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.

Open the the accent fabric strip seam by flipping it 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. You will now see the accent piece on this side, but not at all on the flip side. 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 that measures approximately 4″ x 7″ (unopened).

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.

Enjoy!

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

EDIT (March 24 2020): Because this tutorial has recently been used on a large scale, I will be adding a few things here as frequently asked and answered questions, suggestions, and reminders.

  1. This tutorial was happily shared by me over a year ago. This is not a new tutorial created in light of the current virus pandemic. I am not in charge, nor affiliated with any organization or entity requesting masks to be made. There are multiple organizations that are using this tutorial for their requests. If you have any question regarding what their requirements are, you really, really, really need to ask them. Please understand that I cannot and will not tell you what you should use, or how you should make your mask different from my tutorial.
  2. Keep in mind also that there are multiple entities that are using this tutorial for their requests. One entity may have completely different requests regarding features than another entity. (for example one organization is requesting a 4 layer mask, while another is fine with the two layer, as their thoughts are that they can be doubled up or used as a cover or liner to another kind of mask.) So, there is no correct or incorrect mask. Who are you making your mask for? Those are the people to whom you direct your questions.
  3. CHILD OR BABY MASK: After much thought, I have decided that it is in my best interest to NOT supply a mask tutorial for anyone other than an adult. One of my reasons for this is that I feel that a mask could pose as a choking hazard, and I do not want to have any part of that scenario.  My suggestion is that you really should ask each individual child’s doctor or provider what their guidelines are, and go from there.
  4. I will not be held responsible for any mask misuse or malfunction.
  5. ELASTIC OR TIES? The main reason why my tutorial uses elastic is so I don’t have to tie it behind my head and mess up my hair. That’s it. So, if you are making the tutorial, and you don’t like the elastic, or if the person who you are making your mask for, requests ties; by all means put ties in yours. My pattern is very easily adapted to your preferences. There are organizations specifically asking for elastic, and some that are asking for ties only.
  6. ELASTIC LENGTH: I have read that a few of you recommend longer elastic; however, mine ended up being slightly loose. Therefore, I will not alter my pattern. I have stated in the tutorial that elastic length will need to vary due to the fact that human heads are not uniform (Thank goodness).
  7. I don’t have a PDF or printable version of my tutorial. If I decide to do that, I will; but it will be in my own time. I have received many hateful comments (that I deleted) demanding that I provide this. I need to remind those few sour apples that I am under zero obligation to do so. If my absolutely free visual tutorial isn’t to your liking, I invite you to go find one that makes you happy. If you are a person who often finds themselves using the words ”I need you to…”, you might fall into this category.
  8.  I am completely honored that many of you are using my tutorial, or even certain aspects of it to help people in need. Even if you are using a completely different tutorial or pattern and just stopped by to check this one out, I applaud you for being a maker during this time.  I cannot express enough how happy it makes me feel to see so many humans getting together to do something for the greater good. Please continue being that human. Those are the best ones.

I am signing off now to take care of my family, who needs me now more than ever. Thank you all for your kindness and understanding. God Bless.

 

1,791 thoughts on “Facemask: A picture tutorial.

  1. A couple things: First I love the ease in which it was to use this format for making masks. This was my 3rd iteration and the best so far. It was easy to follow and I LOVED the fact that there were not any ads popping up just where I wanted to look or read. Thank you for that! And I made 3 masks in 3 hrs and was very satisfied with the results. I plan on making some more now that I have the hang of it! Thank you Monica!

    • Lindy, I know that there are different viewing formats that make ads more or less cumbersome. When a certain blog format found out that there were a bunch of views on my blog, they really turned up the ads, which I have very little control over. Blerg. I am happy to hear that your mask was a success. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this. I like the finished edge here because it makes the mask look so much neater and cuter. Be well!

  3. Thank you for this tutorial. I am very new to seeing and the mask I just finished based on your instructions came out beautifully. This was the fourth different pattern I used. The process of making it went very smoothly due to your very clear instructions, including the photos. I am using a very basic Japanese Singer knockoff that had not been used for decades. It works amazingly well. Thank you!

