little girl in a no-sew mask beside a basket filled with no-sew masks


How To Help Your Kids Turn Your Old T-Shirt Into Their Own No-Sew Mask

Jul 14, 2020

Across Canada, more and more municipalities are making masks mandatory in indoor public settings. That also applies to children over the age of two in most places.

One of the ways parents can avoid the inevitable power struggle with their kids over wearing a mask is by helping them make their own. Follow the steps below to turn an old T-shirt into a simple mask without any sewing.

Pro tip: A mask can also be used to pretend the wearer is: a) a ninja; b) a construction worker; c) Lady Gaga.

What You'll Need

  • an old T-shirt (adult size)
  • scissors (a sharp pair for cutting fabric)
  • ruler
  • permanent marker

Read how this mom's kid went from a quarantine couch potato to mastering mask making here.

How It's Made

Cut off one of the sleeves at the shoulder seam and turn it over so the seam underneath is facing upwards. This is the inside of the mask. Trim the bottom off the mask to make it straight. It should look like a little skirt.

Pro tip: Can also be used as a headband for jogging or if you’re dying to look like Brett Michaels for a weekend.

Cutting the sleeve off, turning it over and trimming it

With the other sleeve, cut off the outer seam and discard it (it’s not stretchy enough). Cut two more strips off the sleeve that are roughly 2 cm wide. Open up the two loops and cut them to create two long strips of fabric.

Cutting strips of fabric off sleeve

Fold 1-2 cm of fabric inwards from the side of the mask. On the little strip of folded fabric, mark off 2 cm intervals, trying to create an even number of marks: four, six or eight, depending on the size of the mask.

This is the only tricky bit: cut along each mark halfway into the fold. Be sure to not cut completely through the width of the fold. To avoid cutting through the fold completely, you can hold the ruler over the inner half of the fold while your child cuts on the mark. Repeat on the other side of the mask.

Pro tip: Don’t use the tips of the scissors for delicate cuts like this. Open the scissors wide and use the base of the blades. “The wider the crocodile opens its mouth, the better it can bite into the T-shirt,” I've been told.

Folding to create strip and cutting on marks

When you fold it out you should now have a series of holes on each side of the mask. Thread the strip through the holes so that the two ends of the strips are on the inside of the mask. This will make it easier to tie. Repeat on the other side.

showing the holes in the fabric and thread strip through holes on one side

When you pull on the strips it should cinch the mask closed on the sides. And now you have a mask with straps that you can tie together and adjust to fit bigger or littler faces.

Pro tip: If the fabric is a light colour, decorate it with markers to make it unique.

mask ready to be tied on a face

Don’t throw out the rest of the T-shirt! Trim what is left of the sleeves so they are symmetrical. Cut a strip 3-4 cm wide from the bottom of the T-shirt and cut it open to make a belt. Cut strips upwards into the bottom of the T-shirt that are about 10-15 cm long to create tassels. Fierce, right?

t-shirt dress with tassels on little girl who is also wearing the no-sew mask

Pro tip: For kids who don’t like dresses, turn the T-shirt into a) a superhero cape; b); a bathrobe; c) a T-shirt with tassels that Brett Michaels might wear.

Article Author Joseph Wilson
Joseph Wilson

Read more from Joseph here.

Joseph Wilson is the father of three girls and lives in Toronto. His writing has appeared in The Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, Financial Times, NOW Magazine and Spacing. His forthcoming book, In Defense of Teenagers, is a cultural history of moral panics about adolescence. Find him on Twitter at @josephwilsonca.

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