Make Your Own Face Mask

This is a tutorial on how to make a facemask. Hopefully making these will help protect us while keeping the important PPE to the medical workers who really need it. This design was made by me and is in no way made to replace a real surgical mask or n95. However, for the everyday citizen who does eventually have to venture to the grocery store and leave the house, these are great for an extra line of defense. 

These can be made with any type of fabric however, the CDC recommends cotton, and 100% quilters cotton seems to have the tightest weave, giving the most protection. Though, any cotton t-shirt will also do. 

For this design, I choose to not make a pocket for a filter. This was a personal decision and some may feel safer with a pocket. However, the HEPA filters which many are using for their filters, contain fiberglass which when breathed in can damage the lungs. So, even the maker of these filters is not advising consumers to use them for masks. There is a possibility that it will be dangerous. 

This design was made with help from my father who is an MD however, this is in no way certified, I just used his opinion as he is someone who wears facemasks often. As well, he wears glasses so, these were designed to specifically NOT fog up glasses. They are also made to be as comfortable as possible for long time wear. So, this design may take longer to make than many out there. But, this was for a reason. As many of us are making them for our friends and family to reuse over and over again until this pandemic is over, I believed that spending some extra time on the masks to make them comfortable was important. For, if the masks are not comfortable, we will not want to wear them. So these will take some time to make. Especially the first time. Most of those tutorials online are not as fast as they seem. 

As a side note, I choose to make fabric straps. These are the most comfortable for long time wear. However, these can easily be changed out for elastic or other straps for those who do not want to spend the time to make them. 

So, if this seems like the design for you, here are the steps. I tried to make them as comprehensible as possible. As I know many of the tutorials out there are not user friendly for those who do not have a large amount of sewing experience. 

2- 7 1/2″ x 8″ pieces of cotton (you can use a cotton t-shirt to cut these pieces)
2- 1 1/2″ x 36″ pieces of cotton
1-3 1/2″ piece of wire (I have been using flattened paperclips)

These materials should be household items:
iron/ironing board
Sewing machine
Boiling water

Step 1: Shrink your cotton.
This is to help make sure colors don’t bleed when you wash it. As well it makes sure the size of your cotton doesn’t change. Finally, it tightens the weave, hence filtering more viruses. 

  • Boil Water in a pot
  • Place fabric in boiling water for 5 minutes
  • Take out of boiling water and dry in the dryer 

Step 2: Cut out your fabrics

  • Make sure to recognize which side is your right and wrong side of the fabric. This is important, you do not want to hide the beautiful pattern of your fabric. 

This is the right side of my fabrics, for reference. Also, the Marauder’s Map will be my front-facing fabric. (what the people will see when I wear the mask).

This is the wrong side of my fabric (the wrong side of the beige straps, I colored with pencil. There are grey lines) 

Step 3: Sew the short edges together, right sides of the fabrics facing each other.

  • Place the two fabric pieces on top of each other, right sides facing each other. So the wrong sides are facing you.
  • Sew the short edges together. The edges that are 7 1/2″. These edges will be the top and bottom of your mask. My thread is red. 

Step 4: Turn the fabric inside out and iron the edges down. 

  • Turn the fabric inside out so that you are seeing the right side of the fabric and the wrong sides of the fabric are facing the inside.
  • Iron the edges that you sewed so that they are flat.

This is what the flat edges should look like

Step 5: Sew the right edge. Then put your wire into the top of the mask and sew a box around it to keep it in place. After sewing the left edge. 

  • Sew the right edge. It should be an 8″ edge. THIS IS WHEN YOU CHOOSE WHICH SIDE IS THE FRONT OF YOUR MASK AND WHAT IS THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF IT.  Sew the right side, with the side you want to be the front-facing you and the side you want to be the top, at the top.
  • Grab your wire, and insert it into the middle of the mask through the open left side. Bring it to the top of your mask, as far up as possible. Line up the middle of the wire with the middle of the top of the fabric.

Finally, sew the left side closed.

Step 6: Make the pleats

  • Lay the fabric down, the long edges on the left and right, the top with the wire on the top and the bottom closest to you.
  • Next mark where the pleats are. Starting with the right side on the bottom, make a mark 1 1/2″. Next starting from the mark you made, make a mark 1 1/2″ up. Next mark 1″ from there. Finally, make another mark 1 1/2″ from there. Then copy the marks at the same intervals on the left side.
  • Next fold the 1st mark on the bottom, to the second mark. Then pin. Do this to both sides.

  • Next, fold the 3rd mark to the fourth mark and pin.

  • Sew down the left and right sides, to keep the pleats in place. You should be sewing pretty much on top of the existing thread. You only have to sew where the pleats are.
  • Now, make a mark 7/8″ up from the top pleat on each side.

Step 7: Create nose pocket and finish front part of mask

  • fold the top pleat to the mark you just made and pin into place, it should seem thicker than the other pleats. This is on purpose to make a pocket for the nose.

  • Now, fold the top edge back and pin. This creates a little barrier so that air does not fog up glasses.

  • Sew starting right below the left pleat you just made up and around until you pass the pleat on the right.
  • If you want to, and you have space to, you can trim the left and right edges to make them pretty. DO NOT CUT OFF THE THREAD YOU SEW.

Step 8: Attach the straps.

  • Find the halfway point on both your mask and straps. I find the easiest way is to fold the straps in half and the mask and half and mark where the point is.
  • Next place the right side of the strap on to the right FRONT side of your mask. The wrong side should be facing you. Line up the middle of the strip with the middle of one of the sides of the mask. You should line up the edges so that no strap hangs over the side of the mask.
  • Sew it on. Repeat this for the other side and other straps.

Step 9: Make the straps 

  • Now make sure your iron is on. We are going to be ironing now. First, you want to turn your mask over so you see the material that is going to be the back of the mask. From there you want to turn the strap so you see the wrong side of the strap.
  • Now Iron. You want to fold the left side of the strap and right side of the strap into the center but, leave a little space in the center. Do this along the entire strap.
  • Now, fold over the two ends and iron them down.
  • Finally, fold the strap in half and iron down. Make sure the open fold is facing TOWARDS the mask. Pins are necessary here.
  • Repeat these steps starting with the other strap.

Step 10: Sewing the straps

  • Sew the straps. Sew down the entire strap. Stay as close to the open fold as possible.

YOUR MASK IS FINISHED!!!!!!!  Your finished product should look like this:

A huge thank you to Ava G. for putting this tutorial together!