Simplified FACE MASK / No Elastic / Filter Pocket / Upcycled T-Shirt Ties

As you most likely have heard, face masks are in huge demand right now, as we experience this COVID-19 pandemic. There is a BIG movement going on with crafters making and donating homemade masks. Forbes even wrote an article calling all people who sew to help with the face mask shortage.

However, before you go crazy and start mass-producing a bunch of masks, I think it’s important that you get informed on the mask-wearing facts. I know there is A LOT controversy over their effectiveness and use, but from my research here are a few resources that I think are reliable.

This HUFFPOST article is loaded with links to who should and should not wear a mask, how effective homemade masks are and they even recommend some mask patterns. The World Health Organization has some good videos showing when to use a mask and other tips to protect against the coronavirus.

The purpose of this post is not to educate about the COVID-19 virus, but to show you how easy it is to make a simplified face mask for yourself, your family or serve the community by making and donating them, if you choose. 

Get informed!

I encourage you to be informed. Call your local hospitals, healthcare facilities, and see what their needs are. If they are taking homemade masks and could use them, by all means, get out your sewing machines and your fabric stash and get your little sewing fingers moving!!!!! 

I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of different styles and patterns of masks out there and most of them call for elastic. If you’ve tried to buy elastic lately, you’ll find that most stores are out of stock. NO WORRIES! You can make this face mask without elastic using an upcycled t-shirt!

This face mask has

  • No Elastic
  • A Filter Pocket
  • Wire Nose Clamp
  • Upcycled T-Shirt Ties


Material and Items Needed


If you do not sew and would like to purchase a face mask already made, I have them in my Etsy shop HERE.

If you don’t have any knit fabric or T-shirts to make ties with, I found a great resource where you can purchase this stuff already made. It’s called “FARMYARN”. This yarn is made from recycled lycra fabric that is REALLY stretchy and durable. It’s like elastic and can be used in so many ways ie: FACE MASKS! You can read more about it and buy it HERE


1- Cutting Out Face Mask

ADULT: Fabric 14 1/2 inches x 8 inches (36.8 cm x 20.3 cm).  
TEEN: Fabric 13 3/4 inches x 7 inches 
CHILD: Fabric 13 inches x 6 inches

2- Cutting Out Ties

The beauty of knit fabric, is that it doesn’t fray, and when pulled it will curl. You may be asking why do we want it to curl? When it curls it creates a little tube, like an enclosed tie, but you don’t have to sew it to keep it that way like you would a woven fabric.

Cut two strips either crosswise or lengthwise 1 inch wide. (2.5) cm

Cutting along the bottom of a t-shirt, the fabric will curl and expose the wrong side of the fabric. (Which doesn’t matter if using a plain color, preference only). But if you want the right side of the fabric exposed, cut the shirt lengthwise as shown in the diagram above.

Pull the strips to stretch and curl the fabric.

Cut ties to 15 inches (38.1) cm

3-  Finish the edges of the short sides of the mask piece using a serger or zigzag stitch.

4-  Place the right sides together of the SHORT ENDS of the mask piece.

ADULT: Measure 1 ½ inches from both sides and mark with a pin.
TEEN: Measure 1 inch from edges
CHILD: Measure 3/4 inch from edges.

5-  Using a straight stitch, sew from the edge to the pin.

Backstitch. Sew the other end the same way.


6- Open up seam and press.


7- Topstitch along both sides of the seam.

(It’s easiest to keep the wrong side out and sew inside the tube you just made).


8-  Place seam 1/2 inch from the top fold


9- Sewing the Face mask ties

Take the ties and place the ends in the corners of the mask, making sure they butt up against the fold. Allow the ends to stick out a bit to make sure you are catching them in the seam. Pin or clamp in place. Pull the tie ends out of the hole to keep them out of your way.

I love these little fabric clamps, but pins work just fine.


Sew down the sides of the mask, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam.

Clip corners.

10- Turn inside out.

Poke out the corners and press.



11- Mark and sew pleats

Lay the pleat guide along the edge of the mask and place pins in to mark folding points. There should be 6 pins on each side, as indicated in the photo above.

Fold the top pin down to meet the second pin. Clip fold in place using the fabric pins or pin in place. Continue this process until all three pleats have been formed.

If you are making a lot of these masks after a while you won’t need to measure and pin, you’ll be able to just eyeball it. 


Repeat this on the other side. Press pleats in place.



