At this time of need there have been calls for home sewers to help fill the lack of manufactured N95 respirator masks in the medical field by sewing and donating hand sewn face masks.


We recognize that there have been conflicting information as to whether fabric face masks are effective.  Below are some study results on the matter.   In general it is understood that although only N95 masks can prevent the spread of COVID-19, fabric face masks can be used to help prolong existing N95s and surgical masks by preventing them from soiling, be used by the general public and those already with respiratory problems, and are a viable alternative to N95 masks when respiratory masks are unavailable.  Fabric masks can also help fill the void of standard/disposable masks that are on long back-orders, due to both demand and supply chain issues. 

  • “The only mask that the CDC considers safe from you getting the coronavirus, the only way to actually prevent you from inhaling it, is the N95 mask,” (UT, 3/23/20)
  • “Facemasks are an acceptable alternative when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet the demand,” the CDC said in a statement that is expected to unsettle health care workers who have been trained to use the more protective gear during contagions.” (WP, 3/10/20)
  • “Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear a face mask until they are isolated in a hospital or at home.” (UT, 3/23/20)
  • “Among the general public, persons with respiratory symptoms or those caring for COVID-19 patients at home should receive medical masks.” (WHO 2/27/20)

We at the Center will assist in the matter with providing as much updated information and materials that we can to help with the creation of home sewn face masks.


  • If you have any extra unused N95 masks please donate to your local hospital, health organization, or the Sonoma Community Center as soon as possible.
  • We are also seeking donations of Nitrile (Latex free) disposable gloves in all sizes for the Hospitals.  Outside of healthcare, these gloves are often used in the beauty industry, tattoo artists, automotive technicians, and those in the food processing and manufacturing industries. If you have some to donate, please bring them to the main lobby at Sonoma Valley Hospital, Monday through Friday from 7am-4pm or at the Sonoma Community Center drop-off window. (Updated 4/2).
  • If you have the ability to sew masks from home, please continue reading for patterns and instructions.
  • Can’t sew but still want to help?  Please donate to the Sonoma Community Center so we can continue providing materials and masks to our great community.
  •  We are also looking for people to help pick-up and deliver masks to specified locations.  Email with a message of interest to [email protected]


The Sonoma Community Center will be accepting all face mask donations (Unused N95 respirators and fabric face masks) as well as Latex free disposable gloves Monday -Friday between 10am-4pm starting Wednesday, March 25th.  Please seal mask donations in a ziplock plastic bag and drop off the donation in the designated location off of the Center’s parking lot at the back of the building.  Donations will be provided to local hospitals and as well as other local health organizations.

At this time we have been able to provide over 300 personal protection equipment items to health responders.  This includes N95 and fabric masks as well as scrub caps. Thank you!  (Updated 4/4)


100% Cotton fabrics, patterns, and supplies will be available for curbside pick-up in the parking lot of the Sonoma Community Center weekly every Wednesday, from 1-2pm until otherwise determined and while supplies last for those needing extra material.  

Additionally, anyone with extra elastic, 100% cotton fabric, or thread to donate can also drop-off these materials at this time.


Until one pattern is deemed most appropriate we will continue to share multiple designs that have been reviewed and approved by medical professionals.  Please remember, the ideal home sewn masks are “constructed of two layers of heavyweight “quilters cotton” with a thread count of at least 180, and had thicker and tighter weave.” (NBC 4/4/20)

(Update 3/25) Sonoma Valley Hospital has requested pleated face masks if new N95 masks are not available.  Pleated face masks stock will be distributed and used in cases of low risk situations, limited patient interactions, outpatient services, and by contractors and vendors at the Hospital.)

Pleated with Filter Pocket & Nose Wire   Video tutorial with measurements

Providence St. Joseph Health Face Mask Kit. Video available; uses ties. 

“We Can Sew It” Mask  Uses ties not earloops.

Properfit Clothing Co. 2.5 PM Surgical Mask Sewing Instructions  Video includes removable filter, plus the general design includes multiple fabric layers.

Deaconess Health Mask  Video tutorial

UnityPoint Olsen Mask.   Video Tutorial link is HERE.

A.B. Mask



The CDC has just updated its advice to include, “recommending individuals use cloth face coverings “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” such as grocery stores and pharmacies. The guidance recommends people use fabric coverings, not surgical masks or specialized N95 masks, which should be reserved for health care providers.”   Additionally it’s cautioned that “masks should be used only as an “additive” to social distancing, not a substitute.”  (NBC 4/4/20)

  • You can follow or have someone you know follow one of the above patterns.
  • Don’t know how to sew?   Follow these steps for a “No Sew” Mask  (For personal use. Please DO NOT donate these “masks.”) Can be used with 100% cotton fabric or bandanas.
  • Or use a 100% cotton bandana tightly tied around the face.


  • Make sure to use dry masks. When masks get wet, even from the moisture emitted when a person exhales, the fabric could be more likely to transmit virus.
  • Wash masks regularly, with regular detergent and in regular washing machine cycles.



There are a variety of templates online that use fabric ties instead of elastic. In fact, many nurses prefer fabric ties to elastic because it allows for a more customized fit.  Bias tape or homemade bias strips also work well here.

*A note when making masks to specifically cover and protect N95 and other PPE:

  • Lighter colors are better because they make it easier to see soiling.    
  • Use no more than 2 layers for this as no filtration is needed – the goal is protection from soiling, only.    
  • Ensure coverage if using over an N95 (these come in several sizes and from different manufacturers).
  • Fit is important, and ties that go around the back of the head are preferred.
  • No latex should be used in designs for clinical settings – do not use elastic.
  • Using different colors on the front (outside facing; lighter is better) and back (inside facing) part of the mask is ideal so that the sides can easily be recognized.





  • World Health Organization: “89 million medical masks will be required for the COVID-19 response” (each month, globally) (CNBC, 3/4/20) (WHO 3/3/20)


“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the best way to prevent illness is by avoiding exposure to the virus. It advises, above all else, for people to avoid person-to-person contact and practice social distancing, avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth, cover coughs and sneezes with tissue or the inside of the elbow, and to frequently and thoroughly wash hands for at least 20 seconds.” (UT, 3/23/20)


For more Fiber Dept & Philanthropy information call 707-938-4626 x3.