How to Make a Fabric Face Mask
I originally created this post in March, but alas, it is still relevant. Fortunately there are many masks now widely available! If you still are making masks or interested in trying, this design is a good one! The key to a good fit seems to be getting the ear loops the correct length, as all faces vary. Follow along to learn how to make a fabric face mask.
Below are links to another face mask design plus additional options for add-ons:
Face Mask 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. I am sharing their pattern in this post, but I have changed up the workflow a tiny bit to make it easier for you. If you want to check out the original directions, click here: Sew Good Goods
What fabrics are best for 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 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. Affiliate links in blue.
Sewing Supplies List
2 – 9 x 6-inch Fabric Pieces, outside & lining fabric,
100% cotton outside & cotton flannel or tshirt lining
Elastic for ear loops 2, 7-in pieces for adult face. Fit to size, or
Knit Fabric for ear loops or ties
Straight Sewing Pins
Sewing Scissors HERE or
Rotary Cutter HERE
Sewing Board HERE or
Safe Cutting Surface HERE
A Sewing Machine
Ruler or Measuring Tape
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 alittle 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 ages 4-12: Use 2 pieces of fabric measuring 5 x 7 inches & 2 pieces of 1/8th inch elastic measuring 6 inches long. 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. 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. (The white fabric in the photos is t-shirt fabric 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:
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 it 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 email@example.com.
For More Information
* Some products contain affiliate links. See the shop page for more information.
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.
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.