If you had asked me last month what was the last DIY tutorial that I ever thought I’d have on my site, it would have been a fabric face mask. I wouldn’t have even of thought that a tutorial for making a medical fabric face mask would have needed to exist on Clumsy Crafter. But times have changed.
Now not only are medical professionals asking for face mask donations, there’s rumors that soon they’ll be recommended for the general public.
If you just want the instructions to make your own fabric mask, skip down. There is also a rough instructional video at the bottom of this post.
Which DIY Face Mask Pattern Should I Use?
One of my family members is considered to be at a higher risk so I decided to sit down and make some for my family the other day. I did a ton of research online and found two different options for making face masks. There was the N95 style mask that was form-fitting and then the more traditional style looking medical mask that was a pleated rectangle.
I did a ton of research on the best materials to use, how many layers of fabric, what the purpose they best served, etc.
First I made several of the N95 style masks using a pattern I found online.
I like how these look the best but here’s the deal:
- It’s hot
- It fogged my glasses
- It takes twice as long to sew
- It wastes more fabric
- It has a seam down the middle
Why is having a seam down a big deal to me? Every bit of research I found online said to avoid using needles or pins to hold your fabric when sewing a fabric face mask because you do not want holes in the fabric. A seam is a giant hole in the fabric that you’re putting back together with a ton of small holes. It just seemed less safe to me. Plus it was so hot that I couldn’t comfortably wear it here in South Texas for any period of time.
So next I tried the rectangle, pleated style face mask and it was a winner.
I like this mask and it’s the tutorial I’m going to share with you below because:
- It’s very fast, meaning you can make more to share
- It doesn’t waste fabric, it’s made using rectangles which means straight cuts of the fabric.
- It’s comfortable and because it has a wire to help shape the fabric around the nose, it doesn’t fog glasses.
- You do not need a pattern. If you want a pattern, make one using copy paper and a ruler.
How to Make a DIY Fabric Face Mask
To make this fabric face mask that does not require a printed pattern, you will need:
- Two pieces of cotton fabric cut to 9″ by 6.5″. Use two different fabrics so it’s easy to remember what side touched your face if you take it off for any reason before you’re able to wash it. If you really want a pattern, draw out a rectangle with the same measurements on paper and cut it out.
- Elastic cut to 7″ for women and 7.5″ or slightly larger for men.
- Pipe cleaners (chenille stems) cut to 4″. You can also use the twists that come in bread or garbage bags or a medium wire. Pipe cleaners work great. If you don’t have any on hand, ask moms in your area if they have some you can use.
- An iron, or if you do not have one, a hair straightener will work great!
*There is a video at the bottom of this post.
Start by laying your two fabric pieces so that the pattern or design is facing each other.
Do a straight stitch across both long sides, leaving the shorter sides open. You need to make the seam allowance at least 1/4″. I just used the side of my presser foot to measure each seam allowance.
Now you’re going to add the metal nose piece using the pipe cleaner. If your fabric has a directional pattern, make sure the pattern if facing to the top. Take your pipe cleaner and using a zig zag stitch, sew it outside of the top seam inside the seam allowance. It should be placed in the middle of your mask.
Turn your fabric inside out and press down the seams. You should have a sleeve now with the fabric pattern on the outside and the pipe cleaner centered at the very top edge of the sleeve.
Once you have that pressed, you’re going to fold in the raw edges of each side of the rectangle.
You want your mask right now to look like a rectangle with all the raw edges encased inside the rectangle.
Now we are going to pleat the mask and because I’m not a technical person and I want to make these masks quickly, I’m not measuring it.
Pinch each end of the mask about 1/3 of the way from the top and fold it over. Use your fingers to press it down and then iron it to get it to stay.
Look at the remaining fabric at the bottom and repeat the process again so that you have 3 total pleats.
Now you’re going to insert one edge of the elastic into the open side of your mask at the top and the other edge at the bottom and sew down the edge, backstitching over the elastic.
Repeat on the other side of the mask and then you should have a finished face mask.
If you want the process to go even faster, batch processes the masks. Cut all the fabric in one step, sew the top and bottom seams for every mask, add the pipe cleaner nose piece for every mask, turn them all out and press them all down, and then pleat and iron them all again before adding the elastic and sewing them closed.
I know that reading these instructions can be overwhelming. Don’t worry! I made a very quick (and rough) video to help.
Be safe and stay well!