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.



1,797 thoughts on “Facemask: A picture tutorial.

  1. Thank you for sharing your pattern. your tutorial is so nicely done. Instead of the elastic , i used t shirt strips as ties, and when stretched they form a soft cord shape. Worked very well!

  2. Thank you for the tutorial. This mask is so cute. Nice gift for a relative or friend especially in light of the necessity . Found it yesterday and am on my third one. Excellent tutorial. Thanks again.

  3. Thank you for this, im a visual learner & have a hard time following written directions!! Thank you again, stay safe 💜

  4. Thank you for providing this tutorial, it is the best I have seen, using a tube method. I like the extra piece that shows the front of the mask.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial! You have taken pains to explain each step well and have captured the essentials with great pics. Thank you for the service you provide to us who in turn provide masks to those who provide service! What goes around comes around. The masks I made come out beautifully, and with practice look almost flawless. Hope your family and you stay well.

    • This is such wonderful feedback. It makes me happy knowing that there are people such as yourself that can use this, and that I did all of that work for a very good cause, not knowing that two years later it would finally be useful for more than 12 people. ha, ha. Thank you for visiting and stay safe.

  6. I haven’t sewn since jr. high home ec., and since so many people are in need of masks, and since my mom sent my daughter this mini sewing machine, I HAD to dust it off and see if there was something I could do to try and make some. I have to admit, it brought out a new hobby in me.. sewing again is just like riding a bike. I was amazed at how many sewing notions I had already around my house over the years, and was even more amazed at how easy these masks really were to make. Don’t get me wrong… I am up at 4am the last couple nights, and this is truly a labor of love, but it is so worth it seeing what I created with these remarkable patterns. I just have one concern about the pics in the tutorial. The part at the fold over, I get. But what I visualized beforehand, and sure enough, puzzled me when I paused at the fold was, I have stitching showing and your pic (and I tried to tell myself this is just the other end that hadn’t been done yet), but your next pic that actually does show the folded part with the elastic has no stitching. You placed two lines of stitching in ( and may I add some of the neatest stitching ever…lol) to complete. My question is, where should I place my stitch seeing that I already have a line which really is not at the edge and not along the top? I don’t want to place 3 lines of stitching. Thanks again for this right on time tutorial!

  7. Thank you for this tutorial! I tried a different one yesterday and it was a total mess! Yours is so easily explained. Thank you again!

    • One additional comment – I made this according to your pattern, but made the end accent piece an open channel (instead of folding the accent piece over the edge of the mask to make it a closed piece sewn shut over the elastic in instruction photo 17) and did not sew any elastic into the mask. I made a 2″ wide piece for each end, measured the accent piece to fit the mask plus 1/2″, folded short ends over 1/4″ and ironed them to fit each specific end (I measured the accent piece against each specific end when I ironed down the 1/4″ so they fit that specific end). I then folded the piece lengthwise and ironed it flat. I pinned this piece to the mask. Then I sewed the all raw edges together (end piece and mask piece). I then folded the accent over the raw ends and sewed down the inside edge (the edge that was earlier ironed flat and is away from the seam that was just sewed holding the two pieces together) of the accent to make a channel for the elastic or tie. I use either 1/4″ flat elastic or 3mm round elastic (which is more soft for sensitive skin) to make a loop, typing it off to fit the wearer’s head. The tied ends can be slipped back into the channel so it doesn’t show. It was an easy adjustment, allowing for an elastic loop that could be adjusted to fit any specific head as needed. I also have 44″ shoelaces, specifically ordered for this, that can go behind the head, over the ears, through the channels and then tied behind the head. It just adds some flexibility when production-lining several masks for various sized heads and various attachment method requests. Just my two cents for adding some flexibility for head fit of the mask.

