how to make a fabric face mask

Here’s how to make a fabric face mask, which are now desperately needed in some parts of the country. You can help! Please start making them now, as many as you can. We may all need them in the immediate future.This mask is modeled after the one on I’ve created a pattern for easier marking, changed the trim design and simplified some instructions.

You can make these in any color fabric. I used white fabric with blue trim and black thread so you can see the markings and sewing lines.

See my notes below at the bottom of the post on shortcuts for more experienced seamstresses and alternative supplies–we may run out of some of these items.

items needed:

fabric (cotton or cotton blend is best)

all purpose thread–any color

1/4 inch wide elastic (2 pieces, each 6 1/2 inches long) *

sewing pins

paper for pattern



sewing machine with needles (best size 10-12) and bobbins

Fabric face mask pattern:

(Note: this makes a mask for a small adult like me. For larger adults, use the entire 8 1/2 inch width. You can also increase the width of the trim pieces by another 1/4 to 1/2 inch) I used a piece of 8 1/2 x 14 legal paper (you can tape together regular paper to make one larger piece). Measure in 1/2 inch from one long edge and draw a line. Measure in 1/4 inch on the short sides and draw lines. Find the center and draw a line–that will be the fold line for the fabric. Starting from the line on one of the short edges, measure in 1 1/2 inches and draw a line. From that line, measure 1 inch and draw a line (these are both labeled A). From there draw a line another 1/2 inch and another line 1 inch (these are both labeled B).  From there draw a line another 1/2 inch and another line 1 inch (these are both labeled C). Mark black notches at both ends of the lines–these will be markers for the fold lines for the pleats. See below.

mask pattern

Cut the excess 1/2 inch off the long edge of the pattern if making for smaller adults. Cut notches into the pattern to use as markers for the fold lines. Pin the pattern onto a single layer of fabric. Cut around the outer edge. With a marker that will show up well on the fabric, mark the edge of the fabric at the notches–just tick marks are fine.

mask pattern trimmed

Your piece should look like the white fabric below. You will also need two strips of trim fabric 1 1/4 inch wide by 8 1/2 inches long.

pieces cut and marked


  1. On the mask piece, bring the short ends together. Markings should be on the inside.

mask first fold


2. Sew the short ends together. Also shown are the two trim pieces with one edge pressed over 1/4 inch.

mask first seam and trim

3. Press the seam flat to one side..

mask press seam

4. Turn right side out and press flat with the seam at one end.

5. Place the mask on a surface with the seam end toward you, Starting at the top and holding the fabric on both sides, bring the second mark up to the first mark. This creates a pleat 1/2 inch deep (you are matching C to C).  Pin in place.

mask first pleat

6. Repeat for the second pleat, bringing the fourth mark up to the third mark (B to B); pin in place. Repeat for the third pleat, bringing the bottom mark up to the fifth mark (A to A); pin in place.

mask all pleats pinned

7. Sew 1/4 inch from the edge on each side to secure all the pleats.

all pleats sewn

8. For the trim on the sides, pin the unpressed side to the edge of the mask.

trim pinned

9. Turn the mask over. Bring the end pieces to the center and overlap them. Don’t worry about raw edges of the fabric.

trim pinned

10. Sew through all layers 1/4 inch from the edge.

trim sewn

11. Pull the trim piece right side out, keeping the pressed edge tucked to the inside (I forgot to take a photo of this step). Pin pressed edges together and press flat. Insert ends of elastic about 1/4 inch into the trim piece at the top and bottom (don’t twist) and pin in place.

trim and elastic pinned

12. Sew along the edge, backstitching over the elastic to keep it firmly sewn in. Your finished mask should look like this.

finished mask


fabric face mask–shortcuts and faster production:

Cutting mat, Omnigrid rulers and rotary cutters: Mask and trim pieces can be cut in multiple layers at a time very quickly using a cutting mat, Omnigrid rulers and rotary cutters such as an Olfa rotary cutter.

cutting mat how to make a fabric face mask 1 how to make a fabric face mask 2

Experienced seamstresses can complete steps 2-7 at the ironing board. Once you’ve made one or two masks, it gets much easier and faster. You’ll also find it quicker to get a bunch of masks, trim pieces, etc., all on the same steps at the same time (like at the ironing board) before taking them all back to the sewing machine to finish.

Substitutions for materials:

If you have bias tape, that works great instead of making the trim pieces. Just sew the pleats along the edge, pin bias tape around the end, insert the elastic and pin in place, and sew both edges of the bias tape.You can also use a wide ribbon with finished edges (1/2 to 1 inch wide) instead of trim pieces. When we’re out of elastic, make 4 ties about 12 inches long and attach to each corner of the mask.

Kathy and Steve from the Bottger Mansion wish you “be well”

When we’ve all come out at the other end of this, we’d love to have you stay with us at the Bottger Mansion of Old Town Bed & Breakfast in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In the meantime, to our valued guests, friends and neighbors, “be well.”


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