Community Member Stories

Making Protective Masks For Your Neighbours

Written by Siobhan Moylan

We are constantly impressed with the ways that neighbours are helping each other  during COVID-19. Nextdoor members are offering everything from free dog walking, to cooking meals for frontline workers, to free art or magic lessons and Tarot card readings via Zoom.

One particular act of kindness that caught our eye is neighbours making homemade masks to share.  Michelle Sun is a Nextdoor Lead and member in Carlingford, NSW. Along with her friends at Enactus Macquarie University and Enactus City University of Seattle, she asked her Nextdoor neighbourhood to donate cotton fabric and other sewing resources to create environmentally sustainable and reusable face masks. 

Michelle’s ultimate aim is to unite communities and to provide a form of protection to the vulnerable, particularly the homeless and rough sleepers who have a higher risk of exposure to coronavirus. 

They’ve recently done their first mask drop off to Wayside Chapel in Sydney and are now working with St Vincent De Paul to distribute masks through their food delivery program. 

Michelle told us that, “Despite not being as effective as medical graded masks, these cotton masks have adequate protection for the average person’s daily use and have an inbuilt pocket to slot a filter for extra protection. 

What we are doing reduces the amount of fabric waste that will end up in landfill and helps to alleviate pressure and demand on medical PPE for hospitals, professions who are relentlessly fighting on the front lines need all the support that we can give them, and every little  bit counts” 

Michelle and her team looked  into mask making and found the instructions and directions provided by Maker’s Habitat are the most useful, so she has provided them below: 

Everything you need to create a mask


Main Fabric: 24cm x 19cm

Lining: 18cm x 13cm

Elastic length per piece: 30cm if elastic is very stretchy, or 35cm if it’s not very stretchy. Try it on and adjust the length if needed.


Main Fabric: 21.5cm x 16.5cm

Lining: 15.5cm x 10.5cm

Elastic length per piece: 25cm if elastic is very stretchy, or 30cm if it’s not very stretchy. Try it on and adjust the length if needed

STEP 1: Cut 1 piece of Main Fabric, 2 pieces of Lining and 2 pieces of elastic according to the measurements below.

STEP 2: Along the width of the liner fabric, fold roughly 1.5cm on one side and sew. Repeat with the other set. *Note: Pressing it with an iron would make it easier to sew* 

Michelle’s Advice: Often when you use scraps and donated fabric, cutting it will leave frayed edges. When creating our own masks, we folded an extra fold to tuck the frayed edges inside so that when users use it, the mask won’t come apart. 

STEP 3: Stack and clip/pin both liners on Main Fabric. Make sure the gaps on both left and right sides are equal. Stitch only along the edges where the two fabrics overlap.

STEP 5: Fold in liners to Main Fabric. Iron it for easy stitching.

STEP 6: Time to create the pleats! Pinch and fold both Main Fabric and Lining into 3 pleats, about 1cm per pleat. Clip or pin to hold the folds and press the pleats. The finished height is approximately 10cm.

STEP 7: Sew a straight line on the Main Fabric, right next to the Lining edge. Repeat on the other side.

STEP 8: To create the elastic tunnel, fold the raw edge of the Main Fabric twice. Clip or pin to hold the folds in place. Repeat on the other side.

STEP 9: Sew up the folds to create the elastic tunnel. Repeat on the other side.

STEP 10: Insert elastic, tie a knot, insert a non-woven layer and you are done! 

If you have not yet made masks during your confinement, this is a great opportunity to get started! We call on all of your creativity to take part in this collective mobilisation and make masks for you and your neighbours!

To better visualize the mask making process, you can also use this youtube tutorial recommended by Michelle. Thank you to all the neighbours taking part in this collective mobilisation! 

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Theme is edited