DIY Fabric Face Mask

Apr 16, 2020 | Sustainable Apparel


It feels patriotic, it feels important, it feels necessary. While we aren’t set up to jump into production on a bunch of masks (though many slow fashion brands are – check them out!) we’re so happy to offer you a DIY face mask tutorial and custom-designed mask pattern (from Line & Tow designer Grace Brian with input from her EMT husband) for you to make at home with whatever materials you have on hand, sewing machine or not. We feel so grateful for the opportunity to learn something, use what we have, and create a tool to help keep our communities safe. Let us know how it goes and if you’re able to make a few to share or donate – we’d love to hear about it. From all of us at Lady Farmer, we hope you enjoy!

You can also find a step-by-step video of this process on our IGTV, linked here!

Materials: Required

  • Fabric (see our recommendations, below)
  • Ties (see our recommendations, below)
  • Pattern
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine (or a needle and thread)

Materials: Optional

  • Iron
  • Straight Pins
  • Safety Pin
  • Tailors chalk/pencil for marking fabric


Fabric Choices

There really is no practical difference between the lining fabric and the outer fabric except that the lining fabric won’t be seen – if you have a choice, lining fabric is usually a little thinner. Please note that we are advising based on ease of use for the sewing pattern, and are not qualified to determine which fabrics are safer for use than others. 

Suggested Fabrics

  • Cloth Napkin
  • Dishtowel
  • Tablecloth
  • Cloth Shower Curtain (maybe yours is too long anyway!)
  • Bedsheet or Pillow Case
  • Buttondown Shirt – Flannel is fine, too! 
  • Reusable Cotton Shopping Bag: you may have heard that reusable shopping bags are a good material to use for face masks. Note that a canvas bag might be too thick – especially if you’re hand sewing. The cheap non-woven bags vary in weight and could be used, but be very careful if you use an iron on them because they can melt! Start on the lowest setting and test on a small piece with the tip of the iron. All in all, a reusable shopping bag wouldn’t be my first pick – but if it’s all you have, give it a try!

Not Suggested:

  • Placemats: too thick
  • Sweaters: too thick, too stretchy, and too much space in the fabric for things to pass through
  • T-Shirts: potentially too stretchy, and too much space in the fabric for things to pass through
  • Bath Towels: too thick
  • Upholstery fabric: too thick

Tie Choices

We used one 36” piece of ribbon. If you need to work with something shorter, you could also do four 16” ties – two on top, and two on bottom. Good options for tie materials are:

  • Sewing/Craft Elastic
  • Crafting Ribbon
  • Gift Wrapping Ribbon
  • Braided knitting/crochet yarn (braided for strength)
  • Shoelace
  • Elastic Headband
  • Lanyard
  • Paracord
  • Underwear waistband
  • Kitchen Twine (you may want to braid it to be thicker)
  • Strips of Fabric

Once you have your materials gathered – let’s make a mask! 


DIY Face Mask

1. Collect your materials listed above, and print out this pattern template. Cut the two patterns out along the solid line. 

2. If you are using an iron, iron your fabric on the appropriate setting. If you are using fabric from a non-woven reusable grocery bag be extremely careful not to melt the fabric!

3. Fold your interior and exterior fabrics in half, and lay your paper patterns out on top in whichever orientation conserves the most fabric. Trace around the pattern and cut out through both layers, so that you have two of each piece. You can pin the folded fabric together prior to cutting to help keep everything in place. 


4. Lay both cut pieces on top of each other so you have two sets of two – one lining set and one front fabric set. Make sure to sandwich the “fronts” of the fabric (if you are using a pattern or one-sided fabric) are on the inside, stacked against each other. Make sure both pieces are lined up as much as possible, and pin them together if you haven’t already. If you don’t have pins – no worries! Just get them lined up as best you can.

5. Now it’s time to sew! Sew along the curved line on both sets, with a ¼” seam allowance. 


6. If using an iron, iron both pieces flat. Take the front piece and turn it right side out. If ironing, press along the seam of the front piece, with the seam allowance on the inside. Try to pop the stitching out as much as possible so you get a nice curved line. See image above for reference – the pink is our “front”!

