I’ve been getting back in my sewing groove lately and just finished a bundle of new face masks. After making a bunch now, I’ve found a method that is simple and fast and has worked well for me. I thought would share what I’ve learned: how to make a quick and easy DIY fabric face mask and where to find the soft, less-irritating elastic.
If we’re going to need to wear masks consistently for a while, I decided to make a bunch more to have on hand so we can easily wash and rotate, as well as extras to give to family and friends. And since we might as well look stylish while we wear them, it was fun to play with new fabric combinations. (Plus, it’s always a little more motivating to wear, when your mask has personality.)
I’ve been admiring a bunch of recent collections by Riley Blake and knowing that I don’t have time right now to make a big project with any of them, it was fun to pull a few favorite prints to make masks. It gave me that odd satisfaction of both getting something finished as well as scratching the itch to play with these new collections. I’ll tag each one further down this post.
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How to Make a Quick and Easy Fabric Face Mask:
There are a lot of great mask patterns and variations out there. The one that I’ve found easiest for me is this version by Dana from Made Everyday. I like that it’s super simple to cut and sew. Because of it’s simple shape it’s also really simple to resize to any size face or need.
I quickly ran out of elastic when I first started making them, so I adapted the pattern slightly so that it used less elastic – making simple loops on the sides that go around the ears.
Comfortable Elastic for Face Masks
I eventually found a source for softer, thinner elastic that is so much more comfortable and less irritating. It makes a big difference and it’s pretty cheap. I prefer the 1/8″ rounded elastic cording like the one available here. Thank goodness it’s available again. (If that source is out, it is available from is a variety of Etsy shops here. Just choose from the rounded 1/8″ option.)
If you are looking for ideas for alternatives to using elastic, you can find masks-with-ties ideas here.
For my fabric I’m using quilters cotton on both sides. (These are obviously not medical grade masks.) I’ve found the cotton is breathable (especially for summer) but still helps prevent the spread for us non-medical folks.
Here’s the simple method for making this fast, pleated face mask.
Materials Requirements for a medium adult face mask:
Two pieces of fabric 8” wide and 8½” long. (I like to use two different fabrics so that it’s easy to remember which side faces out when wearing multiple times.) My head is small, so I cut my pieces slightly smaller than Dana’s pattern. (I rarely pre-wash fabric, but I did prewash all of my fabric that I was using for mask-making.)
Two 6” long pieces of soft elastic
(Fabric is Create by Kristy Lea of Quiet Play)
Face Mask Assembly:
Place fabric pieces right sides together. Pin elastic end between the two fabric pieces at top corners and bottom corners with elastic along 8½” sides.
Obviously the elastic is much shorter than the sides of the fabric pieces. Once the elastics are pinned in place, fabric pieces will bunch up on the sides.
Sewing fabric face masks:
Using a generous ¼” seam, start sewing mask ¾ of the way from the side on the bottom edge of the mask pieces. Pivot at the corner, careful to stitch the elastic end between both pieces.
Reach in between the two pieces and carefully pull the elastic to the left while sewing the fabric edges together so that it doesn’t get caught in the side seam while making sure the bottom end of the elastic stays pinned in place.
Mask side will start to bunch up as seam is sewn along the side.
When you reach bottom corner backstitch and pivot, making sure to catch the elastic end. Continue to sew all the way around the sides, repeating process holding elastic out of the way on the long side.
Leave a 2-3″ opening at the bottom for turning right-sides-out.
Turn right-sides-out and carefully press so that seams are flat and seam allowance is tucked inside at bottom opening.
Gather sides (where elastic is) into three equal pleats. You can measure but I just eyeball three equalish pleats on the sides and pin in place.
Starting in one corner with a quick backstitch, topstitch around the outside edge of the entire mask, sewing down pleats and closing the opening at the bottom as you go.
And that’s it! That’s all I do.
Most of them are far from perfect, and I’m totally okay with it. I’d rather just get a bunch made than worry about perfection on something we’re going to wash wear out and hopefully not save as a family heirloom. Plus, these are not going to be graded – the chances of running into your 7th grade home ec teacher are slim to none.
As I mentioned earlier, this mask is super simple to resize to whatever size you need, just by cutting bigger or smaller fabric rectangles. You may also want to shorten the elastic for kids’ size masks.
The above masks were cut 9.5″ x 9″ (large adult), 8″ x 8 1/2″ (medium adult), and 6.5″ x 6.5″ squares and 5″ lengths of elastics (child size).
(Awesome shark fabric is from the Pirate Tales fabric collection.)
Fitted Face Mask Patterns and Tutorials:
If you prefer a more fitted face mask, here are a few patterns and tutorials to help with that:
Sweet Red Poppy has video tutorials for a variety of styles of face masks here.
And there are a gazillion other face mask patterns and free tutorials and videos. I’m sure you’ll find the one that is just right for you.
Here’s a little more fabric inspiration for you:
For these masks I decided to get a little posh and used the High Summer Flower Show fabrics that are part of the Liberty quilting cotton collection. Makes me feel extra fancy when I wear one. 🙂
The masks at the top of the post are made with the new Riley Blake collection, Nobody Fights Alone – fabrics dedicated to first responders such as nurses, fire, paramedics, etc. Perfect timing for these prints to hit stores as we’re so thankful for these medical heroes.
This final bunch is from Rachel Erickson’s upcoming collection New Dawn (available in August). The bottom print from Sue Daley’s Paper Daisies collection is a great one if you’re looking for a more subtle mask/statement.
Fabrics from past years that you have on hand are also great for making masks. It’s a great purpose for using fabric you don’t need anymore. A fat quarter can easily make 2 large masks. And if you want a pretty mask on the outside, you could use older fabrics you don’t love as the inside lining. So many options – and a great way put older fabrics to good use right now.
Reminder that I do recommend pre-washing your fabrics before making them into masks, just to make sure they’re clean and chemical-free.
I hope these tips will help you feel less overwhelmed about making masks, if that’s something that’s been an issue for you. They’re super fast and you can easily make a bunch in a short time span.
Stay safe and well (and help keep other people that way) my friends!