Make a Mask!

We’ve done the hard yards and tried a bunch of cloth mask patterns so you don’t have to! This page summarises that information to help you make, use and care for your reusable cloth masks.

Our top pick is the:
Got you covered! pattern by Apple & Fig

This mask pattern has all the features we felt created a good fit, is designed with three layers, and has excellent instructions and tips for customising the size. It requires an intermediate skill level, but is totally achievable by a keen beginner.

We are currently selling the materials packs for this mask in our store. We also have additional sewing and fit tips below based on our experience with the pattern. We of course have a sewing machine available to all inducted members. If you're new to the space, check out how to join!

sketch of a mask
Anatomy of a mask

Materials

We are excited to offer mask material packs at cost to ANU staff & students. Just pop by the MakerSpace @ Physics or contact us to organise a pickup.

Mask packs cost $4.00 and include:

  • Three material layers, the outer & middle being a polyester blend (65% polyester, 35% cotton) and the inner layer 100% cotton.
  • Mask ties (which hold the mask to your face) are 12mm wide polyester tape.
  • Material for the binding (the channels which the ties go through).
  • Nose pieces are 1.63mm aluminium wire, and help provide a good fit to your face.

In choosing materials, we considered several factors. In particular the Victorian DHHS recommendations for materials, this recent peer-reviewed study on fabric filtration efficiencies, as well as material availability.

As the DHHS guide points out you can also use old clothes, shopping bags, and shoelaces. Which highlights an important point – mask fit is far more important than material choice, as poor fit significantly reduces effectiveness.

mask materials

What's inside our mask pack (for making 1 mask)

Mask Use 101

Wearing a reusable cloth mask protects the people around you much more than it will protect you.

It is very important you handle and wash your masks properly to avoid increased risk to yourself. Wearing a mask must be done alongside the fundamentals of washing hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and physically distancing from others.

The World Health Organisation has excellent resources on safe use and care for your mask. We've replicated their infographic (click to enlarge) and video below. Please take a look at both.

WHO - How to wear a fabric mask safely infographic (click to enlarge). Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

WHO - How to wear a fabric mask safely. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

Key messages:

  • Wash your hands before putting your mask on, and after taking it off
  • Use only the ties to put on/take off your mask so you avoid touching the potentially contaminated fabric.
  • Wash you mask regularly in soapy water. Dry completely before use – ideally in direct sunshine when possible.
  • This means if you need to regularly wear masks, you will need several.

Our Making Tips

When we tested the Got you covered! pattern, we found the below considerations and modifications helpful in getting a great mask, and a great fit.

Design Tips

  • Mask Size
    We find the mask relatively large. Consider reducing it by 10% - 20% if you have a smaller face.
  • Binding
    We recommend making the binding wider to improve the ease of feeding the tie material through the channels. Use a 6cm width strip instead of 4cm.
  • Playing around with how you tie
    There are many ways to keep a mask on your face – check out this infographic by Iris Luckhaus.

Sewing Tips

  • If using a sewing machine (which we recommend over hand sewing), use contrasting thread and/or increase the stitch length to make unpicking mistakes easier. We use a standard stitch length of 3.0.
  • Make sure you don’t sew over your tie material (we did this a few times!)
  • If you’re adapting a two-layer mask to three layers, sandwich the outer layer between your middle and inner layer, with the right sides of the inner and outer layers facing each other.
  • Chopsticks make a great tool for pushing out corners when you turn your mask inside out.

Other Mask Patterns

Our top mask pick may not be for everyone, so here are a few honourable mentions:

Pattern Fit^ Instructions Required Sewing Ability No. of Layers*
Got you covered! by Apple & Fig 5 5 Intermediate 3 layers
Hybrid Cloth Mask by Iris Luckhaus 5 4 Advanced 2 layers
Cloth mask by DHHS 3 4 Very Easy 3 layers
Origami style-mask by Aplat 3 3 Easy 2 layers
Florence Face Mask by FreeSewing 2 4 Intermediate 2 layers

^Our rankings are a 1–5 scale, with 5 being best.
*A 2-layer mask can easily be made as a 3-layer. See our sewing tips.

person weaing face mask

Got you covered! by Apple & Fig
This pattern has all the features we felt created a good fit, including a nose piece for a close fit around the nose, pleats that allow room for your nose and mouth, and a drawstring-style binding channel for the ties. It’s designed with the all-important three layers, and has excellent instructions and tips for customising the size. While we rate it at an intermediate sewing level, it’s totally achievable by a keen beginner.

person weaing face mask

Hybrid Cloth Mask by Iris Luckhaus
This mask was a close runner-up (after much debate). It has a more complex pleating pattern and a trapezoidal shape, which complicate assembly. Using Iris’s photo tutorial may help, as the instructions are relatively brief. It does have a removable wire piece to prevent kinking in the wash, and its pleating pattern can be more comfortable for some face shapes. We recommend printing off the folding guide for this design as it makes the pleats a bit easier to understand and fold.

person weaing face mask

Cloth mask by DHHS
This mask is very easy to sew, and the drawstring sides create a similar fit to neater, pleated masks, although we found the scrunched material sat against our mouths. Adding a nose piece would improve the fit, particularly for people who wear glasses.

person weaing face mask

Origami-style mask by Aplat
This mask design was easy to sew and folds away compactly. Unfortunately, its lack of pleats and nosepiece limits its effectiveness and forces air out past the nose. Guaranteed to fog up glasses and safety glasses.

person weaing face mask

Florence Face Mask by Free Sewing
We’ve taken to calling this style the butterfly style of mask. This style is relatively easy to sew and is very popular in commercially purchased masks, although this version does not have a nose piece. The key drawback is a lack of pleating, which means the mask is quite flat across the mouth and is likely to shift during natural movements such as yawning, requiring constant adjustment (not great when you’re trying to avoid touching it!).