Project Mask up hawaiI Sew your own face mask to protect yourself and our kupuna! #MaskUpHawaii

Let’s be the change you wish to see in the world by preventing the spread of COVID-19 within our communities.

Shelter at home and leave only if absolutely needed. If you go out, protect yourself and our kupuna with face masks. No mask? No problem! We can create our own.

There are no special items needed to sew a face mask.

Things you need to sew a face mask

These things are available in almost every home.

A piece of fabric from the choices below. A little larger than the size of a facial mask.

Fabric Choices

  • 100% cotton T-shirt (as in a plain white T-shirt 🤭 ) - 69.5% Effective
  • 100% Cotton Fabric ( You can use old blue jeans, since they’re 100% cotton, for the outer layer, and line it with t-shirt material) - 74% Effective
  • Cotton Fabric Blend - 74.5% Effective
  • Antibacterial Pillow Case made with cotton or linen - 60 % to 66%Effective ( See chart below or view complete study)
  • You can use denim or linen- heavier fabric for the outer layer and line it with any 100% cotton T-shirt. Mix n match, no fear, fun fabrics are cool!
Best Fabric Choices for Face Masks

Thread for sewing or stitching purposes.

Elastic, stretchy cord, ribbon, fabric ties or extra wide double bias tape can be used for the ties for the four corners of the mask. These can be purchased at any fabric store or craft store or you can make them.

A needle or a sewing machine. They can be stitched by hand or machine.

These masks are washable and re-usable after being sanitized or washed and dried.

If you have a surgical mask or an N95 disposable mask these masks can be used as exterior covers to extend the life of your other mask, preserving supplies for emergency workers on the front line.

Personalize each mask for its owner. Masks should not be shared.

There are several designs to choose from; if you’re a beginning sewer we recommend not choosing the design with a filter pocket.

Choose the design you like best, all are effective.

Keep in mind none of these provide 100% protection but ANY facemask made of any of the materials we listed will provide you with at least 50% protection (Researchers state they are a “last resort”. Well, folks, I think it’s safe to say we have entered that stage.)

Protecting the kupuna and the medically fragile is worth reducing their risk by 50%.


Additional notes on making your face mask.

Elastic should be in good shape, with plenty of stretch and of an appropriate size to fit over the ears. 1/16” inch round cord or 1/8” inch braided work best.

If elastic is not available, fabric ties can be sewn on the mask. There will need to be 4 ties (one tie on each of the 4 corners). Ties should be approx. 1⁄4” inch in width, sewn in such a way that there are no frayed edges, and long enough to be tied into a bow on the top of the head (for the top corner and behind the head for the bottom corner). Fabric ribbon of any type can be used for tie strings.

Optional: 3.5” to 4” inch plastic coated bendy strips across the top of the masks is important to allow the user to bend the metal to create a close fit over the nose. Two 4” inch plastic coated twist ties work well. Paper twist ties do not hold up to washing. Amazon has packs of 200+ for a reasonable price if you or a group are making a large number. Pipe cleaners work as well.

Yep, those plastic ties you get at the grocery store and with trash bags 🤣

● Extra wide double bias tape can be purchased. It is also easy to make if you prefer, or if supplies are limited. There are instructions and videos online.

We have four mask designs and instructions for you.

  1. Kaiser provides detailed instructions with photos
  2. Fu Face mask pattern or view the instructional video
  3. Surgical style cloth face mask pdf instruction
  4. How to make a Surgical style mask with filter pocket, instructional video

Keep Going ~ Mask Designs and Patterns Below!

Click to Print the Pattern for Fu Face Mask (“Fu” is not a typo; it’s what they call their mask)

Instructions from FreeSewing.org to make your Fu Face Mask

The video above contains complete step by step instructions for you. Hat tip to FreeSewing.org for the information.

Step 1: Join center seam

Join the curved seam that is center of our mask by placing the good sides together and sewing them in place.

Repeat this step for both the outer (main) fabric, and the inner (lining) fabric.

Step 2 (optional): Press the center seam

This step has no functional value, it will only make your mask look better. So if you’re not too bothered about that, feel free to skip it.

Press the seam allowance on the center seam open so the seam lies nice and flat.

As this is a curved seam, it won’t lay flat. But you can approach it with your iron from one side, then do the second half from the other side. Alternatively, you can use a tailor’s hem or cushion to press.

Repeat this step for both the outer (main) fabric, and the inner (lining) fabric.

Step 3: Sew the outer to the inner fabric and attach ribbons

Now we will sew the inner (lining) fabric to the outer (main) fabric, and attach the ribbons all in one step.

Place your lining fabric down with the good side up.

Then, place two ribbons on the corners of one side (right in our example) so that they peak out just a bit from the mask, but the ribbon extends inwards.

Now place the main fabric on top of this with the good side town. You should now have both layers of your mask on top of each other with good sides together and two ribbons sandwiched between them.

Pin through ribbons and layers to keep them in place.

