Skip to content
60

Best DIY Cloth Face Mask – Adjustable Ties, Filter pocket and Flexible Nose Bridge

A great DIY Cloth Face mask with adjustable ties, filter pocket and an optional flexible nose piece. Can be used alone or over N95 respirators to eventually help prolong their use. There’s an option to add a small metal strip/wire at the top — so that it can be bent over the nose to improve the face seal. It is made entirely from fabric which is great as all the large stores are currently out of elastic.
If you are just getting started with sewing, make sure to read to the end as I share few great sewing tips that will help you sew the mask more quickly and easily.
Also note that homemade masks are only a last resort option, are not considered PPE and their ability to protect against virus is unknown.

According to CDC (as of 31 March 2020): HCP (health care providers) use of homemade masks:
In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.

We occasionally link to goods offered by vendors to help the reader find relevant products. Some of the links may be affiliate meaning we earn a small commission if an item is purchased.

How to sew the DIY Cloth Facemask

Supplies and tools:

You actually need very little in terms of materials and tools:

DownloadsPrintable instructions for the face mask with adjustable ties, nose stay and filter pocket (PDF)

Follow us for free patterns & tutorials!

I saw a nurse wearing a medical themed fabric mask and though that this is a great way to show appreciation to our front-liners. So, I went out to find suitable 100% cotton fabrics that you can buy online. If you stumble across a great design, share it in the comments below!


We occasionally link to goods offered by vendors to help the reader find relevant products. Some of the links may be affiliate in nature meaning we earn a small commission if an item is purchased. Read full disclosure here

How to make a DIY Cloth Facemask with Fabric Ties:

Watch the video first and then follow the written step by step instructions below.
Please enjoy and don’t forget to Like and SUBSCRIBE over on YouTube to be kept up to date with new videos as they come out.

DIY FACE MASK VIDEO TUTORIAL

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Cut the fabric into rectangles (cut 1 from the main fabric and 2 from the lining fabric if you are making two-colored mask)


(optional – if using the pattern: make sure the pattern is printed at 100% (no scale) on US letter paper. Measure the square test box to ensure the sizing is correct before you cut the fabric)

2. Place the lining pieces on a horizontal surface with the pretty sides facing each other and pin the corners

3. Fold the pinned fabrics in half lengthwise and press with your fingers to create a crease in the middle

4. Mark a 2” horizontal line starting from one of the short sides along the crease. (Repeat for the opposite side)

5. Sew along the marks, backstitching at the beginning and the end, leaving the middle unsewn

6. Take both corners of the top fabric and bring them to the bottom. (Repeat for the back fabric) The filter pocket is ready

7. Place the main fabric on top of the filter pocket fabric with the pretty side facing down. Pin the corners

8. Sew the short sides of the mask and turn it inside out

9. Fold in fourths and press to create creases. To do that first press the face mask to smoothen it out. Next, fold it in half and press with a lot of steam. Open it, and bring both edges to the middle, then press again.

10. Create pleats: Flip the face mask to the other side. Create 1/2 inch folds facing upwards, while pinning the edges until you have 3 pleats. Make sure all pleats are facing the same direction.

11. Sew the bias tape ends: Take one of the bias strips and open one of the ends so that the right sides are touching each other. Sew across the short side as close to the edge as possible. Turn the corner back. (Repeat for the other three ends of the bias tape strips)

TIP: If you have run out of bias tape, you can make your own with any fabric you want and WITHOUT any tools. Check out the fastest way to make bias tape/binding here 

12. Fold the bias tape in half and press well with your finger. Fold the mask in half with the short sides touching each other and press with your fingers to create a crease in the middle

13. Open the middle of the bias tape, find the crease you’ve just created and pin it to the crease in the upper raw edge of the mask. (Repeat for the other side)

14. Sew the bias tape to the mask by sewing along the crease that is positioned closest to the edge. (Repeat for the other side)

 

15. (OPTIONAL) To create the nose wire stay: cut a 7” wire and bend its end inwards by half an inch Insert the wire along the top edge.

16. Fold the bias tape along the stitch line, then fold again to enclose the raw edge of the mask and cover the first line of stitches. Pin. Topstitch in place, making sure you catch the bias tape on the back

There are few tools/notions that can help make a bunch of masks faster and easier.

17. (OPTIONAL) Sew on either side of the wire, across the short side of the upper bias tape, to enclose the wire.

