I Sewed Up Three Free Face Mask Patterns and Here Is My Takeaway

I Sewed Up Three Free Face Mask Patterns and Here Is My Takeaway

Over most of 2020 I’ve kept debating whether or not I should share anything about fabric face masks on my blog. Masks themselves seemed controversial, at first, over whether we should or shouldn’t wear them and then on whether or not we should sew our own version up. When fabric face masks were first being sewn I was scared I’d sew an unsafe face mask causing someone to get ill while wearing it. Over time I started realizing that we’re going to have to wear masks when we leave the house and luckily, as I was realizing this, I came across a sewing pattern for a mask that I wanted to try for my family and I. After a bit I tried another pattern and then expanded out to sew a couple of face masks for a few of my friends. Before COVID-19; however, I had been attempting to sew through my woven fabric stash so by the time I started sewing our own fabric face masks I didn’t have a lot of woven fabric left and it was hard to order more online. With many months having now past, woven fabric and elastic being more readily available, and Halloween having just happened (as I created matching masks for my kids’ costumes) I figured now was the time to share the masks I did make with you in case you’re also looking at making different custom masks whether it’s to match a specific outfit or for your own day-to-day use.

Image showing a mix of eight different images along with the title of the blog post and the main URL. The image is geared towards a Pinterest pin. The images show three different types of masks in different stages. All images can also be found below.

Putting on a Face Mask

Before going into the face masks sewing patterns I sewed I first decided to show you how we wear our face masks. Most images you find online of store-bought face masks have small loops of elastic extending from either side to go around the ears to hold them on. On Facebook, in the sewing groups, I heard that the elastic around your ears might hurt them over time so I decided to customize ours using a single long stretch of elastic that can, instead, loop around the back of the head rather than just the ears. To do this I made a mask with channels going up either side of the mask which I then used to thread the elastic up through one side of the mask and then down through the other. Before trimming or tying the elastic I then sized it on the person to confirm the elastic was long enough while still making the mask stay flush against the face. Once the mask is on there’s a lower band that goes around your neck, stretching from your jaw, and then a higher band reaching from the two upper corners of the mask, trailing over your ears, and then looped around the back of your head. I’ve started putting my hair in ponytails so I can rest the upper elastic over top of the pony and I don’t have to worry about it slipping off my ears. Thus one of the many reasons I’m almost always wearing a ponytail now.

While taking photos of the masks I quickly had Zoey model how she wears her mask for you. She had just finished eating breakfast and we hadn’t had a chance to brush her hair that morning yet.

My hand is holding a face mask over the kitchen table. The top has a small loop of elastic and there's another loop coming from the bottom, with a knot, making it one circle of elastic.
If you wanted two ear loops you’d cut two smaller pieces of elastic and thread each one through a side before tying it closed. In my case I took the elastic, left uncut from the spool, and threaded it up through one side and then back through the other side of the mask. I then had the owner of the mask try it on, in this case Zoey, so I knew how long the elastic should be before cutting the elastic off the spool and knotting it closed.
View of the back and side of Zoey's head while she's wearing a mask with elastic going around her head. The lower elastic is hidden under her hair but the top elastic band goes over her ears and around the back of her head.
With this type of mask I pop it on over the head (as an aside it works great as a necklace when you’re rushing out the door with the kids to the vehicle so you later know where each one is when you need it) and then pull it back up so it’s in place. The lower elastic reaches down from the bottom of the mask and goes around the back of the neck; hidden if you have longer hair. The top elastic goes over the ears and stretches around the head. I frequently wear a ponytail tie so this elastic rests more on the pony than the ears and doesn’t slide down.

