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. Thank you! I have made quite a few for family and donated some to our local grocery store. The first couple were kinda off but I have it down now. Due to the lack of available elastic, I’ll be trying to make ties if I need to make more. Again, thank you for sharing your pattern!

  2. I think there is an error in the instruction, the instruction wording says cut a 14 x 8 piece for the body but the picture shows a 15 x 8 piece. I tried unsuccessfully with a 14 x 8 before I realized this. It works with a 15 x 8.

  3. 🙌 thank you for all you do, especially sharing this knowledge. Please be safe, stay healthy and blessed.🤗

  4. Instead of making pleats would it work to just gather the sides? Gathering seems so much faster and doesn’t need the measuring to make it even.

  5. Thank you for spending your time putting this tutorial together. Instructions are very clear. One thing that I do is to fuse on light weight fusible interfacing at the beginning. It is non-woven and acts as a filter, it’s actually a double filter. Another thing you can use for the nose piece is aluminum flashing. Cut it into 1/4” x 3” strips and bend ends in just barely. Get this at the hardware store. $.85/ft. It’s very easy to cut with scissors.

  6. I cannot tell you enough THANK YOU!!!!!! Please ignore all those awful people…if they needed this for their loved ones or friends…bet they’d be quick about learning. You are an ANGEL for sharing this with everyone. May God bless and protect you and yours. My daughter is an ER nurse…hopefully I can do these well enough to share with her…

  7. To make the flexible metal nose strip, I used flat aluminum bead wire. from Hobby Lobby. It’s 5 mms wide & comes in 3 yard package s. I used a 3 inch strip for each mask so a package goes a long way. I zigzagged the strip to the lining on inside so it stays in place & can be sterilized without losing the strip. Can use tin snips to round ends so it doesn’t rip fabric.

  8. Shouldn’t there a bonded interfacing between layers of woven fabric. Pollen and bacteria can travel through easily through the woven fabric

    • For certain circumstances, bonded interfacing poses a huge problem. We don’t know for sure if it is safe to breathe through the adhesive. What chemicals are used in the adhesive? The other issue is that many hospitals will be boiling/sanitizing/disinfecting these to be used again. Will that bonding adhesive melt and cause other problems? Most hospitals are requesting simple old school masks, like they were made before disposable ones began to be manufactured. Also, many hospital workers are putting these masks over their regular mask, which is another reason why they don’t want them too thick. I don’t know who you are making these for, so you should ask the source what they prefer.

  9. Has anyone been including care instructions with the masks you make? What are you saying about making them sanitary again after use?

  10. I am overwhelmed with your generosity. My daughter stopped and got material and thread (they were out if interface and elastic) to make a mask. She works at Frederdt hospital in milwaukee wisconsin. We will definatley tell everyone hie great your personel was to her in Fond du lac wisconsin. Wish we could have gotten more to make more mask for the childrens hospital. We will keep making masks as ling as we need to. Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts. Stay safeand healthy

  11. I found 1/4″ elastic in a cheap WalMart (or maybe it was Dollar General) fitted bed sheet! I’m making for a veterinary clinic to use while interacting with the public (totally understand “last resort”, but we are running out of masks. Since 1/4″ is hard to find right now, you can sacrifice a fitted bed sheet! (If this was already on comments, I apologize.)

    • Why not just use the bed sheet material to cut the masks out? A sheet would make a lot of masks. We are making them for the local hospital. Also bias tape works for the edges and ties.

  12. Thank you for creating a wonder pattern that is so easy to follow. Making these for family members and instead of wearing a flowered Easter bonnet, I will be wearing a flowered mask.

  13. Thank you so much for the terrific tutorial for the medical masks. I used up my bit of fabric and created 61 masks. I am sending them to my daughter-in-law who will begin administering the covid19 tests on Monday. Her job at Emory in Atlanta was PA in the surgical unit, but now she is reassigned as many in her hospital have. She said she will give them to her coworkers.
    I used some colorful, playful fabrics, and because of the shortage of 1/4” elastic, I used colorful headbands I found in the Dollar Tree. They looked great with the fabrics, so I hope they make the recipients smile. I attached a note that read “you are our heroes. Thank you and stay well”.
    I wanted to help in some way through this crisis, so I appreciated the instructions SO much.

  14. Thank you for this pretty much idiot proof (for me!) tutorial! I got one of the kits from JoAnns, and, to say the least, the written instructions were very lacking! Yours are very clear, so thank you! I’ll have to drag my sewing machine out of the closet for this. I’ve been hand sewing a few other designs, but now I have to step up my game!

  15. Thank you so much for the pictures!!! I have watched videos so I can attempt making some for the local nursing home. since I am new at this, the pictures serve as great reminders and visuals as to what I need to do. Again, thank you for your tutorial!!!

