How to make your own mask, with or without a sewing machine

A Cambridge sewing studio is providing helpful tips on making your own face coverings at home.

Kayla Girdner, an instructor at Gather Here, demonstrates how to sew your own face mask.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, cloth face coverings have become the unexpected fashion item du jour, especially now that both the CDC and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recommend wearing them at all times in public to help slow the rate of infection.

A scarf or bandana will work in a pinch, but if you know your thimbles from your bobbins, why not try crafting something a little more elaborate?

The employees at Gather Here, a studio and fabric/yarn store in Cambridge’s Inman Square, are going online to teach home-stitchers how to sew their own masks. Instructor Kayla Girdner walks people through the process in the video below.

Along with a sewing machine, you’ll need an iron, a rotary cutter or a pair of scissors, a water-soluble pencil, a ruler, tweezers, and some safety pins. For materials, you just need a 7 x 9″ piece of fabric and an elastic for the mask’s strap.

Gather Here has also prepared written and illustrated instructions for their mask design. You can choose to have the elastic go behind your ears or around your head, and the design also includes a pocket in the front for a filter. The folks at Gather Here cut their own using a fresh vacuum cleaner bag from Inman Square Hardware next door.

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Sound on! Due to all the questions about filters and some feedback – we wanted to share how the pocket works. We cut this 4.5×7” piece of .3 microns HEPA filters from a new vacuum cleaner bag. Thanks for all the enthusiasm. As we said yesterday this is by no means a substitute or even an ugly rude step sibling to the N95. They are fabric dust masks. Don’t have elastic? Use 100% cotton twill tape run through the channels! Works like a charm. Stay safe, friends. And hey, Greeley our knitting instructor, friend, and social justice warrior has been jumping in on social to respond to folx. Look for VBJ or GO to know who’s interacting. You’re the best. #IHeartInman #SupportYourLocalBusinesses #WeAreWhatWeMake #GatherHereCambridge #MakeSomethingHelpOthers #ItTakesAVillage

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But if you’re not handy with a sewing machine (or you don’t have access to a sewing machine), you can still fold a functional face covering in seconds without any special tools. All you need is an 18 x 22″ piece of fabric (a bandana will do) and a couple of hair ties.


Gather Here is part of the Boston Area Mask Initiative, a local effort to provide high-quality homemade masks to healthcare workers. The store sells make-your-own-mask bundle kits when supplies are available. Volunteers looking to make masks for the initiative can sign up here, and healthcare providers can request masks through a separate form.

Though Gather Here is closed to the public under Gov. Charlie Baker’s order on non-essential businesses, the store is still filling online orders and hosting virtual classes and workshops. Gather Here posts frequent tips and updates on its Instagram page.


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