Facemask: A picture tutorial.

My allergies have been incredible this year, and by that I mean that they have been worse than they have ever been.  (Please, please, please do not suggest medical advice here.  Much appreciated.)  I see an allergy specialist who gives me 2 shots, 2-3 times a week to help with my symptoms.  They have helped a lot; however, Juniper Ash (Cedar Fever!) here in Austin is 6 times worse than average this year, and boy oh boy, do I feel it. She suggested that I wear a face mask when I go outside to help reduce the amount of pollen that is going into my lungs and sinuses.  After going to a few different stores to purchase some, I found that many other Austinites had already bought them out. No worries, right?  I know how to sew.  I will just make one.  When I finished, I had many requests for a tutorial, so here you go:

Materials needed:

  1. 1 piece of fabric measuring 8” x 14”.  Until you get familiar with this tutorial, I would suggest a non-directional print.  One that has a scattered image printed on the surface such as the one shown.
  2. 2 strips of fabric measuring 1.75” (1 3/4”) x 6”.  This will be the accent edge piece.  It can be the same fabric as the main piece or a small-scale print or solid.
  3. Two pieces of 1/4” width elastic.  These will be about 6 1/2” long.
  4. Ruler
  5. Fabric marking tool.
  6. Pins
  7. Scissors
  8. Sewing machine, threaded.

Fold the main piece of fabric in half, right sides together.  Sew along the 8 inch width edge, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.


Turn this tube shape inside out, so that the right side of the fabric is now on the outside.  Press this flat, keeping the seam to one end of the flattened tube.

Place the tube of fabric so that the raw edges are on each side and the seam edge is at the bottom. Using a ruler, measure and mark a line 1 1/2 inches from the bottom edge. Make another line 1 inch above this line, or 2 1/2 inches from the seam edge.  Don’t use a pencil as you see in the picture, use a fabric pen, or fabric chalk.  I used a pencil for illustration purposes.

Fold the seam edge up (or down in this picture, as I turned it upside down…sorry) making the crease on the first line that you just marked.  You should have 1 1/2 inch edge here.

Flip the tube piece over.  Match the crease edge to the second line that you made earlier.  Press.  The pleat that you just created will be 1/2 inch deep. Pin the pleat down on each raw edge end.

Now you will mark the lines for the second pleat. Mark a line measuring 1/2” from the top crease of the last pleat, (or 2″ from the bottom seam edge).  It was difficult to see the top of the crease in this picture, so look at the finger indicator above.

Now mark another line one inch above the last line that you made (or 3 inches above the seam edge).  Using these lines as your guide, repeat the steps that you followed to make the first pleat.

You should now have two pleats, each one being 1/2 inch deep.  Repeat the steps you used to make the second pleat, so that you end up with three pleats total. Press.

This is what your main piece should look like at this point.

Using a 1/8” seam allowance, baste stitch the raw edges.

Repeat this step so that both raw edges are basted as shown in the picture above.

Pin one elastic piece to the raw edge, making sure not to twist it before baste stitching it to the edge at both ends. I placed mine 1/8” from the top and bottom edge of the main pleated piece. Baste elastic in place 1/8” inch from raw edge.  Repeat, to attach remaining elastic piece to the other raw edge.

Your pleated piece should now resemble the picture above.

Fold each accent strip of fabric lengthwise in half, matching raw edges, as shown in the picture above.  Press.

Place the strip on top of the elastic.  Make sure the raw edge is facing outward, and the creased edge is facing the main body of the pleated piece.  It will be a little longer on the top and bottom and that is okay, as we are going to fold some of that to the back.

Tuck about 1/2” of the top edge to the back as shown in the picture above.


Pin all layers in place.

Trim the other end of the accent strip, so that it is about 1/2” longer than the bottom edge of the main pleated piece.

Fold the bottom edge of the accent fabric strip to the back, just as you did with the top edge.

Pin both ends in place.

Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch the length of the entire edge, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.

Flip the accent fabric strip outward away from the main pleated piece, then press.

This is what the mask should look like if you flip it over.

fold the entire accent piece down toward the main pleated piece, encasing the raw seam. Press. Pin edge down.

If you are a good sewist, you will change out your presser foot to a straight stitch foot.  If you are lazy, like me, you will keep that 1/4″ presser foot on your machine and struggle your way through this next step. 😀 Stitch this accent strip down to the main body of the mask, sewing along the edge, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.

This step isn’t necessary.  It just gives it a nice finished look, and helps to give that elastic a little extra stability. Stitch down the edge of the mask close to the elastic side.

The front of your mask should now resemble the above picture.

The back of your mask should look like this.  Following the previous steps, attach the remaining accent fabric piece to the other end of the mask.