  8. Pingback: How I made homemade masks with old leggings: | Madilyn Jake

  9. Thank u JoAnns for the mask tutorial
    I needed this incentive to get up and do my part
    I intend to donate them to m neighbors here at my retirement community The Amsterdam in Port Washington NY

  10. Thank you so much for your instructions…fits perfect. I have added a channel for a piece of pipe cleaner, to shape over the bridge of the nose. Before I put it in…I took my pointed wire cutters and curled each end, in order to make a smooth tip. This pattern is very much appreciated…stay healthy.

  11. Thank you so much for your help! I had started with another pattern but was having problems with the fit. After watching your suggestions, I have worked out my issues and saved a lot of time and fabric! Thank you again for taking the time to share!

  12. I am just happy to have a pattern that seems very easy to follow.Tomorrow I will start using your instructions Thank you.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I learned a lot! I am so sorry that people have been rude to you. Do your best to ignore them

    Stay well.

  14. Thank you so very much for sharing your mask pattern! Best wishes to you and your family during this distressing time!

  15. I am so glad you put your comments about the allergies. We moved from CA to WV 6 years ago. I had no idea I had allergies until I went through the 4 seasons! I mostly stay in or pull up my scarf. Yesterday my husband needed to get outside, so was cutting the grass and chopping up a tree that fell in the last wind. when he came back up to the house, he walked in and I almost immediately started sneezing, my eyes watered up and I could feel the dust and stuff in the air! So now I know, I can make some attractive masks for the windy season, pollen season and Spring flowers while still enjoying going outside and walking around the property. We are ringed with many trees and the winds blows quite a bit of the time when it isn’t raining and snowing! Thanks for all your tips and especially for this mask pattern, it looks easy, customizable and will work just fine. We volunteer to distribute food to the children that would be receiving free breakfast and lunch at school. So with the schools closed and the children home those families still need the food for nutritious meals while continuing with phone, internet or printable assignments. I am making these to hand out to the volunteers and any of the families that come to pick up their food at our distribution points. Thank you again, you are kind and generous, God Bless You.

    • Gina, I grew up in the country. I never really connected that I had allergies until I moved to Austin, TX. I always thought I had a cold or hay fever (which IS allergies), so I learned hard and fast that covering my nose and mouth during pollen season made a huge difference in my health. Thank you for being a provider during these times, everyone is doing such a great job of lifting each other up. It makes me so happy to see that. Take care, and blessings in return.

  16. thank you so much for this tutorial! It was super easy to follow and the mask turned out amazing, even though I am a novice at sewing! I greatly appreciate these instructions, so thank you very much!

    • Niamh, This is so good to hear! It makes me so happy when I read that novice sewers are having success with a tutorial or pattern, even if it isn’t mine. I dream of every home having a sewing room one day. 🙂 Thank you so much, and happy sewing.

  17. Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for. I made one. And when I can get out and buy some elastic I’ll be making more. All I had was some small round elastic. Thanks again!

    • Linda, I think the small elastic would be fine, as long as it isn’t too tight…or maybe it can be hooked at the back on something other that the ears so as not to make the back of the ears sore. Another option is to just make ties. I basically just used the kind of elastic that I had on hand when creating this tutorial.

  18. Thank you for making the pattern & tutorial available to all of us! We appreciate your hard work and generosity.

  19. Thank You,just read,all makes sense to me,If I get my hands on some more durable fabric will definitely try.
    I found some “free” bandanna/scarf material,several patterns in my collection of scarves that came from Breast Cancer walks from a vendor-going to play with that a bit,most of it pretty thin.

  20. I found this very informative, especially the hints. As a beginner sewer, I have been researching mask making instructions online. this is one of the better ones. Gives me a great place to start, and maybe even add some ideas. Thank you for your willingness to create this tutorial and share it free online. you are providing service to the world.

    • LC, Thank you very much. I had hoped, when putting the tutorial together that it could be easily modified to accommodate individual needs. I am tickled to death to know that many designers have used this tutorial pattern to create their own version of it. I also like seeing that individual sewers are able to modify it too. Thank you for trying it out.

