Follow this tutorial to create a durable but super easy to make DIY face mask. This has a nose bridge and a filter pocket an can be altered so that you use elastic if you prefer that.
When the Corona Virus first reared up and people were in a panic I ended up having to travel that week. I will admit, I was really scared to do it – but we were having a family emergency and it wasn’t an optional trip.
I sewed myself a face mask for that trip, and it made me feel safer as I went through the airport and sat on an airplane which although they say is fine seems to be a giant germ tube. At that time (mid-march 2020) NO ONE else was wearing one. But, I had read that even though the mask wouldn’t necessarily prevent the virus from getting through, it was 5 times safer to wear a mask than to not wear one. 5 times! That, to me, is a pretty major difference.
If you might have the virus and not know it, it is a kind thing to wear so that other people don’t get sick. If you just don’t want your nose and mouth exposed to an airborne virus, that is also a smart reason to wear a mask.
I think the rest of the world caught on, because they are everywhere now – which is great. But, people are charging a fortune for them. So, why not make your own?
This pattern is a super easy, beginner-friendly DIY mask that anyone with a sewing machine can make quickly.
The whole thing will take you around 1 hour to complete.
In this tutorial I am not going over the basics, so if you need those, prepare yourself before you read this.
These are the main steps to this process:
- Measure and cut your fabric – This doesn’t need to be any exact measurement, but around 16″ by 8″ is a good size for the main piece. You can alter this based on your own personal preference, if you wish. The strips are roughly 8″ by 2.5″.
- Sew – Sew your pocket and top-stitching, then your pleats and side-strap holders.
- Cording – Make your cording (56″) from an old t-shirt or any other string like material – shoelaces, rope, cording.
I suggest using 100% cotton as your mask material, as is backed up by a majority of studies and recommendations, including this one from the CDC.
You want to use cotton for the mask because this is a durable, breathable, fabric that is also said to be one of the best fabrics to protect against viral particles. I will caution you to pick a cotton that is fairly light, otherwise it becomes very hard to breathe.
If you will be adding a filter, this will add even more heaviness to the entire mask, and then your breathing risks becoming strained and sweaty. Water is a virus’s best friend – so avoid it when possible. Filter options include using an actual filter like these. In a pinch you can try using garage shop towels or coffee filters, which should be noted, are not as effective as the real filters.
You can find cotton almost anywhere that fabric is sold – Walmart, Amazon, Fabric.com, Joann’s Fabrics, etc. I ended up recycling a few pillow cases to avoid going out or ordering things that would be delivered.
Note: Pre-wash your cotton before sewing.
What Materials You Need
- Cotton Fabric – This can be your choice of colors and weight, but I would recommend light if possible. You will need 1 main piece that is 16″ by 8″, and 2 more strips that are 8″ by 2.5″.
- Cord, shoelaces, or elastic – In this tutorial I used an old t-shirt, but you can use rope, or anything else that can be used to tie like a drawstring. You will want at least 56″ of length.
- Nose Bridge – I use the standard twistie ties, but you can use pipe cleaners, paper clips (turn the ends in so they don’t pierce the fabric), or brads from a file folder. Anything that is bendy metal should work here.
- Measuring Tape – If you have sewn before you probably already have this.
- Fabric Scissors – You can use any fabric scissors you like to use.
- Sewing Machine
- Iron & Ironing Board
- Cotton Thread – This should match your fabric colors.
Steps To Make Your Face Mask
- Pre-wash your fabric and dry it so that it shrinks.
- Measure and cut your piece to the desired length. I would recommend making it around 16″ by 8″ inches for a man or for more coverage for a woman. If you are making this for a very petite woman, 15″ by 7″ is probably a better size. For a child, it probably depends on the age, but you can try 12″ by 7″ and see how that comes out (let me know in the comments if there is a better size for this style of mask and I can adjust my recommendations here.)
- Take your large piece and fold in half so that the 16″ becomes 8″.
- At the raw edges, mark or pin 2″ in on both sides.
