100% cotton fabric (with a tight weave)
1/8″ flat elastic for ear loops, or 4 fabric ties (you can use the same cotton fabric to make strips, use pre-made bias binding, or strips of cotton jersey)
pins or clips
sewing machine and thread
For an adult size mask:
Cut 1 fabric rectangle 16″ long and 8.5″ wide
Cut 2 pieces of elastic, each 7″ long
For a child-size mask:
Cut 1 fabric rectangle 14″ long and 6.5″ wide
Cut 2 pieces of elastic, each 6″ long
For elastic ear loops:
Cut 2 7″ long pieces for an adult mask
Cut 2 6″ long pieces for a child mask
For fabric ties, if you aren’t using elastic:
Cut 4 rectangles 18″ long by 1.75″ wide. Fold the long sides to meet in the middle, then fold in half again to encase the raw edges. Stitch down the length of the rectangles along the edge to create the ties.
Step 1: Sew ends together, leaving an opening in middle
Fold the fabric rectangle in half hamburger style, with the right sides facing each other.
Sew along the top 8.5″ width edge, using a large 5/8″ seam allowance. Leave a 3-4” opening in the center of this seam to create an opening for the filter pocket, and to allow the mask to be turned right side out after sewing. In the picture below, I’ve marked this opening with pins.
Step 2: Hem the opening
Next, turn the fabric so that the seam with the pocket opening is centered in the middle of one side. Using an iron, press the seam open.
Fold the excess seam allowance under, encasing the raw edge of the fabric. Topstitch or zig-zag stitch along each side of this seam to finish the edge. This will help keep the fabric from fraying when you insert and remove any filters.
Step 3: Pin Elastic or Fabric Ties
Pin one piece of elastic to each side of the mask, one end to the top corner and one end to the bottom corner of the fabric rectangle. This will create the ear loop once the mask is turned right side out and pleated. Place the ends of the elastic about 1/4 “ from the top and bottom corners of the fabric.
The piece of elastic itself will be sandwiched between the two layers of fabric. Once you turn the mask right side out, the elastic will be on the outside.
Repeat this process on each side to make two ear loops.
Alternative – Use fabric ties:
If you can’t find elastic, or prefer to use fabric ties, you can use 4 fabric ties, one in each corner. Each tie will be 18″ long. Sew one tie in each corner, being careful not to catch the ties in the side seams.
You can also use twill tape, bias tape, or strips from cotton jersey (t-shirt fabric).
To make bias binding fabric ties: Cut 18″ long strips of fabric, 1.75″ wide. Fold the long sides together (lengthwise or hot-dog style) so that they meet in the middle. Then fold the strips in half again (lengthwise) to encase the raw edges. Stitch down the strips along the edge to create the ties.
The finished mask will then be worn by tying the fabric strips behind the head. See notes at the bottom of the post.
Step 4: Sew the Sides, Securing the Ties
With a 3/8″ seam allowance, sew each side of the facemask. Backstitch over the elastic or fabric ties to secure them. Trim the corners with scissors so that it will be easier to turn the mask right side out. Becare not to accidentally clip the stitches.
Turn the mask right side out and press with an iron. You can use a pencil to push out the corners.
Step 5: Insert a Flexible Nose Piece
This step is optional, but I find it I more comfortable to wear, especially if you wear glasses!
Cut a 6-inch piece of pipe cleaner, floral wire, or other flexible wire to create a nose piece. I folded the ends of wire back into to keep them from poking through the fabric. Place the wire through the pocket hole and slide it up to the very top of the mask. Stitch around it on all 3 sides to keep it in place.
Step 6: Make the Pleats
Make the mask with three evenly spaced lines. To do this, you can measure and mark with a water-soluble fabric pen. Or, you can do what I did, and fold the mask in quarters – fold the sides to meet in the middle, and then fold again in half. Use an iron to make a crease.
Use your markings to create three evenly spaced 1/2” pleats. Pin the folds down, make sure all pleats are facing the same direction. Sew along the sides to secure the pleats. I like to sew down the sides twice, just to make sure.
When the mask is worn, the pleats should open downwards to prevent any particles from collecting in the fold pockets.