  21. Thank you for making your pattern and instructions available. It would help if the inside and outside were different fabrics, and to label “front” and “back” instead of “main pleated piece” because both sides are pleated. In other words, I got a little confused on which was front and which was back in some of the photos–but I really appreciate the pictures!

    • Barbara, “main pleated piece” was in reference to the unit as a whole. Since this mask, when finished does not have a front or back or a right side up or upside down, it certainly can be confusing. Pattern making can be tricky for this reason, so I appreciate you feedback. I hope everything became clear with the pictures that I provided. Thank you!

  22. Thank you so very much for your pattern and instructions were very easy to follow.
    That was SUPER AWESOME of you 😍
    Thank you again
    God Bless ❤😍😍😍😍❤

  23. Thank you for this tutorial. You’ve made it very easy to understand and follow. I’m very grateful for your contribution. Thanks again!

  24. I appreciate the effort and time that you put in to developing and writing these very clear directions. Love the pictures! Thank you very much. Have a blessed day!

    • Dolores, I am happy that you visited and can use this tutorial. I tend to be patient with people who are negative, as I know they are probably going through some pretty tough times. I don’t take much to heart. Thank you.

  25. You give amazing instructions and an awesome product. Thank you for doing this. I work in health care on the accounting side and we follow hospital protocol so we are wearing masks. I decided they needed to be fun and happy colors. I used ties as everyone said the elastic bothered them.

    • Tonyia, It’s so great to hear that you can use this for making some fun masks for your essential work (thank you for that!) Yes, elastic is best used for people who have a hard time with ties (such as the elderly), but ties tend to make the mask stay put and have a better fit in my honest opinion. Thank you for your feedback.

  26. Finally found one with written instructions and great pictures. The videos confused me. Probably has something to do with being 84 and I can’t write that fast. I just want to make some for my husband and myself. I’m having a bad time with my right leg and hurts to use it to run the machine. It’s old too.

    • Shirley, When I made this tutorial, I wanted it to be very easy for people to see what the heck I was doing. Decades ago when I first started quilting, I got pretty frustrated with instructions for many periodicals because they weren’t very clear, and they make you feel like you’re just supposed to know everything before you start. Large pictures allows a person to zoom in, or go as slow or fast. Thank you for your feedback.

  27. I appreciate this pattern and tutorial. It really is a great pattern and thank you for sharing. Am i wrong though that the total measurements for all the folds equal 7″? The actual piece will be 6.5″ ( 14″ cut, folded in half, 1/4″ seam allowance equals a 6.5″ piece, right? So, the last folded piece is not 1.5 inches, but rather 1′ like the first piece. When I start with a 1.25″ section and proceed then I have (2) 1.25″ sections and (2) 1/2″ sections, this seems more in line with what it should look like. yeah?

    • Jean, Okay, first, Your beginning piece is 14 inches long. When you subtract the seam allowance from that you get 13.5 inches, once it is sewn together, distance around. Divide that in half to get 6.75 (6 3/4) for your finished measurement before you start the pleats. Okay, now, measuring up from your bottom edge (this can be the seam edge or folded edge, whichever you prefer) Make all of your lines at once if this helps: First line is 1.5 inches from the bottom. Next is 2.5 inches from the bottom. 3 inches from the bottom, 4 inches from the bottom, 4.5 inches from the bottom, and finally 5.5 inches from the bottom. The first, third, and fifth lines that you made are folded pleat lines, when you make these, they lay down on the second, fourth, and sixth lines. So, your first pleat starts by folding your fabric on that 1.5 inch mark. Next you put the folded edge of that you just made, on the 2.5 inch mark and press. Now, make your next pleat by folding the fabric in the 3 inch line. Bring that folded edge to the 4 inch line, then press. make your third and final pleat by folding your fabric on the 4.5 inch line. Bring that edge to the 5.5 inch line, then press. I hope this all helps you. Good luck!