If you’re making a mask with the side channels but don’t have or want elastic you could also grab something else to tie the mask on. Several years ago I bought a multi-pack of neon shoelaces, from Amazon, for sensory play ideas which I mostly didn’t get around to (other than a couple quiet book pages: bumblebee threading and tying shoelaces) so I still had several pairs left. When I heard you can use shoelaces for the masks I jumped on it and I love this alternative idea. For this set of masks the kids were able to doodle with fabric markers on the outer fabric, before I sewed it together, so funnily enough the neon colors seemed to match and worked perfectly with them. When I first tried these masks on the kids I threaded it so the loop was at the top and the loose ends were coming out of the bottom. Once the kids wore it I quickly realized it worked much better with the loop at the bottom instead. This way I can loop the mask on and once it’s around the neck I can easily tighten the two ends and tie it over their hair. I did have one issue so far, which I don’t know if I should blame on the hair or the shoelaces themselves, but I find the top loop frequently falls down and the mask gets loose so I have to keep an eye on them and their mask and be ready to tighten or fix it if needed.

Image shows me holding the mask on Zoey's head like a crown. The lower loop goes around her head while the two ends of the shoelaces droop down from the two upper corners of the mask.
Like before I start by pulling the mask on over the head. In this case there’s only one loop and you can loosen it by shortening the two ends coming from the top. Just be sure you don’t unthread the shoelace by mistake.
View of the back of Zoey's head and a shoulder. The orange shoelace is looped around her neck with the mask hidden in front of her. Her right hand is holding an end of the shoelace.
Once it’s around her neck you grab the two ends of the shoelaces and tighten the lower loop until the bottom of the mask is secure around the face.
Image is taken from the back. You can see a part of the lower shoelace as it extends from the lower channel and disappearing under Zoey's hair. The upper shoelace is extending from the top of the mask and goes under Zoey's ear before stretching out.
Once the bottom is tightened you can flip the mask up over the face and pull the ends so the mask is secure. Here the laces are under Zoey’s easr, so I could take a photo with the other hand, but you’d want to position the shoelace ends over the ears if you want the laces to rest there after tying the mask.
View from the side as the mask is worn and the lower loop goes behind Zoey's neck, under her hair, and the upper shoelaces extend over her ears and tie at the top of her head.
After making sure the front of the mask is secure and where you want it to be you can then pull the ends up and tie them over top of the hair. Although I prefer this location for the mask itself I find the top shoelace frequently falls down to the nap of the neck as the kids wear it so I have to keep confirming it’s on properly.
Image shows the side of Zoey's face while she wears the face mask with the upper loops pulled under her ears and tied in the back at the nap of her neck over her hair. The lower loop is under her hair but both are looped at the same spot.
Since the shoelaces seem to fall anyway I sometimes end up typing it with the laces going under Zoey’s ears and tying at the nap of Zoey’s neck. I don’t like how this pinches the side of the mask but it seems better than the mask falling off from the ties being too loose.

Some of the mask patterns call for bias tape that goes over the top and bottom of the mask. In the case of the below mask the bias tape is extended from all four corners so you can easily change the tightness of the mask each time you wear it, like the shoelaces, which would not work with elastic. Like with the above mask the lower bias tape would tie at the nap of your neck, under your hair, and then the top would tie at the top of your head, over your ears or ponytail.

Image shows two similar masks laid out over the kitchen table. They both have four bias tape stripes coming from each corner. The sides of the masks are pleated.
The top mask shows the underside while the bottom, dotted, mask shows the outer side. In this case you tie the bottom bias stripes behind the back of your neck and the top two ties on the back of your head after going over your ears and/or ponytail.

Face Masks

Before going over the fabric face mask sewing patterns I used I wanted to mention the fabric. There are many studies out there on what masks are best and what fabric and filters are best to use. I ended up using the woven fabric I had sitting in my fabric stash from Joann’s Fabrics; although any 100% cotton with a tight weave seems to be recommended. I wanted it to be apparent which was the outer layer and which was the inner layer so they wouldn’t get confused so I used the smoother quilting cotton for the outside and the fuzzier snuggle flannel (thin and fuzzy on only the patterned side) for the lining against the face. I ended up only using two layers of fabric but two of the below patterns include an optional opening for a filter and you could always double up the fabric, while following the instructions, if you want more layers. Just be prepared to have to sew through more fabric if you do that.

