I wanna digress and acknowledge how much of an absolute drag it is to make face masks. Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t go out without one, and I am strongly committed to reusable face masks for environmental reasons, but making masks sucks.
It sucks that there’s a literal plague on. It sucks that disposable masks are so bad for the environment*. It sucks that suddenly we have to make our own PPE. It sucks that it takes so much time. And it sucks that this new chore of looking at patterns, sourcing nose wires and elastics, and sewing the dang things falls mostly on women.
*Obvi if a disposable mask is the best choice for you, you should wear one, let’s not fight.
I’ve been listening to a lot of historical fiction audiobooks, about people who pass through olden-times despair, and passages about tying tea towels about their faces to prevent the Spanish Flu, or knitting socks and balaclavas for the trenches really stand out. I’ve been trying to look at (gestures vaguely at everything) as a connection to the great human experience, rather than something a time which is uniquely terrible.
Why even make a face mask if you’re so mad about it
One of the advantages of making face masks is getting them to fit really well.
I would recommend making one of these to try out first before making a bunch – just to see how it fits your unique face. Why do we accept that we might need to buy clothes from the Tall section, or take up a new pair of trousers, and then are surprised when a one-size-fits-all face mask doesn’t fit?
A second advantage is choosing really fun fabric. Confession: I wanted to make some new masks because I was jealous of someone’s unicorn mask. I wanted one too!
I used fabric from Spoonflower – specifically the test swatches. These are so affordable, and at 20 x 20 cm are just right for one mask!
Whatever fabric you use, choose a tight quilting cotton (or similar – an old sheet will do, so long as the fabric isn’t too loose). You will also need a nose wire (or a twist-tie) and some narrow elastic.
Simple face mask pattern
Cut one piece of fabric 20 x 20 cm for the front.
Cut another 20 x 22 cm for the lining (add a third piece or interface the lining if desired).
And cut two 24 cm long pieces of narrow elastic and knot the ends.
Fold over the ‘long’ edge of your lining fabric to make a 20 x 20 square, and sew in the nose wire.
You don’t need to back-stitch the first and last stitches as they will caught later.
Place your elastics on right side of the lining fabric
And place the front piece on top, right sides together.
Clip or pin together, catching the elastic and hold it in the corners – you can see that most clearly with the top yellow clip.
The green clip marks the top/nose wire.
Starting at approximately where the red clip is, sew around, stopping about 5 cm before where you began. Carefully catch the elastic at the corners – and only at the corners.
Flip inside out and press.
Now to make the pleat! This is the only part which is even slightly complicated – this is the easiest way I have found to pleat them…
Fold in half…
Stand up like a little tent…
And squash together!
Clip like mad, and top sew all the way around. I have found it easiest to start at the bottom left – approximately where the red clip is. Careful not to hit the nose wire!
Do you see why we left a wide channel for the nose wire? We’ve gone and narrowed it twice and now it should be about right. Try it on and see!
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In the last six months, I’ve sewed a whole bunch of face masks. Most face masks fit well, but none were perfect. We picked up a couple of ready-made reusable face masks to try out, and J decided he preferred them. The pattern is easy as anything to make – easier than any other pattern […]