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.


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.


1,796 thoughts on “Facemask: A picture tutorial.

    • Hi, Sarah,
      I’m going to take A bit of a stab in the dark as I too am wondering about the optimum length of fabric as I have a lot to make in two days!
      I’m still deciding on whether to use elastic or bias tape for tying on? Thoughts??
      I will measure my own face over the point of my nose to an inch in front of each ear… [I don’t have a big snozz or any thing] but I got 10 and1/2 inches, and from the bridge to just under the chin… I got 5 and 1/2 inches…
      I have an average hat size so figure my head is about average? so maybe go an inch either way; minus 1 inch petite Ladies or teen and plus one inch for Men’s? Does anyone have any more accurate advice?
      These would be my finishing sizes to aim for, but if you are going to fold ends over don’t forget to add for the fold? Also perhaps add an extra Inch from nose brow to chin for extra breathing room I don’t think this will affect the fit! Good luck – and please let me know and share if you get more accurate advice 🙂
      I will keep looking but I am starting to do a few as I said for immediate use.

  1. Can we come to your ur store in Little Rock and pick up free fabric and elastic to make these at home. I have several friends and family members in the medical field who have asked for these and I am about out of supplies. I shop at your store in Little Rock frequently.

  2. Thank you, thank you! I have tried several patterns and I like this one the best. It is quick, easy, and practical. Also I like the coordinating strips at the sides. I’m making as many as I can for health care providers here in the Austin/Bastrop area.

  3. Forgive me if someone else has suggested this. So many comments to read through here. This involves a bit more effort, but before putting the end pieces on, I stitched 1/2 below the top edge and inserted a pipe cleaner, cut to fit so you can still attach the end pieces without problem. Then, when stitching along the edge around the mask, be sure the pipe cleaner is between the two rows of stitching. Some may not need this, but it allows for the mask to be “clamped” over the nose to make a tighter fit. Especially for people like me–that have a large nose! 🙂 NOTE: When the mask is washed, it needs to be dried promptly and well, or the pipe cleaner will rust.

  4. Thank you for taking the time to share this pattern ,This will help are doctor and nurses and the elderly to stay safe .in this time of panic .One and all PLEASE be safe and stay home with your family. Thanks for your time ,and THANKS for the pattern.

  5. Thank you for providing this information.. I have family members that are nurses and will be sending them some of these.. Again much appreciation.

  6. Thank you so much for this great tutorial! My daughter who is a nurse is making this face mask for her hospital on her days off and I wanted to help too. Thank you for sharing!!

  7. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I found it really useful and am appreciative that you have spent your time to share your talents. Thank you once again and may God bless you.

    One who is greatful.

  8. Thank you for your generosity in sharing this, and your heart to serve others. This is a perfect “beginner” tutorial.

  9. Kudos to you for your tutorial and your update for today’s current crisis. You are totally correct. Keep yourself and your family safe!

  10. Thank you so much. I have been viewing Utube tutorials but need real measurements and written directions I can take to the sewing machine, in a different location than my computer. Reformatted you information in WORD as a 7 page physical document. Now to produce several masks for each person in my circle of family and friends.
    There are lots of different pattern out there and yours is simple and basic. The only thing I am adding is a non-woven lining, in consideration of virus and not just allergies.
    Keep safe

  11. Thank you for taking the time to share…
    I am finishing up 30 masks for my co nurses and planning the next 30. Yes we all know the safety rating but when the N95 masks are saved for those patients who tested positive these are better than nothing when disposable masks are scarce. Besides, they are so dang CUTE. Mine are all red themed for the Nurse’s Union with red elastic. They also have the thin aluminium nose strips to keep from constantly readjusting when being worn for hours.
    Many nurses, healthcare workers, public, will have a safer life thanks to your post.
    Thank you…be safe

  12. Pingback: - Sewing hope: Vincennes University community making and donating face masks - External Relations - Vincennes University

  13. Thank you for this tutorial. I was going to make some masks and was happy to see your instructions on here.
    My son lived in Austin and it is my favorite city and if I had to move I would move to Austin.

  14. Thank you for this tutorial! My sister is a hospice RN and is in assisted living facilities all day. I am making some for her. You are making a difference! Love and light! xoxo

  15. Thank you for providing this tutorial. I am a nurse at a hospital asking for these. 😊 I don’t know just how they will be used yet. Uncharted territory! At least for the USA. Again, thank you and God bless you.

  16. Thanks so much for this easy to understand tutorial. Thank you so much appreciate the time it took to do this. I will be making these for my nurse friends and ones in health care.

  17. I pick up a kit today, but instead of elastic as shown, I received a string elastic (bracelet type) will it still be as sturdy? afraid it might come loose in the stitching.