12-Top stitch along the side edges of the mask.

First pass sew close 1/4 inch from the edge, and the second pass sew close to the edge.

13- Wire Nose Clamp

Take the pipe cleaner or wire that you are using and insert it through the hole in the back of the mask. Align it at the TOP of the mask and center. Make sure it is against the folded edge of the mask.


Sew along the top edge at 1/2 inch seam allowance to create a casing for the wire.

Sew along the bottom edge as well to reinforce and stabilize the mask. 

Play Video

There you have it.


Keep in mind that these masks MAY not prevent us from contracting Covid-19, but they can act as a physical reminder for us to keep our hands away from our face, and when it comes down to it, they may be better than nothing as a protective barrier.

If you think that a handmade mask cannot be used, think again. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a place for them — in times of crisis, like the one we are in right now. On the CDC page: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks, they explain that as a last resort, a homemade mask is acceptable.

NEED A GENUINE N95 Respirator Mask Reusable, (FDA Registered) Face Mask?

Check out this reputable source

Take care my dear friends! We are all in this together! 

Sending love to all of you!

Other posts you may be interested in






DIY Lavender EYE PILLOW | Easy Sewing Tutorial

There is nothing better than a soothing lavender eye pillow when you’re feeling stressed to take away the tension. This easy to follow DIY eye pillow tutorial will guide you through a quick and easy project that you can make in 10 minutes or less. Even a beginner seamstress can handle this!

I love using an eye pillow when

  • I take a nap
  • at the end of my yoga practice for savasana
  • and when I have a sinus headache. (I put it in the freezer to get it cold and then put it over my eyes).

What I love about this eye pillow it that it has a removable slip cover that you can wash, and the dried lavender stays fragrant for years.

What else is a lavender eye pillow good for?

  • Shields the eyes from light and visual stimulus. Covering the eyes blocks out glaring light, and blocks any visual stimulus that may keep your mind racing.
  • Relieves tension and eye strain.  Most people think the an eye pillow is just to block out the light, but the light weight of the flax seeds ensures the perfect amount of acupressure to release tension from the forehead, cheekbones, temples, neck and even the shoulders. Some yoga scholars also claim that the light pressure on the eyes sends a neurological signal to the brain that facilitates  whole body relaxation.
  • Calms and rests the mind. 

Here is a little article that talks about the oculocardiac reflex in the eyes that can serve as a very powerful doorway to the relaxation response. Now I know even a little more about the “why” of these wonderful eye pillows. (I’m all about the why)!

You can read more about the other benefits in one of my previous posts

 Materials & Items Needed

Cutting Out Inner Bag

Cut ONE strip of fabric 9 x 9 inches. (22.86 cm)

Cutting Out Slipcover

Cut ONE strip of fabric 5 x 20.5 inches. (12.7 x 52.07 cm)

Sewing Instructions Inner Bag

Fold fabric in half with right sides together.

Pin in place and sew along the bottom and side using a ¼ inch seam allowance.

(Leave one short side open). Turn inside out and press.

Make a paper funnel using a standard piece of paper. Simply roll in the sides and adjust the edges to form a cone. Adjust it so there is about a 1/2 inch opening and tape it in place.

Fill with approximately 1 cup rice, flax seeds, millet, or buckwheat. (My favorite are flax seeds).

Add 1/4 cup lavender buds. (optional). Oh, baby, this makes them smell so yummy! If you don’t have access to lavender buds, you and simply place a few drops of lavender essential oil on the outer cover, here and there. 


Fold the open end under ½ inch to the inside and sew close to the edge.

Sewing Instructions Slip Cover

Hem the short ends of the fabric by using a rolled hem method. (Folding under ¼ and then another ¼ inch).

Press and topstitch in place. Backstitch at the beginning and end of seam.

With Right Sides Together, fold left side over 1 ½ inches.

Fold the right side over so the edge is about ½ inch from the left fold.  Press and pin in place.

If you want to add a tag, this is when to do it. Stick the tag just inside the right folded edge. Let the tag hang out a bit, as to make sure to catch it in the seam.

Sew along the top and bottom of the slipcover, backstitching at the beginning and end of your seam. Add a tag in the top right corner. (Optional) If you have a serger, use it. If you don’t no worries. However, you are using a fabric that frays easily, use a zig-zag stitch to finish the edge of the seam allowance. You can do this by simply sewing a zigzag stitch down the seam.

