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How to Make the Rectangular Surgical-Style Mask

What you will need permalink

  • Cotton woven fabric, preferably a denser quilting cotton or sateen. In general, if you can hold it up to a light and not see the shape of the bulb it is dense enough.
  • Elastic ½" or smaller (smaller is best) OR ties
  • General purpose thread

How to make a mask permalink

  1. Cut rectangles (9"× 12" for adult) (7.5" × 10" for children).
  2. Fold cotton in half with right sides together against the width of the fabric so it’s 6" × 9" (adult) or 5" × 7½" (children).
  3. Cut (2) elastic pieces (7.5" for adult, 6.5" for children). If you are using cord elastic knot the ends of the cord. Alternatively, cut 4 ties at least 20" long. If you need more details on making fabric ties please watch this video.
  4. With fabric still folded, sandwich elastic or ties between the two layers so the cut edge comes out diagonally at the corners of the two short sides.

  1. Stitch along the edges with a ⅝" seam allowance. Start along the left bottom corner, stitch to ½" from the center. Leave 2" open to turn your fabric right way out later. Start your stitch 2" away and go to the bottom right corner. Your stitch should start and stop with a machine backstitch.

  1. Turn mask right side out, pull out the corners, and press. At the open area fold to match the stitched line.
  2. Pin three ½" tucks at sides.
  3. Top stitch from the bottom left corner, over the pleats. Stop and pivot at the corners. Continue until you meet the fold on the bottom right corner. Make sure your stitch covers the entire open area, and starts and stops with a back stitch.


Download PDF Instructions


Frequently Asked Questions permalink

Do I have to use flat cotton? Can I use a cotton flannel?
We have found that while softer cotton flannel is too fuzzy, and doesn't always absorb moisture as easily as flat cottons. Unfortunately flannel masks cannot be donated.
Why does the fabric need to be woven? Why can't I use knit?
Knit fabric is constructed out of small loops that change shape when pulled, this is why knit fabric stretches. Unfortunately, this means that the filtration quality of a knit mask varies greatly based on how it's being worn, and may not be very effective.
Can I use sparkly fabric?
Unfortunately masks made with sparkly fabrics, especially those with glitter attached, cannot be donated.
What if I don't have elastic?
You can use fabric ties from all four corners. Rather than looping over the ears, these four ties will extend back to tie behind the head.
What can I use as ties?
There are many options you can use for ties. Some common household items include: shoelaces, bias tape, ribbon, or cord. You can also easily make ties from fabric tubes or bias. Probably the easiest way to make ties is to cut 1" strips of jersey (which can include lightly used t-shirts). Make sure you cut the strips horizontally, and stretch them so they roll. These can be attached to your masks without any other finishing needed. Please be sure to knot all ties before sending your masks in.
How long should ties be?
Each tie should be 20" long.
Should I make kid-sized masks?
Please make kid-sized masks only if you were asked to in your signup email.