The best fabric to make a face mask
Finding the best fabric to make face masks at home probably isn’t something you would’ve been thinking about just six months ago. But as more and more countries recommend the use of face masks in places where social distancing isn’t possible, such as on public transport or at the supermarket, more and more of us are making our own face masks – note that we are talking about non-medical face masks here.
For a full list of instructions on three ways to make a face mask, see our how to make a face mask guide. Alternatively, if you want to buy a face mask, see our where to buy a face mask guide for face masks that are still in stock.
Why make your own? Well it can be a satisfying task to fill your day, and is also a great way of improving your sewing skills and using up materials you already have at home. If you do decide to sew your own face mask then probably the most important choice you’ll make is the type of fabric or material you use. Your fabric choice is important as it affects not just the style and look of your mask, but also how easy it is to sew, how durable it is, and crucially, its effectiveness.
See below for some quick links to buy the best fabric for face masks. Read on for more about what you need to consider when buying material for your face mask, as well as how much fabric you need, and today’s best deals on face mask fabric.
How much fabric do I need to make a face mask?
How much fabric you need for your face mask depends on the pattern you’re using and your measurements, but one face mask usually requires two lots of 10 x 6-inch pieces of fabric (roughly 25 x 15cm). That means you will need 20 x 12-inches of fabric, or 50 x 30cm of fabric. You’ll also want to have a little room to play with in case you go wrong or cut incorrectly. We’d recommend buying at least one yard or one metre of fabric for this reason.
Note that if you are adding a polyester-chiffon layer, then you’ll probably want a yard or a metre of that fabric, too.
Some retailers have a minimum order anyway, and it’s probably best to buy extra in case you go wrong or decide you want to make more face masks for other people.
The best fabric to make a face mask in the US
Get 30% off selected fabrics from JOANN
There are plenty of quilting cottons and other fabrics available from Joann, from classic block colours to more adventurous prints. We particularly like this pretty daisy print. Some fabrics are already out of stock, so order quickly if you see one you like.
Buy beautiful fabrics from Etsy US
As well as selling homemade face masks, Etsy also has a huge range of fabrics on sale. Some sellers are offering bundles of fabric specifically for face masks (like those pictured from FabricShoppe), while others are selling fabric by the yard.
Get 20% off fabric at Michael’s
There’s a sale on at Michael’s, valid until 2 Saturday May, so you can get 20% off regular priced items right now. Some of Michael’s fabrics are already out of stock, so hurry if you see something you like. Designs range from plain patterns to more elaborate prints.
Where to buy fabric for face masks in the UK
Things to consider when choosing fabric for a face mask
While it may be tempting to try and use up that fabric you’ve got hanging around at home, make sure you think carefully about the type of fabric you’re using to make your face mask. The CDC recommends using tightly woven cotton fabrics – quilting cotton and cotton sheets are thought to work well. Ideally, your fabric will be 100 per cent cotton. It needs to be thick enough so that when you hold it up to the light, you cannot see through it, or very little light gets through, so any older, scraggy cotton sheets will not do. Also, any fabric that has already been stretched, such as an old T-shirt, is not ideal for making a face mask. Anything with holes in it is also a no-go.
A new study suggests that the most effective face masks are those made of a several layers, of a tightly woven cotton, plus a chiffon or natural silk fabric, for example. A polyester-spandex chiffon seems to work well. The study also reiterates that the fit of the mask is super-important.
It’s best to pre-wash your fabric before you start sewing, as this will stop any shrinkage and ensure your face mask will maintain its shape after regular washing.