DIY: WI Face Masks

It is now compulsory to wear face-coverings in a lot of places to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. We have therefore created the below patterns for you to create your own face covering.

For advanced stitchers, we offer a pattern for a fitted mask and for those less adept at sewing, we provide instructions on how to make an easy sew, folded face covering. Additionally, you will find a pattern for a button band that will take the elastic pressure of your ears and make your face covering more comfortable to wear.

A selection of patterned face masks

Fitted Face Mask

PLEASE NOTE: These face coverings are recommended for PERSONAL use only and are not suitable for healthcare professionals, who need to wear certified PPE masks, which are in short supply. These masks are not suitable for donation to health or care services. Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 2 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly. For example, primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions. Further details of the Government guidelines can be found here.

Before you begin

There are some places where it is a legal requirement to wear a face covering. Different rules exist in different parts of the UK. Further details can be found on the relevant regional websites:

You should also wear a face-covering indoors in places not listed on the Government’s website where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Face covering update

Emerging evidence suggests that the risk of transmission may be reduced by using thicker fabrics or multiple layers. However, there has to be a trade-off between filtration, breathability and comfort.

The Welsh Government has also stated that face coverings should be made up of three layers as set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO), so in accordance with this latest data, we have adapted our original two-layer face-covering designs to accommodate a third layer or filter, as you desire.

Wearing of a Face Covering

  • A cloth face covering is NOT PPE. They are not intended for the personal protection of the wearer – they are designed to prevent people who have COVID-19, but might not know it, from spreading it to others.
  • Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing or washing your hands regularly – they need to complement these behaviours.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on and after taking off your face covering. Try not to touch your face, or the face-covering while you are wearing it.
  • Once removed, ideally store worn face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.
  • You should wash a face-covering after wear. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal laundry detergent, but it does need to be a hot 60-degree wash, to destroy the virus.

Selecting the right fabric

The fabric that you choose needs to be dense enough to catch viral particles, but still be breathable, so that you can wear it!

The best fabric to make your face covering from is a tightly woven, cotton or poly/cotton fabric, such as craft cotton, used by patchwork and quilters, but also bed sheets, duvet covers, old shirts and good quality t-shirt fabric work too – these fabrics will be able to withstand the hot washing temperatures required.

One of the best ways to check whether your fabric is dense enough for the job is to hold a piece of doubled-fabric up to a bright light and if you can easily see the fibres in the fabric, then it’s not suitable. If it’s a denser weave and the light doesn’t pass through it as much, then that’s a good one to use. For this reason, coarse knitted fabrics are not the best, as they create holes between the threads when stretched, which can allow the virus to pass through.

It's also important to check whether you can breathe through your fabric too, so hold the layers over your nose and mouth and breathe!

Multiple layers

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says having more than two layers of fabric for a face covering can create additional filtration.

Disposable filters

You can insert a disposable filter, either one mass-produced for this purpose or make one yourself from a synthetic non-woven hydrophobic (water repellent) fabric, such as 100% Spunbond polypropylene fabric. Filters are not intended for wash and reuse and should be disposed of responsibly after wear.


Adding a disposable filter brings into question plastic waste, which is one of the WI’s main campaigns. If using a disposable filter is not an option for you, then the Simple Face-covering would be your best option and simply add a third layer of fabric to your mask, or a sew-in polyester non-woven interlining, which can remain inside the mask and be washed at a hot temperature, time and time again.

You can even purchase sustainable polyester interlinings, created from recycled PET bottles, meaning that the synthetic material is recycled and does not end up in one of our dumps or – even worse – in our oceans. Plus, recycled polyester is just as good as newly produced polyester but needs considerably fewer resources for its production.
For more information visit:

Lifetime of a homemade face covering

Check the condition of your face covering regularly after washing and if the fabric looks noticeably worn out, then discard the whole mask and replace with a new one.

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