Wednesday, March 25, 2020

DIY Face Masks

With shortages of medical supplies becoming a serious issue amidst the coronavirus crisis, many hospitals and medical professionals have started requesting help sewing fabric face masks. This pattern is very simple, even for a novice at sewing.

My own sister is a nurse at a hospital here in Washington state. Due to critical shortages of supplies, they have started using fabric face masks provided by the public. This need is what prompted me to create a tutorial in hopes that, together, we can all make a difference in fighting this illness and protecting our loved ones.

{Related: How Our Family is Weathering the Illness}

Two important things to know about this pattern:
1. Fabric face masks are not the ideal solution for preventing the spread of contagious illness. However, the shortages of supplies in some areas (like in our state) have reached a critical point, and hospitals are now using them because they don't have other options. Before you make masks for your own local hospitals, it's a good idea to try to confirm whether they will be able to use them.

2. I consulted with my sister, a hospital nurse, before creating this pattern to try to address some of the requirements for better masks. This pattern is made to fit adults (however it can be scaled to fit children). It contains THREE layers of fabric, an option for a wire nose piece, and includes a pocket to accept a filter. Because elastic is becoming difficult to find, it uses fabric ties instead (although elastic is preferred if you have it).

In my sister's hospital, they are cutting up operating room drapes to fit inside the masks to act as a filter. You could also consider cutting up HEPA filters, as well.

Watch the complete video tutorial, download a printable copy, or scroll below for a step-by-step tutorial with photos.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, and I have received no compensation for sharing anything that follows. Some links within this blog may be affiliate links, and I might earn a commission if you make a purchase through that link. This usually amounts to cents, not dollars, and helps to support the projects featured on this blog. I only recommend products from companies that I have found to be trustworthy. Read my full disclosure here.


100% cotton fabric, pre-shrunk (quilting fabric is great because it's tightly woven)
1/2" bias tape, double fold
Floral wire (or jewelry wire)
Sewing machine
Rotary cutter
Ruler/cutting guide



(Note: Begin and end each piece of sewing by back-stitching to lock. These masks need to withstand frequent washings without fraying.)

1. Cut fabric into rectangles measuring 9" x 7" (or 7"x5" for children). You will need three pieces of fabric per mask.

Ideally, you should use two pieces of light/white colored fabric, and one piece of colored fabric so that practitioners can easily determine which side of the mask is the inside versus outside. This tutorial follows that direction so that you can more easily see each step in the process.

Also cut two pieces of bias tape, one 45" long, the other 40". If you cannot find bias tape, here is a great tutorial for making it yourself.

2. Pin light colored fabric, right sides facing each other. Find the center of the fabric, as shown by the dotted lines in the photo, and sew 3" along that line from each edge, leaving the center open.

3. Fold the corners to meet the opposite side. Do this with both layers so that the result looks like the second photo below (with right sides now facing out). This is now the inside layer of the mask, and the hole in the center is where the filter can be inserted.

4. Pin the dark colored fabric to the piece you created in step 3, right sides together.

5. Sew the short sides using 1/4" seam allowance, as shown by the dotted lines in the photo.

6. Turn the piece right side out, and press seams flat.

7. With the inner layer facing up, fold the mask in quarters (from the top/bottom to the center, then in half) as shown in the photos. Press with a hot iron. These lines will be used to create the pleats.

8. Open the double-fold bias tape. With the outside layer facing up, pin right sides together along the top and bottom edge of the mask. Sew in place as shown by the dotted lines in the photo below. The fold of the bias tape creates a natural line for you to follow when stitching. The longer length of bias tape will become the top edge of the mask.

9. Nose Piece (optional): A nose piece makes the mask much more useful. You can use floral wire, jewelry wire, or even cut up strips of aluminum pan liners. It should be about 5" long. The goal is to use a metal that is easily flexible, but will hold its shape too.

If you use wire, as I did, make sure to round the ends so that it does not poke through the fabric and cause injury.

10. Place the wire inside the bias tape, on the front edge at the top of the mask (the longer piece of bias tape is the top), as shown in the photo.

11. Enclose the wire by stitching on each side so that it stays in place at the center of the mask. Be careful not to stitch over the wire. Then, stitch along the entire length of each piece of bias tape to finish the edge of the mask.

12. Next, create the pleats using the creases you previously ironed into the fabric as a guide. The pleats should all face down from the top of the mask and be 1/2" each. Pin each pleat, and then top stitch to secure at 1/4".

I hope this tutorial has been helpful, and I hope we can all make enough masks to fill the gap during these difficult circumstances.

I encourage you share this post and pin to Pinterest to help others find this resource! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, and I'll do my best to get back with you quickly!



  1. This made me tear up. LIterally. It's so amazing to see people using their talents in such helpful ways. Sewists, card makers, bloggers, etc. Everyone seems to be really coming together in this time of great need. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much for the sweet note, Dawn! These are scary times, for sure, and there's so much need right now. I only wish I could clone myself and do so much more. xo

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this post and for your help in combating this crazy virus!


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