Face Mask Sewing Patterns

In case you didn’t get the memo, COVID-19 is here to stay. Up until now, no cure has been discovered, which means you still need to be masked during your present and future excursions. Let’s cut to the chase and talk about the most important thing that keeps you and others safe from this virus – your mask.

The three most common masks that are recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include the pleated surgical-style mask, an Olson mask, and a KN95 mask. You can get a box of 50, disposable pleated masks for cheap, whereas a pack of 3 Olson masks will cost you a bit more. Lastly, a pack of 20 KN95 face masks, which is recommended to healthcare professionals, will be pricier.

The good news is that if none of these masks are available at your nearby shops, you can easily make the former two at home.

Where Do Federal Health Officials Stand on the Use of Homemade Facemasks?

Now that CDC has given the green light for cloth masks, most people are sewing their own in homes. There are several face mask sewing patterns available on CDC’s website, which you can download for free. Since there’s a shortage of disposable masks everywhere, ones made from cloth are now deemed acceptable.

Not everyone has access to or can afford reusable face masks. As a stopgap measure, hospitals are now using homemade surgical masks. According to CDC, the use of fabric face masks does not commensurate with U.S. standards. However, this move can be implemented in crisis capacity such as when kids refuse to wear masks.

CDC explained that since wearing a face mask is necessary, a cloth mask can not only protect the people around you but also keep you safe from accidental virus exposure. Social distancing still has to be maintained, no matter what type of mask you are wearing.

Before you run to your closet to get out those old t-shirts, let’s take a look at what type of cloth can be used for DIY homemade masks:

The Best Fabric for Making a Face Mask

Research conducted at the University of Cambridge tested how effective household materials are for making masks. According to the study published in the journal of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, the best materials that filtered small particles included cotton pillowcases and t-shirts, and just about any cloth that was made from pure cotton. The study concluded that a double layer would add a layer of filtration, which proved to be quite effective.

Face Mask Filters

If you want an extra layer of protection, you can add a filter to your DIY mask. Following are some of the filter types you can use:

HEPA Filters: The best filters in the market. However, they cause a little difficulty in breathing because of their thickness.

Coffee Filters: CDC is now using coffee filters in their DIY mask patterns. They are light, disposable and readily available.

Blue Shop Towel: This is a closely-woven fabric, which has effective filtration qualities. While there’s less research on how good this material is, you will find plenty of people online recommending it.

Face Mask Sewing Guide

Pleated Surgical-Style Mask


  • 1/8″ Elastic Ties (You Can Also Make Fabric Ties)
  • Cotton Fabric


  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Thread and Sewing Machine
  • Clips or Sewing Pins

*Since a pleated surgical mask is loose, we are making it based on the standard adult size.


Step #1

Cut the Fabric

Place the cloth on a flat surface and cut it 8.5″ wide and 16″ long. The end shape should be a rectangle.

Step #2

Sew the Top to Make a Pocket

Fold the fabric, so that one end meets the other. Make sure that the folded side faces to the right. Sew the edges with a 5/8″ seam space. Leave a 3″ opening in the center for inserting the filter. Press open the seal and make zig-zag stitches on both sides for a neater look.

Step #3

Sew the Elastic Ties

Attach one end of the elastic tie at the top and the other at the bottom. Repeat on the other side. Once everything is attached, iron the mask to prepare the cloth for the pleats.

Step #4

Sew the Pleats

Fold the mask into three, ½” pleats. The fabric should be folded upwards. Use the pins to secure the folds. Now, sew each side vertically.

Olson Mask

*The Olson mask is great for those people who can easily breathe through a tight fabric fit and wear glasses.


  • Wire: 5½” (Long) and 1/16″ (Diameter)
  • Elastic Ties: 2 x 12″


  • For Outer Layer: 12″ x 6″
  • For Lining: 12″ x 6″
  • For Filter Pocket: 8″ x 6″

*This mask is made using a pattern, which you can find here.


Step #1

Sew the Cloth Pieces

Use the templates to cut the fabric and mark the outlines. Place both fabric shapes on the right, ends touching together and make a stitch around the curve. Do the same for the pocket and lining.

Step #2

Align the Cloth Pieces

Press the seams and place all the fabrics on a raised, round surface. Press the right side fabric on one side and the left on the other. Make sure that the pocket fabric is in the middle. Once all the fabrics are aligned, stitch around the sides, leaving a small window open for turning the fabric.

Step #3

Insert the Wire

Measure the wire by bending it around your nose and then straighten it out. Insert it into the mask and place it at the top. Bend it slightly so it follows the curve and then stitch the length. Curve the corners and seal in the wire.

Step #4

Thread in the Elastic

Turn the mask and fold the edges by about ¾”. Thread in the elastic and then join the ends by sewing it.

Our Final Thoughts

So, what do you think about these face mask sewing patterns? They are pretty easy to make, right. Most of the materials and tools we have mentioned are available in every household. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can sew the mask with a needle and thread. As for the elastic, you can sew your own ties instead for a tighter fit. You can find a substitute for just about every material.

The Cost: $0.

Here are a few options that are already made…

About The Author

Scroll to Top