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.


1,055 thoughts on “Facemask: A picture tutorial.

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. My Mom is an assisted living faculty. She has her sewing machine and loves projects like this where she is helping the community. Blessings to you.

  2. When attach the endcap; my front and back look the same. The accent fabric shows on both sides. What am I doing incorrectly?

    • The accent fabric needs to be fold further over is all. Keep going until you have all of the accent fabric on one side and the strings or elastic is coming out of the very edge of the mask.

  3. Thank you so very much for your pattern. I have just been notified that the EMS,Lab people etc. really need the masks. They have requested anyone who can sew to get busy.

    • Hi. I have been told nurses prefer a nose piece . Easy to attach at the end. The bread plastic bread ties are the right size. Or you can use pipe cleaner. It helps as the nurses can adjust the face mask to be closer to the face. Also a thin facing same size as the mask as an additional layering piece (3 layers ) to help with the bacteria entering the mask . You can sterilize the mask when completed by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over the mask. Additionally the fabric should be laundered before you begin to sew.

  4. You are great. Thanks for going to all the work to make it easy for the rest of us to do these. Best wishes for you and your family.

  5. Thank you so much for the detailed instructions you have prepared. Our local hospital will gladly take these so I plan to be productive over the next couple of day. Sorry you received such negative feed back for a good deed well done.

  6. We are a sewing & crafting community enterprise in Palmers Green, London. Do you mind me using this link in our social media for people they might like to make masks in the current climate. Kind regards Suzanne

      • I learned about your site on the Rachel Maddow show, MSNBC, 3/20/20. This is a kindness you are offering, and no EDUCATED person thinks this will protect us from the Coronavirus. It will help stop the walking worried from grabbing the masks that medical folks so desperately need. Ms. Maddow gave you credit on national TV!! Great job! I also think the masks will help with allergy relief, and we need that, too. I plan to wear two at a time for that… Thank you again. Judith Ann

  7. Our local health agency says no to elastic as the masks have to go into a autoclave (sterlizer) and elastic doesn’t hold up. Use fabric/twill tape ties instead.

  8. Thank you for your tutorial. I appreciate you taking the time to share. I had no idea I could make these at home and am making them for the current crisis, since my alterations/design business are extremely slow right now. I might as well make good use of my time and contribute. For the ones who leave nasty comments–may they take a jump in the nearest lake! Thank you for your contribution.

  9. I live in Canada and my local hospital has been asking for fabric masks and giving the link to this page out as an idea of what they want. I sent it to my mother in New Zealand and she passed it on to a friend in her quilting group. It was rapidly shared from there and now there are at least 40-odd middle aged women working on these across the country just in case.

    Thank you.

  10. Thanks I’m on my 4th one so far, I’ve taken photos along the way for whoever else needs more info – I saw someone mention them not liking the pattern so I decided to take photos with blue fabric and black thread for others to see let me know if you would like me to email some to you to add to this beautiful blog (even tho I am not as advanced as most! ) thank you for putting time into it – as I realize, ….exactly how much time goes into this …plus photos and explanation god bless you, your family and friends

  11. thanks for this pattern. I will adjusted it on my own to include the wire for the nose. For those you want a PDF copy, they can do what I done. I saved the pattern by cut and paste. It was the only way I could figure it out. My local hospital are pleading for even the simple face masks like these. Not everyone in the hospitals need the N-95. The greeters at the front door of a hospital this afternoon were using the most basic masks like we see in MD offices.

    • Lol, this has to be spam. Why would an actual human report a crafter to the authorities? As if hospitals and clinics would actually allow their patients and staff to be in danger? No, my friend, no. Hospitals have been REQUESTING these for use by non-emergency staff and patients to SLOW the spread and reduce risk. For example: cleaning staff do not normally need masks and should not be using what little N95 masks there are. Instead, they can don these fabric masks and reduce their risk of exposure. The above comment has to be a joke because why would someone take the time to come to this website, get all pissed off, and write up a silly comment. Relax everyone and be kind humans. ✌️

  12. What you are doing when used by anybody at a hospital or a first responder is so far WRONG, I don’t know where to start. For anybody to use them in an “Infection Control” scenario is highly illegal and likely will get them fired in addition to spreading contamination. For example the N95 is rated based on a legally regulated method with an aerosol generator using Di-octyl phthalate and particles of 0.3 microns to be 95% efficient. You cannot do this with “hobby cloth” of any kind. I’m sorry but I need to report you to the authorities.

    • You’ve lost your damn mind. Don’t use this mask then! We all know what it will, and won’t do. No one needs you being a complete douchebag.