Clip corners, turn inside out. Poke corners out and press. You can do this by simply sewing a zigzag stitch down the seam.

Slip the inner bag inside the slipcover.


Outer slipcover can be machine washed and dried. DO NOT WASH INNER EYE PILLOW BAG! To refresh lavender fragrance, simply squeeze bag contents to activate lavender.

Play Video

Remember self-care is critical in your wellbeing! Enjoy a little YOU time!

Have fun sewing!





Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

Move Your Body: The Benefits of Daily Movement

Daily movement of some kind is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. I have always thought that exercise was important, but the older I get the more I find this to be TRUE based on experience.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or attend an aerobics class every day, I’m talking movement. The human body is designed to move, not stay still for hours at a time.

I’m not sure where I heard this, but I love the analogy. “Just as running water does not freeze, moving muscle and joints will not either!”

It is so true! I work with a lot of seniors and I have seen firsthand how simple movement can improve the way one feels physically and emotionally. Once you start moving every day, you are going to notice a big difference! On the days you skip, you’ll feel the tension and tightness start to creep in again.

I even advise people who experience arthritis, to not baby that joint, but to gently keep it moving. Movement will help improve and keep range of motion. The less we move, the more limited we will be.

What are the benefits of daily movement and exercise?

  • Improves your mood
  • Combats chronic diseases
  • Helps you manage your weight.
  • Strengthens your heart and lungs
  • Can put the spark back into your sex life
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Can be — gasp — fun!
  • Maintain optimal weight
  • Gives you energy
  • Better memory
  • Has been found to lower the risk of health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s

Unlike the blood circulatory system, which is pumped by the heart, the lymphatic system relies on the contraction of muscles to drain the lymphatic wastes back into the bloodstream via lymph nodes.

Exercise will help you stay well by helping your lymphatic system out. It doesn’t matter what form of exercise you do, all that matters is that you MOVE YOUR BODY and do it daily!

Studies show exercise to not only help us physically but it helps us maintain mental fitness as well. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which in turn cause us to have what is commonly known as a “natural high” or a “runners high”.

Psychological Benefits of movement

  • Helps with depression

“Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins; powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good”

  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Lowers stress

Are all types of exercise good for everyone?

Absolutely not! You have to find what works for you and what makes you feel good.

Years ago, after being diagnosed with a particular autoimmune condition and finding that running and aerobics were too harsh on my body system; I had to find another way to move my body. After trying my first yoga class, I was hooked and have been doing it ever since. It has helped me immensely on my path back to health and vitality. For me, I had to find a more gentle approach to move my body.

The Webster Dictionary defines ‘remedy’ as: a medicine, application, or treatment that relieves or cures a disease. I consider exercise to be just that, a “remedy”.

There are three types of exercise the body needs; Cardiovascular, Strength Training (Muscular Strength & Endurance), and Flexibility Training (stretching).

Cardiovascular Exercise involves continuous, rhythmic movements of large-muscle groups, such as:

  • Rebounding
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Aerobics
  • Dancing
  • Hiking
  • Pickle ball (my new love)

Ideally, this needs to be done 3-5 days a week.

Strength Training, sometimes called weight training or resistance training decreases the risk of osteoporosis and maintains muscle mass and function. Alternate these exercises with your cardio workouts and make sure to get all muscle groups to keep your body balanced. 

Flexibility Training will help with the ability to move the joints through their full range of motion. Pain free, flexible joints are important to good health and lifestyle. Inactivity causes us to become stiff and inflexible. It is amazing how fast you can lose range of motion.

Stiffness leads to improper posture that can lead to muscle imbalance, which causes a lot of other problems. An example of a great flexibility program is yoga. 

I LOVE yoga!  Flexibility exercises can be done daily and should be done at least 2-3 days per week. If you stretch just once a week, you will never progress, but always feel like you are just catching up.

Listen to your body

Some days you may wake up and not feel like doing anything, let alone exercising. Maybe you feel achy, or you just don’t feel right. Those are the days you need to do something.  Maybe it will be just a little stretching, or a short walk, but move your body in some way.

The only time I can honestly say that I didn’t feel good after exercising was when I attended a vigorous yoga class at the onset of the flu. It was a little too much for my system, when I should have been resting. Other than that, I have ALWAYS felt great both physically and mentally after moving my body.

People of all ages and abilities, and sizes can exercise.

