After much will-they-or-won’t-they (it’s all very Ross and Rachel in the time of the coronavirus), the Center for Disease Control has officially recommended wearing a face mask when going in public, especially where “social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” places like grocery stores, pharmacies, and venturing out for coffee beans.

The CDC’s guidance expressly states that supplies like the N-95s and surgical masks are critical and should be reserved for “healthcare workers and other medical first responders.” But they go on to recommend a DIY solution: “cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials.” What household items, you ask? Why, coffee stuffs of course! Yes, it’s true—the Centers for Disease Control officially recommends using, and I quote, “coffee filters” as part of their DIY solution to making masks for personal use. Truly these are astonishingly strange times.

But, game on, let’s build some! Using two different CDC-approved patterns, we’ll show you how to turn some of that coffee swag—old tees, bandanas, totes, filters, and maybe even a Torani Syrup Expo 2012 lanyard or two—into smart, stylish face wear for the socially responsible (and good looking!) citizen.

Before we continue, it’s important to note that wearing a homemade face mask does not give you carte blanche to rub elbows in a crowded bar worry-free or do anything else obviously stupid in these serious times. The safest way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is through sheltering in place and adhering to strict social distancing measures. These masks are meant to help slow the spread; they’re not bulletproof vests. Got it? Great.


The first pattern is perhaps the easiest. All you need is a t-shirt you’re willing to sacrifice up to the gods of social responsibility and a pair of scissors. The hardest part is choosing which shirt. Should you choose an older coffee tee that doesn’t see a lot of rotation in the wardrobe or should you go more fashion-forward with a current favorite? These are the choices you must make for yourself. For me, I went with the Sprudge tie-dyed Surge shirt from Summer 2019. It tells everyone at the grocery store, “Everyone stand back! I’m here for the Hi-C Ecto Cooler.”

To make a t-shirt mask, the CDC says to cut 7-8” of fabric from the bottom of a shirt, but elsewhere in their recommendations they state you want multiple layers of fabric in your face covering. For that reason, I cut 14” from the bottom and then folded it over to create a double-side 7” strip. Lay the doubled fabric flat and then cut a 6-7” strip laterally out of the middle, creating tie strings at the top and bottom. Cut those tie string in the back of the mask and you’ve got a mask! I found the strings to be a little long, so I trimmed them down to look a little less Ninja Turtle-y (as I type this I realize what a mistake that was).


The second pattern is my favorite. Why? Because it finally gives me a use for the unbleached square Chemex filters that I accidentally bought about a year ago and refuse to use. For this, you’ll need a bandana, coffee filter, scissors, and rubber bands or hair ties. I’ll be using a fetching crimson Counter Culture bandana I received at the opening of their Dallas Training Center.

Cut the bottom portion off of your cone filter and put it in the middle of the bandana. Fold the top third over the middle third where the filter is, then repeat with the bottom third. (I found a tri-fold made me looks too much like a bandit, so I went with a quad-fold.) Place your rubber bands or hair ties around the folded bandana, centered and roughly 6” apart. Then take the sections of the bandana outside bands, fold them over the center and tuck one inside the other. Now you’re not only better girded from being an asymptomatic spreader of COVID-19, but you can finally clear out the coffee cabinet of all those coffee filters.

The CDC has also provided a third pattern for those with sewing know-how, but my abilities in that respect begin and end with hand-stitching back patches onto my Dickie’s work jacket (the punk rock uniform of those who couldn’t afford a cool denim jacket), so I’ll just leave that pattern here for you to try for yourself.

For more information on the CDC’s guidance regarding homemade cloth face masks, visit their official website. Stay safe. Stay stylish. Stay socially distant. Thank you for reading Sprudge.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.