How to make a cotton face mask.

Over the last few weeks I’ve found myself making face masks out of the left over pieces of cotton fabric I have lying around so I thought I could write up a “how-to” in case anyone else would like to do the same.

It’s really simple to do and could help reduce the spread of infection. I know that wearing a mask like these won’t stop you from getting Coronavirus, but if we all wear something like this when we are out and about it’s likely the spread could be lessened.

So how do you make a cotton mask? Let’s take a look!

Step 1 – Fabric & Pattern

What you’ll need –

  • A copy of the pattern ready to cut out your fabric
  • Approximately 160cm square cotton fabric (4 pieces of approx 40cm square each)
  • 1.6m ribbon or 40cm elastic for the ties.
  • Sewing machine & time!

Start off by clicking here to download & then print out the face mask pattern. Use the pattern to cut out 4 pieces to match the size you’re wanting to make, Small, Medium or Large.

Tip – check you’re printer is printing the size correctly before you cut out your material! When printing a PDF make sure it’s set to Print Actual Size rather than shrink to fit.

Once you’ve cut out your four pieces, place your two outer pieces together and pin along the long curved edge. Next stitch the edge you’ve just pinned together using a straight stitch on your sewing machine creating a single piece and repeat for the inner pieces.

Step 2 – Pressing the seam and pinning the layers together.

As we effectively stitch the mask inside-out it’s a good idea to press the seam you’ve just sewn with a hot iron. Open it out and iron into the seam from the outside in. This ensures the seam folds neatly when you turn the mask out the right way later on.

Next take your ribbon ties (or elastic if you prefer) and pin them against the straight edge of the either the front or the back, it doesn’t really matter which, but when you have pinned them make sure the excess tails are bunched up inside the mask rather than hanging outwards, remember we’re making these inside out!.

Tip – When using ribbon place a straight edge of ribbon against the edge of the piece of the mask with the tails hidden inside, once you’ve pinned them in place, cut the loose ends diagonally to stop them fraying!

Now you’ll need to pin the front piece to the back piece, which is the fiddliest part of the process.

So that I have as little fabric at the crease as possible I push the front seam to the right and the back seam to the left when putting the two against each other. I start from the corners and work round until the two sides are pinned then tuck all of the ribbons inside the pouch I’ve created.

Step 3 – Stitching the front to the back.

Starting about 1 inch – 2.5cm up from the bottom of the side straight edge, stitch your way all around the outside but ensure you leave a gap of about 1inch – 2.5cm between where you start and finish your stitches one.. This gap in the stitching allows space to pull the mask inside out when you’re ready to do so.

Before you do turn the mask the right way, snip off the excess material at each of the corners. I do this by placing my thumb over the corner stitches then cut diagonally across the corner without hitting the stitches. Next, on the long curved edge make some snips from the outside edge in stopping before you hit the stitches you’ve made. This allows this seam to bend when it’s turned the right way out.

Step 4 – Turning the mask the right way out.

Not far to go now, using the hole you left in one side, pull the mask inside out. Using a blunt knitting needle or similar, push out the corners from the inside to make them nice and square – don’t push too hard though or you might poke through and break your stitching.

Now you need to press the finished surface with a hot iron again. Role the fabric edge between your thumb and forefinger until you get a nice clean edge then press with the iron.

Tip – using a damp sponge to wet your finger helps you role the fabric before pressing and makes for a crisper fold.

Step 5 – Finishing touches.

Now that your mask is the right way out and pressed it’s back to the sewing machine for the final step. Starting in one corner sew a line of stitches round the outside edge about 2mm in all around the outside. This line of stitches helps to keep the layers together and ensures they stay the right shape when washed.

And there you have it, a finished mask!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk through, if you have please consider sharing this page with your friends and family and I look forward to seeing pictures of the masks you make!

Happy Sewing!

Elaine xx