Cloth Masks For The Public

Why we need them,

where to buy some, and how to make them

We all need to do our part to help flatten the curve, which means covering your face when out in public. However, we shouldn’t be using N95s or medical grade masks — please save those for health care workers!

Instead, the CDC recommends cloth masks and fabric face coverings. While these masks will not protect you from the virus that causes COVID-19, they could help prevent the spread of germs for people outside of patient care. Practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing and staying home are the best protections.

Many people are sewing masks for health care workers right now. However, instead of asking a friend or neighbor to make you one, we encourage letting those masks be saved for those on the front line. 


Our friends at Goldsheep clothing have temporarily halted production of general inventory to focus solely on making masks for health care workers.

With every purchase of a hand sewn mask, a mask will be made and donated to a health care worker. Click here to purchase a mask (adult and child sizes) from Goldsheep.

Additionally, Goldsheep has launched a limited-edition line of sweatshirts to promote awareness of social distancing. With the purchase of a sweatshirt, five additional masks will be made.

Click here to purchase a charitable sweatshirt from Goldsheep.

If you aren’t in need of a mask but still want to help, Goldsheep has created a program where individuals can purchase a “box of masks.” All money will go directing to sewing a specific amount of masks based on the donation value. Click here to purchase a mask donation box.


Our friends Free People have created this simple and effective way to make to make your own mask, suitable for any level of sewing experience (i.e. it’s easy to make!).

DIY Hand-Sewn Mask from Free People

You’ll need:

• Needle & thread

• Two elastic bands

• One 10x18” piece of new or freshly-washed fabric

*NOTE: The PA Department of Health suggests that masks be made from two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric.

• Begin by folding your fabric in half along its longer edge, so that it measures 5 x 9”. Make sure that, if your fabric has a pattern, the pattern is on the inside.

• Take your needle and thread and sew along the long, open side of the fabric (a simple running stitch will work). You’re essentially creating a small tube, with two openings on each of the shorter sides.

• Once sewn, turn the fabric inside out so that the stitches sit on the inside.

• Take an elastic band and insert it around the cloth on the short side. Fold about 1” of cloth over the rubber band and sew along the length of that side, making a casing for the band so it fits securely in place. 

• Repeat for the other side and, voila! You’ve made a mask! And best of all, you’ve played a definitive part in helping to safeguard yourself and the community around you.


We are honored to be working with Trina Turk to help deliver masks to front line workers! Their extraordinary Trina Turk team of sewers, cutters, and pattern makers has come together to hand-make and donate over 6,000 face masks for local healthcare offices in need – and they are currently making and delivering more each day.


They’ve also put together a tutorial on how to make your own mask at home - no sewing required - using a 100% cotton scarf and two hair ties or rubber bands to secure the mask to your face.



In this video, Trina Turk’s marketing manager used their 25th anniversary scarf for an extra colorful and fashionable take on keeping yourself safe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Step 1: Fold scarf in half, smoothing out bumps as you go

Step 2: Fold scarf again into thirds

Step 3: Slide hair ties or rubber bands onto each end of the folded scarf about ¼ of the way toward the middle of the fabric

Step 4: Fold each side in from where the rubber bands are fastened and smooth down

Step 5: Put hair ties over your ear, adjust mask so it’s over your mouth and nose, and voila!

Thank you again to Trina Turk and her team!

Cloth Masks FAQ

Why should I wear a cloth mask?
Wearing a cloth mask can help to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

If I wear a cloth mask, does that mean that I no longer need to comply with the stay-at-home order?
No. Masks are not a substitute for staying home, maintaining physical distance of 6+ feet, and washing hands frequently. These measures are the best ways to prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19.

When should I wear a cloth mask?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that people wear cloth face masks in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. This is especially recommended in areas where community-based transmission of COVID-19 is significant.

Should I wear a mask when I go for a walk?
Some cities require a mask for any public outing. Follow your local guidelines. 

Do I need to wear a mask at home?
Wearing cloth face masks when you’re at home is also not suggested.

What if someone in my house is sick with COVID-19? Should everyone else in the house wear a cloth mask? 
The patient and other household members should have access to appropriate, recommended personal protective equipment (at a minimum gloves and face mask). The person who is ill should separate themselves from others in the house and wear a cloth face covering that covers their mouth and nose if they must be around other people, even at home. If the sick person can’t wear a cloth face mask, other family members should wear one while in the same room with them. It’s important for all people in the house to practice good hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

What kind of mask should I wear?
A cloth face mask, either commercially made or homemade, that covers the nose and mouth. The cloth mask should:

• Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

• Be secured with ties or ear loops

• Include multiple layers of fabric

• Allow for breathing without restriction

• Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to the shape

• Avoid touching your face to adjust your mask, and if you do so, wash your hands for 20 seconds afterwards.

Can I wear a surgical or N95 mask?
Please do not wear surgical or N95 masks, as supplies are still limited and those should be reserved for health care workers and first responders. This is because health care workers and first responders come into contact with patients with COVID-19 in the course of caring for them.

How can I make my own cloth masks?
There are many online tutorials for making masks. The good news: you don’t have to be an expert at sewing to make your own masks.. Click here for tutorials and resources for mask making.

*Adapted from information provided by John Muir Health. 

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DISCLAIMER: The aim of this website is to connect medical staff in need of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) with the general public or government agencies who can provide these items. We do not stock nor do we have access to any PPE of any kind. We do not verify or check the quality of the PPE because it is sent directly from the general public to the requesting medical provider. We do not accept any monetary donations.