  28. hello my name is Magdalena Nelson I like to order some fabric and elastic I want to make medical mask I went to Milford Jo-Ann Fabric someone told me I have to order online and pick it up at the Milford JoAnns Fabric how can I do this please explain

    • Magdalena, thank you for visiting my blog post. Unfortunately, I don’t sell fabric, nor am I associated with JoAnn’s fabrics. (my husband would argue this point, because of the amount of fabric that I have in my personal stash) I don’t even know where Milford is, but this is what I would do. Go to http://www.joann.com, then send them an email where it says ‘contact us’ at the very bottom of the web site.
      They should be able to help you. Good luck!

    • I ordered fabric from Joanns a week ago. When you are selecting your item to purchase, there is a pick up option where you can select the store you want to pick up at. Then they will tell you if they have it in stock. Once you place your order, they will let you know when it is ready to pick up. When I placed my order, the website still said orders would be ready by 5pm. Be prepared to wait a couple of days. At my store, they used to get @8 online orders a day. Now they come in and have @70.

  29. You are a good and smart lady. I appreciate the time and knowledge you gave to blog this. Be safe and thank you.

    • Kathleen, Thank you so much. I can assure you that I go through life with a bunch of trial and error, more than relying on my intelligence. (I’m one of those people who grabs a plate that the waiter just told me is hot.) I am glad that you were able to use this tutorial.

  30. Thank you so much for your very clear tutorial. I am now making masks to give to my small local grocery store, so they can offer them to people in the community. I really appreciate your work. Be well, be safe, bless you.

    • Christann, I grew up in a town with a small local grocery store that relied heavily on the community. I am sure they are thankful for your kind charity to help them. I hope you have compounded blessings in return. Thank you.

  31. Pingback: City to host community mask distribution center for those in need of face coverings – Stillwater Living Magazine

  32. I LOOOOOVE the Button Counter!!!
    Found you a month or so ago & made one easily!
    Then, thinking I had saved it (or at least sent to a roommate), COULDNT FIND YOU AGAIN!
    Tripping through all of the complicated/ or “Give me money & I’ll tell ya” sites,
    We got you back…THANK YOU!!!

  33. Hello, I’m using your tutorial to make a few masks for a friend of mine in Lachute, Quebec. I will also make some for me and my hubby. I started the masks tonight but was too tired to finish them. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Stay safe 👋😷😉

  34. Thank you so much for sharing. I have been looking for a mask pattern that is a little quicker to sew than the previous batch I made, and have decided that this pattern is best for my needs at this time.

    Love and best wishes from South Africa. 🇿🇦 ❤️

    • Rae, I am so glad that this was useful to you. I like that I can make one of these up in a short period of time as well. They have certainly been useful to me even before this month. Blessings in return, from Texas.

      • Hello Monica,

        Yes I did get some done, actually I made 28 so far. My family and my friends are ecstatic, I even shared your link on a group of quilters I’m on. I thought I would never be able to sew those, and I’m doing great. I do not sell the masks, I give them out. I would like to make some that I can put a filter inside but I do not find a tutorial on it. And I don’t have a printer, so I cannot print the template for those made like cups.

        Anyway, enough of my bla bla… I have to thank you again, it is a great and easy tutorial if I could send a picture so you could see how this newbie to sewing is doing lolll


  35. This is really nice! I love how you attached the elastic. It’s a smidge more time consuming but the finish is perfect! So glad I found this. Thank you for sharing.

    • Gayle, Thank you. I figure, if a person has to sew up their own face mask, the last thing they want to happen to them is an elastic getting pulled out of the seam. I hope I saved a few people from throwing face masks at the wall in frustration. ha, ha.

  36. I sew so I could probably have created a pattern for the mask through trial/error. But your site did all this for me. Thanks for the free information! It really made this process quicker and therefore less stressful!

    • Catherine, Thank you! Although, it sure is fun to stumble through stuff, trying to figure out how to make make doohickeys for the first time. I am glad it made things easier for you.

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 )

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