You should now have a reusable, washable mask.

It took a few hours to put this free tutorial together for you.  For this reason, I am greatly appreciative for any mentions that you can give me if you should use this tutorial. If you post a picture on social media, you can use the hashtag: #buttoncountermask. Feel free to share this page, and please tag me in your pictures so that I can see your beautiful creations.  Last, I appreciate constructive criticism, so if you notice something that doesn’t look right, or does not make sense, bring it to my attention.  I am happy to clarify any steps where you may have questions.


P.S. Obviously, the elastic length can be adjusted to your facial measurements.

P.P.S. This is an adult size mask.  My 8 year old daughter has requested a mask as well, so I will be providing measurements soon for kiddo size masks.  Stay tuned.  Thank you!


22 thoughts on “Facemask: A picture tutorial.

  1. I really feel for you with your allergies. I too have severe allergies which caused me to stop working. On the plus side, I get to do more sewing. The last thing any of us needs is advice from other people! Thanks for the tutorial. The finished product looks great.

    • Sue, were you able to make one of these? I hope you did! I apologize for not saying anything here, but I am so glad that you came to check this mask out. I have used these a lot. (I even have one for cleaning around the house, with really helps with those dust mite allergies!) Finally, yes, while most people have only the best of intentions, unsolicited medical advice (especially from uncredentialed sources) is very rarely helpful.

    • Thank you Eva. I often wonder if I am being clear, or if my showing is difficult for others to follow. Your feedback is very helpful. I hope that you were able to use this easily enough. Have a great day!

  2. Hello! I absolutely love this!! I was wondering if you had time to get the kiddo’s mask measurements yet?I have a 5 year old that could use some of these. Thank you!!

    • Jackie, yikes!!! I never did. Guess what I am going to do today, other than decorate the Christmas tree? Yep, measure, cut, sew. Thank you so much for kindly reminding me. I appreciate your reminder. Thank you!

    • Paulette, I wish that no one had to endure cancer treatments. What a wonderful friend you are that you were able to share these. I hope they were at the very least useful, but I imagine that your friend was thankful to have these from you.

  3. I don’t have allergies (but I feel for you), but every time I fly on an airplane I catch a cold! When we went to Australia earlier this year I wore a storebought face mask and low and behold NO cold on this trip. So I am going to start wearing one whenever I fly. I was wondering if you find the homemade ones as effective as the store-bought ones?

    • Thank you for your kind comments. I hope these have been helpful to you on your trips. I was surprised to come to the conclusion that the homemade ones were just as effective as the store bought ones; probably even better is that they don’t gap and sweat like the store bought. I have had great luck with mine. Maybe it is because they fit to the face better, and have doubled layers for filteration (?) I will state that no scientific experimentation was done to come to these conclusions, only experience. So, if any children need a science experiment idea out there… 😉

  4. I made a mask with a directional print. The only add in for your tutorial is to have people work on the side of the material that has the up side down motifs with the seamed edge to bottom to build the pleats. Great tutorial. Thank you for the idea.

    • Deb, thank you for mentioning this in my poorly monitored blog. :D. I never did get around to mentioning this to those that want the directional, and I thank you for sharing this information here. Also, I hope the tutorial has been useful to you.

  5. I love this. My friend has to wear one of these because of her disease. I think I’m going to put in a dryer sheet after it’s gone thru dryer cycle so it will filter better but smell good. Thank you. Great explanation

    • I am so glad that you are able to use this. I too love that I can wash and dry it. The advantage to cotton is that it filters so well, and is soft on the skin, but the one disadvantage is the wrinkling. I don’t mind a quick press, but I can see where others might object to that step. 🙂

  6. Very cute idea, and the tutorial is excellent. If you are using this to filter pollen or dust, you need a filter medium as two layers of cotton fabric will not remove the cedar pollen. Cedar pollen is 30-40 microns (reference: human hair is 150 microns), and will quickly go through cloth. Check amazon.com for polyester filter that comes in a variety of micron sizes and is washable. A layer of filter would only be 2-3 mm, and be a much needed layer of filtration.

    • Absolutely correct, Cheryl. Thank you for stopping by and adding this information. The ceder pollen is so thick here in January, that quite honestly, these masks are so much better than what my alternative was, and that was not wearing one at all. The masks that filter much better tend to bother my breathing (I don’t know why, maybe my asthma is to blame? I am not sure on this one.) and when I go for my walks, the thicker ones get sweaty. I guess it boils down to the idea that I am more likely to wear the mask if it is comfortable to me. I wonder if there is a softer filter that I can insert between the two layers of fabric that I can actually use. It’s worth me trying out. I will have to play with this to try some ideas out. Thank you again for your input. It is much appreciated.

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