Las Olas Surfing for Women
While sheltering-in-place in California, we heard there’s a worldwide shortage of face masks. Since we can’t go surfing, we may as well make some non-medical grade masks for our neighbors. Check out our simple design below. It’s open source, so improvements are welcome. Safe safe and warm!

Para nuestras amigas en México

Para una versión en español, has click aquí.

Las Olas Surfing for Women
Las Olas Surfing for Women
Here’s Shaq heroically ringing up chips and salsa during shelter-in-place. Shaq, you’ve always been “essential services” to us!

The Humble Eco-Tote

I’m Chris, operations manager at Las Olas Surfing for Women. As our team knows, I’ve never met a project I couldn’t over-think, over-logo, or over-laminate. Maybe that’s why I don’t teach surfing.
My friend Suave pointed me to Dr. Federico Baena Q, an orthodontist who practices north of Mexico City. He demonstrates how to make non-medical masks using an everyday material that helps to keep contaminated moisture out, but is still breathable. It’s commonly used for reusable grocery totes.

My friends at the local market let me test their reusable grocery tote and sure enough–the material is breathable and repels water. 

Some pluses & minuses

+ Super easy to make with or without a sewing machine
+ Common material that doesn’t fray or need hemming
+ People automatically social distance from me 
+ Washable with soap and water
+ Protection against a full frontal coughs or sneezes in either direction
+ Production can scale up quickly if you need many
+ Softens with use
+ Comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time
+ Accessorizes with almost any outfit
– Not intuitive when first putting on, but easy to learn
– Strap slips down if not positioned correctly
– Adjustable nose clamp would be nice
– May not fit over beards or large heads
– Loses water resistance after a wearing for a week. Dr. Baena Q says double up the fabric here.
– Non-medical. Not approved by any authority. Do not attempt surgery.
More and more reports are surfacing proving the advantages of some form of face protection. In fact, some health departments are requiring face masks in any public setting. If that strategy trends, we will need lots of masks. I look forward to your improvements, but in the meantime, make a mask!

Is it the right tote material?

  1. Moisture Test

Make a small pocket in the material & fill it with water. If it doesn’t absorb moisture, go to step #2.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

2. Breath Test

Tightly cover your mouth with the material & breathe normally. If you can breath through it, you’ve got the right stuff!

Las Olas Surfing for Women

What You Need


• Waterproof, breathable grocery bag cut into a 7 X 9” panel 

• 1/4 – 3/4” wide elastic cut 12“ long (any stretchy, sewable material works.)

• Thread


• Pencil, pen, or chalk for marking the material

• Scissors or sharp blade & straight edge for cutting the material

• Clothes iron, ironing board, & a piece of cotton cloth for protecting the iron

• Clothes pins or paper clips (optional)

• Sewing machine or needle & thread for hand stitching


• Sealable plastic bag for delivering

• 70% or higher isopropyl alcohol or similar disinfectant for sterilizing mask and bag

• Spray bottle to spray disinfectant


Before you start, you’ll need to disinfect your hands, your tools, and your workspace.

• Don’t make a mask for someone if you’re sick.

• If you’re not using gloves, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water. To time how long to scrub, some folks sing Happy Birthday twice. I prefer to see how far I can get through Bohemian Rhapsody

• Wipe down your tools and surfaces with disinfectant. I use 91% isopropyl alcohol for my hands and solvent-resistant surfaces like metal and glass, hydrogen peroxide for wood and sensitive plastics, and diluted bleach for porcelain.

• If you’re making many masks, be sure to store them in a sterilized, sealable container. We use a heat sealer at Las Olas, but a ziploc storage bag works, too. I spritz a little hydrogen peroxide in each bag before sealing it up.


Cut to 7 X 9″ | 18 X 23cm

If you’re careful you can get three or four masks from a single tote.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Fold in Half Lengthwise

The piece should now measure 3 ½ X 9″.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Iron Flat at Low Temps

Set iron to “Synthetic”. It’s usually the lowest temperature. Press until flat.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Fold Back 1/3

Just fold one half back ⅓, so you have ⅔ remaining.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Fold the Top Panel in Half

You should have three even panels ready to press with the iron.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Press Flat

You are halfway done with your accordion. After it’s pressed flat, flip over and repeat the folds.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Repeat Same Folds on Other Side

Fold the other half into thirds the same way and press flat with iron.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Press Flat

That’s it! You’ve made a little accordion panel.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Pro Tip

Use a common clothes pin or paper clip to hold the accordion in form.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Need a break or can we move on?

Insert Elastic

Locate the middle fold and set your elastic ½” in. You’re ready to sew.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Sew Across All Panels & Elastic

Using a sewing machine or by hand, sew a straight stitch back and forth three times across all panels and the elastic.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Repeat on Other End

If you’re happy with your first stitches, repeat on the other side.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Open Mask

Using the accordion feature, open the mask and admire your handiwork. It will make a cup that will cover your nose, mouth, and chin. 


The Magic Gusset

To help the elastic strap aim upwards on your face, you’ll need to sew a small gusset where the elastic enters the mask. With the mask open, fold one of the inner edge panels 45°.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

Tack the Gusset

With the gusset folded at 45° in place, sew a straight stitch across the width of the folded mask and elastic. Make three passes for good measure and be sure to lock stitch. Repeat on the other side.

Las Olas Surfing for Women

How About That Gusset?

You can see how that gusset aims the elastic strap towards the top of the head. 

Las Olas Surfing for Women

That’s it! Now make a bunch more.

Put on your mask

1. After washing your hands, open the mask to create the cup.
2. With the gusset side (short side) up, place the cup over your chin and nose.
3. Hold mask against against your chin and nose with one hand while pulling the elastic strap up to the top back of your head.
4. Adjust the strap so it lays flat and stays in place.

Las Olas Surfing for Women
For Removal
Pull strap to remove. Wash with hot water and soap. Let dry overnight.

Mask in Action

Here’s John at the deli counter. Is he smiling? Is he frowning? We never know. Just another great feature of the mask.

Las Olas Surfing for Women


Check out #Masks4ALL for solid information about the success of face masks in the Czech Republic and around the world.

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