    • Screw YOU. She is not telling you to use this as protection for hospital settings. She is asking for help with the walking worried, who are buying masks and taking them away from medical folks who are truly suffering. Get your head outta your ass and stop spreading hate.

    • No one is claiming these to be a surgical or N95 mask……..these can be used for other reasons, hopefully to save the professional ones for the hospitals!!! You are a mean spirited jerk, and need to get off your negative high horse!!

    • There are hospitals asking “sewers” to make these so kind and caring people are helping with their requests. I have nurse friends “calling all sewers” to make these. You must be one heck of a miserable busy body who hires lawyers if anyone looks at you wrong. Try being kind. It may make you feel better. The “authorities” have plenty to do other than looking into your pettiness. Shame on you.

    • You’er a nasty idiot. We aren’t making these to be use during surgery. They are just to be used for general use. If you think you are so smart, why don’t you invent an autoclave that can sterilize used mask? Go ahead and report us to the authorities.

    • Thank you so much for putting this up. I have been trying to look at the videos but am hearing impaired and miss much of the spoken instruction. Having this to read is very helpful I to want to be helpful to people at this time.

    • Our local hospital is giving these to people who are coughing but don’t need to be hospitalized. They use them to keep their mouths and noses covered on the trip between the hospital and home so that they don’t get microscopic lung droplets on everything they breathe on. This helps stop the spread of infection and saves sterile and disposable masks for the hospital staff who need better protection. If you really think there are any “authorities” you can possibly report this to who will at all take you seriously, go ahead and waste their time. You’re not fully informed and you are making that glaringly obvious. My advice to you would be pull your head in and read some actual articles before you pull out your keyboard next time.

    • Get a grip on yourself. Hospitals know better what their needs are and what materials or masks they can use. You are afflicted with a little information and less imagination. As the Marines say, ‘lead, follow of get out of the way’. In your case step aside and let the rest of us get on with it.
      Thank you.

  13. Thank you! I just received word from my daughter who works cleaning a State residential facility and they are in need of masks. They have nothing to keep them from getting the virus. And will make more for my, family, friends, and hospital in my community. Thank you for your contribution.

  14. In terribly upset to see that for ur generosity people are being jerks. Apparently their mothers never taught them if u cant say something nice, dont say anything. I thank u from the bottom of my heart for this pattern and the time u donated to write the pattern. I’m always appalled by the rudeness and nastiness of some people. Thank you again and just keep deleting the nasty unhappy people .

  15. Loved your update comments ❣️ I’m sorry you had to deal with any negativity over sharing your free expertise and time! But numbers 7 and 8? Boss babe! 😊 continue being amazing.

  16. I heard that Joann Fabrics would provide supplies to those who have sewing machines to make face masks. I have a son who is a Respiratory Therapist and a daughter who is a Nurse. I will do anything to help out this cause. Can you let me know the process?

    • I was at my local JOAnn store and they just offered it when I bought my materials. Just call your store and ask. Some have even set up sewing tables for people to work right in the store.

    • you just walk in to any Joann Fabrics and they will hand you a bag with the materials and direct you to this website.

  17. I have been searching for a step by step guide to the mask. I am so pleased to find your post.I will be making many of these masks for our oncology dept.

  18. thank you for taking the time to make such an easy to follow pattern. I will do my best to get some made for my community during this difficult time . My time will be used instructively during this corona virus shut down time.

  19. I saw this post on facebook. Given the recent world events, I applaud you for your hard work in putting this together. My sister & I are avid sewers & I can’t wait to crank out a few for my coworkers. God Bless you!!!



    Please take care of yourself and your beautiful family.

    God’s Blessings for your continued good health!

    • FJ you’re an idiot, aparently you didn’t read or comprehend how many folks are requesting these masks made with “hobby cloth”…….lol!!!…..I know where you can START!!!! By leaving here here and MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!!!
      Another hater!!!
      God bless you Button Counter & family!! Thank you for sharing and caring!!! For me it was “THE AUTHORITIES” who recommended YOU to me!! Thank you!! ❤

  21. Each of us should be thankful for the fact that you took the time to “spell out” the instructions step by step! Thank you. I am making my batch for people who are not in the medical field but for those brave others who are, like my husband, “essentials and must report to work every day,” My husband and all the men and women he works with are in the grocery stores. He cannot be home with me because he is in Stop & Shop. He must accept all the groceries from the vendors and record them in the computer! He has to be extremely cautious. That virus doesn’t just affect those in the medical field. Those in the bakery department, the cashier’s, those who load the shelves. Don’t forget the people who sweep those grocery floors or wash down the register areas or bag your groceries! Our Stop and Shop had a bank inside. Don’t forget the tellers! All these people will benefit from your mask pattern. On their behalf I thank you. I feel like I am doing a small but necessary part to help. If we stand United, if we use common sense, if you follow common sense rules, then we are the United States! A strong country has many parts.. Thank you for helping out and seeing along with all of us. Be safe. God bless you and your families…

  22. Thank you for a beautifully done tutorial. Clear instructions and great pictures. You are a gem to continue to provide this free tutorial. Hope you and your family stay healthy.

