Sanford accepting homemade face masks

ABERDEEN, S.D. (Press Release) – Sanford Health is now accepting homemade cloth face masks, in addition to N95 masks, following a recent change in recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now all health care personnel, regardless of their role, are encouraged to wear face masks. For Sanford Health workers who are in contact with other people but not providing direct care to patients, cloth masks may be used to help limit transmission of the coronavirus by asymptomatic people.

Acceptable cloth face masks must be made from: quilting cotton, t-shirts, denim, duck cloth, canvas or twill.  The CDC has published step-by-step instructions to make a face covering.

Instructions for sewing an adult face mask in standard and extra-large sizes that Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society health care workers can wear:


  • Cotton fabric: First cut 6” (width of fabric, or WOF), then sub-cut 9” or 10” depending on the size you are making.  You will get enough to make 2 masks out of each WOF cut. If you have scraps of fabric, you can just cut to the measurements. Try to make sure the fabric design runs horizontally. For the adult size, you will need 2 pieces 9” x 6” each; for the extra-large size, you will need 2 pieces 10” x 6” each.
  • Rope elastic, or beading cord elastic will work; you may also use 1/8” flat elastic. Each mask needs 2 pieces of elastic. If you are using corded or round elastic, tie a knot at each end so it does not slip out of the seams. If you are using flat, no need to knot. You’ll need 2 pieces of 7” for standard mask, or 2 pieces of 9” for the extra-large mask.
  • Thread
  • Rotary cutter or fabric scissors
  • Ruler
  • Cutting mat (if available)
  • Sewing machine
  • Bread tie


  1. Take one of the pieces of fabric, and on the wrong side in the center of the very top of the long side, zigzag a bread tie. That way when you sew the two together, the bread tie will be in place.
  2. Start with right sides of fabric together.
  3. Starting at the center of the bottom edge, sew to the first corner and stop. Sew the elastic with the edge out into the corner. A few stitches forward and back will hold this. The elastic will be on the inside of the fabric pieces.
  4. Sew to the next corner, stop, and bring the other end of the same elastic to the corner and sew a few stitches forward and back.
  5. Now sew across the top of the mask to the next corner. Make sure the bread tie is between the seam and outside edge so it will stay in place. Again, put an elastic with the edge out.
  6. Sew to the next corner and sew in the other end of the same elastic.
  7. Sew across the bottom, leaving about 1.5” to 2” open. Stop, and cut the thread. Turn inside out. Now you will have 2 loops on the outside with the elastic. Pin 3 tucks on each side of the mask. Make sure the tucks are the same direction.
  8. Top stitch all the way around the mask to secure the tucks.

There is no need to prewash the fabric before or after creating the mask. Sanford will wash them before using.

In Aberdeen, donations can made by calling (605) 626-4200 to coordinate drop off.

“There is a true outpouring of generosity across our communities during these very difficult times,” said Ashley Erickson, Executive Director at Sanford Aberdeen. “We are so thankful for the help our communities are offering as Sanford’s staff works around the clock to offer the best care for all of our patients.”

These alternative face masks will be made available to Sanford and Good Samaritan Society employees who do not perform direct care to patients and residents. Patients such as new moms and visitors can also use the masks.