How to Sew Your Own Simple Face Mask

Updated on April 4, 2020
Kendrick Haunt profile image

Kendrick has been sewing and crafting for the past 10 years.

What You Should Know About Cloth Face Masks

With the high demand for face masks at this time, and the CDC now recommending that everyone wear a face mask or covering while in public, the best way to get your hands on a mask is to make your own! Also, they're way more fun and stylish than any surgical mask you can buy at a store.

Tips for Wearing Your Mask

  • These masks are not made to block out COVID-19 and will not stop your from contracting the virus. What they will do, however, is keep you from spreading any illness or germs you may have. The idea is that if everyone wears a mask while around others, fewer carriers who don't show symptoms of the virus will be able to spread it to others.
  • With that being said, you still do need to be careful while wearing your mask. Treat it like an extension of your face: Don't touch it! And if you do, be sure to wash your hands right away.
  • It's also important that you wash your mask every day. Because it's reusable and made of cloth, it can hold on to germs. Washing it is as simple as using hot water and laundry detergent in your kitchen sink!

Now for the fun stuff!

What You'll Need

  • Fabric - One piece measuring 15" by 8"
  • 1/4" Elastic - Two 8" lengths
  • Coordinating Thread
  • Sewing Machine - This is highly recommended, but this project can be sewn by hand
  • Iron and Ironing Board - You want your mask to look good and crisp
  • Marking Pen/Pencil
  • Measuring Tape

Now that you've collected all your materials, it's time to start sewing your mask!

Step 1: Fold Your Fabric

To begin, take your fabric and fold it in half, right sides together, and press. You should now have an 8" by 7.5" rectangle.

Step 2: Stitch Two Seams

Stitching 1/4" from the edge, sew along the folded edge, and the opposite edge so that you have a seam on both 8" sides of the rectangle.

Step 3: Turn the Raw Edge

You should now have a fabric cylinder. With the cylinder still inside out, turn the raw edge of the fabric at the open ends towards the inside 1/4" and press the edges so that they lay flat. Do this on both sides.

Step 4: Turn Right Side Out

Turn your cylinder right side out and iron so you have a crisp rectangle, and all raw edges are on the inside.

The open ends are on the right and left of the rectangle.
The open ends are on the right and left of the rectangle.

Step 5: Add the Edge Stitch

Edge stitch along the top and bottom (closed edges) of the rectangle so that the edges are nicely finished.

On my sewing machine I can move my needle over to get a smaller seam; on some machines you simply have to move the fabric.
On my sewing machine I can move my needle over to get a smaller seam; on some machines you simply have to move the fabric.

Step 6: Add the Elastic

Now we add the elastic, and the mask begins to take shape. Each corner of the mask will have elastic attached to it, one piece per side. Insert one end of the elastic about 1/4" into the open end of the fabric on the corner and pin. Take the other end of the same piece of elastic and pin it into the other corner on the same side of the mask. Be sure there are no twists in the elastic! Once the elastic is pinned in place, edge stitch so that the open sides are sewn closed.

This is one corner of the mask.
This is one corner of the mask.
This is how the mask should look with the elastic fully pinned on.
This is how the mask should look with the elastic fully pinned on.

Step 7: Place the Pleats

This may be the most complicated step. You will be placing pleats to make the mask more fitted to the human face. To start, place your measuring tape along the side of the mask with the elastic on it.

Use your marking pencil to mark on both sides at:

1.5" 2.25" 3" 3.75" 4.5" 5.25"

Be sure to start measuring at the top of the mask from each side!

Now, fold your fabric to connect the marks. The 2.25" mark should be folded up to touch the 1.5" mark, the 3.75" mark touches the 3" mark, and the 5.25" mark touches the 4.5" mark. The excess fabric goes to the back side of the mask and is folded up towards the top of the mask and pinned, as shown in the pictures below.

Repeat this on both sides of the mask, so you have three even pleats running across the length of your mask.

It really looks like a surgical mask now!
It really looks like a surgical mask now!

Step 8: Add the Final Stitch

Back to the sewing machine! Along each pleated edge, stitch 1/4" from the edge of the mask to hold the whole thing together.

How to Create Variations

This mask is all about having fun and making it your own! So here are a few fun and practical variations that you can make if you so choose:

  1. You can make your mask reversible! Simply start with two different pieces of fabric, 8" by 7.5 inches each, instead of the one larger piece that you fold in half. This way you can change your mask with your mood!
  2. If you don't have any elastic around you can use old t-shirts or scrap fabric for straps instead. Simply cut four long, thin strips of fabric and place them in each corner of the mask, and then tie them behind your head!

Ultimately, it's your mask, so make it your own!

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • ThriftyisNifty profile image

        ThriftyisNifty 

        5 days ago from South Carolina

        Thank you so much for this article. I don't know where it popped up, but I am just finishing making 2 masks. If you revise your article, please show a stronger pattern on the right side vs. wrong. I always seem to sew the right side to the wrong and get easily mixed up.

        I really do not enjoy sewing, but your article was clear and pretty easy for me. Excellent photos.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        7 days ago from Southern Illinois

        This is great. I wouldn't have known about your hub, but HP. featured it in their weekly letter. Thank you for sharing this.

      • DREAM ON profile image

        DREAM ON 

        7 days ago

        I see no comments. Maybe they are hiding behind their own face mask. I know I loved your hub. Thank you for making it look so easy. Have a great day,

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