DIY Face Masks: Reused and Recycled Fabric Ideas

Aug 12, 2020 2:10:37 PM / by Erica Bottger

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the wearing of cloth face masks along with other preventive measures can help reduce the spread of COVID-19, which continues to be an important consideration. AccuQuilt has developed 10 face mask fabric cutter dies to help quilters and sewists produce these necessary items. AccuQuilt, together with the other companies that are a part of TekBrands, is proud to be donating $100,000 to No Kid Hungry / Share Our Strength from the sale of our mask dies through August of 2020.


Over the past few months, there has been a lot of discussion about what fabrics should be used for making protective masks. Some large scale mask initiatives have had very specific guidelines for the materials to be used, but when it comes to making masks for your own use, there seem to be a lot of different options and opinions.


The CDC recommends using a tightly woven cotton fabric which would include quilting fabric and fabric sheets. Additional information can be found to support the use of high thread count cotton sheets, such as 600 threads per inch plus two sheets of a thin fabric such as chiffon that is made of polyester and spandex to make an effective combination.


Other suggested combinations include a tightly woven cotton with a lining of natural silk or flannel. Some researchers suggest that using the cotton along with a lining fabric that will hold a static charge gives a double barrier that is both mechanical and electrostatic.


Some mask makers have opted to use t-shirts for making masks, which the CDC does recognize as an alternative. For many, a no-sew mask from a t-shirt will provide protection when other materials are not readily available. Research also indicates that using two layers instead of one will increase the effectiveness of any fabric.


Quilting cotton is a great option for fabric, especially with at least 2 layers. Cottons used for quilting tend to be good quality with a high thread count. To test your fabric’s thread count, hold it up to the light. If you can easily see the threads to the light, it is a looser weave fabric that would not be your best choice. Batiks are an example of a great, tightly woven fabric favored by many quilters.


Some mask styles, including AccuQuilt’s Olson Masks, are designed with a pocket so that additional filter material can be added to give even more protection. Or use our tumbler die to easily make the GO! Duckbill Face Mask (PQ11785) for that duckbill style.

Joyce Husker face mask


Sharing Your Style

Whatever the fabric choice, many makers are finding ways to express their creativity through masks. Here’s a great time to use fabrics and/or embroidery to support your favorite teams or salute special occasions like graduations and weddings. What about turning some orphan quilt blocks into quilty masks?



Ties vs. Elastic

Who would have ever anticipated a widespread shortage of narrow elastic? Almost overnight elastic became one of the most sought after materials in the country – besides toilet paper, that is – because you have to be able to keep that mask on your face.


Elastic is a fast and easy choice for any style of mask - when available. Creative sewists have used elastic hair ties, head bands and even the elastic cords inside bungie cords for mask elastic. Others have opted to use fabric ties.


In light of how hard it may still be for you to find elastic, fabric ties may be more readily available. In addition, some wearers find the fabric ties to be much more comfortable for extended wear. While using pre-made bias tape is a quick and easy method, it may not be as readily available as making your own fabric ties.


PQ11756-GO-Square-Face-Mask-Lifestyle-HQ edited

GO! Square Face Mask Pattern (PQ11756)


Mask ties do not need to be cut on the bias, width of fabric strips will work perfectly, making it easy to cut with one of AccuQuilt’s GO! Strip Cutter Dies, such as the GO! Strip Cutter 1½” (1" Finished) (55024) or the GO! Strip Cutter 2½” (2" Finished) (55017 or 55014). Check the pattern forGO! Square Face Mask Pattern (PQ11756) for directions on one method of binding your mask with strips. If you are using one of our face mask dies, the ties are already included on the die board for your convenience!


Mask ties can also be cut from t-shirt material, like what is shown here. Check out the GO! Patchwork Face Mask pattern to learn how!

tshirt elastic

GO! Patchwork Face Mask (PQ11757)

For more detailed scientific information on fabric masks and materials, check


Topics: QuarantineQuilting, Face Masks

Erica Bottger

Written by Erica Bottger