As more and more people get into making face masks, designs are becoming more and more creative. With such a high demand, new face mask designs and face mask ideas are popping up online every week, many of them with practical applications such as designs that suit smaller faces or patterns that can be made more quickly.
Now that you’re inspired, let’s get you started with a range of options, based on your access to materials, your skill level, and the size of the person wearing your creation(s).
The CDC’s face mask designs
The experts on the spread of viruses have come up with some great, simple designs that you can make using a bandana and a pair of elastics, or a t-shirt and a pair of scissors. While traditional masks or those made from recommended fabrics are obviously the first choices, these makeshift masks will get you through until you find a better alternative.
The CDC website shows a pattern that requires nothing more than a t-shirt and a pair of sharp scissors. You just cut the bottom seven inches off a shirt then hack a seven-inch rectangle into one side, leaving narrow strips above and below. Once you slice those strips at the ends, they become your ties.
You can tinker around with these measurements to make sure they fit the person who will wear it. Start out with the original numbers and adapt as you go. This “pattern” is very forgiving; if it doesn’t fit right, simply cut another swath from the bottom of the same shirt and try again.
Best face mask design for adults
There are several variations of this pattern on the web, but this one is among the most clear, thorough, and easy to follow. It includes a filter pocket and gives you the option of using elastic ear loops or fabric ties.
For this one, you will need a sewing machine and, at minimum, novice sewing skills. But have no fear if it’s been a while since you’ve threaded a bobbin! She walks you through each step, so you build your confidence as you go. It’s easiest to make one mask from start to finish to get the hang of it first, then make them in batches if you have the supplies and a list of friends who need them.
If you’re using elastics, you may wish to make the loops a little larger than the recommended seven inches if you are making a mask for someone with a longer face or a wider jaw. Some people wearing these masks find that the elastics pull on their ears, which may get uncomfortable over time. (It also makes some sets of ears stick out rather comically, which the wearer may not care for.)
Some people prefer fabric ties so they can place them wherever it is most comfortable on their heads. It takes a little longer to put the mask on and off that way, but that may not matter depending on how long you wear it each time.
Face mask designs for medical staff
For medical professionals facing up-close exposure to COVID-19, an ideal option is an N95 mask or similar. However, with shortages in some parts of the country, here is a second-best option that offers comfort and coverage of the mouth and nose.
The video below shows you how to create a mask with a filter pocket, a wire piece to hold it in place, and ties that snugly secure the mask. Even better, you can see the whole creative process from start to finish in just a few minutes.
Moms who came up with their own face mask ideas for kids
See Kate Sew has a good pattern for face masks for kids, complete with dimensions, advice, and a video. She makes it easy for novice stitchers to get started with basic supplies.
Her version also includes a filter pocket. She simplifies the addition of ear elastics by using cord elastic and a yarn needle. Her method of stitching a quick casing and threading the elastic through is sheer efficient genius. It also makes it easier to adjust the length of the ear loops if the first attempt does not create the right size.
The Stitching Scientist offers a slight variation, with a version that takes about 10 minutes per mask. She adds the elastic loops first and came up with a method that ensures they don’t bunch up or get caught in other seams.
When making masks for others, but children especially, always wash your hands and the fabric before you begin. If you try the mask on your own child to check the fit, make sure you wash it thoroughly before sending it on.
Face mask designs for the whole family
If you are equipping your whole crew, from adults to toddlers – this pattern from former healthcare worker Tina Elmore-Wright in Florida covers all your bases.
Simply print off the pattern and choose the right size for each family member. She has four sizes: adult, young adult, child, and toddler.
Cut the pieces out on the fold and follow the instructions printed on the pattern. You can button on straps or sew them onto the sides of the mask.
Face mask designs that show your mouth, for people who are hearing impaired
Anyone who relies on lip reading would struggle to communicate with others who are wearing masks. As a result, a college student named Ashley Lawrence came up with a face mask design that has a clear window to work around that problem.
This is not a replacement for a medical-grade mask, but it does offer more protection from virus-carrying droplets than no mask at all. It also ensures that a person with hearing impairments will be able to lip read or, at the very least, get a little more context when you attempt to communicate with them.
Face mask designs using socks
For those who don’t sew – and don’t intend to learn – you can always convert a sock into a mask. There are two methods being widely used right now:
The first one clips two elastic bands to a sock with safety pins, leaving the sock intact so you can wear it again.
The second one cuts the ribbed top off the sock and is slit to turn the ends into ear loops.
This 7.5-minute video by HoopSmiles shows both methods, back to back.
Face mask designs based on balaclavas
There are a few options for this style, from quite warm to those that loosely cover the lower part of your face.
This original pattern by Lana Creations has a loose fit around the mouth and is made from fleece. With warmer weather coming, you likely want to make yours out of t-shirt material or another, lighter fabric. This pattern is best suited for a confident stitcher who is comfortable altering patterns for the best fit.
For intermediate sewists, this pull-on balaclava is made from two fabric pieces – with a cut-out for the eyes – and a length of stretch elastic. It was designed for children but can be adapted for adults. As with the previous pattern, you may wish to substitute the recommended fleece with a lighter material.
Face masks that come together quickly
For the mask maker on the run, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams demonstrates how to make a face mask using hair ties, in just 45 seconds. He does a great job so you likely only need to watch it once.
If you want to make a mask that simply ties around your face and drapes well past your chin, here is the quick way to assemble one:
- Cut a piece of fabric 22 inches wide and 12.5 inches deep and 42 inches of seam binding or a strip of non-stretching fabric 42 by 1.75 inches long. Hem the two short sides and one long side of the large rectangle by folding the edges in by one-half inch, twice.
- To make your own tie, fold the long sides of the fabric strip together with the wrong sides facing so they meet in the center. Fold them again so the raw edges are trapped inside. Press well.
- Find the center point of the tie or seam binding and insert a six-inch wire or pipe cleaner. Sew around the wire to hold it in place within the ties. Match up the center point of the tie with the top of the fabric rectangle.
- Stitch the tie closed from one end to the other, including across the top edge of the fabric rectangle.
Face mask ideas from knitters and crocheters
For those who prefer to stitch using two needles, knittingpattern.org has different versions with patterns and a video tutorial. One template is also printable and has a cotton liner sewn inside for more protection.
If you prefer to crochet your mask, yarnspirations.com has patterns for knit or crochet face masks for worsted-weight yarn lined with fabric. Adapt sizes by adding or subtracting half-double crochet stitches as needed.
The most original face mask designs and ideas
Just for fun, check out the outlandish mask creations by Ýrúrarí, an Icelandic artist also known as Yr Johannsdottir. She has made over-sized smiles, funny faces, and masks with tongues and stockings sticking out of them. She doesn’t provide patterns, but they will definitely brighten your day and maybe inspire you to be more creative.