This is a tutorial to show how to make a fabric face mask with several different options to allow you to customise the mask.
I know there are already a lot of face mask patterns available and I actually hadn’t planned to make one. In the early days of the pandemic there was a lot of conflicting information about face masks that put me off getting involved. Now we are in a situation where they are mandatory, so I turned my attention to making face masks for my immediate family. Straight away I was faced with lots of different requirements and sizes. I couldn’t seem to find a mask pattern that suited everyone’s needs including my own.
Let me tell you about this design.
I know that a large part of wearing a mask is about not spreading any germs you may have, but there does now seem to be some evidence that a mask will also protect you. This mask has an optional filter pocket. There are two reasons for this. One is for extra protection, people in a vulnerable category might feel a bit safer with extra cover over the nose and mouth area. Secondly some people like the comfort of a soft light weight fabric like double gauze that perhaps alone doesn’t always provide enough cover.
There is an optional nose wire casing that allows you to remove the wire for washing. This is the one thing that I haven’t seen on any other mask so far. I like the fit with a nose wire however I was conscious with regular washing any wire would ultimately go rusty. If this could be removed before washing that would solve the problem. This mask pattern works with or without this casing.
Lastly- how the mask attaches to your head. I am not sure if I have small ears but I don’t seem to get on very well with ear elastic, it just pops off or falls off. I wasn’t keen on having a mask that I would constantly have to tie up around my head. This mask will work with ear elastic, ties or my third idea.
There are seven sizes on my pattern to cater for children, ladies and men. I am wearing the medium size in the photograph. Since making my first masks I feel the size smaller fits my face better. As a starting point take a measurement from the tip of your nose to your chin and find the closest measurement between these two points on the pattern or one a little smaller.
The face mask has room to breath and chat without coming away from your nose.
I have made all my masks in quilters weight cotton so far. Another popular choice is cotton lawn and double gauze. I think as a rule of thumb a close weave light to medium weight cotton is best. However with the filter pocket you could use something lighter and add a filter.
Optional pipe cleaners
Click this link to download the pattern. You might want to print off two copies if you plan to make the version with the filter pocket.
The pattern has a line drawn through the centre for the filter pocket option. If you want to make this option you need one full piece and one divided piece. Add a 1.5cm seam allowance on either side of the line.
Follow cutting instructions on the pattern.
How to make:
Apart from the filter pocket seam the seam allowance for this pattern is 1cm.
- If you are making the version with the filter pocket start here if you don’t want the pocket start at step 3. With RST (right sides together) pin the upper and lower halves together, stitch leaving a gap of approximately 10cm in the centre.
2. Press the seam open. Turn and press the raw edge in forming a narrow hem around the opening. Stitch close to the edge.
3. With RST stitch the lower chin seam and the nose seam. Back stitch at beginning and end to reinforce these seams.
4. Press the seams open, Pull the small opening above the chin seam straight and centred with the chin seam, stitch across.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 on the other piece so that you have two seamed pieces with or without the filter pocket opening.
6. You can move onto step 8 if you don’t want the nose wire channel. With RST stitch down the short sides and along the lower edge of the nose channel piece. Trim the seam at the corners and turn to right side. Press.
7. Fold the nose wire channel in half to find the centre. Pin the nose wire channel right side to right side of the nose edge of the mask, matching centres. Stitch close to the raw edge to hold the piece in place.
8. With RST pin one mask panel to the other, if you have the nose wire channel ensure this is sandwiched in the centre. Clip at the lower edge where the seam pivots.
9. Turn the mask to the right side and press. For masks without the nose wire channel move on to step 13.
10. Press the nose wire channel to the inside, stitch close to the lower edge, reinforcing well with back stitch at either end.
11. I have found pipe cleaners to be the best option for a nose wire. Two twisted together works well. Cut to the length of the channel and turn the ends in so that they are not to sharp. Push into the channel.
12. Bend to a nose shape, this can be altered when you put the mask on.
13. Turn and press the mask sides to the inside approximately 1cm followed by 1.5cm. Stitch close to inner edge. Reinforcing well at either end.
14. For ear loops cut two pieces of narrow elastic approx 25cm long. Using a safety pin insert the elastic into the channel. Test the fit by pinning the elastic together. Tie a knot and pull through so the knot is inside the channel.
For a filter cut a rectangle of cotton fabric or non-fusible interfacing the depth of the point between the end of the nose dart and the chin seam and around 15cm long, simply push inside the mask.
You could use this method with elastic only and no casing however the casing makes the mask feel very comfortable so I think its worth the extra bit of effort.
I used 7mm elastic for this, you could use different sizes. If the elastic is much wider you may need to make a wider channel at the sides of the mask.
- Cut a long stripe of fabric I used the width of the fabric by 4cm wide. The width is to allow 3mm room for the elastic, resize accordingly if you are using a different size elastic. With RST stitch the length of the strip with a 1cm seam allowance. Trim to a scant 5mm.
2. Using a loop turner or safety pin turn to the right side and press.
3. Test the length of the elastic, thread the elastic into the channel so the ends come out of the top edge. Try the mask on hooking the lower edge around your neck (like the tie method) bring the elastic to the top of your head where it feels comfortable. Don’t be tempted to make this to tight or the mask with be distorted and uncomfortable. When you are happy with the measurement cut the elastic to the right length.
4. Cut the casing to approximately 1.5 times the length of the elastic.
5. Using a safety pin push the elastic into the channel. When the elastic reaches the edge stitch across the edge and keep threading through.
6. Take the safety pin out and stitch the other end.
7. Thread the finished casing into the channels.
8. Trim the raw edges, lap one over the other using a tight zig zag stitch stitch both ends of the join.
My main criteria for this mask pattern was a good fit and comfort, you might already have a favorite pattern that works well but you could tweak with the addition of a nose wire channel or elasticated attachment.