Now do the same on the other side

As you get some practice, you will find you don’t need to pin this and can just insert the ribbons as you approach a corner.

Now sew around the mask, making sure to leave one side open so we can turn the mask inside-out later.

Be careful not to catch any of the ribbons in the seam apart from where you want them to. Either guide them through the opening you leave on one side, or bunch them up in between the masks of your layer to keep them out of the way.

Step 4: Turn the mask inside-out

Actually, your mask is inside-out now, so turning it inside out will mean we get it outside-out, or regular.

Just reach in through the side your left open and carefully pull the mask through to turn it.

Step 5 (optional): Press the mask

This step has little functional value, it will only make your mask look better. So if you’re not too bothered about that, feel free to skip it.

Now that the mask is as it should be, it’s time to press it. Before doing so, make sure to fold the seam allowance of the side we left open inwards, so that we press it flat as if it was sewn.

Step 6: Close open side of the mask and edge-stitch around the edge

Now it’s time to close the side of our mask the we left open to turn it inside out.

We are not merely going to close the opening, but also edge-stitch around the entire mask to give our mask some extra stability, and keep the lining at the back.

Make sure the open side is folded neatly inside, then edge-stitch around the entire mask.

Step 7: Wear your mask or make a bunch

That’s it, you’re done! You can now wear your mask.

Even better, make a bunch so you can give others masks too.

Surgical Style Face Masks made with elastic

Surgical Style Face mask Design

You can sew your own surgical style face mask.
Sew your own mask and sew one for a Kapuna in just “one hour” Hat tip to Africa LaunchPad for the instructions.

Take a piece of 100% pure cotton fabric and sterilize it properly for your safety.

Cut the fabric in approximately 17×20 cm size. ( 6.6" x 7.8")

Now fold the upper and lower sides of the fabric to 1.5-2 cm (.1/2" - .7/8" and sew them both horizontally so that the folds become permanent.

Now, make the even and larger folds of about 3cm in the remaining fabric from top to bottom.

Iron these folds so that they stay in place. Do not sew them horizontally as you did in step 3 because these folds would cover the area from your nose to chin and we would want it to remain adjustable according to our needs.

Now, sew the fabric vertically on the left and right sides so that the larger folds that you made in step 4 remain intact.

Cut the elastic in two pieces according to your needs so that you can place them on your ears to hold your mask.

Hold one piece of the elastic and sew its one side on the top left corner of the fabric. Sew the other side of this piece of elastic on the bottom left corner of the fabric. Your mask is ready to be worn on one ear.

Sew the other piece of elastic on the same pattern on the right upper and lower corners of the fabric. Your mask will be ready for both ears.

Surgical Style Face mask with Filter Pocket

The filter pocket can hold an N95 filter, or filter fabric, even toilet paper or re-use Clorox wipes after they have dried. The main thing to remember is the filter must be replaced daily or allowed to sit inside a plastic bag “marked” contaminated for a minimum of three days or longer.


This dynamic site and content document were produced by volunteers from Sustainable Energy Hawaii (formerly known as Big Island Community Coalition).

It’s provided to help our Kupuna and communities survive COVID-19 with as little harm possible. “Please share this message”

Now for the legal stuff, Yeah, we know, our lawyer gave us the same groan when he heard we wanted to advocate for the community to make facemasks. #SorryNotSorry

We must protect our community and kupuna.

Please share with your families and friends and help by making masks for yourself and others. By wearing a face mask (when you must go out) you will help protect yourself and others.

Liability Disclaimer. All materials and information are provided on an “as is” basis, and the parties expressly disclaim all implied warranties, including without limitation any warranty of non-infringement, any obligation to defend any action or suit brought by any third party, and any warranty with respect to quality of the results, and fitness of the results for any particular purpose. Neither party shall be liable for any damages caused by simple negligence of any of its officers; employees or subcontractors except for negligence in the performance of essential obligations of this agreement. Each party expressly disclaims any warranty that the results will provide protection against the COVID-19 virus or other respiratory viruses. The content and material provided is the property of the linked websites. Attribution was given with no warranty or guarantees implied or expressly stated.

A face mask is one part of your personal protection against COVID-19 and all recommended safety precautions from the Centers for Disease Control should be strictly adhered to for maximum protection.

It is important to stay home. Practice extreme social distancing, and only leave for necessary activities. When you do leave, protect yourself.

Now let’s #MaskUpHawaii and protect ourselves and our Kupuna!

Created By
Sustainable Energy Hawaii Farrell


Created with images by sutichak - "fashion face mask handmade from fabric cotton" • ravipat - "Woman making a homemade mask from black and white plaid and nano fabric, Housewife made cloth face protective mask handmade from tartan cloth,Mask for protection nose and mouth on wood table backgroud" • natagolubnycha - "Sewing protective antiviral mask their own hands" • Jedsada Naeprai - "Handmade mask sewing from the fabric is used to prevent dust and germs and viruses close-up." • Tonik - "Project for Tonik.Health"