7. Orient your lining and front pieces so they are facing the same direction (tops both pointing up), using the pattern, if you would like, for reference.  Now, we will nestle the front inside the lining. Keep the lining piece as-is (inside out) and place the front piece inside the lining, making sure that the tops are touching. The front piece should be longer than the lining at the bottom. If you want to use pins, pin these two layers together along the top line making sure that they are lined up at the center.


8. Now stitch the two pieces together along the top edge. Starting at one side, with the lining fabric on top, stitch all the way along the top of the mask with a ¼” seam allowance

9. In the corner of the mask where the tab sticks out from the front, make a small cut in the seam allowance – getting close to, but not cutting through the stitching. This will help when we turn it right side out. Trim your threads.


10. Optional – open the mask up so that the right sides are visible, and iron the lining down away from the front fabric. Iron the seam allowance down toward the lining. Then, with both sides pressed away from each other, stitch along the lining fabric (on top of the seam allowance) 1/16” away from where the two fabrics meet. This step does not affect the function of the mask, but makes for a more crisp appearance.


11. With the mask inside out, line up the bottom of both sides of the mask, starting with the center seam and working your way out. If you want to pin the sides together now is the time!

12. With the front fabric facing up, stitch along the bottom edge of the mask with a ¼” seam allowance.


13. In the bottom two corners of the mask where the tab sticks out from the front, make a small cut in the seam allowance – getting close to, but not cutting through the stitching. This will help when we turn it right side out.

14. This next step may be difficult! We will be turning the mask right side out through the small opening in the side. (If you don’t think this will be possible with your mask, open a section of the stitching along the bottom. I suggest no more than 2” in the middle of one of the sides. Avoid opening the seam at the start or end of the stitching, as well as the middle where you cross over the center seam.)

15. Once you get the mask turned right side out, if you are using an iron, press the top seam down so that you can see a little bit of the front fabric peeking up over the lining. If you sewed the optional top stitching over the lining (step 10) this may be easier.

16. If you are ironing, starting at one of the tabs, flatten the mask out with your hand and then iron it down. There should be front fabric sticking up over the lining fabric on this side as well. If you opened the mask along the bottom, tuck the seam allowance in to create the illusion that it has been sewn and iron it down (we will top stitch over this section in a bit). 

17. Optional: If you are using four ties instead of one long ribbon, you can cut the end tabs off, leaving ¼” of the tab on each side. Fold this inside of itself and, if using an iron, press down. If machine stitching, insert two ties on each side and top stitch them down. If hand sewing, you can close this up however you want and stitch your ties onto the top of the tab – they will be stronger this way. 

18. If you opened the mask along the bottom to turn it right side out, we will now have to close it. If you are using a machine, the best way to do this is to top stitch all along the bottom of the mask. If you are hand sewing and do not want to topstitch all along the bottom, you can close up the hole rather easily with your needle and thread.

19. If you did not open the mask at the bottom and you turned it through the small holes on the side, I would still recommend top stitching the bottom seam! This helps the mask look a little more professional and keeps the layers in place during washing. It also helps you keep track of which side of the mask is the top – the visible topstitching on the front of the mask will only be on the bottom. If you want to do this step, stitch along the bottom of the mask on the lining, sewing through all of the layers 1/16” away from where the two fabrics meet.


20. Now we are ready to sew down our channels. Fold the edge of one of the tabs down ¼” and if you have an iron, press it down. Then fold it again ¾”. Repeat for the other side.

21. Stitch this channel down ~⅛” away from the folded edge. If machine sewing, be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end – this area will experience a lot of tension. If hand sewing be sure that you have reinforced the beginning and end of this seam as well.


22. Now thread your tie through! If using one long tie, do the following: attach a safety pin, pinned through the top of the ribbon as a needle. Starting from the top of one side, thread from top to bottom and then from bottom to top on the other side. You now have two ties coming out of the tops and a loop at the bottom of your mask. 

23. To wear, orient the top and bottom of your mask, loop the bottom around your lower neck, and pull the top strings to tighten. Tie at the top of your head, and you’re done!


Pin it!

face-mask-pin face-mask-pin


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