18. Sew along the entire length of the bias tape as close to the edge as possible.

19. Sew along the left and right edge of the mask to secure the pleats in place.

The mask is now ready! Here’s how it looks:

and here’s how you insert the filter in the pocket on the backside:

TIPS:

  • Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam to prevent the stitching from coming undone
  • If the thread keeps breaking when you sew over the pleats, go as slow as possible and/or use a walking foot attachment
  • Use clips instead of pins – they help you sew faster and you won’t accidentally prick your fingers

Our FREE face mask patterns:

how to sew a surgical face mask

DIY cloth face mask with ties

Do you like this? Pin for later:


Wanna be friends? Click HERE and follow me on Pinterest

RELATED:

So, did you make this DIY face mask? How did it come along? Was it easy to sew?

Did you find sewing the pleats difficult? Tell us, we’d love to hear from you!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 60 comments
Lois - March 29, 2020

How can I get the printed directions for the facemask? I have difficulty keeping up with the video.

Reply
    Linda K - April 5, 2020

    When there’s no written directions, this is what works for me:
    Split your screen with the vid on 1 side and your word document on the other. Type as you watch, pausing as needed. Then go over your typed notes, add to them and print out. Watch the vid again & make some helpful sketches at difficult-to-understand spots, pausing the vid when you’re sketching.

    Reply
      Helen - April 7, 2020

      Ladies, there are printable written instructions – you’ll find them in the supplies and tools section.
      Happy sewing

      Reply
    Tangela Gearn - September 8, 2020

    It’s hard to say

    Reply
Justin - March 30, 2020

Long time supporter, and thought I’d drop a comment.

Keep up the good work– and hope you all take care of yourself during the coronavirus scare!

Reply
    Helen - March 30, 2020

    Thanks for the kind words.
    Stay healthy and safe!

    Reply
Richard Nieves - March 30, 2020

First time sewer, did this mask for my wife (i’m a better sewer) it was easy, just sewing the cleats a little hard, i guess it was the material. Used cotton poly and 100% cotton.

Reply
    Helen - March 31, 2020

    Great to hear that you found sewing the pattern easy! Indeed sewing the pleats is a bit difficult. You may want to go slow over the pleats, and perhaps use a walking foot attachment. I find that it helps a ton when sewing over that many layers with entry level sewing machine.
    Oh and congrats on making your first sewn item!

    Reply
Debra L Pysher - March 31, 2020

How can I get a printed copy of the facemask. I can’t keep up with the video.

Reply
    Helen - March 31, 2020

    I will reupload it first thing in the morning

    Reply
Jolene A Tonn - March 31, 2020

How do I get a printed out copy of this facemask, looked all over can’t find it. Hard to keep up with the video.

Reply
    Helen - March 31, 2020

    We had to take it down for a bit. I will re-upload it tomorrow.

    Reply
Toni Stevens - April 1, 2020

Ahhhh using my walking foot would be a much easier method! I’m using cute animal prints for the NICU. One tip I picked up is using long hairpins/clips to hold the pleats down…. game changer!

Reply
    Helen - April 1, 2020

    Hey Toni,
    thank you for sharing your tips and experience with us.
    Indeed using a walking foot makes sewing over the pleats so much easier. So is using clips instead of pins.
    It’s a great tip to use long hairpins for the pleats. I’ll add it in the article.
    and I love cute animals. You are an angel for helping NICU with the current masks shortage.
    Teamwork makes the dreamwork

    Reply
Melanie Scott - April 1, 2020

Most masks I see medical professionals wear have the ties coming off the sides. It wouldn’t be hard to change it, but I’m wondering about the nose piece. Maybe add another piece of trim to the top? What do you think?

Reply
Carol Anderson - April 2, 2020

Hi,
Is there a printable doc for tis facemask?
Thanks

Reply
    Helen - April 2, 2020

    Hi Carol,
    Yes, there is a printable pdf with the instructions! You’ll find it in the supplies section

    Reply
Wynne Sheen - April 2, 2020

Hi, thank you for the information! I work for emergency physicians. Did you reload the pdf pattern? I may be overlooking, but don’t see it. thank you!

Reply
    Helen - April 2, 2020

    Hi Wynne,
    I reuploaded the pdf with the printable instructions. It’s in the supplies section just before the video
    There is no PDF pattern (yet)- as this is just a simple rectangle 9 x 7 inches.
    Stay safe and healthy

    Reply
Jeanniene Baker - April 3, 2020

Is there a seam allowance? 1/4? 3/8? That would be nice to know for us beginners! Thank you for the awesome pattern

Reply
    Helen - April 3, 2020

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Jeanniene. I’m using 3/8″ seam allowance.
    I’ll update the article to add the seam allowance – good catch!