Craft Passion

The first mask sewing pattern I chose to try out was The Face Mask Sewing Pattern through Craft Passion back at the end of March. It comes with the option for a filter opening, which I skipped, and an added channel for a nose wire, which I included threaded with a halved pipe cleaner once I finished. I absolutely loved how it fit at first and loved that our family now had a mask each that we could use if, and when, we left our house. Matt found it not to be roomy enough so a couple weeks later I tried another pattern, shown below, with pleats for added room. At that time I still preferred my Craft Passion one over the new mask but over the next couple months decided I liked having more room than the Craft Passion one offered. As a quick aside I later discovered a Craft Passion Face Mask Support Group on Facebook that has so many people loving the pattern and willing to help if you have questions. Inside that group there’s also files for different mask options, located under Files, and I was, for a while, debating trying the bat wing mask that so many people in the group were raving about. That said I love how this mask takes less fabric and doesn’t need bias tape, as it makes a channel, letting you choose if you want elastic or some type of cord to hold it on. A couple weeks after the first batch I chose to make several more kid-sized face masks and thus chose to use this pattern again. The kids have since gotten a mask with a third pattern yet still love these original masks. Just a heads up, in case it matters to you, but this pattern does have a vertical seam going up the center of the mask so if you want to stay away from a seam there you might want to find another one.

Image shows a black face mask on the left and the underside of a blue mask with purple edges and a top channel on the right. Both have white quarter inch elastic threaded through the sides and going around the back of the mask.
The first two masks I made from the Craft Passion pattern were for Matt and I so I made two different sizes using the fabric I had on hand and hoped they’d fit properly.
Back of both the masks are being shown with my, smaller, one in front and partially blocking Matt's black and grey mask. My purple nose wire channel has some blue fuzz sticking sticking out of either side while Matt's doesn't. Instead his pipe cleaner sits to the left showing it's length and the face the ends are folded over.
I left the filter pocket off but included the channel for a nose wire. I couldn’t find my floral wire so I grabbed the craft pipe cleaners I had, cut them in half, folded the ends over so they’d be less sharp, and threaded them in the channel so the top of the mask would be shaped around our nose.
Image shows the front of three masks and the back of the fourth. Matt's and mine are in the back while Ada and Zoey's are in the front with one right side up and one upside down showing the vertical seam, folded over side channels, nose wire channel, and the pink pipe cleaner sticking out of either end of the channel.
At that time the kids hadn’t left the house since the shelter in place orders went into effect but I knew that would change so I also sewed up two little kid sized masks for them using the same snuggle flannel and purple fabric as mine for the inside but grabbed a sparkly mermaid fabric for the outside so they’d be funner to wear.
Image shows a stack of pattern pieces on my kitchen table with a piece of paper in front of it. The two by two grid is labeled with "young" and "small" at the top for the pattern size and "main" and "lining" at the side for the type of fabric used and pattern piece.
Later when I cut out several face masks to sew assembly line style I used a grid and roman numerals to keep track of the pattern pieces and make sure I had a divisible amount for the masks as I went through my fabric scraps cutting pieces as I went.
Image shows Zoey on her knees on a chair at the table. Her two mask pieces are in front of her as she reaches over them to grab two fabric markers from the pile in the center of the table. You can see part of one of Ada's pieces at the lower right side of the image.
That time around I used white cotton fabric for the outer pieces of two masks and the kids got to use my fabric markers to decorate their mask before I sewed it together.
Image shows four, previously white, pattern pieces that had been colored by the girls. Zoey's two pieces are at the top and are more scribble doodled on while Ada drew a more detailed image to all the edges including unicorns, flowers, and the sun.
Before starting I reminded the girls of the seam allowance, along all sides, and the edge being folded over, for the side channels, but they still colored the masks to the edges. I had to snap a photo as I pressed the fabric to set the ink to remember their art.
View of white pipe cleaners on the kitchen table. There's two on the left with a folded over edge so it's balled up and softer. The pile of ten on the right show curved tips, as they were folded to find the center, and look sharper.
For the nose wire I couldn’t find my floral wire, my first choice, so I decided to use the pipe cleaners I had on hand in our sensory cupboard. I went through the pipe cleaners I wanted to use, folded them in half to find the center, cut them in half, and then folded either ends over so it wouldn’t be sharp.
Image shows a pile of inside out face masks and white pipe cleaners. The back masks are right side out and slightly blurred. The center one is inside out with a seam allowance. The front left one has a pipe cleaner clipped to a mask while the mask on the right is sewn to the mask at the center and either end of the pipe cleaner. There's a pile of straight pipe cleaners to the side a one in the center folded in half so it could match the center with the center seam of the mask.
This time around I skipped the channels and instead sewed the pipe cleaners directly to the mask before turning them right side out. When I previously tried this, in the below pattern, I had my pipe cleaner snap so this time I only sewed the pipe cleaner down at the center and at either edge using a zigzag stitch rather than sewing along the entire length like I did before.
Image shows a colored mask in the center, with the other colored one hidden below. There are neon orange and pink shoelaces coming out of them from the side channels. To the left and right are ten other masks without any shoelaces or elastic in the channels.
For these masks I left the channels empty on most of them, for the photo, and used neon shoelaces for the colored masks. I love that the neon laces I had on hand happened to match the fabric markers the kids used on their masks.
Image shows all the masks shown in this section all slightly wrinkled with time. Matt's and mine are in the upper left while the two mermaid themed ones are on the lower left and the two colored ones with shoelaces are on the right.
Over six months later the fabric face masks I sewed are still going strong. The only change I made to them was switching the shoe laces around so the loop was at the bottom, for around nape of the neck, rather than the top so they can more easily be tied at the top of the head as shown above on Zoey.

