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Making Fabric Masks

Pleated Mask Pattern

We have made hundreds of these!  Easy to make, easy to wear.  Use two to three layers of tightly woven cotton.  You may use earloops or tie(s).  


Please see suggestions below for elastic/ties and wire for shaping around nose.


Pleated style with bound edges and ear loops.

Pleated style with fold-over elastic ear loops, sent to hospitals in Monmouth & Essex counties.

Shaped Mask Patterns

Pattern comes in different sizes with optional filter pocket.  May use tie(s) or elastic loops.  A favorite of Wendy's.  


From Pam Damour & Rae Cumbie.  A well-fitting shaped mask. Video and directions available on website.  May use tie(s) or elastic loops.

Article from ASG - Princeton

"Facemasks - 450+" -  

Virginia's Mask-Making Experience

ASDP-NJ member Virginia Wentworth describes her mask-making journey, from making covers for N-95's to help protect professionals in NJ hospitals, to sending masks to the hard-hit Navajo Nation in Arizona, where 30% of Native Americans don't have running water.  Be inspired.

450+ masks (I actually lost count) for Community Hospital respiratory therapists and ultrasound techs, Navajo Nation in Arizona, family, friends and neighbors. I went through several different versions but mostly the triple pleated rectangle and the "bra cup" over the nose types. I added a pleat to the side of the second version because I saw it was gaping on the cheek. I didn't include a filter pocket because the hospital said they wouldn't be adding one. The fabric, linings, elastic and ties (narrow double fold bias tape mostly) all came from my stash - nothing purchased. Some of the bias tape had 10 cent prices on the packages! I still have fabric (will have forever) but I'm now out of lining fabric, elastic and ties. The last ten I made with 1 inch elastic cut in half, but I doubt that will hold up to washing. I offered to replace it when I can find more 1/4 or 1/8 inch elastic. For some unknown reason, I had a bundle (hundreds) of 12 inch long plastic coated twist ties. I zigzagged three of them together and cut them into 3 inch pieces for the nose wires. Demand has slowed down and hopefully I'm out of the mask marathon! No helpers, just me.

Challenges: exhaustion, arthritic fingers, boredom and wishing I could be working on a fun "meproject". And then scavenging for elastic and tie substitutes.

Biggest mistake: Having run out of white cotton for linings, I found some flannel and cut it to be ready to sew into the 92 masks I was making for the Navajos - I was trying for 100 but didn't make it.. It was only then that I realized that I was sending them to Arizona and the heat would be unbearable! I then found a roll of white cotton drapery lining stuck in a corner and started all over. If anyone has a suggestion for about a hundred 7 x 9 inch rectangles of flannel, let me know!

Biggest regret: After a while the masks did not represent the quality sewing skills that I pride myself in. I didn't match thread colors, top stitching and back stitching showed irregularities, etc. But I decided that speed and utility were preferable to couture quality if I was going to get them done. I wish I had saved the empty thread spools and bias tape and elastic labels, just to look at them or make a wall hanging. I have never seen so many thread spools, including serger thread, go empty. I did some of the sewing on the serger which was a big help. I threaded bobbins a dozen at a time and must have done that dozens of times. As soon as I can, I'm going to have to take my machines to Stony Brook for an overhaul. I can't believe they took the continuous sewing and abuse that I gave them. And, I wish I had kept a scrap of every fabric that I used so that I could make a memory quilt! I didn't see that suggestion until I was almost done.

Trivial post script: I hate wearing my mask and pull it off as soon as I get back into my car! I had to make another one for myself out of thinner fabric because I hyperventilate in the ones made with proper fabric and lining. Fortunately, I don't go out very much. 

Virginia's Face Mask Pattern Links

comfortable pleated mask with darts

Elastic & Tie Suggestions

You can use either ear loops or ties for the mask.  Ear loops are easier & quicker for the wearer to put on, but ties help the mask to fit better, and are probably more comfortable over a longer of period of time.

Flat elastic in 1/8" or 1/4" widths work well.  Elastic cord can be used, but the ends must be tied in a knot before sewing (these will be hidden in the seam allowances).  Knit elastic can be cut into narrower strips. 

You can also use cording, shoe laces, fold-over elastic, strips of panty hose or knit interfacing for the loops or ties.  


Another option that works well is using strips of single-knit fabric cut from repurposed t-shirts.  It is comfortable & strong.  Strips cut vertically will produce ties featuring the right side out; strips cut horizontally will show the wrong side of the knit fabric.  You can cut strips anywhere from 5/8" to 1" wide.  After cutting, pull strips taut to stretch & curl in edges.  You may cut an earloop (usually 6-1/2" to 7"), cut 4 ties of 20", or make one continuous strip of approx. 44".  The open ends will be at the bottom of the mask & be tied at the back of the neck.

Adjustable Ear Loops

Adjustable ear loops can be made by threading the ends of the elastic or knit fabric through a large pony bead or a shank button.  You may wish to knot the ends of the tie.  


Silicone adjusters are also available online in several styles.  The white adjusters on the mask to the right were purchased at LycheeCraft on Etsy.


Cut 3/4" strips from knit fabric.


Pull ends to curl & stretch.


Use shank buttons or pony bead for adjustable ear loops. Tie ends in overhand knots.  (mask pictured is from Pam Damour pattern)


Mask featuring silicone adjusters on elastic ear loops purchased on Etsy . 

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