DIY Prototype face masks made with material from home.

** This mask is not COVID-19 proof, nor is it a medical mask, but is suitable for essential tasks, like going to the grocery store. This mask is not an N-95 compliant mask.

En français ici :


In these unprecedented times, the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University was approached to develop prototype face masks to supply Toronto hospitals whose supply of masks are running out.

We are in the process of discussing with them the refinement of our fabric face mask.

In the meantime, I sincerely believe that anyone who can sew, either by hand or with a machine, has the opportunity to make a mask for themselves, their family, friends and neighbours.

So I am sharing the pattern in three sizes with my tips and recommendations here.

IMPORTANT, before wearing a mask, read the section « MASK CARE » below to make sure it stays efficient.

PRINTING THE PATTERN in 100%: The pattern in PDF format can be downloaded here: DIY RU face mask prototype to cut, otherwise the images of the small pattern with the dimensions is here, and the medium and large sizes are below.

From the downloadable file above, print the sizes Small and Medium on Letter paper format.

From the downloadable file above, print the size Large on two pages on Letter paper format, then join them.

Before cutting the fabric, double-check the dimensions of the 3 cm x 3 cm square indicated on the corner of the page.

DIY mask-Revised Pleats-Small

CUTTING: Place the pattern in the most efficient way to avoid too much fabric waste. Cut on the lines along the outline of the masks.

For repurposed material, wash and press the fabric.

The example made here is using standard a size dish towel, 50 x 70 cm.

Do not use a pen to trace on fabric!


MATERIAL: Natural Cotton fibre is ideal for its absorption properties and breathability. Tip: The fabric must be rather smooth, but not like a sateen. It is best to avoid textured fabric as well as polyester because of its hydrophobic property (water resistant). These could make it harder to dislodge the virus requiring a long and deeper wash. See statistics of different materials at the bottom of this article.


For these prototype masks, I used the back of 100% cotton dish towels, with a pattern on a white background, bought on the Simons website before the pandemic. You can certainly find some at home. Recommendation: Use a medium-weight dish towel and test if you can breathe well through two layers.

COLOUR: White is ideal because it is less irritating to the skin than the light or dark colour fabric (thanks to fashion designer Marie-Ève Aubry for her research on clothing appreciated by the homeless, c. 2017).

INTERLINING (optional): To filter more, you can add a layer of fine jersey from a 100% cotton t-shirt. Recommendation: In addition to the two layers of medium-weight dish towel, test whether you can breathe through with this extra layer of cotton jersey. It may become too warm to wear for a long period of time.

CONSTRUCTION: The small pleats under the eyes are designed to give the shape on the nose, without adding a piece of foldable metal that would be difficult to find at home.

Click here to get the downloadable Sewing_Instructions_Masks_Ryerson, prepared by professor Sandra Tullio-Pow, professor Danielle Martin and M.A. Fashion graduate student Tricia Crivellaro.

DIY Mask - Tech Drawing and Tie Pattern


To visualize the steps of a similar mask with pleats, see this video may help.

For sewing the strip tie tape, I may use a similar technic as this bias technique that found this tutorial – Tips for Sewing Continuous Double Fold Bias Tape – that explains it well.

For the option with elastic, it is harder to do it with the right standard measurement. Therefore, bias that tie around the head is favoured here.


MASK CARE: Wash frequently your masks.

The filtration efficiency and protective property of a medical mask is compromised when it becomes wet, torn or dislodged. (

Change your mask every 2 or 3 hours. Then, place them in a bag and wash them daily or just after wearing them.

Even if the hospital CHU Grenoble who provides with instructions for fabric mask care indicates « Wash it daily at home at 30˚C [86˚F] with conventional detergent », I have read in other sources to wash your mask by choosing the hottest temperature setting (~60˚C) of your washing machine or alternatively boil it in a pan with clear water. Avoid using bleach in boiling water as it may be dangerous.

Wash your hands before touching your clean mask. Do not touch the inside of your clean mask. Use the ties to adjust it comfortably.

MATERIAL STATISTICS: According to Davies & al. research, the effectiveness of the cotton mask made of two layers of tea towel* fabric is as effective as the surgical mask.

“Filtration Efficiency and Pressure Drop Across Materials Tested with Aerosols of Bacillus atrophaeus and Bacteriophage MS2 (30 L/min)a
Material and Mean % Filtration Efficiency
Surgical mask 96.35%
Tea towel 83.24% (96.71%, with two layers of fabric)
Vacuum cleaner bag 94.35%
Antimicrobial Pillowcase 65.62%
Pillowcase 61.28% (62.38%, with two layers of fabric)” (Davies & al., 2013)

Conclusion: [Their] findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;0:1–6)” (Davies & al., 2013)

* « Tea towel » is usually named « dish towel » in Canada.

I will adjust the website as I get more information on our development and when I receive questions from you on IG, FB, LI or Tw.


DIY mask-Revised Pleats-MediumDIY mask-Revised Pleats-Large

Anna Davies, KatyAnne Thompson, Karthika Giri, George Kafatos, Jimmy Walker and Allan Bennett. Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic?. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, Available on CJO 2013 doi:10.1017/dmp.2013.43
Qiang Wang and Chaoran Yu, Letter to editor: Role of masks/respirator protection against 2019-novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Accepted Manuscript for Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology as part of the Cambridge Coronavirus Collection. DOI: 10.1017/ice.2020.83

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