Face Mask Pattern – 5 Different Ways
There’s a lot of info coming at us recently, between the news, social media, school emails (sooo many school emails), and in the sewing world, a big topic has been about how to make a face mask due to the shortages many areas are currently experiencing. I originally signed up to help with the 100 Million Masks project, but amazingly a local company stepped up to take them all on in our area. I want to help how I can (but also only if it’s actually needed, which I’ll share more about below), but have also felt a bit frozen with the decisions of what face mask pattern I should even be using.
With the thought that maybe I wasn’t alone in needing some direction, I decided to choose 5 different face mask patterns to make, each unique from the others, so I could share my thoughts and help you if you find yourself also learning how to make a face mask.
I have to say I had a hard time jumping on the fabric face mask pattern bandwagon. As a dental hygienist in my previous career, I know first hand the importance of infection control and using proper personal protective equipment (PPE) in healthcare settings, and the proper use of masks is obviously a big part of that.
It wasn’t until the shortage of disposable masks came into play at our hospitals here in Seattle, and healthcare professionals began to request sewers to make fabric masks, and I read the CDC’s stance on homemade face masks during times like our current pandemic, that my feelings changed.
In fact, just before typing this post, I heard of yet another local hospital who is recruiting sewers to help make masks due to the current shortage.
The official statement from the CDC follows.
HCP use of homemade masks:
In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.
Would I have ever thought we’d be in a situation where a bandana or scarf are a healthcare provider’s best option for personal protection? Certainly not. Even typing it still seems surreal. But here we are, and many of us want to do what we can to help. Fabric masks sewn with a face mask pattern will not protect a person from Covid-19. As the CDC stated, they are okay to be used if it’s a “homemade or nothing” situation, which unfortunately many are in right now.
Do I think everyone who knows how to sew should learn how to make a face mask and start cranking them out by the dozen? No. At this point, many hospitals are giving directions and requests on what they need (and just as important, don’t need), and I strongly recommend you reach out to your local area to see first if there are needs, second, what those needs are, and third, where your efforts can best be directed.
My goal for this post is to help point you in the right direction once you’ve received direction from your local healthcare professionals.
If you’re looking for more reusable product ideas, try our reusable cloth duster tutorial or our washable sweeper pad tutorial. Our homemade laundry detergent recipe is also a great one to keep on hand.
And while you’re at it, you can even use the same scraps to sew some cute matching scrunchies with our free pattern! With that, let’s get to the 5 face mask patterns I’d like to share with you so you can learn how to make a face mask if needed.
Fabric Mask with Knit Ties
Dana from Made Everyday has a talent for keeping projects simple and practical in the best ways, and I knew I needed to make a mask using her knit fabric ties option. Her face mask pattern also includes instructions for using elastic, but as elastic is getting harder and harder to source right now, she came up with a great solution using knit fabric scraps that most of us already have in our sewing spaces. It was quick to sew up and you can be sure that it will fit anyone as the ties can be tied as tight or loose as needed.
Her tutorial (which includes a video as well) is even more fun when you use fabric that Dana herself designed, like this cute kitty print ;). It was also the purrrfect fabric for this Sullivan Dress I made for Lola. For all 5 mask versions, I made sure to use different fabrics for the front and back as is usually recommended.
I loved that Dana provides a one page printable instruction sheet with her tutorial. It helped me keep things straight, especially when I was making 5 different mask types!
Bias Tape Face Mask with Pocket
Kimberly from Sweet Red Poppy is one of the hardest working bloggers I know, and it’s no surprise that when the need came, she worked her behind off to come up with and share not one or two, but three different face mask patterns for others to use. I made two of her styles, and the first was this bias tape face mask with a pocket that a filter can be placed in. In a make-it-work moment, I only had 1/4″ bias tape on hand, so used that for both of her face mask tutorials rather than 1/2″. It gave less wiggle room when sewing, but should work just as well in use.
Kimberly also gives instructions for an optional flexible nose piece using floral wire, which is great for achieving a tighter seal on the mask. And if you are a visual learner, Kim’s your girl. She made videos for each of her surgical mask patterns that are included in her blog posts.
Fitted Fabric Mask
The second Sweet Red Poppy pattern I followed was for this fitted fabric mask. Once again, Kimberly included instructions for adding a flexible nose piece with floral wire, and also included a free printable pattern as the pieces are curved and not rectangular. She also includes instructions for using elastic instead of bias tape, but I chose to do the bias tape as I tried out a different fitted mask pattern with elastic as you’ll see below and wanted to keep each version as unique as possible.
Pleated Face Mask with Elastic Ear Loops
While 4/5 of the patterns and tutorials I used included written instructions, this mask is a video tutorial only from Missouri Star Quilt Co. Like the others, it’s simple to make and about as basic as you can get when learning how to make a fabric face mask. It includes elastic ear loops, and I will note that although I cut the loops at 7″ as instructed, that length was too long when I tried it on myself, so you might want to adjust it depending on who will be using the mask (I’ll note that I have a small head).
For this mask, I used more pretty cotton scraps leftover from a Sullivan Dress. I’ve been hesitating to use it but there couldn’t be a better way!
Contoured Face Mask
This pattern from Craft Passion has been online for years, but the post has recently been updated to include files to cut the pieces with your Cricut Maker or Silhouette machines, which is pretty cool if you are planning to make a bunch at once! It was a fun design to sew up, and I liked how simply the elastic casing was created. The printable pattern comes in 4 different sizes, and it’s worth noting that seam allowances are not included (and you’ll need to add more seam allowance on one edge than the others as described in the instructions). I noticed this after I began cutting my pieces, and would be happy to save any of you from making the same mistake ;).
