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.



3 inch block pincushion


Hey.  You miss me right?  I know.  I never come around anymore, and when I do, I am just trying to get you to make stuff.  But, don’t you want to make things that you can get done in just one day?  No, I mean for real.  In one day.  I tell you what.  If you don’t trust me, I understand.  I have been there with the ‘(insert project here) in a day!!!’ books, pamphlets, and classes.  I am telling you, it’s lies, all lies.  I always end up with little bits cut out of yardage, and a half-baked tea cozy…or whatever.  But this here is legit, y’all.  You can bank this one on me.

So are you with me? Quick, grab or make a block that measures 3 1/2 inches square. (This block will finish at 3 inches, which explains how I came up with the genius title.)  This could be a churn dash, a log cabin, a split rail, improv, or even a paper-pieced pterodactyl.

And so it begins.

Supplies needed:

  • 1- 3 1/2 inch block of spectacular beauty
  • fabric scraps for the border cut into four rectangles. A ten inch square scrap would be plenty. 2 rectangles will be 1 3/4″ x 3 1/2″, and two rectangles will be 1 3/4″ x 6″. *note: if you are using a directional, read or follow pattern to the end before cutting, so you don’t get mad at me for ruining your day. (Seriously! Only one day!)
  • batting scrap measuring 6 1/2″ square
  • a 6″ scrap of fabric for the back or bottom of the pincushion
  • a 6″ piece of light weight, or woven interfacing, such as Pellon Shape Flex 101 (SF101)
  • Stuffing/filling:  Buy the ten pound bag, then only use a hand full…it’s the law.
  • a small plastic grid ruler, pencil, thread, needle, and if you sew like me…a seam ripper is always good to have around.  Don’t ask me why.


These are the fabrics that I chose for the job.  I have already cut pieces to start.

Okay, so this next picture shows the grey border rectangles already sewn to the 3 1/2 inch block, because I thought that I got a picture of the process, but like a dufus, I didn’t; however, you can easily imagine that you take the two smaller rectangles, and using a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew one to each side of the 3 1/2 inch center block.  Then take the two remaining larger rectangles and sew one to the other two sides so that it looks like this:


Place the block on top of your piece of batting making sure to center it.  You do not need the backing piece yet.  (by the way, I have also used flannel or thermal fleece for batting on these.) At this point, you can put a decorative hand quilt stitch around the edge of the block using pearl cotton, DMC floss, or similar.  It isn’t necessary, it’s just to make it look pretty, y’all.


Whether you decide to do that decorative quilt stitch or not, be sure to put a baste stitch around the perimeter of the pincushion top, 1/8″ from the edge, so that it looks like this:


Trim the excess batting from the edge of the block so that it measures 6″ square.  Set aside.


Now we are going to prepare the back, or bottom, of the pincushion by stabilizing it with the lightweight or woven interfacing.  Both the backing piece of fabric and the interfacing should be cut to 6″ square.


You will attach it, following the product instructions, to the wrong side of the fabric.  Make sure that the rough side of the interfacing is facing the fabric.  If you get this wrong, it will adhere right to your iron. I have never made this mistake, but a distant cousin on my mom’s side of the family has a friend who said that it was the dumbest thing she has ever done.

Now we get to sew the two pieces together like a miniature pillow.  Placing the two pieces, right sides together, you will stitch around the perimeter of the square, using a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 2″ area unstitched, so that you can turn it right side out later.  In this picture, I marked the sewing lines on mine, purely for you to see your sewing lines easier, but you don’t need to mark yours.


Okay, don’t turn it inside out yet.  I know you want to, but we are going to gusset the corners first.  Super easy. Pinch one corner like this:



Then make it lay flat, so that the seams line up, and the corner is flat.  Make sure the other three corners are tucked out of the way when you mark your sewing line, 1/2 inch from where the corner stitches meet. (not the tip of the outer seam allowance). To help you see where I am measuring from, I made the line in this photo black, so that you can see the 1/2 inch.  Take a pencil to draw your sewing line, following the edge of the ruler.


Sew the corner, sewing right on the line that you drew, using a shorter stitch length.  Make sure you back stitch at the beginning and end.  Repeat this procedure for the other three corners.  Trim the corner tips off, about 1/4″ on the outside of the stitches that you just made:


Your pincushion should now look like a styrofoam clamshell for fast food hamburgers. 😀


Turn this right side out.


stuff it full of fiber fill, wool, or your pincushion filler of choice.

Stitch the opening closed. By. Hand. Duct tape is only okay if you are over deadline, or if you know you will never, ever, do this again anyway.

Please tag me (‘buttoncounter’ on social media) in your pictures if you make one (Instagram, blog, Flickr, etc.)  I would LOVE to see your version. Please remember that it is a lot of work to make a tutorial, with taking photos, uploading, typing up explainations, editing, then putting your soul out there on social media for people to critique, especially if that tutorial is free.  So, please be an awesome human, and do me a solid by mentioning me and this post if you happen to use it.  I thank you tons and tons.  Have a great and wonderful day!