Make Your Own Masks!

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

Recently, many employers have started requiring employees to wear masks to work. It has even been recommended in many states that everyone wears a mask in public places. The unfortunate problem is that masks can be hard to come by, being that they are in such great demand now. The good news is that if you're a bit crafty and can get your hands on a sewing machine, you can make cloth masks!

I've found that these masks are fairly simple and a lot of fun to make. It should only take you 20-30 minutes to make your first mask, and even less time once you've got the process down. You can even make some to share with friends, family, or local businesses that may be collecting them.

The original pattern I based my process on is from I have modified and simplified a bit, creating a process anyone with a little bit of sewing know-how can follow. You'll find step-by-step instructions with pictures below!

Step #1: Cut out fabric and elastic pieces.

My wonderful husband has taken care of this step, preparing tons of fabric and elastic pieces to keep me busy for weeks! All you need is some cotton or polyester/cotton combo material, cut into 9-inch by 6-inch pieces. You will need 2 pieces of fabric per mask.

You will also need 2 7-inch pieces of elastic. Flat quarter-inch elastic works best, but elastic headbands cut into 7-inch pieces work well, too!

Step #2: Sew in elastic.

Place the "good" sides 2 pieces of cut-out material together. Starting in the middle of one of the longer sides, sew along the edge until you are about 1 inch from the end. Then, lift up your presser foot and slide an elastic piece into the corner, parallel with the shorter side. Sew over the elastic, back and forth a few times, then turn to go down the shorter side. (You can either lift up the presser foot and make a 90 degree corner turn, or you can make a curved turn as shown in the picture below.) As you sew down the shorter side, make sure that you don't sew over your elastic on accident! It should stay between the two layers of material, on the inside of your hemline. Once you are about 1 inch from the end of the shorter side, lift up your presser foot again and insert the other side of the elastic piece, sewing over it a few times, and then turning to start the second longer side. Repeat the same process with the opposite side and another piece of elastic. Just make sure that when you get back around to the longer side you started on, leave a 1 to 2 inch gap. You'll need this to turn your mask right-side-out in the next step. Trim off excess threads.

Step #3: Turn the mask right-side-out and pin the sides.

Find the 1 to 2 inch gap you left in the previous step. Stick your index finger in the gap, and reach for the closest elastic. Pull it through the gap, slowly working the entire mask until it is right-side-out. You will see both elastic pieces, attached at the corners of your mask, once you have finished turning it right-side out completely.

Next, create 3 1-inch gathers on each short side of the mask. Pin each gather (which is really just a fold in the material, bottom over top) Make sure that your gathers on each side match up - that they are approximately across from one another, and going in the same direction.

Step #4: Sew around the outside edges of the mask.

Starting at one corner, sew all the way around the 4 edges of the mask, two times. This will make sure that your mask is strong enough to endure many washes. As you sew around the edges, double check that your gathers are approximately even and flat. Try to follow your first line the second time around. Remember to double back over your hemline a few times at the end, to finish it off and make sure it won't unravel. Trim off any excess threads. Wash your mask on a delicate wash cycle, and dry on low heat before wearing. You should also wash it after each use. Having several masks to wear can make it easier to wash them in between.

Enjoy making your mask, or making many!

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