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.


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

  1. This is a great tutorial, I have been making masks to protect family members–making mine without the contrast piece but I like how you constructed your end pieces so I will try it just like you made yours……Thanks

  2. Thank you so much for posting this pattern. I am a paramedic the CDC has told us to re use our N95 masks but to cover them with a surgical mask. we are running out of surgical masks too. So last night I was able to show my mother this video and written instruction. she is not a person that likes any thing on line. after I asked if it was help full she said yes. I when threw my stash of fabric last night . who knew that would come in handy and this morning I have surgical masks to go to work with. thank you for your help in keeping me safe

  3. Thank you for this pattern. Your instructions for the pleats were easier for me to understand than other patterns I’ve seen.

  4. Great tutorial! I have been sewing for over 50 years. The tutorial was very concise and easy to understand. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. Your tutorial is excellent; easy to follow and pictures are very good. Please don’t pay any attention to those who have issues with your tutorial. I have seen many, many poorly made tutorials and your’s is not one of them. Keep up the good work and I hope you get some relief from those pesky allergies.

  6. Thank you so much for the tutorial! It helped my girls and I see how we can make these to help the medical professionals in this trying time. We appreciate you posting this for novice seamstresses who want to make a difference in a tangible way.

    • That sounds like a math question you can pose to a high school student. 🤓 the elastic is easy-14 inches x 55=770 inches/3=257 yards.

    • I am using 7″ elastic on each side. That is the size my local hospital wanted. Yours may be different. So that makes a total of 770 inches or 21.39 yards.

    • I love math so I’ll do it for you. If your fabric is 44 – 54″ wide, you can get 9 masks per yard, which means you’ll need 6.25 yards (this includes just a few inches extra per yard). I always suggest getting extra and would bump this to 7 yards. The elastic measurement suggested here is 6.5″ each, (which might vary hon preference as she mentioned above) If you use her measurement each one needs 13″. 13 x 55 masks = 715″, which is 20 yards. As always extra is better so I’d get 22 yards.

      Unless I misunderstood a measurement, this should be correct. Good luck to everyone!

  7. I would just like to say a huge THANK YOU!
    Thank you for taking the time to provide instructions in making something that is very much needed at this time in our country. I am a nurse and love that people are coming together to help create such a necessary item right now.

  8. Thank you so much for this very clear tutorial. I’m appalled that anyone has sent any negativity your way. Nothing but gratitude and good wishes from me.

  9. I want to say that your tutorial is amazing and so detailed. It’s so easy to understand. Even flipping it and showing us the backside, throughout each stage. Most tutorials don’t do that.
    I am helping a friend make masks for a retirement home that she works at. I asked her why since these can’t block any kind of virus. She said it’s to keep the staff and residents from touching their faces. Now that makes total sense. Thank you again for a fantastic tutorial.

  10. Pingback: Face Masks: sewn, formed & 3D printed – Little Snowdon

  11. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together for us. As you stated we are able to make any adjustments we need to fit our heads and our families. Just wanted to say thank you

  12. enjoyed making the mask, thanks for pictures. easy to follow. i did have a question, what are the measurements for pleat #3. i didn’t see them on the page. can someone share that? i did try something and hope it was correct. thanks

  13. Thank you for the time you took to figure this out and to create the video. I sure don’t understand why anyone feels it necessary to make nasty comments when someone else (you) is just trying to help the rest of us. I appreciate not having to figure it out on my own. Bless you!

  14. Thank you for figuring this out & sharing it with us. Please ignore the haters & the choosing beggars! For those folks: All the brain work has been done for you – follow the very clear & well-illustrated directions, cut it out, & sew. Appreciate what’s given you, say thank you, & get to work yourself if you want changes. It’s easy enough to figure out for yourself how to change the scale for a larger or smaller head, etc.

    • Well said. I wish more people had this mindset that I was always taught! Once again, I add my thank you to Monica!

  15. I heard of using flannel on inside of the mask is the an option ..to help keep the soft material against the face..

    • Any nurses out there? What do you think about flannel on one side? I was wondering the same thing also. I thought maybe flannel might get too warm for a person wearing a mask for a long time.

    • They’re thicker at the pleats with flannel backs. I have been making some to mail to necessary workers, and they lie less flat in the envelope. Very comfortable to wear, though.

  16. I am sorry to hear that unkind people are leaving hateful messages. In these tough times we need to remember to be KIND. Thank you so much for your time and effort in putting together such a great tutorial and for sharing it with us. I look forward to making a mask or two using your instructions. Thanks again and take care.

    • Would you ship to ky. I can send shipping to you if you would like. I will be happy to make mask from your fabric. Thank you.

  17. Don’t have elastic.
    How long should I make the ties?
    70yr old ready to help with the cause
    Helping our medical staff in the front lines- elly

  18. Thank you so much for this! I’m sewing masks for hospitals and was getting frustrated because the pleats kept kicking my butt. Your explanation was so clear it completely solved my problem. Thanks again!

    Amanda in Maryland

  19. A nurse suggested that if I make this type of mask that I make one side in different fabric. That way there is no chance of the mask being taken off and then put back on with the wrong previously exposed side on your face. An excellent point I think.

  20. I have a PDF of your tutorial and would be happy to send it to you — my iPad makes it pretty easy to do. Unfortunately my MacBook, which has my PDF editor on it, is unavailable so it’s the WHOLE tutorial, including the comments. Text or email me and I’ll be happy to send it to you, it looks as nice as your tutorial. (If you have apple devices, I can also tell you how to create your own PDF for pretty much any website.)

    I also appreciate all your good work in creating this mask tutorial — until recently I’ve sewed only when absolutely necessary, ha ha! THANK YOU SO MUCH! – this is the least I could do to help you.

  21. Thank you for your tutorial. This one is the easiest and more becoming patterns in comparison to the other ones I have seen. Will be sewing my heart into these masks.
    So glad there is good people in this world that can make a difference. Every little bit can make a big change. Stay safe.

  22. Such an easy way to make a mask. Took me an hour from start to finish and I handstitched it! Have seen somewhere that woven fabric is best as itys dosent stretch. Im eyeing up my ols jeans as denim is a woven fabric and once you cut the leg off your ready to put the pleats in – sew up the sides add elastic and it ready! Fantastic – thank you so much

  23. Thank you for Taking the time to put this together for everyone. I’m so Sorry that there are Awful people saying hateful things.

  24. Pingback: Integris continues to accept hand-sewn masks, medical supplies - Newstalk KZRG

  25. Pingback: Integris continues to accept hand-sewn masks, medical supplies - AM1230 The Talker

  26. for those wanting a PDF. It’s easy to convert the web page into PDF in chrome: Step 1: Click the three-dot icon in the top right corner and choose Print in the drop-down menu. Alternatively, press Ctrl + P. Step 2: In the following pop-up window, click the down arrow displayed under Printer and select the Microsoft Print to PDF option listed on the drop-down menu.

    Or just search how to convert webpage into PDF.

  27. Studies have shown that certain filter material such as vacuum cleaner bags are more effective than regular cotton cloth. One modification that suggested to me would be to cut a piece of such a filter material and put it inside the original tube you make in the first step. Make it large enough to include in the pleats. It could be considered a N85 mask or some such. Wonderful tutorial

  28. Thank you so much for the best tutorial. I really appreciate the details and will get busy making some masks. Stay safe and cozy.

  29. I cut my original fabric 14″ by 8″ and can only get 2 1/2″ pleats. That makes my mask 8″ by 3 1/2″ before adding the elastic. What am I doing wrong?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s