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How to Sew a Facemask
This is a pleated facemask with adjustable ear-loops and sizing for children and adults!
Scroll to the bottom for sizing info and Amazon links.
I’m super super late to the game here but better late than never! Since the very start of the pandemic I’ve gone through so many facemask tutorials I lost count. I’ve tried pleated, contour, nose-wire, behind-the-head elastic, around-the-ear elastic, and so many other variations. Some are comfier than others, some are easier to make than others. They all have different trade-offs. Over the months and months of being locked in my apartment with nothing to do, I’ve finally settled on a single approach to making masks that I think is the most efficient. It’s been tested on people of all ages from toddlers to grandparents. It’s washer/dryer friendly, durable, and by my estimates it costs less than $1/mask. I can also crank out about 30 of these in a single night so I think it’s a really great pattern for anyone who needs to make a LOT of masks!
What You’ll Need
- two 7″x6″ rectangles of cotton
- two 1.5″x3.5″ rectangles of cotton
- two 10″ pieces of elastic
- two MINI pony beads
- a piece of wire folded in half (for threading the elastic through the ear loops)
- a strong piece of thin string (like fishing line) folded in half and (for threading the elastic through the pony beads)
Make sure the pony beads are MINI! Not regular size pony beads. Here is a picture of two mini beads and two regular-sized beads on a 1″ square to show the difference in size.
Regular size pony beads WILL NOT WORK. If you can’t find mini pony beads, you can use perler beads too. You can also skip the beads entirely but then your ear loops will not be adjustable so keep that in mind.
Making the Mask
Step 1: Place the two large rectangles right sides facing and sew them together across the top and bottom (the 7″ sides)
Step 2: Turn right sides out and iron flat. Use a pen or your fingers to push the seam out to the very edges to maximize the height of your mask!
Step 3: Make three pleats on each side of the mask.
This is the most difficult part for a lot of people but the more you make the easier it will get and you can fix the pleating as many times as it takes to get it right. Practice makes perfect! Here are some side views of the pleats:
They’re roughly 1/2″ each.
I prefer to do the pleating by hand and trust me the first few I made were not pretty. Even if your pleats aren’t perfect, don’t worry too much about it. The most important thing is that you bunch the fabric to roughly half it’s original height so that the mask cinches around your mouth properly.
When you’re done it should look something like this:
Step 4: Line up one of the smaller rectangles right sides facing to the edge of your mask, fold over the top and bottom and sew it to the mask 1/4″ from the raw edge.
Step 5: Flip the mask over, fold out the two pieces you just attached in the last step and top-stitch across the top and bottom of the mask about 1/8″ from the edge (or as close as you can).
Step 6: Fold the ear-loop piece in 1/4″, then fold in that edge so that it overlaps ~1/4″ with the main mask pieces. Sew across the inner edge to secure the ear loop. Remember to back-tack at the top and bottom so that your stitches don’t come undone! (This is really the only step where it’s necessary to do this).
You’ve finished the main part of your mask! Congratulations!!!
Step 7: Thread one 10″ piece of elastic through each of the ear loops.
This is where the funky tools I listed as “optional” in the beginning will come in really handy. The ear loops have a lot of raw edges hidden inside of them and are pretty narrow so this is probably impossible to do without some kind of tool. A crotchet hook will work too but I found that a dedicated metal loop worked the best.
Step 8: Thread the two ends of the elastic through the mini pony bead. Repeat for both sides. This step is the hardest but it’s worth it if you want adjustable ear loops.
(If you don’t care about adjustability, you can simply tie off the elastic at this point and call it done)
I use my fishing line tool for this step by putting it through the mini pony bead, poking the ends of the elastic through the loop at the end, and pulling REALLY FREAKIN HARD to pop the elastic through the pony bead. I’m a big baby so I use a winter glove to make this step a bit easier on my precious hands. This is also why you see that I tied the fishing line to a metal keychain ring so that I would have something to grip onto.
It’s really only necessary to put one pony bead on the fishing line at a time but I can’t get out of the MASS PRODUCTION mindset.
It’s hard to get a picture of but push one pony bead down towards the keychain ring for later, push the other up against the elastic, grab it with your other hand and YANK WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT! The two pieces of elastic will pop through.
Step 9: Tie a knot off at the ends of the elastic to keep the pony bead from coming off.
You’re finished!! Go show off your mask on your next weekly trip to the grocery store 😀 The only place I go anymore beside Dunkin Donuts…
Here are the sizes I find work the best for kids and adults. The only pieces that need to change size are the two larger rectangles that form the main part of the mask. The elastic, pony beads, and ear loops can all stay the same size no matter what size the main piece is. Yet another great feature of this mask pattern!
- Child Small (ages 3-7): 5.5″x6″
- Child Medium (ages 7-13): 6.5″x6″
- Adult Medium (typically women): 7″x6″
- Adult Large (typically men): 8″x7″
Note that the child small, child medium, and adult medium are ALL 6″ tall (chin to nose). How convenient is that! I wear an adult medium and the adult large works really well for my 6’1″ boyfriend who often has a good amount of facial hair. Also note that if you don’t pre-wash your fabrics, these might shrink a little bit in the wash. Personally, I like the small amount of shrinkage I get from washing them because I think it gives them a more snug fit. If you don’t want yours to shrink try pre-washing your fabric or else drying them on low heat.
Where to Buy Materials
Here are some links for products to make sure you get the right stuff (these are NOT affiliate links):
- 4x7mm mini pony beads – Amazon, $14 for 3000 beads
- 4x7mm mini pony beads – JoAnns, $3.50 for 3.5oz
- 1/8″ width elastic cord – Amazon, $8 for 100yrds
- 1/8″ width elastic cord – JoAnns, $0.99/yrd
The pony beads should be 4x7mm! Do not buy the standard 6x9mm ones they will be too big!