How to Sew a Face Mask

Learn how to sew a face mask to keep yourself safe during these uncertain times. In the news the past few days, the announcers keep letting us know that at this point everyone should be wearing a mask to protect themselves and others in the community.

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DIY Reusable Face Mask
DIY Reusable Face Mask

Shortage of Face Masks

Since there is a shortage of masks right now and I am not interested in paying exorbitant fees for an air mask, I have decided to do some research and make my own for myself and family members. I need to let you know that this is NOT a MEDICAL GRADE AIR MASK; however, you can still protect your face with other types of face covers even if they are non-medical grade.

Easy Sewn Face Masks

Get a PDF Printable of This Tutorial

According to Good Morning America, top health officials in China warn against not wearing a mask. They say that not wearing one is a big mistake during this pandemic.

Photo and Video Tutorial for this Reusable Face Mask Sewing Pattern

Sewing Skills

If you have a sewing machine and have basic sewing skills, you can make this face mask. The basic pattern involves two layers of fabric, three 3 folds and elastic to go around the ears. No sewing machine? That is okay, you can hand sew this together too , it will just take longer.

Simple Sewing Pattern for Making a Reusable Air Mask

This is a super simple tutorial. It’s pretty much a rectangular piece of fabric with pleats and elastic on the side. The pleats help give the extra room needed to breath comfortably. 

Does Not Protect Against Viruses
Does Not Protect Against Viruses

Disclaimer: This Face Mask Pattern -- Does NOT Protect Against Viruses. It is NOT a Replacement for an N95 Mask

Supplies Needed to Make Air Mask
Supplies Needed to Make Air Mask

What You Need to Make This Face Mask

  • (2) 6 x 9 Inch Rectangles of Cotton Fabric
  • (2) 1/8 Inch or 1/4 Inch wide Elastic that is 7 Inches Long
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread
  • Tape Measure
  • Pins
  • Scissors

Let’s Get Started

I have not sewn anything for a few years, so I had to go digging through my plastic totes to see what I had. Lucky me, I found quite a few fat quarter fabric swatches and 8 yards of 1/8 inch elastic. All of the rest of the supplies were there too. However 1/4 inch elastic is a bit stronger and would work better for everyday use. Also, you can use any cotton fabric. No fabric? Cut up an old cotton shirt. Supplies can be difficult to get right now, so you might have to be creative and use what you have.

What is a fat quarter?

fat quarter of fabric is a one-fourth yard cut that usually measures 18″ x 22″. Here is how I cut my fabric. Oh yeah! I was also lucky enough to have a fabric with stripes. This makes it wonderfully easy to cut a straight line. As you will notice from the photos, I do not have a fancy rotary cutter or a fabric cutting board. The old fashioned scissors is what I used.

Since we need the fabric 9 inches wide, the fat quarter below can be folded in half and cut. That makes it so easy to cut a straight line with a scissors.

Measuring the Width of a Fat Quarter of Fabric
Measuring the Width of a Fat Quarter of Fabric

In the photo below, I folded the fabric in half and started cutting to show you how I aligned the scissors to get a straight edge.

Cutting Fat Quarter Fabric In Half
Cutting Cotton Fabric In Half

Start measuring each half now to make the final 6 inch X 9 inch sizes. Measure and cut every 6 inches.

Here are photos of how to measure if you are new to measuring and sewing. The lines on this fabric make it wonderful to cut a straight line.

Measure and Cut Material Every 6 Inches
Measure and Cut Material Every 6 Inches

Notice the Fat Quarter is 22 inches long. Therefore, that will make three pieces of fabric for the mask with a 4 X 9 inch left over. This would make a nice child size. Remember we need to pieces of fabric for each covering. Therefore, one Fat Quarter will yield enough material for 3 adult face coverings and 1 child.

Time to Start Pinning and Sewing

Pin the two of the 6 X 9 rectangles together (right sides together). In the photo below, you can see the right side (top side) on the left and the wrong side (under side) on the right.

Right Side Versus Wrong Side of Fabric
Right Side Versus Wrong Side of Fabric
Sewing a Face Mask Visual Detailed
Sewing a Face Mask Visual Detailed
Two 6 x 9 Pieces Pinned Together
Two 6 x 9 Pieces Pinned Together
Adding Elastic Between Fabric Layers
Adding Elastic Between Fabric Layers

First Sewing Pass

With the right sides together, start sewing about mid-way on the 9 inch side. There needs to be a hole so this can be turned inside out. Sew with approximately 1/4 inch seam. Sew almost to the end-take the elastic and put it between the material. Continue sewing to the entire end, turn and sew up the side almost to the end. Bring the other half of the elastic between the material on that end and continue sewing to the end. Turn.

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Sew up the other 9 inch side again, almost to the end, insert the elastic between the fabric and continue sewing. Turn, sew up the side and when you are close to the other end, tuck the last part of the elastic between the material. Continue sewing to the end and turn sewing just a little bit on the first 9 inch side where you started. Remember leave about a 2 inch opening so you can turn the mask inside out.

In the photo below, the first sewing pass is complete. Notice a couple of things. The elastic you can see peaking out on the right side. That is okay, no one will notice as that will be on the inside once turned inside out. also the top left has the opening. That is how we will turn this inside out. Go ahead and do that now.

First Sewing Pass Completed
First Sewing Pass Completed

In the photo below, the air mask has been turned inside out. See how quickly this is coming together? With the first sewing pass, most of the work is done.

Air Mask Turned Inside Out
Air Mask Turned Inside Out

Second Sewing Pass

In this second sewing pass, you will want to sew around the entire outside. This will close up the hole that was left in the first sewing pass. However, in order to make this fit nicer on the face, you will want to add three pleats. Don’t worry, that is not hard to do.

Adding Pleats

Pick the fabric up between your fingers, fold over and pin on both sides.

Making the Pleats in the Mask
Ready for Second Sewing All Pinned Together

Begin sewing on the 9 inch side. Just remove the pins before sewing over the area.

Begin Sewing on 9 Inch Side -- Remove the Pins Before Sewing Over Them

Take your time sewing over the pleats. There is a lot of material that needs to fit under the foot.

Sewing Over the Pleats
Sewing Over the Pleats

Third Sewing Pass

In order to provide a bit more stability, make one more pass sewing all the way round the air mask again.

You are now complete.

DIY Reusable Face Mask
DIY Reusable Face Mask

Reusable and Washable Air Mask

The nice thing about this mask is that it is washable. However, I would put this in a fabric bag before washing just to keep it from snagging on any other clothing. Here is a mesh fabric bag that would be nice to use.

Wash Air Mask in Fabric Bag

Get a PDF Printable of this Tutorial

Video Tutorial of This Face Mask

My pattern for the face mask is a photo tutorial of this video that was aired on Good Morning America. Therefore, if you would rather watch a video of this reusable face mask sewing pattern, it is available here.

How to make a face mask for doctors, nurses and health care workers - COVID-19 - Deaconess Hospital
Watch this video on YouTube.
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More Mask Tutorials

Test out different styles of face masks with more instructions from other makers.

1 Minute Easy DIY No Sew Face Mask Tutorial 😷 Bandana And 2 Ponytail Holders
Watch this video on YouTube.
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DIY FABRIC FACE MASK: PRINTABLE PATTERN IN DESCRIPTION BOX WITH MEASUREMENTS
Watch this video on YouTube.
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