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.
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.
Equipment / Tools
- Sewing pins
- Sewing machine
- 1/4 yard Cotton fabric
- 1 1/2 foot 1/4 inch wide elastic
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)
Cut Your Elastic
Cut two lengths of elastic that are 7" long no matter what size of mask you are making.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- Make two more pleats the same way, pinning to secure them.
- Using a sewing machine or needle and thread, sew the sides of the masks to set the pleats into place.
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.
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.
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.
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public: When and How to Use Masks. World Health Organization, 8 June 2020
How to Wash a Cloth Face Covering. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 May 2020