How to Sew a Basic Face Mask

Two sewn face masks laying on a table

The Spruce / Stacy Fisher

Overview
  • Working Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 1 mask
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

With only a little bit of sewing know-how, you can sew up a basic face mask that only requires you to sew in a straight line. It's a great pattern for those new to sewing or those who need a refresher and it only takes about 30 minutes to make. This free basic mask pattern is available for three sizes so you can make one for yourself and each person in your family.

Tip

Keep in mind that your mask should ideally be made of three layers of fabric—a water-resistant outer layer, a middle layer that acts as a filter, and an inner layer of water-absorbent fabric.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron

Materials

  • 1/4 yard Cotton fabric
  • 1 1/2 foot 1/4 inch wide elastic

Instructions

  1. Cut Your Fabric

    This mask can be made in a few different sizes. Here are the fabric pieces you'll need to cut depending on what size you'll be making:

    • Adult Size (Fits Most): 9" x 6" (cut 2)
    • Child Size: 7" x 5" (cut 2)
    • Extra-Large Size: 9" x 7" (cut 2)
    Two pieces of fabric with scissors and a pin cushion
    The Spruce / Stacy Fisher
  2. Cut Your Elastic

    Cut two lengths of elastic that are 7" long no matter what size of mask you are making.

    Two pieces of elastic laying on top of floral fabric
    The Spruce / Stacy Fisher
  3. Pin the Elastic Onto the Fabric

    Lay one of your pieces of fabric right side up on a table. Take one of your elastics and pin it to the short ends of the fabric about 1/2" from the top and bottom edge. Repeat with the other side.

    Elastic pinned to floral fabric
    The Spruce / Stacy Fisher
  4. Get Ready to Sew

    Place the other piece of fabric, right side down on top of the fabric piece that already has the elastic pinned to it. The two pieces of fabric should be right sides together. Pin to secure.

    Two pieces off fabric pinned right sides together
    The Spruce / Stacy Fisher
  5. Sew the Mask

    Sew around the rectangle with a 1/4" seam allowance. You'll be creating a loop with the elastic, so be sure to only sew the edges of the elastic into the edge of the rectangles, and not into the whole seam allowance on the sides. Leave a 2" gap on one of the long sides for turning.

    Two pieces of fabric sewn right sides together
    The Spruce / Stacy Fisher

    Tip

    Sew over where the elastic is sandwiched between the two pieces of fabric a few times. This will make sure the elastic is very securely sewn and won't pop out of the mask.

  6. Turn the Fabric

    Reach inside the fabric rectangle and turn it right side out. You'll have a rectangle of fabric with two loops of elastic sticking out of the sides. Tuck in the seam allowance from the gap so your rectangle is even. Press the fabric rectangle with your iron.

    A partially sewn floral face mask on a table
    The Spruce / Stacy Fisher
  7. Optional: Add Pleats

    Adding pleats to each side of the face mask isn't necessary but it will help it fit the contours of your face better. Here's how you do it:

    1. About an inch down from the top of your mask, grab some fabric and fold it up accordion style like you're making a pleat. Pin.
    2. Make two more pleats the same way, pinning to secure them.
    3. Using a sewing machine or needle and thread, sew the sides of the masks to set the pleats into place.
    Pinned pleats
    The Spruce / Stacy Fisher
  8. Finish the Mask

    Topstitch all around the face mask, making sure that you're closing the gap as you do so. Your mask is finished! Loop the elastic around your ears and cover your nose and mouth with the mask.

    A floral face mask with scissors and a pin cushion
    The Spruce / Stacy Fisher

Fabric Alternatives

Cotton fabric works best for this project. If you can't find cotton fabric, consider cutting up an old shirt or using an extra tea-towel. If you don't have any cotton you can use, cut the pieces out of an old t-shirt.

Elastic Alternatives

If you don't have elastic you can use, you have a couple of options—just remember that these need to be stretchy because they'll be fitting over the ears. You can use rubber bands, or loops cut off of tights, leggings, or even socks. Here's a free pattern for a face mask that uses fabric ties instead of elastic.

Caring for Your Mask

It's recommended that you wash your mask after every use. To do so, just throw it in with your laundry and wash normally as you would the rest of your clothes.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public: When and How to Use Masks. World Health Organization, 8 June 2020

  2. How to Wash a Cloth Face Covering. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 May 2020