The Art of Making Homemade Masks


The public is now advised to wear facemasks when going out in public to areas like grocery stores and pharmacies as well as any time they are in a public setting. It is advised to make and wear homemade masks rather than using surgical masks that are needed on the frontlines by hospital staff, medical workers and emergency responders.

“CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity – for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing – even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission,” according to the CDC.

“Our best community and individual defense against COVID-19 is to wash our hands frequently, avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid being around sick people and practicing physical distancing, especially by staying at home. Face coverings are not a replacement for these evidence-based strategies for slowing the spread of disease; they are just an additional tool that can protect others from possible exposure to respiratory droplets that may come from our mouth when we talk, sneeze or cough,” according to Los Angeles County Public Health.

Local business Quilt ‘n’ Things Fiber Arts has joined in protective mask-making efforts and offers these guidelines as an organization engaged in the textile arts, not the medical profession. 

1. Home sewn masks are not a substitute for medical-grade masks.

2. Be sure to wash fabric before sewing to remove any chemicals used in the packing/folding process and any dye residues. For those who are donating masks, the organizations will most likely wash before dispensing.

3.  High quality, 100% quilting cotton is the best and most available choice (many local quilt shops sell online including Quilt ‘n’ Things).

4. Quilt ‘n’ Things Fiber Arts also recommends GOTS certified, 100% organic quilting cotton (poplin) with a thread count of 180. It’s pesticide free, made with low impact dyes, and has a 180-thread count. Quilt ‘n’ Things Fiber Arts carries this at the shop, and it uses this fabric for the shop’s home sewn masks and kits.

5. Face masks with ties can be custom fitted to each individual; however, they take a bit longer to sew, whereas face masks with an elastic loop are quicker to make, but people with latex allergies need to avoid these.

6. Some organizations recommend placing a fusible interfacing layer between two layers of fabric. Quilt ‘n’ Things Fiber Arts doesn’t use this because its fabric is high quality. Storeowner Lana Norton said she would choose to use flannel in between as different interfacings have different levels of toxicity; consumers can research their products and should since masks go over the mouth and nose.

Norton invites the community to use Quilt ’n’ Things as a source for information and supplies for protective masks.

“We are your local quilt shop/sewing studio and more than happy to help you navigate the new need to wear protective masks while in public,” she said. “We are currently selling masks and kits through our website,, and selling premium quality quilting cotton through our Etsy store at QuiltnThingsShop.” 

Quilt ‘n’ Things Fiber Arts is currently closed to walk-in traffic, but offers the following resources:

▪ A limited supply of free face mask-making kits that include enough fabric and elastic to make three protective masks

▪ Masks and kits for sale are made with high quality/high thread count quilting cotton and others with pesticide-free, organic quilting cotton

▪ Help in connecting individuals with organizations that are disseminating masks to those in need

This story was part of the April 3 e-blast sent out by CV Weekly. To be a part of the “blast zone,” call the CVW office at (818) 248-2740 or email