  23. Thank you for giving the measurements, something l could use, l am going to leave a opening so that people l am making for can slip in a tissue or coffee filter into mask, not sure if this is needed, but read it can help. Thank you again.

  24. Thank you for such a sound tutorial -you’ve thought of everything. Such an important time for this tutorial to be made availalbe.

  25. Thanks so much for your pattern. The step by step pictures were a great help, only need make one or two before it becomes easy. Wrote down the measurements for the pleats, making it easier. I am making them for the staff of a Nursing home where my daughter works. These were actually pretty easy to put together. The battle I had with my sewing machine was another thing. Ended up using my 70 year old mini Singer instead of the high tech electronic one.

    • Isn’t that just the way. I love my mom’s old Singer. I use newer machines but I always have that as a backup.

    • My roommate has been complaining about the elastics on his mask chafing his ears after a while so I replaced them with lengths of ribbon to use as ties around the back of his head instead. Might that be an option for you?

  26. Huge THANK YOU for pulling this together and sharing!! The pictures are much appreciated as I have trouble visualizing what needs to be done. And I really appreciate you pointing out starting with a non-directional print is easier. 🙂

  27. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I’m making masks for care givers and people that want personal protection at their place of work or just going to the store. You make everything simple enough to understand. I’m using floral wires in the top of the mask and sewing a tight casing for it so people can mold it to their nose. Any thoughts on that?

  28. Along with SO many others- thank you so much for the time, energy and heart you’ve put into sharing this pattern. I just have one thought you may want to share about the fabric. I think washing first in hot water and hottest dryer setting will shrink the fabric before the mask is made and possibly prevent it from being unusable after because of shrinkage. I would hate to see anyones effort not be utilized. You truly are making a difference!!!!!

  29. Thank you. Firstly for your tutorial, it’s great! Secondly for your thoughtful comments you’ve added.
    Sorry on behalf of crumby people.
    Hard to know who will become a hero but you are one now. Hard to know how many lives your tutorial will save, some for sure.
    On behalf of humanity, thank you.

  30. Thank you so much for putting this up. I have been trying to look at the videos but am hearing impaired and miss much of the spoken instruction. Having this to read is very helpful I to want to be helpful to people at this time.

  31. For quick strings, one might consider cutting shoestrings….the aglet at the end can be snipped off and the raw end stitched over to avoid unraveling…

    A different website suggested leaving a pocket between the two layers for a paper filter (like coffee filters!) which provide an extra layer of protection for moisture-borne droplets…of course it’s not perfect but a simple additional barrier…this pattern would be easy to modify.

    The type of fabric matters! I found this website VERY informative, with scientific comparisons of fabric types with the N95 mask…if you have a choice, you might use the best fabric — it can get darned close to the N95 in protection! See:

    Lastly, I really love the idea that a well-made mask is *reusable*, and will encourage doing so to the hospital.

    Thanks for the excellent pattern! I’m going to make a few with variations and ask the hospital what they prefer before making more.

  32. Excellent video. Thanks for all your time putting this out. Very useful. We’re making as many as we can. Running out of elastic so moving on to lace hem tape. God bless you!

  33. The 6 1/2 inch elastic doesn’t work for me or my hubby. I crochet four strips (a chain) with cotton yarn to tie in the back of my neck and head. That seems okay. 🙂

  34. Thank you very much for this tutorial. It was detailed and very easy to follow. Mine certainly doesn’t look as professional as yours, but it does the trick.

  35. Thank you so very much for this step by step video. I have made a couple of others but this tutorial answered some questions I had concerning dimensions. I am also grateful that you donated it to JoAnns. You are very generous to take the time to create this video. Love it.


  36. Thank you for sharing this! In today’s climate, every group will have changes or requirements. You have given us a great jumping off point and I say thank you, a thousand times over.
    People, make the adjustments that you feel are needed but remember to give credit to all who give you the information you needed to make a difference.
    Anna in IL

  37. Thank you for your detailed pattern. I can print it & have it near my sewing machine. I had a thought that I’m going to try for myself. I’m going to try & make a “pocket” on inside of mask and insert a panty liner as added protection. A panty liner blocks moisture from leaking through, so it should help block any wet droplets from coughs & sneezes.

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