DIY printed face masks

For this year’s Group Camp hostess gifts, I decided to make custom cloth face masks. I got this idea when I was at Walmart and saw a package of cloth masks for sale, which shouldn’t have been such a shock to me to see at the store. But during this entire pandemic (so far), everyone I knew was either making or buying handmade masks, and so it hadn’t occurred to me that you could simply go to the store and buy one. 🙄

The revelation—and the price—were the inspiration. I wouldn’t have thought to do this otherwise because I didn’t have enough spare homemade masks on hand. After searching the internet, I landed on this technique because it was easy and utilized things I had at home.

Materials

  • Organza
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Mod Podge
  • Sharpie
  • Small foam brush
  • Cardboard
  • Double stick tape
  • Fabric paint
  • Blank masks
  • Graphic template

Make the screen

First, create your design. You want to make sure it’s sized to fit on the mask itself and also inside the hoop.

Don’t use printer paper like I did, because the marker bled into it as I worked and it made it harder to be precise. 🤷🏻‍♀️ You can see the marker bleed in the original template in the picture below.

The design included the words “Group Camp 2020” and the shape of Grand Isle, where we were camping.

Next, insert the organza into the hoop, pull right and trim down. Make sure to leave enough material outside the hoop in case you have to adjust or retighten the material.

Center the hoop over the graphic, raw edge up, and trace the design with a Sharpie. I used an ultra fine tip to get the detail of the island. The picture above shows the design traced into the organza.

Use the foam brush to apply Mod Podge to the organza. In this case, I wanted the words and image to be painted on the mask, so I applied the Mod Podge around it.

Screen drying between layers of clumpy Mod Podge. I applied it straight to the edge to avoid any accidents.

I had a very old container of Mod Podge, which had separated, and so was watery and clumpy at the same time. It took me several coats to get a layer that I felt the paint wouldn’t penetrate. Luckily for me it was a hot day, and the hoop quickly dried outside in the sun between layers.

Close up of finished screen. It held up through 20 printings.

Prep the canvas

It took me a while to figure out how to set up the masks in order to get a production line. I needed the masks to be stretched flat without wrinkles, and on a stiff surface.

I settled on affixing the masks to cardboard with double sided tape. These masks were a t-shirt material and so stretched easily. I attached all blanks to cardboard backing before printing.

I tried clothespins first before settling on double sided tape.
These Amazon boxes are finally coming in handy! Got all the masks in place before moving on to the next step.

Print All The Masks!

I didn’t have enough hands to take a picture or video of this step. Basically squeeze a small bit of paint onto the screen and use a square of cardboard like a squeegee to drag the paint across the stencil. Make sure the paint is evenly applied.

Of all the paints I had on hand, there was only one that was not water soluble, so I chose that one thinking it would last after a few washings.

Printed masks drying in the sun

I had forgotten that this brand of masks have adjustable metal for the nose bridge, so there definitely is a “top” edge. Make sure to align your graphic accordingly. I messed up and printed five of them upside down. 😬

At camp, wearing my mask
I’m wearing one of the less pretty ones, where some of the black paint seeped through the screen. You can see some of the gray splotches.

Not bad, for my first time! It was a fun, simple, low-cost project. I enjoyed seeing everyone wearing their masks during the trip.

Cost

The only things I had to buy were masks and foam brushes, as I had everything else at home.

  • Hanes brand cloth masks $7.99 for 5
  • Foam brushes $5 for pack of 4

The hoop and organza had been previously acquired at the ReSource shop for 50¢ and $5 (lot of 50 bags) respectively. The paint was a gift from a friend and the Mod Podge is so old at this point, I should just toss it 😜.

Added up, that totals $45.54 for 25 masks, or $1.89 per mask.