What you will need:
- Needle and thread
- Clothing iron
- Sewing or safety pins
- Permanent marker
- (Optional) Seam ripper
- 1 medium non-woven polypropylene reusable grocery bag
- 2 pipe cleaners (or plastic-coated twist ties)
- (Optional) 60 inches of ribbon, between ½ and 1 inch wide
Step 1: Wash the non-woven polypropylene reusable grocery bag.
Step 2: Cut the sides off the grocery bag so the material lays flat. Don’t cut off the handles.
Step 3: Cut the material into two sheets. If your bag has a seam at the bottom, cut it like you did the side seams. You’ll get two clean sheets of NWPP, each with its own handle.
Step 4: Measure and cut one sheet. Using your ruler, measure the top edge of the bag to find the centre. Mark it with your permanent marker. Using that as a starting point, measure back toward each handle 4 ½ inches and mark again. From each mark, measure down 9 inches and draw parallel vertical cutting lines. Connect the lines at the bottom. You should have a 9-by-9-inch square with a finished (sewn) edge at the top with the handle.
Step 5: Repeat Step 4 on the other sheet of material.
Step 6: Sew the mask’s side seams. Place one sheet with the wrong side (the bag’s former interior) up, and fold half an inch of material in from the edge opposite the handle. Iron the fold on low heat to set it. Then, sew it a quarter inch from the edge. Place the other sheet with the right side (the bag’s former exterior) up, and like the other sheet, fold it in a half-inch, iron it, and sew it a quarter-inch in from the edge.
Step 7: Place the sheets together. Your mask will have two layers of fabric. Place one of the sheets on your work surface with the handle facing to the left. Place the other one on top of it with the handle facing to the right. Pin in place.
Step 8: Make the head ties. Fold the handles in half and cut them at the centre. Hold the mask centred over your face with the handles coming out of the sides, and make sure the handles are long enough to reach the back of your head with at least 4 inches to spare.
Step 9: Sew the sheets together. Double your thread and sew around all the edges.
Step 10: Finish the bottom edge. Like you did in Step 6, make a half-inch fold at the bottom and iron it. Sew it closed a quarter-inch from the edge.
Step 11: Make the adjustable noseband. Again, fold half an inch of the top edge over and iron it. Twist the pipe cleaners or twist ties together and cut them to the same width as the mask. Fold in their ends to blunt them. Tuck the metal ties inside the fold and pin the fold over them. Then, sew the fold below and on the sides of the ties to hold them in place. Make three folds to pleat the mask for expansion. Pleats should be approximately 1 ½ inches wide on the outside, a half-inch wide on the inside, and be parallel to the nose band. If it helps, mark lines on your fabric, fold them, and then iron them in place. Stitch these in place by sewing both sides a quarter-inch in from the edge. This time, double back your stitch to make sure the pleat seam is strong.
Step 12: Sterilise your mask. Before using it for the first time, submerge your mask in boiling water for 5 minutes. Repeat this step between uses. For other methods, check out our guide on how to sanitise face masks.
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