We Can Do It! Covid-19 Mask Makers. Art by Toby Maurer of The Brandinghouse, Asheville, NC.

Part of my first batch of masks. April 13, 2020. Photo by M.E. Hill.









April 13, 2020

Covid-19 Shelter-in-Place Day 28

I’ve come out of retirement (from my soap making business) and am making 100% cotton face masks. Part micro business, part service to the world. What a time we live in!

In mid March I sensed that mandatory face covering was coming. I was horrified that my friends and family might be unprotected. I can sew! I can make them masks! I set up the old family Kenmore sewing machine, circa 1970, and dug out some wonderful cotton I had stashed. I then spent hours and hours and hours studying different patterns online. I felt it was vital that I follow a pattern offered by health care providers. I found a pattern offered by Deaconess Hospital in Indiana in late March and made my first batch.

As of April 22, I’ve made 246. Most I’ve given away to friends, family, neighbors, the local independent grocery store, local senior home, and my veterinarian’s office.

Now I’m selling a few at the local independent grocery store, Piedmont Grocery, here in Oakland, California.

Get in touch with me if you need masks or would like to help out in any way.

Please also see this sub-page for more mask information:

Mask Birds, dark – Deaconess style with long front and filter pocket

I’m using the pattern from Deaconess Hospital in Indiana with a few improvements as of Batch #2 (April 9): a filter pocket accessible from the inside, nose-wire channel, and longer nose-to-throat coverage. It’s an easy-on easy-off mask.

Remember, while you are wearing your mask, in order to keep your hands clean, wash/clean  your hands every time you touch your mask.


Description and Information:

  • Face Mask – Adult Size
  • New Fabric Patterns Every Week
  • 2 Layers of 100% Cotton
  • 3 Pleats
  • Elastic Ear Loops
  • Filter pocket accessible from the inside for you to fill
  • Nose wire channel for better fit
    • Most have a nose wire. Readjust it after washing.
    • Some do not have a nose wire. You can easily slip a pipe cleaner or wired twisty in the channel.
  • One size fits most. See below for tips on Altering Ear Loops for a Better Fit.
  • Washing Instructions
    • Remove any filter you’ve inserted.
    • Best to hand wash (maybe sing Happy Birthday to it twice?), hand press flat and air dry.
    • Not great but OK to machine wash on gentle and machine dry. It will need reshaping.
  • Keep it Clean!
    • Always follow CDC guidelines for cleaning. Things are changing pretty fast so just do a search to find the latest. Try searching something like “How to wash a face mask CDC”.


  • flat finished dimensions: about 8.5″ wide (cheek to cheek) by about 3″ to 3.5″ tall (nose to throat)
  • open dimension (nose to throat) is about 6.75″. 

Altering Ear Loops for a Better Fit:

There are many ways to do it. Here are two.

  • To make the ear loops longer or to tighten the mask’s fit you can wear the ear loops with an extension at the back of the neck, like in this picture. The green dot on her neck is a snap on a short extender that connects to the other side of her head, catching the other ear loop. Maybe you could use a piece of Velcro tape, a ribbon, string, or the like, to accomplish the same thing.

    Ear Elastic Style Mask Used with Neck Extension






    • To make the ear loops shorter or to tighten the mask’s fit fold over a bit of elastic (here it’s red with white dots at her thumb tips) and hand sew it to the mask like MEH has done here. Can you see how there are two layers of red elastic folded back on the mask? She’s sewn that folded elastic to itself and to the mask.

    Shorten Ear Elastic with a simple fold stitch.

    A big THANK YOU! to a number of you who have generously and spontaneously shared your sewing supplies with me: fabric (M.S.M., N.S.), elastic (L.N., P.S., M.E.H., N.S.), thread (P.S.), pipe cleaners (T.M.), bias tape (J.Z.) and a little money (S.A., B.K., N.S., M.E.H.).