The DIBY Club

Mid-April I decided to try The Fabric Face Mask pattern through The DIBY Club (Do It Better Yourself) which Matt absolutely loved. At first I preferred the Craft Passion one but over time I grew to prefer the space offered in this one through the use of the side pleats and two darts. This pattern comes in kid sizes but I never did try it out for the girls as they loved their earlier masks. Like before I used halved pipe cleaners for the nose wire but this time I started off by sewing the nose wire to the top before adding the bias tape to hide it. The first time I sewed this pattern I used my zigzag stitch along the length of the pipe cleaner to hold it in place before sewing the bias tape on around it. I later realized my pipe cleaner, and not Matt’s strangely enough, broke in several spots the first time through the washing machine and I wonder, looking back, if I nicked the pipe cleaner with my sewing needle causing it to have weak points. The next time I sewed these masks I ended up only sewing the pipe cleaner down at the center and either end so there was less chance of nicking it. Unlike the previous and next mask this one doesn’t offer an opening for a filter but you could easily double up the fabric if you want to use more than two layers; although be sure you’re sewing machine can sew through the pleats with more layers added first.

Image shows four slightly wrinkled but good condition face masks laid out on the kitchen table.
So far the masks have lasted well although later, after several washes, I noticed spots where the fabric separated, or wasn’t caught to begin with, from the bias tape so I went back and patch the holes.
Image shows two masks slightly stacked with pleats already set. The top of either of them have a pink pipe cleaner clipped into place so they don't move.
After following the directions and adding the pleats, but before adding the bias tape, I added the halved pipe cleaner, after finding it’s center, by lining it up with the center of the mask, and clipping it into place.
Image shows the same face masks stacked as last time although this time there's no sewing clips to be seen and the pipe cleaner is sewn down with a black zigzag stitch over it's pink fuzz.
I then used the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to attach the pipe cleaner to the top of the face mask.
Image shows the top side of the face masks still stacked on top of each other. The top one shows a visible black zigzag against the white fabric where the pipe cleaner was sewn on while the zigzag stitches are hidden on the black mask.
From the front you can see the zigzag stitching from sewing the pipe cleaner down if your thread stands out from your fabric. This was later hidden by the bias tape so don’t be concerned as long as you keep the stitches within the bias tape’s range.
Image shows two face masks. The top one is grey cuddle flannel on the inside surrounded by black stitches, on the side, and black bias tape on the top and bottom. The bottom masks is showing the topside and the neon polka dotted white fabric on the mask matches the me-made bias tape.
If you have bias tape handy, or are going to make your own, then this face mask is perfect amidst the elastic shortage we had. I love that there’s no elastic that can get stretched out and broken in the washing machine and no shoelaces or pipe cleaners I have to remove and rethread later. The mask offered a fair amount of coverage and space.

