Sewn face mask
Updated 07.06.20 at 14:52 PST
We have tried out two different versions of this face mask:
- Laser-cut fitted mask: the version uses fabric cut out on our laser cutters, and comes in three different sizes. It’s design is easier to sew – instructions are here.
- Pleated mask: this version is one-size-fits-most, and includes a pocket for extra filter material. It is more complicated to sew – instructions are here.
If you live in the Seattle area, both options are available for free (as supplies and funding allow) – you just need to fill out this form. Kits for the laser-cut fitted mask are available for pick-up as well if you want to make your own – request a kit on this form. If you are able to cover the costs of your products, please donate here.
Laser-cut fitted mask
This is a 2-layer fabric mask with elastic ties. This face mask was designed by local sewer extraordinaire Jeni Falldine.
Disclaimer: These do not meet the medical standards for surgery, and are meant to be a solution with off-the-shelf materials to create an effective viral barrier.
We will be providing kits for this mask at Seattle Makers. If you are interested in helping with this project you can request one and follow the instructions below.
Download the pattern
You download the pattern for each size below.
Laser-cut fitted mask (all sizes) by Jeni Falldine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
- Small mask (for youth): .ai file, .dxf file, .pdf file
- Medium mask (fits most adults): .ai file, .dxf file, .pdf file
- Large mask (fits larger faces and/or folks with beards): .ai file, .dxf file, .pdf file
- 100% Cotton, tightly woven (this is important)
- 2 pieces of left side, 2 pieces of right side (provided in kit)
- 1/2″ wide
- 2 lengths – one longer, one shorter (provided in kit)
- Sewing machine
Watch the video below or scroll down for step-by-step instructions.
Step 1. Lay out your pieces. You’ll have four identical pattern pieces and two pieces of elastic. The top of pattern is more curved and longer to accommodate the shape of the nose. One piece of elastic is longer (for around the head), the other shorter (for around the neck).
Step 2. Pin two pattern pieces together, with outside of fabric facing inside. Do this for both sets.
Step 3. Sew middle seam 1/4″ from the edge, backtacking at start and finish. Repeat for second set.
Step 4. Press middle seam open with a steam iron using a tailor’s ham, the edge of the ironing board, or something rounded to press the curved seam against. Repeat for second set.
Step 5. Pin two layers, with good side of fabric facing inside, and wrong side of fabric facing out.
Step 6. Sew top and bottom seam 1/4” from edge, backtacking at start and finish. Do NOT sew a hem on left or right sides.
Step 7. Turn mask right side out and press top and bottom seams on a flat surface with a steam iron.
Step 8. Fold raw edges of left and right sides under ¼” and press.
Step 9. Pin elastic into open sides with about ½” on the inside. The longer elastic is the top one.
Step 10. Topstitch both sides ¼” and 1/16” from open edge, backtacking at start and finish.
Step 11. Try on your super cool new mask! It’s finished!
Pleated face mask
We are making a fabric pocket mask with fabric ties. This face mask was designed by local sewer extraordinaire Jeni Falldine.
Disclaimer: These do not meet the medical standards for surgery, and are meant to be the best solution with off-the-shelf materials to create an effective viral barrier. We have consulted doctors and virologists, materials experts, and makers. We’ve reviewed many plans, produced 3 iterations and the 5-Layer Facemask is the best solution we’ve found, especially where replacement masks are scarce.
Update: Due to a shortage in elastic, and more information on the ideal masks for long-term use, we are changing the type of mask we recommend you sew. We are following the guidelines set forth by the Million Mask Mayday group on Facebook.
This will work great as a standalone 2-layer mask, and provide the option to insert additional barrier layers. Seattle Makers will be receiving 3-4 large boxes of non-woven fibers that we will cut into barriers for these masks and delivering alongside the masks to appropriate hospitals.
We will be providing kits for this mask at Seattle Makers. If you are interested in helping with this project you can pick one up and follow the instructions below. We also have sewing machines set up in a socially distanced, sterilized production area with mask and glove protection. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are available for sewing here at the makerspace or at home.
If you’re interested in donating sewn face mask to Seattle Makers so we can distribute them to the community and local health care professionals, all you need to do is:
- Follow the instructions below to make the masks
- Follow the steps to make your donation safe
- Drop off or mail your donation to the makerspace during our “open” hours: 1-7pm Monday, Thursday, and Saturday
Update on 05.12.20: We’ve been giving out a lot of shields to people who don’t have masks but to get the most protection, you really need both. Our demand is outpacing our ability to produce sewn masks. We are working with Crafters Against Covid-19 to acquire hundreds of masks, but we need more. We are willing to pay $5 per mask if you’re able to sew them at home. To be paid for your sewn mask donations, follow the three steps above AND include a piece of paper in your donation bag with the following information:
- Phone Number
- Number of masks sewn
- Amount requested (up to $5 per mask)
- Paypal email address (If you don’t use Paypal, let us know and we can work something else out.)
