Pattern for a Hand-Stitched Fabric Face Mask

If you would like a printout of the instructions please click on: face mask pdf 

For those of us who don’t have access to a sewing machine, below are step-by-step photo-instructions on how to make hand-stitched fabric face masks for yourself and your family and friends. Of course it takes longer to put one of these together, but in this age of COVID-19, it is becoming more and more evident that it is crucial for us to wear face masks whenever we venture out whether to go to the grocery store, or for walks etc. So here goes.

These instructions are for a small/medium size face mask that is similar to the sewing machine pattern published by Kaiser Permanente and fits most adults.

According to a recent Washington Post article “if a mask is going to be reused [like this one], it must be kept clean. Layers add additional protection, so three-ply is good.” Also, reports suggest that fabric ties are better than elastic. This pattern — which includes two variations — is designed with those specifications in mind. One of the masks uses three layers of fabric in the design, and both have fabric strips for ties.

 

IMG_6372These masks, as I said, are made using the same pattern. One of them (the top one) is made with muslin cloth in three-ply; and the second grey one is made with quilting fabric. Basically any tight-woven cotton fabric will do for these hand-stitched masks.

The step-by-step instructions given below are for the white, three-ply version. The grey face mask is made just like the white one, but without the third layer of fabric.

Materials needed include pre-washed cotton muslin cloth, a hand-sewing needle, pins, scissors, thread, pencil and ruler.

IMG_6382For the face mask:

  • One piece of fabric measuring 15 1/2″ x 7 1/2″, folded in half (7 3/4″ x 7 1/2″)
  • One piece of fabric measuring 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ (for the third layer insert)
  • Two strips of fabric for the mask ties, measuring 1 1/2″ x 36″

 

IMG_6300We are going to use a Running Stitch to assemble the mask to emulate a sewing machine stitch. This is done by first stitching in one direction like dashes…

IMG_6301… and then going back and filling the blanks between the dashes like so.

IMG_6302 In order to withstand wearing and washing, the seams must be strong, so 10 to 12 stitches per inch are suggested.

 

IMG_6319Start off by marking a 1/4″ seam allowance line on the 7 3/4″ x 7 1/2″ (folded) fabric with a ruler and pencil on the opposite side of the folded edge, and start making the running stitch all the way to the end.

IMG_6320Remember to back-stitch about 3-4 stitches at the beginning and end (like you see here) of the seam for strength.

IMG_6321Finishing the seam.

IMG_6322Finished seam.

 

IMG_6325Now make pencil marks about 1/4 inch deep at the four corners of the 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″(insert) fabric.

IMG_6326Placing the 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ fabric along the stitched seam line and the other three sides of the 7 3/4″ x 7 1/2″ fabric, make small, two-stitch tucks…

IMG_6327… on the four pencil-marked corners to keep the fabric (third layer) insert in place, making sure…

IMG_6328… to attach the insert fabric only to one…

IMG_6330 … of the two layers of folded fabric.

IMG_6333After you’re finished, turn the fabric inside out…

IMG_6334… and flip it to the other side (the side that’s not attached to the insert. Now draw two 1/4″ allowance pencil lines along the two open sides of the fabric and stitch.

IMG_6335Now all four sides are closed. Trim any loose threads and straighten the sides.

IMG_6336With the seam side on top, measure up from the folded edge (bottom) and make pencil marks at 1 1/2″ (mark 1), 1 1/2″ (mark 2), 1″ (mark 3) and 1 1/2″ (mark 4), on each side of the mask.

IMG_6337Starting near the fold line at the bottom, create the first pleat by bringing the first mark to the second mark on both sides of the mask and pin into place. For the second pleat, bring the third mark to the fourth mark on both sides of the mask and pin that into place.

IMG_6338Now stitch the pleats down on each side…

IMG_6339… ensuring to make some extra stitches at the corner of each pleat for strength.

IMG_6340Remove the pins and turn the mask so the seam is on the top and pleats open toward the top of the mask. Mark 7/8” (mark 5) from the top pleat on each side.

IMG_6341Now pin the top pleat to the 7/8″ mark…

IMG_6342… on each side…

IMG_6343… and stitch the 7/8″ pleat down on each side. “This final pleat, according to the Kaiser Permanente pattern, allows the mask to cup over the nose and to hug the side of the face.”

IMG_6345The mask part is now done, and it’s time to attach the 1 1/2″ x 36″ strips of fabric, or straps, that will tie at the back of your head. I made the strips by joining two 1 1/2″ x 18 1/4″ pieces of fabric (like you see above), but you can skip this step if your fabric is long enough. Now mark the center of the strips and make a 1/4″ allowance seam line with a pencil a little over 3 1/2″ long. Also, on the mask, mark the center of the two short sides.

IMG_6348Now pin the center mark of the strip to the center mark on the short edge of the mask, right sides together…

IMG_6349… and stitch.

IMG_6350Fold the strip along the seam line…

IMG_6351… turn the mask around and fold another 1/4″ to the center of the strip…

IMG_6352….. and then double-fold the strip so you are enclosing the edge of the mask and the edges of the strip.

IMG_6353We will be closing the edges of the mask and the edges of the strip by using a hem-stitch. Start by attaching the strip from one edge of the mask to the other.

IMG_6354Press down and fold the rest of the strip in half to make a center line…

IMG_6358… and then double fold again bringing the two 1/4″ folded edges to the center line…

IMG_6359… and enclosing the strip like so.

IMG_6360Here again, at the armpit where the strips attach to the mask, you will make a few extra stitches for strength.

IMG_6361Continue in hem-stitch all the way down the strip…

IMG_6362…till you reach about 2″ from the edge and fold 1/4″…

IMG_6363… fold the strip…

IMG_6365…and close the edges. Repeat this on the other side and the remaining side of the mask with the other strip.

IMG_6367And your mask is ready to wear.

 

IMG_6368 2For the mask using quilting fabric, you fold the fabric in half, right sides together and stitch the seam on the opposite side of the fold just like you did for the three-ply mask.

IMG_6369Turn the piece so the right side of the fabric is facing out and press the seam (if you have an iron) or just press down like so…

IMG_6371… and you’re ready to make the pleats and attach the strips.

IMG_6374Remember to hand wash the masks after every use…

IMG_6384… line dry…

… and stay safe!

Update: To stitch a face mask for a child, use a 15″ x 5 1/2″ piece of fabric.

2 thoughts on “Pattern for a Hand-Stitched Fabric Face Mask

  1. […] + We know that there are a few CounterPunch sewing circles out there making masks and donating them to friends, grocery workers, delivery workers, hospital, homeless shelters and others. Priti Gualati Cox, who many of you will recognize for her writings on CounterPunch, has come up with a pattern for a fabric face mask that has step-by-step photo-instructions on how to make a hand-stitched mask and is designed for those who don’t have sewing machines at home. Here’s a link to the pattern. […]

    Like

  2. […] + We know that there are a few CounterPunch sewing circles out there making masks and donating them to friends, grocery workers, delivery workers, hospital, homeless shelters and others. Priti Gualati Cox, who many of you will recognize for her writings on CounterPunch, has come up with a pattern for a fabric face mask that has step-by-step photo-instructions on how to make a hand-stitched mask and is designed for those who don’t have sewing machines at home. Here’s a link to the pattern. […]

    Like

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