Some may feel that their health is too compromised to be able to do any kind of exercise. They may be thinking “I’m too fat”, “I’m not flexible enough”, “my body is too achy”, “I don’t have enough energy,” or “I have bad knees.” and on and on. I want you to know that we can all do something!  Even if you are in a wheelchair, and have a very limited ability to move, there are ways to adapt. Exercises can be modified and diluted to fit your needs at ANY AGE! My oldest student is almost 101 years old.

Adapt the exercise to fit your needs

I teach a class at the senior center in my community where I show them how to use a chair to support themselves while doing exercises and yoga poses. Despite their limitations, they can do amazing things. I have seen them improve dramatically both physically and mentally!

You can watch several of my live chair yoga classes on my YouTube station. Check them out HERE.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else 

Whatever you do, do not compare yourself to anyone else. We all have different bodies, different lifestyles, and different experiences. If you have limitations, it is easy to become frustrated, trust me I know. Do not get discouraged, accept where you are at and enjoy what you CAN do!

Each time you exercise you will feel different. One day you might have a lot of energy and on other days you may not. Adjust accordingly and do what feels good.

Choose a form of movement you enjoy!

  • Walking
  • YOGA

Improve your health one healthy habit at a time!

Start today, CHOOSE to do something for yourself, no one can exercise for you. By exercising you will not only help yourself, but those you associate with and love will benefit, as you release stress, improve health and enjoy your life more fully!




DIY Fabric Carrots Sewing Tutorial

Here it is almost Easter time and what a great time to get out your sweater stash and make SWEATER carrots. Yep, fabric CARROTS! What can’t you make out of upcycled sweaters? Now if you are short on ORANGE SWEATERS or don’t have any felted orange sweaters, these work up great with orange fleece, and orange knits as well.


These make really fun Easter gifts and party favors. Carrots NOT recommended for baby toys! 

Cute to display with a SWEATER BUNNY! Bunny & Bear pattern located in my shop.

Fabric carrots items needed:

  • Orange fabric (felted sweaters, fleece, or knit) If using felted sweaters, make sure they are not too thick and have a little stretch.
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Carrot pattern template (download here)


Fold the fabric over in a diagonal shape and place the pattern edge on the fold where indicated. Cut out.

Place Right Sides Together (RST) and sew the side seam with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Turn inside out and poke the tip of the carrot out with some kind of point tool, being careful not to poke through the fabric.

To make the fabric carrot greens: Using the pattern template, cut out 3-4 leaf squares. Using a zigzag stitch, sew the wire onto the middle of the leaf. (template will show how far down to place the wire).


Cut little slits in the leaf all around the side and top of square. Round off the top corners with your scissors. Fluff the leaf. Repeat to make however many stems you want.


Start filling the carrot with stuffing, a little amount at a time. Using something to push it down. I find the pokey tool just slips through the stuffing and doesn’t push it down. (I found that using the tip of my scissors works well)


Continue to fill the sweater carrot with stuffing until it is full.


Double thread a LONG needle with either orange, brown, or green thread. (I like to use either brown or green to give the dimples in the carrot some contrast). Your preference.


Start stitching so the knot is on the INSIDE. Take basting stitches all the way around the top of the carrot.


End stitching with the thread on the OUTSIDE. Do not KNOT the thread yet.

Take the stems and stick them down the center of the carrot into the stuffing, to the length that you want them.


Now pull the stitching to gather the top of the carrot. Stuff the fabric seam allowance down into the carrot as you put the thread. Now stitch another row or two around the carrot to close the top tightly around the stems.

Take a little stitch where the thread comes out and knot.

(To make a knot, take a small stitch and pull the thread to make a little loop, then wrap the thread around the needle a few times and gently pull to create a knot. Stick the needle back into the carrot right where the knot is and pull out where you want to make the first dimple.

To make little dimples in the sweater carrot: pull the needle out where you want the dimple to start and take a big stitch (these stitches can be small or even wrap all the way around the carrot).

These dimples give the carrot charter and shape. I like to take two stitches in the same place to reinforce the stitch and give it more shape.

Stick the needle down into where you want another dimple to be. Add as many as you want.


Knot the thread again. Now stick the needle back in where the thread comes out. Poke out somewhere and clip thread.

Ta dah! 

Aren’t they cute little fellas?


The pattern template comes with two different sizes. Make up a bunch of sizes and some with different shades of orange.


BUNNY STICKERS shown above on the tag, are available in my Etsy shop.





Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes-Avokado Steamer Basket

If you’re a fan of sweet potatoes, I’ve got a great cooking tip for you: cook them in the Instant Pot! In this post, I’ll show you the recommended pressure cooking settings and give you some tips on some of my favorite steamer baskets.

I know some of you only eat sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving time, all sweetened up and buttery. (Yum, yum)! However, another way to eat them is baked or better yet, steamed.

Did you know that these bright orange gems are not actually potatoes? They are actually a root of the morning glory family. There are hundreds of types of sweet potatoes, and they come in a variety of colors.

You’ll find them cream colored, yellow, red, and even purple. But the variety you’re probably familiar with and see in the store, is the “Covington.” It has pale orange/pink skin and a bright orange pulp.

This root veggie is chock full of nutrition. If you’re not a big fan, I suggest you give them a whirl.

Here is some sweet potato nutritional information

Just one sweet potato gives you 400% of the vitamin A you need each day. Vitamin A helps keep your eyes healthy as well as your immune system. It’s also good for your reproductive system and organs like your kidneys and heart.

Sweet potatoes are rich in:

  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Thiamin
  • Zinc

Carotenoids give sweet potatoes their rich orange color, just like carrots. Carotenoids are an antioxidant, which means they have the power to protect your cells from day-to-day damage. Something you may want to add to your diet, don’t ya think?

How to steam them in the Instant Pot

Finding the right cooking time is the key!

These root veggies come in all sizes, and if you use just a standard time that you find in most tutorials, you may have find your tatos under-cooked. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits all cooking time.

First of all you’ll need to determine the size of the potatoes. If they’re not all similar in size, you’ll want to cut some so they are.

1 -Measure the circumference of the potatoes.

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes steamer basket

2- Place the potatoes on a rack or in a steamer basket.

Let’s talk steamer baskets and racks. I was just introduced to this amazing Avokado silicone steamer basket and I’m totally sold. You can cook all kinds of things in it, not just veggies. Use it on the stove top for pasta. When the pasta is cooked, no need to carry the pan to the sink and drain, just lift it up and drain. Then dump the pasta into a bowl. LOVE it!

I use this basket in my Instant Pot for steamed broccoli, beans, and all kinds of stuff. One more thing, it’s so easy to clean! You gotta love that. No more broccoli pieces stuck in the metal mesh.

You can also use a stainless steel rack, or steamer basket.

3 -Add 1 cup water to the Instant Pot

4 -Set pressure cooking method to (MANUAL) (HIGH PRESSURE)

5 -Flip valve for pressure cooking.

6- Set time

Preferences (a little firm – fully tender)

6 inches:   (15 – 20) minutes

8 inches:   (25 – 30) minutes

10 inches: (35 – 40) minutes

12 inches: (45 – 50) minutes

7- When beeper sounds, use (QUICK RELEASE METHOD) by flipping valve to release steam.

*** Use this guide as a reference and adjust accordingly. It may take a trial run to get them to your preferred texture. If they are not done to your liking, you can always throw them back in for another minute or so.

8- Remove from pan and peel. This is what I love about the silicone steamer basket, YOU DON’T NEED HOT PADS OR MITTS! Simply use the handles to pull out of pan.

9- Serve alone or add your favorite topping.


Play Video



Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes

If you’re a fan of sweet potatoes, I’ve got a great cooking tip for you: cook them in the Instant Pot! Quick to make, tender and delicious!

  • Prep Time1 min
  • Cook Time18 min
  • Total Time19 min


  • Raw, unpeeled sweet potatoes.
  • 1 cup water



Place the potatoes on a rack or in a steamer basket.


Add 1 cup water to the Instant Pot


Set pressure cooking method to (MANUAL) (HIGH PRESSURE)


Flip valve for pressure cooking.


Preferences (a little firm – fully tender)


Set time:

6 inches:   (15 – 20) minutes

8 inches:   (25 – 30) minutes

10 inches: (35 – 40) minutes

12 inches: (45 – 50) minutes


When beeper sounds, use (QUICK RELEASE METHOD) by flipping the valve to release steam.

*** Use this guide as a reference and adjust accordingly. It may take a trial run to get them to your preferred texture. If they are not done to your liking, you can always throw them back in for another minute or so.

Freezing Instructions:


Remove from pan and peel.



Serve alone or add your favorite topping.


Recommended Products:

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes settings