how to make a fabric face mask

How to Make a Fabric Face Mask

It’s “Day 7” in the U.S. COVID pandemic. 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

One mask takes 2 – 9” x 6” pieces of fabric
(100% tightly woven cotton for the front and
100% high-quality cotton flannel or other soft 100% cotton for the back)
Two 7-inch pieces of elastic (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
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. I cut multiples of fronts, backs and elastic at the same time. 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 or send an email to

Virtual hugs,

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