    Reply
      Jeanniene Baker - April 3, 2020

      Yay! Thank you!!

      Reply
Jeanniene Baker - April 3, 2020

Is there a seam allowance? That would be helpful for us beginners! 1/4? 3/8? Thanks for the awesome tutorial!

Reply
Laura - April 3, 2020

Thank you for the tutorial…making one now….but what is the Seam Allowance? 1/4? 1/2?

Reply
    Helen - April 3, 2020

    Thank you so much, Laura! I’m using 3/8″ seam allowance

    Reply
      Laura - April 4, 2020

      Thanks so much Helen! Also…..I was wondering….does laundering them become an issue with the wire in there?? Curious if there have been any issues with it rusting and coming through the fabric? I’m using coated floral wire (b/c that’s all I had)….but like a paperclip….wouldn’t that rust? Hmmmmmm

      Reply
Sandy - April 3, 2020

Great video, consider using wonder clips instead of pins. You will love the difference. They make thing so much easier.

Reply
    Helen - April 3, 2020

    Absolutely, great suggestion! If you have clips – totally use them instead of pins.
    I love my sewing clips, it’s so much easier with them (and I don’t accidentally prick my fingers).
    I used pins just because so many people who want to sew their mask are just getting started and have very little sewing tools and notions

    Reply
Mary Jane Reymann - April 4, 2020

I have been looking at patterns all morning and yours makes the most sense. Probably a little more labor intensive and more durable. Thank you for sharing. Stay safe.

Reply
Abby - April 4, 2020

Do you think 0.875″ bias tape would be too wide? It’s all I have on hand but I want to try this out.

Reply
    Helen - April 4, 2020

    Why don’t you place it on a scrap of fabric and see whether you like the look?

    Reply
Sylvia - April 4, 2020

Would like a copy or tutorial video to my house if possible

Reply
    Helen - April 5, 2020

    Thanks for your comment. That’s not possible, I’m sorry.
    On the upside, you can bookmark this page and watch the video as many times as you’d like.

    Reply
Douey Davis - April 6, 2020

I don’t see a mention of seam allowance. When you are sewing the sides to together, what are you using for the seam allowance? And again when sewing over the pleats, what are you using for the seam allowance? In the video, it looks like maybe 1/4″ the first time and 1/2″ the second, but that not the presser foot that I have. Thanks.

Reply
Sarah - April 6, 2020

Is it important to have double folded bias tape rather than single? Bias tape is the only part I don’t have so I’m looking at amazon and what’s the best price. New sewer here!

Reply
    Helen - April 6, 2020

    Single-fold bias tape has two folds, while double-fold bias tape has three. Double-fold bias tape is generally used to bind an edge. The pattern asks for 1/2″ double fold bias tape to encase the raw edge of the mask. This is what I can find at amazon, but it might be way too much if you are making just few masks. Looks like there is not much choice right now.
    You can buy single fold bias tape, but make sure it is 1″ as you’ll need to fold it in half along the initial foldline and press it to get 1/2″ double fold bias tape.

    Reply
      Sarah - April 6, 2020

      Thanks for the quick and helpful reply!!

      Reply
Jennifer - April 7, 2020

What size fabric rectangle would you recommend for a child size mask?

Reply
    Ralph - May 6, 2020

    Try 7.5″ x 5″

    Reply
Sam - April 7, 2020

What’s a good size to cut a filter for this.

Reply
Billie Sue Patrick - April 7, 2020

Thanks for a great, easy to follow tutorial. This should not be at all difficult to make. A suggestion that I would like to pass along is to dismantle a 3M True HEPA air filter and use the material to make the filter insert. It can be pleated and sewn along the edges to fit perfectly in the fabric mask. This addition will up the protection close to that of an N95 mask. This filter can’t be washed, so one will need to make enough to discard them after one use. I haven’t dismantled my filter yet, but I expect to be able to make least 20 inserts from one filter. Texas A & M has a video demonstrating how to make a mask using just the filter material and staples. I like to sew and have time on my hands,so I’m going to the trouble of making fabric masks to put the filters in just to be more attractive. The filter is what does the job of stopping the virus.

