At Your Side: Cloth Mask Tutorial

April 9, 2020By Laura PiferArticles, News, Projects 25 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

I’m hoping everyone is healthy and safe right now as we go through this time of uncertainty together. As you may know hospitals and medical clinics all around the world are running low on supplies. Some hospitals and healthcare facilities are reaching out to the public for help in sewing cloth face masks to help with the shortage. Now, the CDC is also recommending the general public wear cloth face masks when going out in public. I created a tutorial that works great for sewing in bulk to donate to your healthcare community and also for yourself, family, and friends. There is a lot of face masks patterns out there, I find this one to be the easiest to sew in bulk. I’ve been working with hospitals and healthcare in the Atlanta area, and the basic 2-piece cotton masks are what they prefer, but its important to reach out to the hospital you are donating to for guidelines. I’m also aware that elastic for these masks is in low supply (1/8″ – 1/4″ elastic), so I share alternatives below.

Disclaimer: It is important to note that cloth face masks have not been proven to provide effective protection against the spread of viruses. For more information visit the CDC for more information. Thank you.

Supplies:

  • Tightly woven cotton: other alternatives (Batik, cotton duck)
  • ¼” – 1/8” elastic
  • Alternative options: Knit jersey cut in strips, self-made fabric straps, or bias tape
  • Sewing Machine: I’m using the Brother SE1900
  • basic cutting and sewing notions

Cutting

Standard:

  • Fabric: 2 by 6″ x 9″
  • Elastic: 2 x 7″ strips
  • Fabric Straps: 4 x 20″
Note: I have a smaller face so I found 5.5” x 8.5” to be more suitable and I also made the elastic 6 ¾”

Children: Ages 8-13

  • Fabric: 5” x 7 ¾”
  • Elastic: 6.5” strips

Children: Ages 3-8

  • Fabric: 5” x 7”
  • Elastic: 6 ¼” strips

Step 1

Pin the elastic to the corners and baste stitch into place just to secure from moving.

Step 2

Place liner over exterior so right sides are together and pin into place being mindful of the elastic or straps.

When you sew, leave a 2″ gap at the center bottom or top so you can flip right sides out. Stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Make sure the elastic is through the seam allowance (we don’t want these to snap on someone). You can even back stitch at the corners a couple times to ensure they’re secure.

Step 3

Clip just a little bit of the corners being sure to NOT going into the stitches or elastic.

Flip right sides out through the opening and press.

Step 4

Topstitch just along the top edges making sure to secure the opening.

Step 5

Fold over 3 even pleats about 1/4″ each starting 1/2″ down and pin. You need 3 for each side so make sure they’re even.

Topstitch folds down using 1/4″ seam allowance.

For the alternative Jersey string mask:

Jersey Step 1

Cut strips of “t-shirt string” as an alternative for the elastic straps.

I used a basic jersey cotton t-shirt I had on hand. You can also use any knit fabric. I measured off 1″ strips and cut. If the knit you are using is thin, you may want to go a bit wider (1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ strips). If it’s a thick knit, go for maybe 3/4″. Basically, when you pull these strips they shrink and become stretchy string. You want them to be no smaller than 1/4″ in width once pulled. So, you may have to do some testing.

Jersey Step 2

Cut 4 x 20″ strips and repeat the sewing process above.

Fabric Strap/Bias Tape Mask:

Another strap option is with made with fabric straps. You can use bias tape, use the bias tape maker, or fabric made straps.
Cut 1.5” strips (you need 4 x 20″ long)
Press the sides into the center.
Fold again to create a double-fold strap.
Then topstitch the 2 ends together just along the edge.

Create the mask piece without the straps sewn inside.
Stitch 4 x 18” straps just along the corners right sides facing.
Create 3 even folds in between the straps. Pin or use clips.
Flip the straps flat encasing the raw edges.
Topstitch straps and folds into place.

Use a loop turner: (this is easier than the folded strap above).
Cut 1 1/4″ wide x 20″ long strips.
Sew right sides together just along the edge.
Flip right side out with the loop turner.

A lot of different options here. I read that some healthcare personnel can experience “ear fatigue” from wearing the masks all day, so the ideal version is the knit straps if you plan to do straps.

There is no right or wrong way to make these, do whats best for you. We are wishing you all health and safety during this time.

When sewing for the healthcare community.

A few things to consider. When I first started sewing masks to donate, I personally reached out to my healthcare community, grocery stores, and public service departments (police, etc.). My first pack of 20 I made for my kid’s pediatricians office. I then reached out to my community Facebook page and the outpouring of support to help plus requests for masks was overwhelming. I love that we can use our skill to help in this time of need. Be well.

25 Comments

  • I have made one like this but with only 2 tucks and added a wire insert at top to bend round the nose – thanks for showing this as I have sent it to a friend.

    • Someone I know used a pip cleaner for nose also tie or elastic option. Size is also a factor for people with glasses and or need something because elastic on larger people pop off. So the two tie is an option

      • Yes after flipping right sides out (step 3). You can insert a 5″ pipe cleaner through the opening before topstitching along the top edge. Then secure the pipe cleaner by stitching the sides of the pipe cleaner. This was shown on the brother live we did on masks as well.

  • You can make these masks more effective & increase protection against COVID19 by adding a water proof interfacing to each cotton panel. I know it’s an extra step, but it’s worth the added protection. If you were to look at the fibers of cotton fabric under a microscope, you would see that the weave is wide open for the virus to enter. The simple cotton mask is better than nothing, but why not take that extra step by adding the interfacing?

  • pour pincer au-dessus du nez, vous pouvez utiliser les attaches de sacs de congélation (c’est ce qu’on trouve en France)

  • Thank you for the pattern. I have made these and also made a few “molded” masks until I ran out of elastic. I’ve also tried large rubber bands (wrapping them with fabric), & hair scrunchies I had on hand. I will try making some with ties. I wanted to crochet some “cord” and try those as well.

  • The problem in my area is that you cannot even get fabric or elastic to make these masks. I have been to Walmart no fabric and no elastic. I tried ordering from Joann’s where you go pick it up and I had the same problem. I would just like to find elastic. Then I could cut some of the bandana’s that I have and make a comfortable face mask. So where are you getting the elastic from?

  • Certainly easier than the ones I tried to make. I use elastic hair bands from the dollar store. They seem to hold their shape well.

  • Hi All I got elastic from Amazon just this week. I agree with Sharla about interfacing. I just got some more from JoAnn’s although had to root and snort thru the website for it. When elastic got hard to find, my neighbor suggested shoelaces which work ok but I needed to inbrease the width to about 10″.

  • thanks for instructions with the ties, i need to make some of these as the ones with the elastics interfere with my dad’s hearing aid

  • Was searching for a pattern to make masks. Found at Brother International a pattern and instructions that could be printed. But the measurements for measurements, fabrics, elastic etc are all in cm. Was hoping to find the same or similar here that was printable using inches not centimetres so I don’t have to do conversion. I’ve went through tutorial which I appreciated it but way too many pages to print.

  • I found elastic about the diameter of the ponytail elastic rings in multiple colors on a card in The Dollar Tree Store for $1.00 the other day. Do not know how long each color is but it appears to be quite long. I gave it to my daughter who is making masks. I also saw a snippet on TV of a mask that has an overlapping slit down a section of the middle so a person can leave their mask on and sip a drink through a straw. Don’t believe it would be practical for eating food that way.

  • I had some fitted bed sheets just stacked in the closet that I was not using, so that’s where I got my elastic.

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