ties. So, I tried the no-sew method. The instructions were simple and it looked okay but the elastic bands did not stay on our ears. They slipped off!

The same website also offered a templet and directions for a sewn face mask. I looked over the directions thoroughly and decided that I would try it.

The first mask I made, I entirely sewed by hand out of a bandana. One bandana would make 2 masks. Not bad.  In the process of pulling out the supplies for this project, I found some 1/4 inch elastic in my craft cupboard. Score!  The first mask turned out well. It fits me and I’ll wear it. But, the hand sewing took time!


So, I unearthed my sewing machine!  There was “stuff ” piled on it in our storage room since it is a cabinet style machine – my grandma’s machine that she used when I was a little girl! A Sears Kenmore Sewing Machine that most of my childhood clothes were sewn on!


The second mask was made on the machine and was made out of a camo bandana. It went faster but I forgot to leave the holes in which to thread the elastic! Oops! It went too fast! After three masks, I ran out of elastic! And, come to find out, elastic is in as short supply as toilet paper during this pandemic!


In the middle of all this, my youngest asked if he could clean out his closet! Well, YEAH! And, then it dawned on me! I could upcycle a shirt or two to make some masks from the templet. Any, as they say, the rest is history!

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One blue chambray (100%) cotton button-down shirt supplied enough fabric for 5 masks! On top of that, the seams were double stitched, (there were not any unfinished salvages), so I was able to cut them off the sides and sleeves to get ready-made ties!  I was excited to be upcycling a shirt for masks!


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Wait, where’s that bag for Goodwill? I need more shirts!

I loved making these masks! It reminded me that I enjoy sewing and how lucky I was to have a grandma that passed her machine and a tad of her talent down to me.

I also got a thrill out of being thrifty, too! Upcycling the shirt for masks was a great idea!

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