Cloth masks for non clinical use

NOTE: Project Archived in Fall 2020. No further edits to these pages will be made and no more masks are being produced/delivered.

Goal: To make cloth masks to hospitals and the community in the Champaign-Urbana area and give instructional information and help those who need to make cloth masks on their own using either a sewing machine or hand-sewing.

Instructions for making cloth masks:

Here, we outline some instructions on making cloth masks at home using both sewing machine and hand-sewing.

Materials needed for making cloth masks:

  • Two 10″ by 6″ fabric swatches.
  • Two 6” long sewing elastics each
  • Sewing tools (scissors, sewing machine, needle, thread)

If the individual is planning to make cloth masks for himself/herself, the materials could either be purchased from commercial stores (more information is provided below) or his/her old clothing may be used as the fabric. There are various recommendations for choice of fabric – quilting cotton, combination of cotton and flannel, tea towels, old t-shirts, high thread count bed sheets, etc. More information here.

1/8″ or 1/4″ flat elastic bands are ideal for masks – however they are hard to find, since they are out-of-stock in most fabric stores (alternatively have long delivery times). The following would work as an alternative to elastic bands : four 15″ ribbons OR 4 strips of cotton fabric, about 15” long and ¾” wide OR 4 clean shoelaces.

For those who are looking to donate to hospitals and the community, please check out the following webpages as they offer some sewing tools and materials:

  • Carle hospital: Carle Hospital in Urbana is accepting handmade cloth mask donations, and they might offer sewing materials (to be confirmed at
  • Krannert center: Krannert Center for Performing Arts Costume shop is also providing material for making non-surgical masks. You can fill up a form on their website and pick up materials from Einstein Bros. Bagels parking lots at 2001 S. Lincoln Avenue in Urbana and 803 W. Anthony Drive in Champaign.
  • Commercial sources: Local stores like Walmart and Micheal’s have fabrics in store. Michael’s in Champaign has curbside pickup and some project ideas for mask making here.

Sewing instructions using sewing machine:

Briefly, stitch the two fabrics together with the printed side facing in, while attaching the elastic on each corner. Leave a 2″ gap in the stitch to turn the fabric inside out, and make 3 identical pleats on each short edge. Finally sew around the edges twice for strength. A thin metal wire can be sewn on the top edge for a better fit around the nose.

The mask should be at least 6″ wide so that it covers the nose and the chin, and 9-10″ long, so that it covers your face ear to ear.

The directions to sew these masks can be found here.

Sewing instructions by hand-sewing:

No sewing machine? No worries, an image of a hand-sewn cloth mask is provided below as an illustration (not of the greatest quality but better than not wearing a mask!). The mask was easily hand-sewn (~20-30 minutes) using an old clothing as the fabric material. The instructional video provided above is used as a guidance, so make sure to see the video beforehand!

For faster hand-sewing, the following tips can be followed:

  • Cut the fabric as one long piece (twice the width of the mask) and fold the fabric
  • Start sewing from one of the shorter edges while making sure to stitch the elastic band/strap (use running stitches for the short edges and pull the thread and knot in the end to introduce fold patterns as shown below)
  • Stitch the long edge using the back stitch style and make sure to leave some gap to turn the mask inside out later
  • Finish with the other shorter edge following the instruction #2 and turn the mask inside out using the gap on the long edge
  • Stitch the gap after turning over by using the invisible stitch/ladder stitch style


For further information, please contact Azzaya Khasbaatar  or Anshu Deewan .

Page maintained by Azzaya Khasbataar and Anshu Deewan.