  4. Thank you for this tutorial. I love the mask. It fits great. I have a large extended family and made quite a few. For myself, I have small ears and wear glasses so I am going to try 1/8 in elastic. Ignore those negative people. You did a great job. You can make a paper pattern easily. I found I could make 2 or 3 in an hour. Easy to sew and stylish mask. Bravo. Great job. All the best from Canada. Stay safe. Cheers

  5. Thank you for taking the time to post the tutorial for others. I’ve made 7 masks with your directions and they are the best I’ve seen out there.

  6. Hey, I love this! I’ve tried a few patterns, as I have a serious sewing obsession, and despite our government still not recommending masks, I feel to have one is better than not. This is one I keep coming back to. The main reason I like it so much is the aesthetic. The contrasting fabrics and pleats are really attractive, and I finally have a use for my huge pile of fat quarters!

    I have made a few of these now, some for myself and hubby, for shopping runs, and for my sister in law who is running a busy food bank and has had asthma so feels vulnerable. I chose a vivid yellow paisley which she loves! It’s now becoming a fashion accessory, so I’m making more to match different outfits.

    Next runways will have models wearing your masks lol!

    Thank you for posting.

  7. Thank you for this easy-to-understand tutorial for a face mask. You are very kind to take your time and effort to make this mask and volunteer your skills!

  8. This is one of the most complemented patterns. People love how they fit. I have adapted to children’s sizes. I am wondering if you’ve ever done ties? Ties last longer than elastic in a medical facility. Where would you suggest placing them, I was thinking on the sides.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this FREE tutorial with everyone. Who would’ve thought when you originally shared it that it would be needed by so many people. I hope it helped your allergies and that they aren’t so bad this year.

    I’m so sorry you have had a few people that aren’t so pleasant, leaving comments but glad you have deleted them. There is no room for people like that in our lives. Thank you 💜 Stay safe.

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  11. Thank you so much! I had made some for me and my daughters after watching a basic YouTube video, but then I got asked to make some by a friend. I wanted a neater finish and came across your tutorial. This is just perfect!!

  12. Thank you for this tutorial! I have been using it and have made over 50 masks for friends and family that need them. I had never sewn a pleat before in my life and thanks to you I am now a pro! Many have requested the pattern I using and I have directed them to your site! I know your tutorial was originally for allergies, but it is so much better than any other pattern I’ve found. Thank you!!

  13. Thank you for the very easy to follow tutorial. I stumbled thru making a mask without instructions yesterday. Now that I found your instructions, I can make one in half the time and it will look much nicer. Thanks again. And just ignore the haters. There are many that appreciate the time you took to make this for us to use.

  14. Personally I love this mask! I think it’s great that you took the time to share it and even took step by step pictures which are SO helpful! For those entitled people out there that can’t appreciate ones time, effort and generosity all I can say is please don’t spoil it for the rest of us who CAN and DO appreciate those who share!
    Thank you very much
    Marcelle

  15. Thank you for this tutorial. This was so easy to follow and the best I have found. You are very kind and unselfish to share this with us. God Bless you..

  16. Thank you very much for the excellent and informative tutorial, your efforts are very much appreciated.

    • Monica J! (I am Monica J as well…middle name Jean) You are welcome. It makes my day to know that the mask tutorial is being used and appreciated by people like yourself. Have fun with it, and sew on.

  17. Thank you SO much for this easy-to-follow tutorial! I am a fairly novice seamstress, so this has been SO very helpful!! Truly appreciate your sharing!

    • Debbie,

      I am so dang happy to read so many comments like your own of novice sewers that have taken this on with not only success, but little fear. It certainly helps motivate a new sewer to try other patterns. I can’t wait to see where this takes you.

  18. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I much prefer picture tutorials over video ones. It was very easy to follow, and I have made many masks using your pattern for friends and family members. I tested some other mask patterns that had filter pockets or 3 layers of material, but some were hard to follow, or they did not look as nice or fit as well as your pattern. I kept returning to your pattern, and ended up modifying it to have these additional features for my masks. Again–thank you for posting this, and for helping me keep my community safe!