Iris Luckhaus

I found Iris Luckhaus’ face mask sewing pattern back in September and absolutely loved the idea of it. The pattern showed detailed instructions that looked slightly complicated although she had already added a new page showing an awesome tutorial with tons of photos by the time I came across it so once I justified jumping in and sewing it the pattern was super simple to follow. I first made one for myself and it was immediately my favorite mask. I had been thinking of making my kids new face masks to match their Halloween costume choice so I justified making more and quickly cut and sewed four more assembly style; as I included myself and Matt in that set. This pattern has it all including the construction to tuck around your nose to minimize the glasses fog I hate, a simple channel needing no extra fabric in case you choose to use a nose wire in the future, pleats to add extra space inside your mask, the ability to lay flat for storage and if you want to iron it later, and side channels at the sides to help cinch the mask around your face. My whole family loves the mask and I always make sure to keep the two I made for myself on top of my mask pile so I can use them as often as I can. With the backwards pleat around my nose I hardly ever have to deal with my glasses fogging. I also love that the channel for a nose wire was so simple to add that it seemed easier to add it rather than skipping that step; although I haven’t tried to thread a nose wire in mine yet. I only made one minor change to the pattern. The first time I sewed it up it was simpler to include the opening in the mask for a filter, rather than sew it closed, although I hadn’t ever used a filter yet. I noticed with the opening that there was a raw edge that could potentially unravel and although it hasn’t happened yet it still bugged me knowing it was there. To combat that the next time I sewed up the mask pattern I made sure to serge the bottom edge of the two pieces, making sure not to cut any off, before following the instructions so I didn’t have to worry about any unfinished edges at the end. I also love how this pattern comes in several sizes and you don’t have to worry about checking layers on or off. The size of the pattern changes based on how you print it off. Specifically if you print it at 100% it’s for a size medium (ladies) and fits me great. For Matt I printed it off at 110% (size large) and although the edge went off the page it still worked out great. For the kids I only remembered there being an option for older kids (aged 8-12), by printing it off at 90%, so when I sewed it up I guessed and chose to print the kids at 80%. Checking the website now I see a chart partway down including the XS size for 4 to 8 year olds going up to the XL size at 120%. I’m not sure if I just missed that or if it was updated since I last looked. Either way the 80% print off worked great for both Zoey and Ada (4 and 6 years old). The additional thing I loved was that you can adjust the fit with the amount of elastic you use after you sew the mask up. I make the elastic go around the back of our head and the first version I made I cut the elastic almost too small so it fits tighter to my face compared with my second mask. Looking at them now you can see the tightness in that first mask where the only change was the elastic length.