Reply
emily - April 7, 2020

The best out all very clear at a speed everyone can learn n make a face mask! Thank you so much. Sending love, Take care and stay safe everyone
You may also like these masks:
16 How To Make A 5 Minute Face Masks
https://www.diytomake.com/how-to-make-face-mask/

Reply
TERRY - April 9, 2020

Morning Helen. I am pretty new to sewing, and there was a step with the liner/insert I am not understanding.

Step 6 in the PDF: Take both corners of the top fabric and bring them to the bottom.(Repeat for the back fabric)The filter pocket is ready.
After reading and reading – the liner is going to be 9″ x 3.5″ is how I read it, but I know that’s not correct. Your video shows you folding top corners to bottom on one side, while still maintaining a 9″ x 7″ shape. What am I missing 🙂

Thanks and be safe
Terry

Reply
    Helen - April 9, 2020

    Hi Terry, the easiest way to do it is to pinch the corners of the TOP layer and bring them to the bottom, then flip the filter pocket so that the bottom is on the top and then again bring the top layer to the bottom. Check out my latest blog post, where I demonstrate this technique https://hellosewing.com/fast-easy-no-elastic-facemask/

    Reply
Abilgaard - April 16, 2020

I would say this is one of the best article I’ve read.
You nailed it 8, from beginning to end. To write this you
might have worked hard for research.
Best regards,
Abildgaard Duke

Reply
How To Make Bias Binding Tape ⋆ Hello Sewing - April 16, 2020

[…] of our readers who wanted to try our “DIY Surgical Fabric Face Mask with Adjustable Ties” asked how to make their own mask ties as quickly as possible without any special tools. So, […]

Reply
Mary - April 16, 2020

Hi! For some reason I can’t seem to find the link to the video for this actual mask. The links at the top are for other masks, & the big part at the bottom that actually says, “video,” doesn’t have a clickable link. Is it in there somewhere else or am I totally missing something? haha

Reply
    Helen - April 17, 2020

    The video should auto-play. Reload the page (press F5 or try a different browser).
    If that does not work, watch it over on youtube – heres the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfEeqliin3k

    Reply
      Mary - April 20, 2020

      Thank you so much!! That link worked!!

      Reply
Emily - April 18, 2020

Thanks for this video! Easy instructions and the resulting man looks great! I’ve made two so far, and have requests from extended family to make more. Do you have a suggestion for what size I should cut the material for children’s masks?

Reply
    Helen - April 18, 2020

    I’m so stoked your whole family liked it. It’s 7″x5″ for kids
    Stay safe and happy sewing!

    Reply
    Emily - April 19, 2020

    *Mask, not man. One man around the house during quarantine is plenty, no need to diy one. 😀

    Reply
Mariam - April 26, 2020

Superb website you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any forums
that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get
comments from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest.
If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Many thanks!

Reply
Des - April 30, 2020

For both this mask and the “diy mouth mask” what size do we cut the filter inserts?
Thanks so much for the tutorials!!

Reply
    Helen - April 30, 2020

    Make a template on a piece of paper – it should be a bit smaller than the mask. Then slip the template into the mask and see how it fits. Adjust if necessary

    Reply
Mary - May 23, 2020

Hi there! Is there a PDF of the pattern available or do we need to draft it ourselves?

Thanks!

Reply
    Helen - May 24, 2020

    Hi Mary,
    These are simple rectangles, you just cut the first one according to your measurements, and then cut the second one 2 inches higher and wider. That’s all, no pattern needed

    Reply
Patricia Yeargin - May 25, 2020

Oh, my! I loved your pattern and couldn’t wait to try it. Being a health care person, I wanted max filtration so chose thicker, tighter cotton liners % a fairly thick T-shirt fabric front. I bent 5-6 pins trying to pin the pleats in place! Then I figured out I’d be sewing 18 layers of this thick fabric during parts of sewing the pleats, and it dawned on me why it was so hard to pin the darn things.

I ended up trimming the inside seams down to about 3/8″ and zigzagging their edges to prevent raveling so that I could stitch the edges further in and “only” stitch 9 layers while sewing the pleats. Still broke a sewing machine needle, LOL. It seems to have turned out pretty well, but as an amateur at this type of project, it’ll take me awhile (and a re-evaluation of my choice of materials) to start another one.

Thanks for a great video & instructions!

Reply
    Helen - May 27, 2020

    Oh my! Why sewing through so many layers? Even with the seam allowance you should not sew through more than 12 layers..
    You can trim the seam allowance on the pleats and sew further in, so you won’t catch the seam allowance

    Reply

Leave a Reply:

Send this to a friend