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How to make a mask ahead of Wednesday’s face covering mandate in Mass.

A colorful mask sits ready to be donated to hospital workers at Stitch House in Dorchester on March 22.JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

Starting Wednesday, anyone in Massachusetts who is out in public and can’t safely distance themselves from others will be required to wear a face covering to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

People who do not comply could be fined up to $300.

The good news is face coverings are fairly easy to throw together, and in a pinch, you can use a scarf or a bandanna — as long as it covers both your nose and mouth, and can fit snugly around the sides of your face.

For those who know how to sew, there are several tutorials on how to make a face covering, including the one below.


How to sew your own face mask
Kayla Girdner, an instructor at Gather Here, demonstrates how to sew your own face mask. The store is also selling kits to sew your own face mask. (Shelby Lum|Globe Staff)

Even without sewing, making a mask can still be done in a jiff — all you need is a piece of cloth, such as an old T-shirt or bedsheet, and two elastics.

How to make a mask without sewing
Kayla Girdner, an instructor at Gather Here, demonstrates how to make a face mask that doesn't require any sewing. (Shelby Lum|Globe Staff)

One thing to note: New research shows that making a face covering from a combination of cotton with silk, chiffon, or flannel can create a filter that’s nearly as good as an N95 mask.

If you’re woefully craft-challenged, several retailers are selling both cloth and disposable coverings. Amazon, eBay, and Etsy are among the more popular online sites hawking such wares. (However, note that shipping on many of these orders could be delayed by days or even weeks due to demand and coronavirus-related business restrictions.)

And stay away from N95 and other medical-grade masks, since those should be reserved for healthcare and other front-line workers.

According to state guidelines, face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly against the side of your 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 shape

Don’t touch the front of the mask when you’re putting it on or taking it off; instead, handle just the ear straps. Wash or sanitize your hands after touching it, and make sure to wash your cloth masks regularly, state officials say.


Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss