how to make a fabric face mask

How to Make a Fabric Face Mask

I originally created this post in March 2020, but alas, it is still relevant. Follow along to learn how to make a fabric face mask.

Fortunately there are many masks now widely available! If you still are making masks or interested in trying, this design is a good one!

Pleated Face Mask Pattern with Ties or Elastic

This pattern design is as attractive as it is effective. It provides a great fit around a variety of face shapes and sizes.

The key to a good fit seems to be getting the ear loops or elastic the correct length. There is also an option for making ties, which also helps create a better custom fit.

Below are links to another face mask design plus additional options for add-ons:

Fitted Face Mask free pattern HERE
Adding a Nose Piece
tutorial HERE

Fabric Knit Ties tutorial HERE

Face Mask Pattern and Designs

Here in Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Allina Health, along with several community partners, were asking for masks made with a CDC-compliant pattern.

It’s important to use a pattern design that is effective at protecting you.

Easy and Quick Face Mask

I am sharing their pleated mask pattern in this post, but I have changed up the workflow a tiny bit to make it faster and easier for you. If you want to check out the original directions, click here: Sew Good Goods

Fabrics best for homemade face masks

I am using 100% cotton print fabric for the front of the face mask and soft, white cotton for the inside or backing.

The tshirt lining fabric feels great on my face both in the hot summer and cold Minnesota winter, and allows me to breathe! 100% cotton t-shirt material also works great for the front and knit ear loops too.

As another backing option, they also suggest flannel depending on the weather where you are.

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.☺️


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

Sewing Supplies List

2 – 9 x 6-inch Fabric Pieces
100% cotton for outside &
cotton flannel or tshirt for lining
Elastic for ear loops
2-7-in pieces for adult face, fit to size, or
Knit Fabric for Knit Ear Loops
Straight Sewing Pins
Matching Thread
Sewing Scissors HERE
or
Rotary Cutter HERE
Sewing Board HERE
or
Safe Cutting Surface HERE

A Sewing Machine
Ruler
or Measuring Tape
Pencil
Iron
 not pictured
Cardboard or
Paper Pattern optional

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.

Getting the Correct Face Mask and Ear Loop Size

The 7-inch length for ear loops seem to fit the average adult face.

I have friends with petite faces that needed to go a little shorter and a wider, larger face may need longer.

I did not make child sizes yet, but I found these suggestions online if you’d like to try!

For children

2-4 years old Use 2 pieces of fabric measuring 4 x 6 inches & 2 pieces of 1/8th inch elastic measuring 5 inches long.

4-12 years old Use 2 pieces of fabric measuring 5 x 7 inches & 2 pieces of 1/8th inch elastic measuring 6 inches long.

If your child has a wider face, you may want to use longer elastic. If this is for someone you know, the best approach is to measure or test before you cut.

For those of you who are donating, it’s faster to cut multiples of fronts, backs, and elastic at the same time. This makes production much more efficient.

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 or knit ties 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 the 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.

Note The white fabric in the photos is t-shirt fabric used for lining.


3. Turn the mask right side out through the opening.


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. If you do not have an iron, no problem! Skip it or (as a reader suggested) try your hair flat iron.


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, below is a step by step tutorial.

Fabric Ties or Elastic Ear Loop Ideas

There are a few options for ear loops or ties depending on your preference and what materials you have at your disposal.

You can use four fabric ties (each with finished dimensions of 18 inches long and 1/4-1/2 inches wide), or cotton twill tape or make your own knit or cotton fabric ties.

Below are links to ear ties or loop ideas, plus a nose piece option, and a more fitted face mask design

Fabric Knit Ties tutorial HERE
Cotton Fabric Ties
tutorial HERE
Adding a Nose Piece
 tutorial HERE
Fitted Face Mask
 free pattern HERE

To make long cotton fabric ties, 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. See tutorial HERE

Or if you prefer to make soft knit ties, gather up old tshirts or purchase 100% cotton knit fabric. See tutorial HERE

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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The blue-colored text contains affiliate links. See the shop page for more information.

Disclaimers

I am not a medical expert.

The masks in this tutorial are not meant to replace N95 masks or any professional medical equipment used in healthcare or medical facilities.

For expert advice on homemade masks and how to properly wear a homemade mask, see the CDC website.

Nonmedical versus Medical grade face masks

Please note, this is not a medical-grade mask or medical grade nose piece feature. Medical grade face masks and features are usually for those working on the healthcare frontline.

Nonmedical, reusable fabric face masks and attributes are for use to the general public.

When you are wearing it, make sure the cloth face mask covers your nose and mouth with a snug fit that does not touch your lips. Also, remember to wash your DIY face mask in hot water after you wear it in public.

Warning

This tutorial is for educational purposes only. These mask ideas and designs or anything created from this tutorial is not intended to be used to create a medical or similar device.

These mask ideas and designs or anything created from this tutorial is not intended, nor has it been tested, to reduce or eliminate the transmission of any respiratory or airborne pathogen, allergen, or any type of particle or droplet, and on that basis, should not be used for any such purpose.

Cindy Munson, Be Brave and Bloom, and/or bebraveandbloom.com makes no warranties express or implied, that this tutorial, design, or any product created therefrom is intended, or is suitable for use to reduce or eliminate the transmission of any respiratory or airborne pathogen, allergen, or any type of particle or droplet.

Any user of this tutorial, design, or any product created from for anything other than educational purposes assumes the risk of serious injury or death.

For information on how to reduce the transmission of pathogens, please consult a qualified and competent health care professional.

24 comments on “How to Make a Fabric Face Mask

    1. Hi Betty, I did not make child sizes yet, but I found these suggestions online if you’d like to try them! 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!

    1. 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.

  1. 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

    1. 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!

  2. 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

    1. 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!

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

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

  5. I guess I posted it in the wrong place. so I’m ask again that measurements for children that says 5 by 7 is that seven from ear-to-ear in 5 from nose to Chin cuz I’m never found a size four children and I’ve been looking everywhere so you could you please help me on the size my grandson is 8 and he’s got a pretty big head but. But I notice grown-ups is 9 by 6 so I was thinking cutting out in half could you please help me out on the size of the material and elastic thank you so very much and stay safe and God bless you

    1. Hi Tandy, I would try to use 2 pieces of fabric measuring 5 x 7 inches & 2 pieces of 1/8th inch elastic measuring 6 inches long each. You may need to adjust if your grandson has a fuller face, but this may be a good starting point. Every face is different so it is hard to say! Hope this helps. Good luck.

  6. Thanks for sharing this mask pattern. At the beginning of covid 19 lockdown I started to use this pattern and then advanced to another. The best tip you gave was to tack the elastic down first. I don’t know why that never occurred to me and didn’t see it anywhere else. Now my sister loves this type and I have just made her 7 using your tacking tip.

    Thanks so much for the detailed tutorial. All of your pictures were very helpful. Be safe and well!

    1. Wow, thanks for letting me know, Gale! That means a lot to me. I love shortcuts and never want to waste time, that’s the main reason I added that step because it seemed faster in the long run. I’m so glad it helped you!

    1. For sure! You could definitely try it. I would cut the lining fabric appropriately 1/2 inch narrower. Finish both ends of the lining and the outer fabric by folding over once (or twice?) and topstitching. Then stitch only the top and bottom of the mask together all the way across, do not close the ends. Continue to follow the directions. Let me know if you try that?

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