- Sew a 1/2″ seam allowance ONLY to the mark points. You will leave the middle un-sewn, as this will become the filter pocket.
- Press your seam open.
- Now, turn right side out, and top-stitch all the way over your seams, being careful not to sew your pocket closed or sew over other fabric. Turn the bulk as you stitch to prevent overlapping.
- Flatten and finger press so that there is about 1.5″ at the top of your piece. Top-stitch the edge using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Sew a nose bridge channel in the middle between the top-stitching of the pocket and the edge – the channel will be located in the middle and will be about 3.5″.
- Finger-fold your pleats and pin or press them down. These should be about 1/2″ each in size and there will be room to make 3 of them.
- Sew the edges to lock in the pleating and do this for both sides.
- Wrap your 2.5″ strips around the edges, placing the right sides together at the seams, and then overlapping the excess so that it wraps around the backside of the pleated edges.
- Sew these down using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Reinforce with another row of sewing if desired.
- Repeat for the other side.
- Turn your fabric right-side out so that you have flaps that will wrap around your cording.
- Cut or use your cording – if cutting cord from a t-shirt, you can opt to sew the tube down, or just pull and stretch it and it will self-form into a tube. Just make sure you knot off the ends of your rope, cording, or t-shirt tube.
- Place your cording inside the side-flap with the knot side at the top of the mask (where the nose bridge is).
- Fold your flap in toward the inside of the mask 2 time, securing the cord within.
- Pull the cording tight towards the outside to ensure you do not sew over the cording. This is very IMPORTANT. If you sew your cord down, you will have to undo all of your stitching, the cording has to move within the encasement so that you can tighten your mask properly.
- Stitch down the encasement, catching just the very edge of the fold, to create a tube for your cord to be secured within.
- Do this on both sides of the mask.
- When you are done, press your mask.
- Make a nose bridge using a twistie-tie, by folding it in half and bending off the end to keep it together.
- Insert your nose-bridge into the pocket, then search out the channel with the end of the nose-bridge, working your way into the channel slowly and carefully to avoid piercing the fabric. Bend and move this until it is secured in place.
That’s it – You DID it! Give yourself a high-five and take that puppy for a test-drive on yo’ FACE!
HOW TO WEAR IT:
- With the pocket side towards your face, place the lower side loop over your head and around your neck
- Pull in the drawstrings to get the mask situated on your mouth area, then tighten as needed.
- Pull the pleats in the mask apart to cover your chin and tighten more.
- Tie the ties behind your head, going over your ears. Make this taught but not too tight where it will smash your face.
- Pinch your nose bridge to conform to your nose.
- Adjust as needed.
Enjoy your new mask or give it to someone who will DEFINITELY appreciate it!
If you would like, you may stitch a piece of elastic instead of using cording, to make ear straps. I would assume around 7″ should do the trick for this.
In that case, you would sew the ends of the elastic in to the tube (probably sticking about 1/2″ into the tube) and then you would want to sew that down within the tube, unlike the cording where you want it to be free-flowing.
I hope you found this tutorial useful and easy!
DIY - Easy to Sew Face Mask
DIY - Easy to Sew Face Mask
Watch the video for the full tutorial.
You can probably throw these into the washer and dryer, but I have been hand-washing mine in very hot water and detergent, and then I actually do a final soak in salt water in a cup (just plain ol’ table salt) – then I let this air dry which only takes a few hours, or if I put it outside it is even quicker, provided the sun is out.
The reason I do this is because I read a study about how salt kills viruses and that they are making salt-infused masks because viruses die from salt. If you are interested, you can read that here.
I don’t know if this is true, but I figure it probably can’t hurt to be on the extra safe side.
You should be able to find cotton fabric at any store that has fabric such as Joann’s, Amazon, or even Wal-Mart. If you’re going for a fashion statement, one of my favorite designers is Kaffe Fassett – his cotton is light and breathable and looks beautiful. It also comes in tons of gorgeous colors. You could opt for only a half yard if you don’t want to invest too much, like the example from Amazon below:
If you made one of these masks – please let me know how it turned out in the comments below!