  18. THANK YOU!!! HATERS WILL HATE and I’m a Senior stuck at home just trying to help on my 1987 Singer. THANK YOU!

  19. Very kind of you to take considerable time to detail sewing instructions for this great mask. I still have a 55 yr old green, double layered, kinda skimpy OR cotton mask w/strings for ties from my days in 1964 as an OR RN. We had to change masks frequently as when moist microbes can enter or exit more easily. Disposable hats, masks, gowns were not common , although gauze and rubber gloves were thrown out.
    When time allows, I will try your directions. Am sure it will be fine.
    An old time sewer.

    • Maybe you need to go back and read again. I thought the instructions were great. Why do you have to be so ugly to someone who was freely giving her time. Shame on you.

    • Borrowing from another tutorial I saw somewhere, I would add a twist tie in the center of the top (folded) edge – just put in place and topstitch around it before doing the pleats. It can be pinched against the nose to help hold mask in place.

      • Well I posted that in the wrong place! For Wanda – the contrast strips cover the raw edges when you turn them to the back and stitch on each edge, as shown in the pics.

  20. I love your design… the whiners need to develop their own. I printed the pages & you have provided an awesome detailed pattern. I may have a friend help me figure out how to have an open pocket between layers to put a filter. But I LOVE your pattern. Thank you!!!!

  21. I really enjoy that you had posted this prior to the epidemic. My daughter received a sewing machine for Christmas and this is simple enough that she can do with limited help.

  22. I want to thank you for this tutorial. I am just learning how to sew and it takes me a little while to sit and read instructions, I learn a lot quicker by being shown lol. I took my time and I made one by your instructions. My stitching is not perfectly straight but that’s ok for being my first. So thank you. I do plan on making more.

  23. It’s amazing to me that people complain when you are providing this information at no cost to the reader! Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth! If I decide to make any face masks, I will use your tutorial. Very easy to understand.

  24. Great instructions !! If you can’t find elastic and don’t want to make ties, I believe the T-shirt strings would work ok.. . Cut an old t-shirt across from side to side, about 1″ wide, Stretch strip ……………….tie made !

  25. Thank you, I am making masks for a hospice in Arkansas and it is the easiest to use, I can sew up a storm, but cannot write down directions. For your help I am blessed. Donna Jean

  26. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and generosity of time/talent to provide this. My husband has a compromised system and I can’t find well-made ones that can be delivered before late May. You have come to the rescue and I can’t thank you enough.

  27. Thank you so much for the instructions! I am going to try and made some tonight. Question, since I can’t find elastic anywhere, I’ll be using material strips to tie in the back. Do in need to alter anything in the pattern? I figure the straps can be sewn on where the elastic is and folded over the same way. Thoughts? Thank you again for sharing!!!

  28. My mask is about 3.25″ high instead of 4,” and I’m not sure why. The pleats are each .5″ deep. Any suggestions on what I might have done incorrectly?

  29. Thank you for this illustrated tutorial. I know that medical professionals, high-risk people (like me–66 years old with multiple sclerosis), allergy sufferers, and many others will appreciate your willingness to be of service. I just have one question: would it impede the user’s ability to breathe well if I used Pellon between the layers? Thanks again! Dana

    • Dana, anytime you add layers, it becomes more difficult to breathe through the barriers. I don’t have the answers to what is optimal. In fact, it is commonly more difficult for one person to breathe than another person for a variety of reasons. Adding and subtracting layers adds to these variables. When a mask becomes too thick, does the air simply flow around the mask rather than through it, thereby making the mask pointless?

      I also question any fiber that has an adhesive. Should we be breathing through whatever chemicals are found within these products? Or maybe they are they safe and I am over thinking. Will these products hold up if they are boiled during cleaning? Will they melt? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but they are all worth asking. Thank you for your question.

  30. I am an RN and one thought is I would rather the folds go down from the nose. Because with the folds going upwards it’s like a ledge to catch droplets. Just a thought. Thank you for the excellant tutorial!

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  32. Hello there, I am not getting out much in this mess but I have a very large scrap supply. I have been watching a lot of tutorials and making several masks. I am using my 100 year old singer treadle machine for this project. It makes better stitches than my “newer” 25 year old machine. No backstitch so I have to turn my work often. This is the perfect project for keeping me busy while I am staying in. I am mixing up several different tutorials to come up with the one I like best.
    Thanks so much for putting this out there.

      • What kits? This is a DIY thing. The directions are spelled out, including exact sizes for cutting the fabric. Most sewists have a stash of “too big to throw out, but too small to use” pieces that are perfect for projects like this.

      • Call your local Joann to inquire if they have kits to hand out – enough material to make 5, then return the 5 to Joann – I had to improve the type of elastic they included, but worth the effort.

      • The news reported Joanns was giving sewing kits away at all locations. Cindy was probably inquiring since these links are posted on their page. If you want to get a kits to make/donate call your local Joanns.

  33. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to tighten a mask around the nose. I’ve seen twist ties and pipe cleaners, but I was wondering if cut up soda cans would work. They are aluminum, so they wouldn’t rust. I have tin snips and of course, I would round the edges so it wouldn’t work its way out…any thoughts about this?

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