Namaskte: my mask for you, yours for me

7 min readMay 1, 2020


After I watched some creative videos on YouTube of hand design masks, I decided to try my own. Now, I’d like to share some tips and tricks, some basic steps, and the pattern I created.

Animated gif of steps in making my mask

About masks in general

We will need to have masks at the ready for the foreseeable future. So I’d like to share with you some of the things that I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks.

Please feel free to correct me.

And I would feel horrible if anything I said contributed to the alarming amount of disinformation there is on the internet. Along that line, take these words as something to think about and to investigate on your own.

I am no expert.

An early bit of information I learned was the primary public health reason for wearing a mask: it’s so you do not spread disease yourself. Other people’s masks are what provide some possible protection for you. Thus, the title of this article. By the way, I’m not the one who came up with the term Namaskte, but I haven’t found who coined it.

Please let me know if you find out.

A well-fitted mask can provide additional protection, but I was surprised to learn that healthcare professionals go through extensive fitting sessions in order to ensure that their masks are protecting them. While I have tried to design a mask that fits as securely as I’m able, it hasn’t been tested. And if someone doesn’t go through a fitting session, there’s even less of a chance that it’s providing significant protection. There are, however, articles that can give some tips how to best wear a mask. Please see my list of resources, below.

The other interesting design point I came to is making the tie a continuous loop that easily moves between the bottom of the mask to the top. It goes completely around the head twice. This is so both the bottom and top can be easily adjusted and carefully removed. And just about all the designs I tried, crossing the bottom of the loop over the top provides for a much snugger fit around the bottom of the face.

For the pliable nose fitting, I used a coffee bag tie cut in half. But I want to try a copper wire that is thick enough to stay in place and long enough possibly go over the cheekbones.

UPDATE: It may be better to keep the coffee bag ties longer. 4" is recommended, below.

I am finding that using different materials for the layers keeps the mask light and may mean more filtration.

Lastly, I think people should know about N95 and construction masks that have a valve: It’s not good public health. A friend was barred from a store because of the valve. I bought some really good N95 masks during the fires a couple years ago. Turns out while they provided filtration for me, the escape valve actually sends my breath out to the world. And it may even aerosol it, which can linger in the air and be more opportunity for contact.

Sewing the mask

For some reason I found it really soothing to watch women all around the world create masks on YouTube. My mask design is a variation on what I learned from these folks. I will put some of those videos at the end of this article in the Resources section.

For public safety, a lot of easy designs, from a bandana to a pleated mask, are quick and easy and probably more than sufficient to do my duty as a citizen. But I wanted to create a mask that would likely provide me more protection. I also found that once I had a pattern, it only took a few minutes more — about 25 minutes — to create a mask that fits snugly around six points.

I also wanted a design that made it easy to add a filter layer, whether it’s a coffee filter or paper towel or a HEPA paper.

While I don’t include it here, adding fusible backing to the top layer also adds a preferable fabric to the mix.

Supply list

  • quilting cotton
  • lightweight cotton
  • coffee bag tie
  • elastic


You can download the PDF from my site.

To use save this image as a PDF: right-click on this image, open it in a new tab, and print it to PDF.

Steps in the animated gif

Note that in the animated gif, the fabric is folded right-side out. Especially when making several masks in an assembly-line fashion, I found it much faster to fold the fabric right-side in to start with.

Cutting out the pattern

  1. The filter pocket layer is shorter than the outside layer. Fold both in half — right side in — and put the smaller filter layer inside the larger layer.
pattern and fabric lined up and ready to cut

2. The pattern goes up against the fold. Using the circular cutter makes cutting out this pattern a lot faster.

pattern against the fold, cut out

Sewing the main mask

A quarter inch seam on all sewing lines is fine. 3/8" is better.

3. Sew the nose piece on both the main mask and the filter pocket.

nose pieces sewn

4. Sew the chin flap on both the main mask and the filter pocket.

chin pieces sewn

5. Sew the binding edges of the filter pocket layer.

filter layer edges folded over, ready to be sewn

6. Match and sew the filter pocket layer and the main layer right sides together.

main layer and filter layer pinned right sides together, ready to be sewn

7. Turn the mask right side out and with your fingers flattened the edges. I like to iron this as well.

turn mask right side out

8. Take a coffee bag tie and cut it in half.

UPDATE: It may be better to keep the coffee bag ties longer. 4" is recommended, below.

Place it up inside the mask at the nose. curve it to make sure that it is as far up against the same at the top of my nose as possible. Place pins on either side of the coffee bag tie.

9. Top stitch the bottom and top of the mask gently sewing around the coffee bag tie to keep it in place.

10. [Optional] For a tighter fitting you can add a dart to the ends of the mask at this time. The ties will cause the sides of the mask to bunch up anyway, so this is optional.

Adding the elastic

You can use a bit of rubber band, a rope made from a t-shirt. There are a lot of ways to tie a mask to your face. The reason I use the elastic that goes all the way around the head, twice, is to control the tightness of the fit both around the chin and over the cheekbones. Crossing the one over the other makes for a snug fit. I haven’t found a tighter fit with any other materials.

11. Create a tie using quarter inch elastic, or any other elastic or long string that you prefer. The key here is that you want a loop that is going to be able to put over your head two times.

12. Sew the sides of the masks so that the elastic tie is free to move.

13. Loosely tie up the tie and try on the mask. You can get rid of excess elastic if you find you don’t need it.


New York Times has a lot and continues to produce more articles. Also, I’d just like to say if you need something to fall asleep to that is calming and fills you with hope for the good will of humanity, do search for mask sewing patterns on YouTube. Don’t hesitate to click on the non-English tutorials: a lot are very ASMR.

New York Times masks series

A User’s Guide to Face Masks

How NOT to Wear a Mask

What’s the Best Material for a Mask?

How to Sew a Fabric Face Mask

YouTube mask patterns

Just want to call this one out for those who don’t sew and need a quick mask: 2 Minute 5 Layer 3D Paper Towel Face Mask #Masks4all

Best Fit Face Mask Tutorial Video

DIY face mask, cover nose to chin, slot for filter // วิธีทำหน้ากาก ผ้าปิดปากปิดคลุมถึงคาง

Instructional video for sewing the Olson mask (COVID-19)

DIY mask 🥰 ทำหน้ากากแบบเก๋ไก๋#マスクの作り方。

DIY Mask🕸🕷 Space for breathing

How to Make a face mask / fits my face size / DIY face mask




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