how to make a fabric face mask

How to Make a Fabric Face Mask

It’s “Day 7”. In times like this, it’s easy to feel helpless. I’ve been trying to stay alert and help out as I can. One critical need that has emerged over the past several days is for more personal protective equipment. The medical community is running out of supplies to stay safe as they diagnose and treat patients. A huge shortage is for face masks. So, along with others across the country, I have begun volunteering my sewing skills. If you are looking to help too, here’s an easy tutorial for how to make a fabric face mask.

Many organizations are calling for volunteers to make and donate fabric masks. If you are interested, I would suggest contacting your local hospitals and/or healthcare groups or go to their websites, first. There are so many mask designs and many groups have specific patterns and requirements. This way you can make exactly what they are asking for.

Here in Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Allina Health, along with several community partners, are asking for masks made with a CDC-compliant pattern. I will be sharing their pattern in this post, but I have changed up the workflow a tiny bit to make it easier for me. If you want to check out the original directions, click here: Sew Good Goods

I am using cotton print fabric for the front of the mask and soft, white cotton for the inside or backing. As another backing option, they also suggest flannel. One yard of fabric is enough to make approximately 25 masks. Try to use what you have or connect with friends who can share supplies with you so you can stay home, social distance properly and be safe.☺️

Here’s what you will need to make a bunch of fabric face masks.

Sewing Supplies Materials List

2 – 9” x 6” pieces of fabric (outer fabric & lining fabric)
(100% tightly woven cotton for the outside &
100% high-quality cotton flannel or other soft 100% cotton for the lining)
Two 7-inch pieces of elastic, for an average adult face (1/8, 1⁄4, 3/8 flat, or thin cord)
If elastic is unavailable see bottom of post for instructions using fabric ties.
Cardboard or Paper Pattern, optional
Straight Sewing Pins
Matching Thread
Rotary Cutter or Sewing Scissors
Ruler or Measuring Tape
Pencil
Iron, not pictured

Materials Needed for One Fabric Face Mask

In the photo above are the supplies you’ll need for just one mask. First, you’ll want to cut your 9” x 6” fabric pieces. The rotary cutter works super slick because it’s all straight cuts. Of course a scissors works also. Then, cut the 7 inch elastic strips. This length seems to fit the average adult face. I have friends with petite faces that needed to go alittle shorter and a wider, larger face may need longer. If this is for someone you know, you may want to measure or test before you cut. I cut multiples of fronts, backs and elastic at the same time. (I was donating these.) This makes production much faster.  Now you are ready to pull out the sewing machine and officially begin.

1. On the front fabric of your mask, tack or baste each end of both
 pieces of elastic in the 4 corners. See the photo for reference. Please note: if you are using cord elastic, be sure to knot it on both ends so that it securely attaches when sewn.

2. With fabric right sides together,
 using a 1/4 inch seam, sew all the way around the perimeter of the rectangle leaving a 2-inch opening on one long side for turning.

3. Turn the mask right side out.

4. Iron flat, pressing the seam allowances from the 2-inch opening to the inside and opening up all the seams as you press. Optional, pin the opening closed.

5. Make 3 small pleats (folds) on each side of the mask. Be sure they are all going in the same direction. Pin each pleat in place.

6. Sew all the way around the mask using a 1⁄4 inch seam allowance. After that, stitch all the way around the mask again, right on top of the previous stitching.

Step by Step Instructions

For a condensed quick start guide for how to make a fabric mask, here’s a step by step guide.

Using Fabric Ties instead of Elastic

What do I do if elastic is not available? You can use four fabric ties (each with finished dimensions of 18 inches long and 1/4-1/2 inches wide). You can use cotton twill tape or make your own fabric ties.

To make a fabric tie, cut a strip of 100% cotton 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide, and 18 inches long. Iron down 1/2 inch on one end, then iron the fabric strip in half the long way. Next, open the fold and iron both long edges to meet in the middle.

You can then return to the directions above. Tack or baste the unfinished ends
 of each tie in each corner about 1/2 inch away from, and parallel to the long edge of the fabric. Keep the remaining length of the ties away from the edges of the fabric so they don’t get caught in the stitching of the mask.

Take care of yourself and thanks for helping to ensure the safety of our health care workers and community! If you have questions or need more information, go to sewgoodgoods.org or send an email to sewgoodgoods@gmail.com.

Virtual hugs,
xo,
Cindy

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14 Comments
  • Betty giblin
    Posted at 17:43h, 18 April Reply

    What’s a child size measurement?

    • cindy
      Posted at 19:15h, 18 April Reply

      Hi Betty, I did not make child sizes yet, but I found these suggestions online if you’d like to try! For children ages 4-12: Use 2 pieces of fabric measuring 5 x 7 inches & 2 pieces of 1/8th inch elastic measuring 6 inches long. For children ages 2-4: Use 2 pieces of fabric measuring 4 x 6 inches & 2 pieces of 1/8th inch elastic measuring 5 inches long.
      If your child has a wider face, you may want to use longer elastic. Hope this helps!😃

  • Claire McCullough
    Posted at 03:08h, 28 May Reply

    This was much easier than some of the others I have seen. Thank you for sharing!

    • cindy
      Posted at 17:35h, 28 May Reply

      That’s awesome news Claire! I am so happy it was helpful! Thanks for letting me know.😃

  • Lynn
    Posted at 17:12h, 28 May Reply

    Why do we need to cut 2 main pieces when it shows you only using 1?

    • cindy
      Posted at 20:02h, 28 May Reply

      Hi Lynn, Sorry to confuse you! In my tutorial, the colored pattern fabric is the outside-facing panel and the white fabric is the inside lining. I hope that helps clarify.

  • Janet Cozens
    Posted at 14:09h, 08 June Reply

    Great question Lynn Confused .com Haaaa
    But an Amazing reply though Cindy and what an Amazing website as well
    Happy Sewing and Please Stay Safe

    Januk

    • cindy
      Posted at 15:58h, 08 June Reply

      Janet thank you so much!😃 I didn’t realize that the white lining may be hard to see in the pictures. Happy Sewing to you too!

  • M
    Posted at 01:27h, 13 June Reply

    Thank you for sharing this easy pattern. Love the fabrics. Could you give me an idea of the pleat depth or the finished width. (The section between the elastic next to the ear.)
    Thanks again

    • cindy
      Posted at 06:04h, 13 June Reply

      Thanks so much! The dimensions tend to vary because it’s handmade (never perfect)☺️ but the pleat overlap is usually between 1/4 – 1/2 inch and the finished height overall (the sides by the elastic) is typically 2 3/4 – 3 inches high. If you have extra scraps of fabric, play around to see what size works best for you. Good luck!🌟

  • Christine Symes
    Posted at 09:16h, 15 June Reply

    Please can I ask whether it is essential to use 100% cotton. I have plenty of unused fabric pieces from my quilting days, both patterned and plain (close weave). Some will be 100% cotton but some polycotton 50/50. The fabrics are all mixed up as I’ve stored them according to colour. To look at them I cannot tell the difference between cotton and polycotton.. If it absolutely has to be 100% cotton then I cannot use any of my beautiful fabric and will have to buy more. Thank you – it’s really important to me to know as I’m dying to get started!

    • cindy
      Posted at 16:41h, 15 June Reply

      Hi Christine! I am not a medical professional by any means, but I have read that 100% cotton is recommended. Ultimately the decision is up to you and the people who will wear your masks. 💖

  • Melody Juarez
    Posted at 20:15h, 22 June Reply

    Very easy and I made both sizes without a problem! The smaller ones fit my nephews great!
    Thanks

    • cindy
      Posted at 20:53h, 22 June Reply

      Awesome!! That’s so great to hear. Thanks for sharing Melody! Stay safe and healthy.😃

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