How to Sew a Face Mask

Pleated Face Mask

Pleated Facemask Pattern

Since I have developed asthma and had cancer awhile ago, I have found it necessary to wear a face mask when I work with fluffy fibre or with dyes. I have been using the thin paper style of mask and haven’t been entirely happy with how they fit. I find that masks are uncomfortable to wear, and don’t really cover my face properly. I had been thinking about designing my own facemask for some time.
Now that the Corona virus threat is imminent, and face masks are becoming increasingly difficult to purchase, I think it is time to make one.
I realize that a face mask won’t provide a lot of protection from a virus, but something is better than nothing. The masks don’t really keep the viruses out, but they do help to keep you from touching your face or putting your fingers into your mouth, as we often tend to do. In some cultures, it is thought to be considerate to wear a face mask, so that you do not inadvertently sneeze or cough on someone.
Wearing a face mask may also help to protect you from some of the environmental pollution that we currently live in.

Update:
Since I first started writing this post and sewing the mask a few days ago, the Covid situation has further developed in the UK. We were just informed today that those who may be ill, must to stay home for 14 days to prevent spreading the infection further. And those who are +70 or have other underlying health conditions are recommended to self-isolate for +12 weeks.
It seems I designed these masks just in time.
Please stay safe everyone. Wash your hands, wear a mask if you must go out and keep a safe distance from others.
Päivi

Paper Mask
I dissected one of the paper masks to see how they are made.
The paper mask has 3 folds that open up as you wear the mask so that it fits over your mouth and chin.

Paper Face Mask
Paper Face Mask

There is a thin piece of wire at the top of the mask that fits over the bridge of the nose.

Choosing Fabric for the Face Mask
You may be wondering what type of fabric to use for the facemask. The Covid virus particles are very small – so to provide full protection, the mask must be made of very tightly woven fabrics and specially constructed like the N95 type of masks. This is not practical for the average person to obtain.
Some studies have been done about materials and their suitability for DIY facemasks and compared their ability to capture virus size particles. They tested and compared surgical masks, vacuum cleaner bags, tea towels, cotton Tshirts, linen, pillow cases, silk. The vacuum cleaner bags and dish towels performed best but were difficult to breathe through.
Best Materials for a DIY Face Mask

I decided to use a linen fabric for the front of the mask and a lighter weight cotton for the back section.

Please note: This mask is not intended to provide full protection from Covid19 or other viruses, but will help to prevent you from spreading any germs you may have to others.
I am leaving an opening in the side of the mask, so that an additional filter can be placed inside the mask if you wish.
Face Mask Pattern
When wearing this style of mask, I find it a bit narrow, so I thought that I would make my version a bit wider.
I used 2 different fabrics for the outer part of the mask and the inner lining.
The outer portion was a natural linen fabric and the inner one was 100% cotton.
Cut the fabric pieces to size.
Width: 25 cm
Height: 18 cm
You may wish to change the size to fit your requirements.

Pleated Face Mask Sewing Pattern
Pleated Face Mask Sewing Pattern

Pleated Face Mask Pattern PDF
Pleated Facemask Pattern

Mark the Folds
Using a fabric marker, mark the folding lines onto the side of both of the fabrics.

Mark Folding Lines
Mark Folding Lines
Mark Folding Lines
Mark Folding Lines

I have marked these lines in Green.
The finished mask will have 3 accordian folds that open up while the mask is being worn over the face.

Stitch Small Tucks at the Fold Lines.
To make the folds, you will match up the 2 lines at the Top and Bottom of the Folds and pin these in place.
Sew a narrow seam from the edge of the fabric, approx 3 cm in length. This helps to define the fold, making it a bit easier to accordian fold the pleats together.

Stitch Side Tucks
Stitch Side Tucks
Stitch Tucks
Stitch Tucks
Stitched Side Tucks
Stitched Side Tucks

Iron the Folds into Place
Turn the fabric to the Right Side.
Make the Accordian Folds by matching up the Marked lines on the reverse.
You will have 3 Accordian Folds.
Iron these folds to help hold them in place.

Iron Fold 1
Iron Fold 1
Iron Fold 2
Iron Fold 2
Iron Fold 3
Iron Fold 3
Iron Folds
Iron Folds

Stitch the Side of the Folds
Pin and Stitch the Folds into place on the Sides of the fabric.

Pin Folds
Pin Folds
Sew Folds
Sew Folds

Bias Tape Edging
You will need a length of bias tape to sew around the edges of this mask. If you don’t have any, you can make your own, using the same type of fabric that you used for the mask. Here’s how.
The length of the bias tape should be long enough to go around the outside perimeter of the face mask.
You can calculate this by adding up the lengths and widths of the piece of fabric that you have cut.
For example – the fabric size for the mask that I made was 25 cm x 18 cm
25 + 18 + 25 +18 = 86 cm Total Bias Tape Length

Here’s how to Make your own Bias Tape.

NEXT
Face Mask Part 2 – Face Mask Assembly

How to Sew a Pleated Face Mask Part 1- YouTube

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Author: Paivi Suomi

I've had an interest in weaving, looms, yarns and textiles since I was a small child. I learned to knit, crochet, sew, do needlepoint at my mother's knee. My grandmother was a Saami from northern Norway. I am very interested in studying more about traditional Saami and Finnish style weaving and handicrafts. Paivi Suomi