    • Cally,

      I have always been a picture person too, maybe because I could sit and study a picture like a sudoku puzzle, which always ends up making sense, even if it does take a few hours. 😀

      I am so glad that you were able to modify it easily enough for your preferences and needs. Thank you for your feedback.

  19. Hi, Monica,
    First, let me tell you that your words touched me to the core. I was so upset by the demanding comments and general ugly messages you had received from some negative people, that I had to share aloud with my husband. I scrolled through your beautiful tutorial, showing him photo-by-photo what must have taken HOURS of painstaking work to share with all of us so selflessly. My husband shook his head in utter dismay at the fact that you should have ever felt the need to defend your methodology and said, “This just proves my point [a discussion we have been having for some years now] that people will find a reason to leave negative/nasty comments in response to absolutely ANY topic!” In response to the free pattern for face masks?

    Anyway, please allow me to thank you for taking the time to share your skill and expertise in mask-making; breaking the steps down into bite-sized, understandable chunks; and then availing the entire kit and caboodle free of charge to anyone who dares to try! I appreciate it more than you can possibly know, and MANY will benefit from my learning from you:

    I am an American Sign Language interpreter (and teacher) in the medical field—interpreting medical information between deaf and hard of hearing patients and their healthcare workers. I am not a skilled seamstress, but I’m about to try your pattern because I don’t want to have to endlessly purchase disposable masks for work (plus, I have a bunch of clients and several octogenarian family members who need them). I only use masks for a few minutes in conjunction with a clear face shield. When I get to the patient’s room, I have to pull down my mask to expose my mouth for lip reading purposes, but the shield is still in place, and everyone else is masked. We are all protected. Crazy times.

    The last of my components arrived today (pliable metal pieces for the nose), so I’ll be getting busy tomorrow at the sewing machine. Thank you again. Please know you have helped many people. As for those who who have been hyper-critical, they clearly have too much time on their hands and have nothing better to do. Don’t let THEIR negativity alter the kind person YOU clearly are. Keep up the great work. May G-d bless you and your family with good health, happiness, and prosperity for many years to come.

    -Laura-

    • Laura,

      We have a large population of hearing impaired people here in Austin, due to the School for the Deaf (I am not even sure they call it that anymore, but it has been here since the 1800s) One of the first alterations that I saw of these mask patterns, and not only of my own, but other designs as well, was a clear window sewn in so that hearing impaired could read lips. I thought that was such a kind thing to do. I hope that this pattern is able to help you with your masks, and I applaud you for being an interpreter. Thank you for your kind comment, and for taking your time to write. I appreciate folks like you, as you are the fire that keeps me going. Many blessings to you and yours.

      Monica

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  21. Thanks! Great, clear directions! I have a suggestion you might like.
    Mark off your pleat measurements on a piece of cardboard or the back of a notepad. I made little notches at each mark. Then, I just lay it on top of my mask and mark off the location for the folds. Helps when making many masks. Thanks again!

  22. Thank you so much for this clear and easy to understand tutorial…I was prompted to comment simply because I read that you had received some negativity…I can only say how sad I am that anyone could behave this way and I am sure they must be in an absolute minority….you have taken time out to provide a fabulous tutorial, at no cost to the user, only sharing something which you yourself found helpful….thank you very much

  23. Awesome tutorial. Easy to make a paper pattern with your directions, reminds me of my grandmother designing at the dining room table. Thank you and be safe!

  24. How would you recommend putting a nose piece (pipe cleaner) inside the top of the mask? Your instructions are thorough and the finished product is very nice.

    • I don’t recommend anything as far as changes go, but there are plenty of others here in comments that changed my pattern to their own specification and alterations, this being one of them. I hope they are able to shed some light on your request.

  25. I just came across you tutorial for a face mask — it is by far the best I have found — very detailed and easy to follow. Thank you so much.

