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 best elastic for face masks.
This cording elastic is much softer and less-irritating.
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 style or 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 fabric collections. I’ll tag each collection and sources further down this post.
(This DIY fabric face mask tutorial contains affiliate links.)
How to Make a Quick and Easy DIY 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 masks, so I adapted the pattern slightly so that it used less elastic – making simple loops on the sides that go around the ears instead of around the back of the head.
Comfortable Elastic for your DIY Fabric Face Mask
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 ⅛″ 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 ⅛″ 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 DIY Fabric 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 for other projects, but I did prewash all of my fabric I use for making face masks.)
Two 6” long pieces of soft elastic (sometimes this will be too long. One thing I’ve learned is that faces, ear placement, cheekbones, nose-size are different on all people. I think it’s better to have elastic that errs on the side of too long as it’s easy to tack down excess elastic after the mask is finished, than it is to work with elastic that is too short.)
(Fabric is Create by Kristy Lea of Quiet Play)
DIY Fabric 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 your DIY 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 back-stitch 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 equal-ish pleats on the sides and pin in place.
Starting in one corner with a quick back-stitch, top-stitch 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 ½″ (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 DIY Face Mask Patterns and Tutorials:
If you prefer a more fitted face mask, here are a few patterns and tutorials to help with that:
Tea Rose Home Fitted Mask and printable pattern
Happy Zombie Fitted Mask Pattern
Creative Grids has a Face Mask Template that I’ve heard good things about. This video will show you how to make the mask using the ruler/template.
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.
Ameroonie Designs has cute and simple tutorials for a mask strap or lanyard to hang around your neck and a pouch to store your mask in while you’re on the go. (Fabric is Idyllic by Minki Kim.)
Here’s a little more fabric inspiration for you:
For these DIY fabric face 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!
Thanks for the info, Amy. I keep searching for the perfect mask pattern, so I will give these a try. I couldn’t find the link for the elastic. Could you re-post that for us? Thanks.
Your masks are all so cute. That one fabric would be great for masks for my daughter who’s a nurse at an urgent care clinic. I worry about her a lot.
Best wishes to you and your family.
Where is the easiest place to buy the elastic?
This shop has the kind that I used: https://bit.ly/2CgfLzI It does require a 5 yard minimum, but it’s still pretty inexpensive.
Elva – I bought elastic on-line at JoAnn’s and had no problem.
Laurie A Becker
Thank you so much for this easy tutorial. Just purchased the elastic (5 yards minimum – I think I might be sharing some!🤣) My husband is a teacher and I want to make some fun and interesting masks for school. Thanks again!
Thanks for this easy pattern!!! Just made 4 in an hour!!
There is a really easy way to fold the mask that makes pleats super easy. If interested look on the Facebook page of Fortuna Fabrics and Crafts.
AllysGrandma, I followed similar instructions from this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztyOvPYtGNQ&list=WL&index=3&t=0s , but, the Fortuna Fabrics and Crafts video gave just a bit more needed information to my nove self. Thanks for pointing me toward them! (I’ll add the link, to make it easier for anyone else who might need the advice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztyOvPYtGNQ&list=WL&index=3&t=0s )
This is the same mask Iʻm making but hereʻs a small tip that has been a life-saver for me When Iʻve turned the mask right side out and are ready to make the pleats I press the mask (long way) in half. When I open it back up it will automatically show me where to make the center pleat and the top and bottom ones will be obvious. My tip is that instead of using pins to hold the pleats I bought long bobby pins from the Dollar Store. I slip them on about 1-1/2 inches from the side of the edge. This holds the pleats in place and gives me enough of a margin for when I sew the pleats down. As I finish each side I remove the bobby pins and continue sewing all the way around.
Those are such great tips! Thank you so much for sharing them!
Like your pattern but there is no place to put a filter.
Thanks, Amy. This is the exact way I’ve been making my masks. I have made 75 so far. They are for family and the rest have gone to my local hospital for the staff. take care ~~rita
Thank you SO much for such a great tutorial, even including tips to move the elastic so it doesn’t get caught in the wrong place and photos to illustrate your instructions. Now that we are being forced to wear masks here in Texas, I felt I had to make our own or lose my reputation as a quilter. 😉 I tried a few other patterns before I got your newsletter, and this is the one that worked for me.
What size elastic for large and medium
novice here. does the elastic stay to the left of the seam or to the right?
Good question – it stays on the left while you’re sewing the seams. With the fabrics right sides together you want the elastics inside, in between them. When you turn them right sides out, the elastics will be outside the sides of the mask. I hope that helps. 🙂
I also find that 1/8 round elastic is to long you can tie a small knot in and it does not hurt your ears ( I done it to mine) it tends to stretch some. Also don’t you use a nose piece? I read somewhere that it should have a nose piece, so I bought a pack of 100 on Etsy.
With the increasing demand for masks, the cloth masks market is booming exponentially, and the criteria behind what making a good mask are slowly getting lost amid mass production. These days, it has become challenging to know what exactly to look for while searching for a good mask.
Thank you, I enjoyed making this.
Dis you ever find the perfect mask? I’ve tried so many.
Thank you so much for this easy tutorial. Just purchased the elastic (5 yards minimum – I think I might be sharing some!
Thanks for the tutorial! I had a lot of extra fabric leftover from a skirt I made, and lucky it was the right fabric for this 🙂 The one thing I’m going to change is that I’m going to add a lil nose piece. Now I will have a mask to match my skirt!
novice here. does the elastic stay to the left of the seam or to the right?
When sewing the elastic stays to the left.
Hello ☺️ Just made one of these, super course! Can I wash this in a washing machine?
Yes! I wash mine in the washing machine all of the time. 🙂