DIY Surgical Mask with Pocket for Filter - TLC The Littleton Clinic

DIY Surgical Mask with Pocket for Filter

Update 3/26/2020: Due to the stay at home order for Colorado, our building is locked. If you are dropping off masks, call our office in advance. We will put a box outside the front door for you to place the masks in. So that we can maintain social distancing, there will be no direct contact. Please plan on coming during our normal office hours. TLC will take responsibility for getting the masks to those that will most benefit. A huge thanks to all who are helping with this effort.

Update: 3/31/2020: Added link to the video below.

If you can sew at all please help out and make some masks. Make yourself one and then make some extras for health care workers. We will collect them in a box outside our office.  The mask instructions here are for an outer mask that can be laundered and reused with an inner filter that is replaceable. We made this one so that there was a droplet repellent layer and there is a pocket to add and replace filters. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

The CDC is recommending that surgical masks and N95 respirators be reserved for healthcare workers who are needed to care for the sick. The masks here are not fitted N-95 respirators and will not necessarily protect you from getting Coronavirus but they may prevent you from inadvertently transmitting the virus to someone before you know you are sick. Wearing a mask does not change the recommendations for social distancing and staying at home. Right now that means you will be wearing the mask to the grocery store and pharmacy, and to pick up your take out.

Launder the masks in the washer and dryer before bringing the extras to our office.  That will kill any virus. Then add the filter. Put extra filters in a ziplock bag and bring to the office. If you can’t sew and still want to help, collect your reusable grocery bags, the porous kind, not the plastic ones wash them and cut out the pattern.  You can do it.  Put in a ziplock bag. Any donations of thin elastic would be greatly appreciated.

Video instructions on how to assemble the mask – >

Download and Print Pattern -> TLC Face Mask Pattern

1. Cut 2 pieces for the water repellent layer

-Reusable grocery bag (porous) *NOT plastic

2. Cut 2 pieces for the lining



3. Sew the curved lines of the water repellant layer together, 3/8-inch seam

4, Repeat for the lining


5. Fold the side of the lining piece in and top stitch, repeat so both sides match


6. Place the lining on top of the water repellant layer with the right side facing each other

7. Sew the top and the bottom seam lines


8. Turn right side out


9. The water repellant layer has a longer side, fold twice to make a pocket for the elastic band and top stitch, DO NOT catch the lining

10. The top and bottom should have an opening for the elastic band


11. Top stitch a 6-inch pocket for the nose piece approx. ½ inch across the top of the mask, leave the end open to insert nose piece


12. Between the water repellant layer and the lining layer, is a pocket for the main filter pocket

13. Cut a 5-inch malleable copper or aluminum wire, twist tie or pipe cleaner for the nose piece. Curl the ends in


14. Twist the wire with athletic tape and insert in to the nosepiece pocket. Stitch the nosepiece in, being careful not to catch the wire.


15. Cut 22 inches of thin elastic and go up through one side of the mask down the other side of the mask (guiding the elastic with a safety pin) and then tie it to itself to make a circle.


16. Cut a filter layer out of Merv 13 furnace filter or non-woven fabric. Cut out some extras so you can replace your filter. Bring us the rest in a ziplock bag.


17. Insert into the main filter pocket and it is ready to wear.

18. Take out the filter to wash and dry. The filter will last for 12-24 hours of continuous use. Wash and dry the mask like normal laundry which will kill any virus.



  • Carol Doehler says:

    For someone like me who cannot sew, can I donate material so someone with sewing skills can make the masks?

  • Elizabeth Kain says:

    Hi, I would like to do this. …a FB poster left this comment about homemade masks and I would like some clarification.

    I was involved on conference call with many federal and state agencies, specifically CDPHE. • The takeaway on this subject is they are not allowed in a medical setting.
    • Personal use is ok.

    Will these masks, made as per your instructions, be usable in a medical setting or just for personal use? Thanks for clarifying.

    • TLC Staff says:

      This mask design has not been reviewed or approved by any government agencies for medical or personal use. However, many are faced with having to choose between no mask or using a homemade mask. Obtaining commercially made masks that are approved is very difficult. We believe these masks, and many other DIY masks, are an improvement over no mask at all. The decision as to whether to use a DIY mask is a personal choice.

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