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing Your mask tutorial. I have 3 daughters that are in the medical, child care & retail fields. I have adapted the mask to include layer of mid-weight interfacing for extra barrier. Also elastic has been hard to get, I cut & attached wide rubber bands in place of ties. Appreciate opinions.

  19. I adore your pattern and thank you sincerely for putting it out there. I have been using another one that I found and used an iron on batting in it. I like them but can not wait to try yours. For people being negative – stop already or come up with your own.

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  21. What a beautifully illustrated way you did this &it’s quite useful for even accomplished tailors in the pleat manner-I also-horrid virus aside-have my hay fever season rolling up&once my family of ER docs&nurse are fully covered-I’ll have this for my yardwork&vaccuming&won’t ask them for one as I have ea. Season

  22. This is so wonderful of you to create this and then give it to us. So needed – My question is – what is the measurement of the body after the pleats? Wondering if I did it correctly. Thank you and blessings to you.

  23. Thank you SO much for taking the time and effort involved in producing this tutorial. You are so appreciated!

  24. I want to make this mask. However, I am wondering what I have to add as an extra layer to be usable for the Cov-ID virus protection. I live about 30 miles from the epicenter of the outbreak in WA state.

    • As indicated, she made this for pollen. Even if she does know (actually, there’s nothing to make this type of mask virus-proof other than wearing it over an N-95 or similar mask), she has no obligation to provide this information. In addition, she could open herself up to liability claims if she did. She would probably prevail in a true lawsuit, especially with her disclaimer, but she might incur legal expenses.

      Questions or suggestions via the comment section should be related to the actual instructions for creating the mask; not for its use.

  25. One can find lots of 1/4 inch elastic even colored ones at Etsy. As of March 30th there was tons being sold. Thanks for your easy to follow tutorial.

  26. Thank you so much for this! My mom and I are making masks for my daughter, who is a doctor at the VA hospital in New Orleans, and her co-workers. We will be using fun, funky patterns and colors for those fun-loving folks in New Orleans!

  27. Holy Moly I LOVE this pattern. I left a question about an issue I was having with the elastic and trim piece…. however, had I paid closer attention to your words in ALL CAPS “ENTIRE”… I would have had better luck. This pattern and your instructions (if I had followed it to a “t”) are flawless. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    • You aren’t alone, and you may have asked your question before I “fixed” the wording on that step a few days ago. I actually appreciate constructive criticism, so thank you for speaking up. Enjoy!

  28. Thank you so much for this detailed tutorial. I have used it to make 97 masks, so far, for our local hospital workers. The hospital has approved them and workers have been very grateful for the extra protection. I would make more but cant find elastic anywhere!

  29. Thank you for this tutorial! It is very detailed and easy to follow. Interesting to me that you posted this well over a year ago… You’re a bit of a prophet, LOL
    Anyway I’ve been looking and looking and this tutorial for face masks is one of the I’ve found. THANK YOU! And Stay Safe!

  30. How much are you turning the raw seam under and are you doing a finishing stitch to prevent it from fraying before your turn it right side out? I’m sleeping through this step for some reason!

  31. Thank you for sharing. I am going to make a second layer with a hole to add another lining. HEPA vacuum filters are good if you can find them. Twill tape or ribbon makes good ties. I will just fold the end and glue with fabric glue or sew (with a zigzag stitch).

  32. Thank you so much for doing this!!! Just ignore the people that “demand” you do something. It took you quite a bit of time to put this tutorial together and for that I appreciate your time. Blessings to you and your family.

  33. I am so very sorry that people have been unkind. Please know that the majority of readers are not like that, and we appreciate you for providing this information. I am just getting started on making masks for my area in California, and I love the simplicity of your pattern. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this tutorial together and posting it for all of us to use. Thank you also for the work you do in caring for others. You are one of God’s angels and we are grateful.

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  35. This is a fantastic tutorial! I have already made twenty for my friends and family. The rest will be going to local hospitals and nursing centers. My only limiting factor is elastic. People
    love these! Practical and fun. Thanks!

    • Free substitute elastic is available in old T-shirts! Make T-shirt yarn by cutting strips 1 inch wide, then stretching each to make a tube. I cut these 8″ for each ear-loop to make adult-size masks.

  36. I am so very sorry that people are being hateful to you. I will never understand the reasoning behind seeking out a person who has given their personal time and demanded more from them. I have been making your masks and have been using both elastic and ties and I am so grateful to you for putting it out there.

    From the multitude of non-hateful people, thank you very much. Don’t let snarky people get you down. You have plenty of others below that are very grateful that you shared your skills with us 😊

    • Bless you, dear, for this excellent tutorial! Your time in this post is so appreciated! After using another pattern, yours is a much better version that I can’t wait to use😊 Take care during these frightening times and again, Bless You, fellow Texan!

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