woman wearing organic cotton orange poppy facemask with blue eyes and Indian plum leaves behind her. mask has elastic straps over the ears.

Organic Cotton Face Masks

The CDC is recommending we wear face masks. Here's some info I've gathered.

We’re in a new reality right now, one that requires face masks. I’ve been in full face mask production mode, originally to donate masks to hospitals, and now to fill the need of my community to stay safe. It’s important to save all of the N-95 high grade masks for our incredible health care workers since they are in very short supply. The best option for non-medical workers right now is cloth masks. Many designers that I know are now offering them for sale.  It’s a way to use our skills, materials and equipment to help in this health crisis and to keep our businesses/selves afloat since most of us have lost our income streams with events being cancelled and boutiques and galleries closed. You can also make your own and jump in to make them for hospitals and others who need them in the community.

The masks I’m making are non-medical grade, and cannot claim to prevent or protect from any disease.  The main reason the CDC is recommending masks is to protect others from your possible germs, as it’s been discovered that people can spread the disease without showing symptoms.There are very few studies on the effectiveness of homemade masks, but the few I’ve found show that they do indeed help slow the spread of Covid-19.

cut fabric and elastic for homemade masks

Proper Mask Use

See the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control for mask recommendations, best practices and other important health and safety information. Wash your hands before putting on or taking off your mask. Be sure to to put on and take off the mask by the straps, to avoid transferring any possible germs. Don’t touch the front of the mask, or your face, and once you take it off, put it directly into the wash. Wash your face mask after each use with soap and water. Don’t touch your face, and wash your hands often and be vigilant about social distancing, at least 6′ from others. If you have a reversible mask, it is important to only wear it on one side before each wash.  If you just flip it over and use the other side after a use, you will be putting any potential germs right onto your face.



Please note: I am not an expert on this issue. I am sharing some information that I have found.  New articles and studies are coming out everyday.  I will update this post when I can, and I urge you to do your own research.

Additional Resources

Interested in making your own?


All the research and recommendations I’ve found ask for a tight weave 100% cotton, such as quilter’s cotton, and 2 or more layers.  Some studies cite t-shirt cotton jersey as effective as well, but that is questionable. Be sure you can breathe easily through the layers, or you won’t be able to wear it. Hold any questionable fabric up to the light.  If you can easily see light through the fibers, it is too loose of a weave. Pre-wash and pre-shrink the fabric before making any face masks.


The CDC has a great guide with multiple patterns, both sewn and non-sewn.

I’m using a variation of this pattern from Deaconess Hospital.

Here’s a video from the CDC on making a mask from a bandana without sewing.

If you are in the Portland area and want to donate masks to hospitals, the Facebook group I’m involved with, Crafters Against Covid-19 *PDX, was created by several local clothing designers. They are in direct contact with the Multnomah County Health Department who collects masks sewn with the guidelines of this group and distributes them to those most in need.  Another donation resource: Weneedmasks.org There are many others.

Thanks for doing all that you can to help others!  Stay safe and be well.

face mask options in organic cotton hand dyed in leaf green, orange poppy, fuchsia and kid size with elastic loops or ties
woman with face mask side view. mask is a fun colorful printed quilters cotton background of photo is osoberry leaves