    • Thank you, Patty. I hope that you didn’t have to sew a bunch of different ones before you found this. It makes me happy to know that you like this one. Happy sewing.

  26. This was a great help! Thank you for your time and energy put into this. I did have a thought while sewing I added a folded in half pipe cleaner and stitched it in with a zig zag stitch at the top and it forms to your nose from inside the mask if you sew in the beginning before flipping. Thanks again!

  27. I love the tutorial! I’ve been making a variety of styles using a variety of patterns over the past few months with some successes and an equal number of fails. This pattern elevates my favorite method to a higher level with the stylish accents on the sides.

    For people wanting ties instead of elastic, I could suggest a method that’s worked well for me. Take a t-shirt and lay it flat and smooth. With a rotary cutter and ruler, remove the hem. Then cut a one-inch strip across the whole width of the bottom of the t-shirt. Repeat this, so now there are two loops. Cut both ends of each loop to give you four strips. Stretch out each strip as long as you can. They will curl and lengthen. Now simply use one of these strips in each corner in place of the elastic.

  28. Really clear…. pictures are great and my way to learn… And I teach quilting. 🙂
    My only question/concern… why is it so wide? I fell like I’m missing something.. it’s really pretty and finished, by really wide. Can you let me know if I’m missing something….

  29. Thank you so much, Monica, for posting this tutorial. Even if it was over a year ago, it’s so helpful in our present situation. I love all the photos to help along the way, I appreciate your suggestions, and I haven’t even started yet. I have all the material and supplies, and I can’t wait to get started.

    Too bad about the sour apples! Some people just don’t appreciate a good thing when it’s right there.

  30. I know I missing something, but when I apply the contrast piece on the side, the elastics are in toward the mask. How do I get the elastics to go out to the side? Can’t quite figure it out.

    • Janet, I don’t think I can help you until I understand which step you are on. Have you basted the elastic to the mask? Have you pinned the accent strip down on top of the elastic, folding the top and bottom end to the other side? Have you sewn through this ‘elastic sandwich’ (the mask, the elastic, and the accent strip)? Have you turned that seam out to expose the elastic? Did you press? Did you fold the accent fabric to the other side of the mask completely so that it shows only on one side of the mask and not at all on the other? Did you sew this accent flap down? Please let me know which one of these steps you are on. I am happy to help you out.

    • Same here! That’s what I get too. I did it on eight masks before I tried one on and discovered that I have missed a step or did one incorrectly.

      This must be the step I’m doing incorrectly:
      Open the the accent fabric strip seam by flipping it outward away from the main pleated piece, then press.

      • Tamara, once you sew that accent strip on, you need to cover up that raw edge. You do that by flipping the just sewn accent strip all the way over to the other side of the mask. All the way over…so you only see the accent fabric on one side of the mask and not the other.

  31. Thank you for giving us the gift of your time and knowledge. You are the “Johnny Appleseed” of masks! (Johanna …. Sew-seed? Sow-mask?)

    I like the way you address the edges, neat and efficient, better than the CDC pattern posted on line.

    Peace!

    • Clare,
      Thank you very much! Yes, most of the mask tutorials, videos, and designs that look similar in shape to mine, actually started here. People and organizations made changes, tweaking the pattern, and adjusted it to their requirements, then produced their own version of the pattern. I had stated from the beginning, that I was happy that so many people were able to utilize this tutorial, and to use it as a vaulting point for their own pattern or uses. Thank you for your kind feedback. Enjoy.

  32. I think I understand niw. When you turn the accent strip to the other side, that becomes the front. I’ll try that and see if it solves my problem. Thanks

    • Yes, really, there is not front or back, as the mask is reversible. It can also be turned upside down. While making the pattern, it can be very hard for the pattern maker to describe how to ‘turn a piece over’ because some readers perceive that as turning it top to bottom, or side to side, or flipping it over. Every person’s understanding is different. The picture of the finished mask on my blog, shows the accent strip side of the mask, so it is easier to call that the ”front” for visualizing the end product. Thank you for your response. I hope you have no trouble getting your mask out of this. 🙂

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