two pages print from PDF sewing pattern

Face Mask Sewing Instructions

The following are instructions for the Little Package Face Mask sewing pattern, available as an instant download.

Tips on Cutting

These masks are machine-washable. If you’re worried about cotton shrinkage (and you might be with such a small-sized project), pre-wash and machine dry your fabric, then iron before cutting.

Some sewing lingo for you if you’re new to this:

“Cut two (mirror)” means to cut two pieces that are mirror images of one another. The easiest way to do this is to fold your fabric in half, lay the pattern piece on top of the two layers, then cut through both layers.

“Grainline” is the grain of the fabric. This is easy to find on woven fabrics like quilting cotton, as it is parallel to straight lines of thread making up the fabric. Cutting at an angle to these straight lines can make certain edges difficult to fold and finish, and create unexpected results with fit.

“Seam allowance” is how far away from the edge of the fabric to put your line of stitching. When sewing two pieces together during this project, seam allowances are 1/4″.

When you are done cutting, you will have six small pieces of fabric: 2 of piece “A”, 2 of “B” and 2 of “C.” If you want, you can mix and match colors of your fabric, as well as the color of your thread, for playful results. I always make piece “C” (nose liner) out of light-colored fabric so that masks wearers can easily tell when their mask is dirty.

Get the Pattern

Prepare the Pieces

Let’s do some preparation work so that the end product looks clean and professional. This raw-edge preparation also makes it machine-washable and durable.

Hemming raw edges

To start the project, four small pieces of fabric will need one edge each finished. When I sew masks I fold in 1/8″ or so, then fold again, to make a discreet but tidy and durable finished edge. Please excuse the state of my fingernails: I’m helping build a house and maintain a garden!

Finished raw edges in face mask inside

Only one edge needs to be finished/hemmed: the long edge. Now both cheek liners (B) are ready to go now!

Finish raw edges in face mask liner

For the nose liner pieces (C), finish the straight edges by folding into the wrong side and hemming. Alternatively you can fold once and sew, or serge or case the raw edge. I like to use white fabric for these pieces so people have clear visual cues when their mask is dirty.

hemmed and v-notched liner piece

Place the two liner pieces right side together and sew along the curved edge. Use 1/4″ seam allowance. (Sewing step not shown.) This photo shows how the nose-area liner has been treated after sewing. The straight edges have been turned in 1/8″ twice and hemmed, and the curved edge has been V-notched.

Preparation of mask pieces is done

The easiest part to prepare is the outside-facing main mask pieces (A). Just sew them right sides facing together, with a 1/4″ seam allowance. I recommend v-notching with scissors after they’re sewn. This reduces bulk, and especially if you iron it now, makes a really lovely flat seam.

Putting It All Together

All the parts are ready to go together!

Face mask inner and outer pinned

Start by pinning the inner filter piece (shown here in white) to the main outer piece.

Face mask seam pinned carefully to avoid bulk

Until you have some practice making masks, you will probably want to pin everything in place before sewing. Start by pinning the front (A) to the nose pieces (C) at the center line. I like to have one seam facing left and the other facing right, to minimize bulk.

Face mask inner and outer pinned in place

Another view of how it is pinned. (My thumbnail is bruised!)

Using pins to help sew a face mask

Here you can see blue and yellow pins holding all the pieces together. (B) pieces have been added, one to each side of the mask (left and right cheek), making sure to match up the angles and curves. It’s ready to sew!

Home sewn face mask shown inside out

The entire perimeter is sewn, about 1/4″ from outside edge. It is easiest to do this sewing with this side facing up, so you can manage overlapping layers as they come up.

Sewn perimeter of face mask

The sewn perimeter shown from the outside fabric side.

Finishing touches

Final stretch! You’re getting close to being done.

Face mask turned right side out - inside

The face mask is turned right side out – inside shown. Looking at the pocket created behind the white layer, you can see how if desired, you could put in a coffee filter or some filtrete in to add another layer of protection.

Face mask turned right side out - outside

Face mask turned right side out – outside. I use a very small flathead screwdriver to push out the four corners so they are close to square.

Create a Channel for Metal Nose Strip

Here’s a search that works for finding aluminum nose strips for mask-making.

Sewing a nose strip channel for a face mask

Sew down the nose pieces (shown in white) about 1/4″ from the existing stitching to make a channel which you can slip a nose strip into.

Topstitching and nose channel stitching shown

Topstitching and nose channel stitching shown from the outside. This stitching helps keep the mask flat on the face, and is well worth the extra time and effort.

Create a channel for elastic

Making attachment area for face mask elastic

Fold in the outside ear about 1″ and sew down near outer edge.

Finishing

Inside of completed Olsen style mask

A mask ready for a metal nose strip and elastic or ribbon for the ears.

Awesome. Good work. All you need to do now is attach the mask to your face!

You can cut two pieces of 10″ elastic (1/8″ or at most 1/4″ width is best). Push one piece through each side channel of the mask to make loops. This loop ties behind the ears. Tie at a length for comfort, but tight enough to hold the mask close to the face.

If you have metal nose strips, push one through the channel until it is centered on the middle seam of the mask. Threading the metal strip into the channel past the middle seam can be tricky at first until you get the hang of how to get past the seam allowances inside the channel. I regularly remove nose strips for machine washing and then put them back in again, so I know it can be done!

Pushing a nose stay into the fabric channel on a face mask

The nose strip bends easily so feed it in carefully. While easng it in, bunch the fabric around it the way you might bunch socks down around your ankles. The hardest part is getting it past the midline seam. Once it’s in and bent, it stays in place.

Nose stay in place inside face mask

You can see the nose strip is now inserted and bent at the midline – ready for a nose! It can be pushed out (removed) for washing if desired.

These were instructions for the Little Package Face Mask sewing pattern, available as a PDF download. You probably have everything you need to make a mask laying around your house, so why not give it a try?


Look too difficult? Here are some easier DIY cloth face covering options, with instructions