Necessity is the mother of invention.

You’ve probably heard by now that the CDC has officially recommended that we start wearing fabric masks while out in public. Since masks are hard to find anywhere right now, there’s only one thing you can do. DIY! I have an easy tutorial here for anyone that would like to sew their own mask. These are easy to make and machine washable. Please note these masks are not medical grade and they do not replace social distancing. So with that said, are you ready to bang them out? Let’s do it!

Step 1:

Pick out some tightly woven cotton fabric. Solid. Print. Whatever you like. I picked some pretty fabrics that I personally liked. Nobody knows how long we’re going to have to wear masks, so pick out something that makes you happy. Cut out a rectangular piece that measures 8″ by 15″. Fold the fabric in half so that the right sides “kiss”. Measure 2″ from the top and bottom of the fabric and mark with pins. The space in between your measurements will be space to insert a filter.

Here’s my rectangular piece of fabric.
I folded the fabric in half.
I’m measuring 2 inches from the bottom and 2 inches from the top.
My pins are in place at 2 inches from the top and 2 inches from the bottom.

Tip: Most patterns are calling for a 2″ or 3″ opening for the filter pocket. I found this was too small and made it difficult to put the filter in. I added an inch to my pattern because I found a 4″ opening was more efficient. Also, I would not recommend using interfacing as a filter because I am not sure how safe the chemicals are that go into producing it. Since this will be near your mouth, you really have to think about using something non-toxic. I used a folded paper towel or tissue in mine. You could also put another piece of cotton fabric in it. Just remember you need to be able to breathe in this mask.

Step 2:

Sew the fabric edges together. I lined the fabric edge to the 5/8 mark on my machine and sewed straight down. Stop when you get to the pins. Take out your pins when you’re done. Backstitch where necessary. Now open up your seam. Smooth it out with an iron or with the heat of your finger by pressing down on it. Finish your raw edges if you want. I did a simple zig zag stitch on mine to keep the edges from unraveling. Position your fabric with the seam in the middle on the horizontal.

I’m going to sew only to the pin.
I opened up my seam and positioned it on the horizontal.
This is the opening for a filter.
Here’s how I finished my raw edges with a simple zig zag stitch. This is all going to be on the inner part of the mask and will not be seen.

Step 3:

Cut a piece of flat elastic 16″ inches long. Fold it in half. Cut it the halfway point. Now you have two pieces of elastic 8″ long. Note that if you have super stretchy elastic, a 14″ piece cut into 7″ pieces will work just fine.

TIP: Elastic is sold out pretty much everywhere. You can try hair elastics or rubber bands as a last resort. Those are selling out quick too. I’ve also seen some people use spandex swimwear ties.

Step 4:

Position each piece elastic in the corners. Be careful not to twist it. Pin it in place.

Here’s my elastic. I’m going to tuck it into my corners.
I’m placing the elastic inside and I’m going to line it up so the edges of the elastic are right up against the inner fold of the fabric Tuck all the elastic inside.

TIP: Elastic is tricky to work with. Try tacking it in by hand with a few stitches to keep it in place while you machine sew it. Also wanted to point out that most patterns on the internet are using 7″ elastic bands. I found that was a little too tight and cuts into the ears on some people. I found that 8″ elastic fits most people.

Step 5:

Pull everything inside out through the open pocket filter seam. Press it out flat with your hand or an iron. Topstitch along the top and bottom. It’s time to make some pleats. Start folding your fabric down in even increments. You can measure this or eyeball it. I eyeballed mine. Pin it in place then sew along the edges on 5/8″.

I pulled the fabric through the filter opening.
Here’s mine after I pulled the insides out throw the pocket filter opening. Iron it flat.
Putting in my pleats. I eyeballed this. You can do them about 1/2 inch to an inch apart.
My pleats are pinned in place. Time to sew them down.
I lined up the edge of my fabric with the edge of my pressor foot and sewed straight down. Backstitch where needed.

Step 6:

Smile. You’re done. If you’re able to, make some extras for your family and friends.

The end. I’ll top stitch across the top and bottom of this for extra stability and neatness.

Don’t forget to wash your mask after you wear it in public. Wash it on a hot cycle and if you have an anti-bac setting on your dryer, use it to dry your masks. Otherwise, toss it in your dryer and dry it on hot. Press it when it’s dry if you want.

Stay safe and be well.