For this mask, there are options for elastic ear loops or one continuous elastic loop that goes through each side casing, so the elastic loops each wrap around the back of the head and reduce strain on the ears. I made it with the continuous loop.
Another update to the original surgical mask pattern is a filter pocket option, which I didn’t include, but is a great addition to the pattern. Just be sure to scroll down the post and follow those instructions rather than the original.
There you have it! Talk to your local hospitals and health care professionals to determine if there’s a need or shortage of masks in your area, and follow their recommendations to choose which free face mask pattern above will best suit their needs and requests. Good luck!
I’m getting ready to make some masks that I was asked to make- I haven’t seen anything before on using a different fabric for the back and the front. I’m wondering why this is needed? Thank you! And thank you for posting about different patterns!
Hi Samantha, using different fabrics helps to keep track of which side has been against the face and which side is open to the air in case the mask needs to come off and on again before washing :).
I wonder if other than hepa filter products we could put swifter duster cloths inside these masks to add filtration.
Other ideas to improve the protection other than plastic or oil cloth which night be really hot and hard to breathe in.
I, too, was very confused with the conflicting information I was getting if there was a need/use for homemade masks, plus all the different styles. I finally contacted an acquaintance who works in the hospital in Norwalk, Ohio. She says, yes, they can use masks. They want the pleated style, all cotton fabric with ties, and with a pocket for a filter. I will most likely make my own pattern, based on some of the ones you’ve included.
I suspect that health officials in some areas will be recommending that we all wear masks in certain situations, so it’s not a bad idea for everyone to make some for family and friends.
Which one was the best in your opinion?
That’s a tough one, because it really depends on who will be wearing it. My husband prefers to wear the pleated version with elastic that goes around the head (not ears), but for friends I’ve been making the curved style more than the pleated!
Hi Abby, Thanks so much for the patterns. I have just finished 30 face masks that were sent to my daughter’s place of employment in 2 states and to friends and other family members. I, too, waded through a number of patterns before deciding what to make. Since there is no shortage of PPE’s in this immediate area, I will contact the surrounding areas so I can continue to be useful. I’m waaaaay over 60 and immuno deficient and truly stuck here on the farm where social distancing is really not too much different than normal life. I can’t volunteer my services physically now, but I can certainly do this. BTW, I finally went with the Sweet Red Poppy make. Quick and easy!
Nice post about all the different face masks to make. I never knew there were so many different ways to make a mask. I have made a few for our family and agree the elastic measurements need to be adjusted per individual for a tight fit. My husband needed 7″ but I had to reduce mine to 6″. I’m small. Also, I have read that flannel and t-shirt knit may filter a little better than 2 layers of cotton. So I lined mine with flannel. I shall have to see if they are too hot to wear this summer. If so, I will make all cotton masks for us to wear then.
Is there a compelling reason for two different fabrics? I just have a huge amount of one pattern of suitable yardage.
There is, as it helps to determine which side has been next to your skin or not in case it needs to be removed and reworn before washing.
I made two different styles. One fitted with a polypropylene filter inside with elastic and a different pattern than you have posted by the nurse I gifted them to. It has a pocket for a filter they would put in. All had wire nose pieces. Thanks for the comparison, it’s very confusing out there.
Thanks so much for this! I’ve made multiple masks and was wondering if you have heard of using horsehair crin in any of them, and where it would go?
Oh, I haven’t heard of that and can’t quite think where it would be used. If it were around the nose, it seems like it would prevent the mask from fitting closely, and I’m not sure where else it would be useful.
The group in our area suggests using the “wrong side out” on the inside layer if you are using the same fabric for both pieces.
That’s a great idea!
Can you mail me the patterns for these .
I do not have a printer .
I tried to draw some but wasn’t very successful
Hi Vicki, these patterns are all available on each designer’s website linked above, and if you don’t have a printer, you could try sending the files to a local copy shop to print for you (or a library but I know many aren’t open right now depending on where you live).
I’m new to sewing — how do you attach narrow elastic to itself to make a loop? I have a new sewing machine and I’m just making a mess. Thanks!
Hi Monica! If you’re sewing 1/8″, I usually just tie the ends in a square knot as sewing them is very difficult! If you’re using 1/4″ and having trouble, you could always sneak a piece of fabric underneath the two elastic ends to help the feed dogs grab everything better, and then trim away the excess after sewing the ends together.
Suzanne, one pattern I saw used the fabric right side out on one side and wrong side out on the other side. Easy way to tell which side is which. :)
Thank you, I have been struggling with elastic. Great information!
Thanks for sharing so nice design of mask.
It helps me to design my own masks.
Could you share your fabric sources? Particularly the florals and the mushroom print? I adore the colors.
They are all older fabrics from my stash, but the mushroom is one of my favorites! I believe it was an Art Gallery Print but am not 100% sure. The florals are mostly Riley Blake :).
Thank you, thank you!
Did you post a pattern we can use, I didn’t see one.
Each pattern is linked in the post, so you can follow each designer’s instructions to access the patterns.
I LOVE your fabrics? Where did you find the cat and the mushroom fabrics?
Thank you! The mushroom I believe is an older Art Gallery fabric, and the cat print is also Art Gallery, by Dana Suman.
I read about a test to make sure fabric is appropriate. Put mask on and attempt to blow out a candle. If you can’t do it, you are good to go!
Other ideas for filters? I haven’t been using due to above test. Using lots of flannel with a woven cotton back. Flannel will be hot in summer. I’ve heard of coffee filters. Other ideas?