Diagram showing the mask's specifications with labels.
Screenshot taken on October 22nd, 2020 to more easily show you what this pattern offers. Taken from: https://www.irisluckhaus.de/en/2020/diy-cloth-mask/.
Image shows me taking a selfie looking into the camera I'm holding up with my other hand on my hip. I'm standing in front of the kitchen table wearing my new Doctor Who mask with my older Doctor Who shirt.
My first mask attempt I tried to use some scrap fabric that could maybe work for Matt, if it was too big, but that I also wouldn’t be disappointed about if the mask didn’t turn out. The second time around, once I knew I loved the pattern and it’s size, I grabbed some Doctor Who fabric to make a splurge-y mask for me. It goes amazingly with the Doctor Who shirt I made a year ago and could technically be called a really simple Halloween costume in a pinch.
Image shows a blue ironing mat on the kitchen table with two rectangles laid out. In the background are a couple scraps of fabric, stacked, for the sides of the mask. The left rectangle shows two pumpkins with some grass below while the right one shows six Wonder Woman logos I copied from my internet search results.
This year Zoey wanted to be a pumpkin with no face while Ada wanted to be Wonder Woman for Halloween and I knew I had to make matching masks. For this I cut out the outer pattern pieces with white woven fabric and quickly copied out some pumpkins and Wonder Woman logos while the kids were busy outside. I had to quickly hide them when the kids came in and press them, to set the ink, later that night before sewing the masks up.
Image shows all four masks pleated up so they're half as tall and more obviously rectangular. There's clips on either side keeping the pleats in place. The bottom mask is my Doctor Who while the top black mask is slightly underneath the kids decorated ones.
I then followed the detailed directions for the masks, after finishing the bottom raw edge of all the rectangles with my serger, and had to pause for a quick photo after pleating and clipping the masks. Right before I took the photo I used my iron to press the center of the masks down, trying not to touch the sewing clips, to help the pleats stay in place.
All four masks are laid out on the blue ironing mat on the table. The top of each shows a small strip of the outer fabric as it was folded in. Other than that they all have the same grey starred fabric with horned unicorns, pumpkins, cats, and skulls tossed around. The pleats make it appear like those old paper images that you fold in to change the image.
Here is what the backside of the masks looked like after adding the pleats and clipping them. Since they were technically Halloween masks I used the leftover snuggle flannel I bought for the girls’ Halloween nightgowns for all four masks. With the girls loving unicorns and pumpkins I couldn’t pass up this fabric and loved that I could use it for the inside of Matt’s mask, letting it shine, and also slyly matching the kids.
Image shows a painted wooden pumpkin with a Zoey costumed pumpkin and an Ada Wonder Woman standing by it. Around it lays straw on the floor and actual pumpkins off to the side.
With our Halloween masks done it was time to take our costumes out to a pumpkin patch so we could snap photos of the girls and, most importantly this year, snap a photo of pumpkin Zoey amidst pumpkins. They both inexplicably loved this wooden pumpkin. If you’re interested in the costumes I posted previously my pumpkin one here and Wonder Woman’s there.
Image shows all five of the Iris Luckhaus masks I made. You can see the flat underside of Matt's and the curved underside of Adas. You can also see the topside of my black-ish one, Doctor Who, and Zoey's pumpkin one.
Although the masks are relatively new they have been washed multiple times and are starting to get wrinkled. If I cared I could easily press the pleats back into place while being careful not to melt the elastic.
Image shows the underside of Matt's mask and the outer side of mine and the kids masks. The two adult ones, on the left, are fully opened so you can see how much bigger they are in the center with the pleats.
The previous photo showed the adult masks flattened as much as I could. In contrast I wanted to share the masks opened up so you see how much more face it can cover, when worn, while still gathering the sides in with the pleats.
Image shows my two masks. On the left the mask is unfolded more and the side is flat and straight. The mask on the right, with the tighter elastic, is curved up more, as it's pulled taunt, and the sides are cinched in a curved.
For my first mask, on the right, I cut the elastic smaller than I probably should’ve so it’s tighter on my face and cinched in more when not being worn. In contrast my Doctor Who mask, on the left, has longer elastic and and isn’t cinched in as much. You can see the difference specifically on the sides where the elastic is channeled through the mask. On the left one the side is flat while the right one is curved in and cinched tighter.

Hands down this mask pattern, through Iris Luckhaus, is my absolute favorite one and I can definitely see sewing so many more in the future. It does take a bit more fabric, especially when comparing it to the smaller Craft Passion one, but I absolutely love how it fits and that it stays in place when you talk.

With so many masks I’ve had to come out with an organization attempt so it would be simple to grab the right mask, when needed, and also be easy to put them away. I ended up making my own organizer, blogged about the cereal box upcycle here, so I could easily keep Matt’s, mine, and the kids’ masks separate from each other. It works perfectly and, once they’re washed, I’ve been making sure the favorite masks are at the top to be used the most. I ended up putting the whole organizer on top of our cabinet, by the front door,

Image shows a cereal box with the top and front count out with two dividers so there's three separate sections for mask. In the left is a pile of black masks, while mine are in the center, and the kids' masks are on the right.
I ended up upcycling a cereal box so I could keep the masks better divided and easy to grab.
Image is taken from below and looking up at the cereal box organizer full of masks sitting on top of the cabinet.
I put the whole organizer on the cabinet and I can easily pull it down to grab a mask or put the cleaned masks away.

Have you made your own fabric masks? If so what patterns did you love and did you use the same fabric as me or something else? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Hope this helps you out and that you have a good week.

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