Staff writer Sam Schipani wearing a DIY face mask made from a bandana and two rubber bands. Credit: Sam Schipani

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Here’s a secret: I don’t know how to sew.

Not really, anyway. I can get by with hand stitching for small repairs like replacing a button, but beyond that, I’m at a loss. This is extra embarrassing because I took sewing lessons as a teenager and my grandmother is an ex-Hollywood seamstress with her own IMDB page. I recently set up my sewing machine for the first time and was so exhausted after practicing straight stitches that I took a nap.

[Read more practical tips on living well and within your budget during the pandemic]

So, needless to say, I am not the person to teach you how to make a face mask in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Starting April 4, the federal government recommended that everyone — regardless of whether or not they are sick — wear a face mask in public in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Given the severity of this public health crisis, this is not really the time for a video of me fumbling around with a bobbin.

Instead, there are experts available online who’ve done an excellent job of explaining how to make masks.

Here are a few videos that I have found helpful in my own sewing journey the past few weeks — as well as a few to help you along if you really aren’t feeling that straight stitch.

How to sew a basic pleated face mask

This video YouTube user Erica Arndt for a pleated face mask is simple, straight-forward and peppered with a cheery jingle throughout that will make the process of protecting yourself during a global pandemic seem a little less daunting.

If it is your first time setting up your sewing machine, make sure you look at the instructions for your specific machine. For general instructions on how to set up a sewing machine, check out this video tutorial from YouTube user Bluprint.

How to sew a simple face mask with filter pocket

If pleats seem daunting to you or just aren’t your style, check out this video to guide you through making a face mask sans pleats, for additional ease in sewing. The mask in this video, though, comes with the added benefit of a filter pocket that you can fill with a number of materials that will bolster the protective abilities of your mask. Doubled-up 600-thread count pillowcases, a scrap of flannel, HEPA filters, vacuum cleaner bags and quilter’s cotton can all be used to further inhibit the spread of particles from your mouth into the air around you.

How to sew a fitted face mask

If you are looking for a snugger fit and a little more coverage in your face mask, this video from YouTube user Brittany Bailey walks you through the process of making a form-fitting (or, rather, face-fitting) mask that wraps around your nose and chin for maximum security. She even offers a few upcycled substitutions if you are running low on materials. The link to a printable template for this face mask is also in the description of the video. This face mask is slightly more advanced than the other options, but is at once sleek, stylish and secure if you are up to the challenge.

How to make a no-sew face mask

Despite your best efforts, you may still find these simple face mask sewing videos daunting and impossible (I sympathize), or you just may not have the proper tools. In that case, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection YouTube channel and follow these simple instructions from the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, on how to prepare a no-sew facemask using a bandana, scarf or old t-shirt and a pair of elastics. Some people use hair ties for slightly less rubber-burn behind the ears, but I find plaid old rubber bands have slightly better grip.

Watch: Nirav Shah on whether you should use fabric masks