Note: Some fabric stores in our area (Seattle) are closing for 2 weeks effective immediately, so buy materials now if you are still able. Please let us know if you have extra materials, we will be distributing kits to as many people as possible.
- 100% Cotton, tightly woven (this is important)
- 1 x Rectangle 8”x15”
- 4 x Strips 2”x 20” EDIT: We now recommend sewing 20″ straps to fit all sizes of heads.
- OPTIONAL: Wire – 18-20 guage soft wire for close fit around nose (NOT recommended for health care professionals working around MRI machines or other machines that are sensitive to metal)
- OPTIONAL: Wire Cutter
- Sewing machine
Making the fabric ties
Step 1. Start with a 2” wide strip (shown in Image 1) and iron it flat with the outer fabric (pretty side) down.
Step 2. Fold the two raw edges in to meet in the middle, making a 1” wide strip. Then fold in half again to make a ½” wide strip. All the raw edges will be folded to the inside (Image 2).
Step 3. Stitch the open side closed 1/8″ to 1/16″ from the edge (Image 3)
Making the Mask
Step 4. Take the large 8″ x 15″ piece of fabric, and finish the opening of the pocket with a 1/4” rolled hem. First fold the top edge down 1/4″ and press it. Then fold the folded edge down 1/4″ again and press it (Image 4).
Step 5. Sew the top edge shut (Image 5)
Step 6. Repeat this process with the bottom edge (Image 6).
Attaching the top ties
Step 7. Attach the left top tie to the outside face of the fabric (the pretty side). You will pin one end near the raw edge leaving the free end of the tie toward the center, about 1 1/4″ inches from the top hem (Image 7). Repeat for the right top tie.
Step 8. Pin the bottom left tie 6.5 inches from the bottom of the fabric in the same fashion as in Step 7, the majority of the tie towards the inside (Image 8).
Step 9. Once all your ties are pinned, tack them in place 1/16” from the raw edge with your sewing machine, and remove the pins (Image 9).
Step 10. Arrange your ties in a neat bundle in the middle of your mask, so you when you sew up the sides they don’t get caught in the seam (Image 10).
Step 11. Fold the top hem down 1” (Image 11).
Step 12. Fold the bottom hem up to overlap the top hem (Image 12). We aligned the bottom rolled hem with the top rolled hem.
Step 13. Place pins in the four corners to hold the shape in place: two where the hems overlap, and two near the bottom fold.
Step 14. Sew up the side seams, making sure the ties stay out of the way (Image 14).
Step 15. Remove the pins. The sides will be sewn but there is an open slot at the top of the mask that will allow you to turn it right side out in the next step (Image 15).
Step 16. Turn the mask right-side out through the opening slot shown in Image 15. You may need to poke a pen or scissors into the corners to push them all the way out (Image 16).
OPTIONAL: ADDING THE NOSE BRIDGE WIRE
Note: this section is optional. Wire should NOT be used in face masks for health care professionals who work around MRI machines or other machines that are sensitive to metal. If you don’t want to add the wire, skip this section and jump to Finishing the Edges and continue with Step 22.
Step 17. Cut a 3.25” section of wire for the nose bridge (Image 17).
Step 18. Set the cut section of wire centered on the top, near the fold, and mark the left and right sides with pins (Image 18).
Step 19. Place the wire inside the fold (Video 19).
Video 19. How to insert the nose wire.
Step 20. Stitch closely around the wire to create a pocket. Make sure to back-tack several times to keep the wire in place (Image 20.
Step 21. Look! It’s a wire in a pocket! (Image 21).
Finishing the edges
Step 22. Press the edges with a steam iron, and top stitch closely (1/8″ to 1/16″) around the entire perimeter, going over the side seams twice (Images 22a and 22b)
Step 23. You’ve got a smart looking mask (Image 23)! You could add 4 more ties at this point and it would really look like a squid. Resist that urge.
Adding 3 pleats
Each pleat will be 1/4″ to 1/2″ in depth, so the finished mask is about 4” in height.
Step 24. Start your first fold as close to the bottom tie as you can. You want your pleats closer to the bottom than the top. There is some room for variability here. You can see where we placed each pleat in Image 24.
Step 25. After each fold, press with the iron (Image 25).
Step 26. Top stitch the sides again to tack down the pleats.
Finish the tie ends
Step 27. Fold the end of one tie over twice (Image 27), and press. Repeat for all four ties.
Step 28. Topstitch about 1/8″ from the edge of the tie to finish (Image 28).
Step 29. If you have non-woven material like coffee filters or paper towels, insert 2-3 layers in your face mask to add extra air-borne disease protection (Image 29)
Step 30. If you added the nose wire, bend it nose wire and you’re done! (Video 30). If you didn’t add the nose wire, you’re still done!
Video 30. Bending the nose wire.
Second option: Instead of fabric strips, you can use elastic if you have some available (Image 31).