A beginner sewing tutorial with instructions & FAQs to download.
There is no disputing the fact that these are interesting days! Many of you are making non-surgical cloth face masks. We’ve been connecting with you via our social channels, email and phone and we’re developing content in response to your needs. This is a pleated cloth face mask that can be made with either elastic loops or ties. You’ll insert a pipe cleaner that helps shape the top edge of the mask. There is also a pocket in this mask that you can use to insert a filter (such as a coffee filter) or an additional piece of cloth, etc. This is a beginner level sewing tutorial.
Read through the post for step-by-step sewing instructions, and be sure to check out the printable sewing tutorial at the end of the post – we have put the instructions into a PDF file that is easy to save, print and reference for future use.
Please note these CDC recommendations regarding the use of cloth face coverings in public.
Also note that DIY face masks are not intended to prevent infection or disease.
Mask options and fabric prep.
There are two versions of this pleated face mask. One has elastic loops and the other has fabric ties. Use a high-quality cotton fabric for both styles; the tighter the weave the better. Preshrink your fabric by washing it in hot water before cutting out mask.
Gather your supplies.
- 14” of ¼” elastic (for elastic ties) OR 1″ bias tape maker (for tie version)
- Marking pen, pencil or tailor’s chalk
- Mighty steam iron
- 18” x 24” cutting mat
- 45mm rotary cutter (#2050)
- 6” x 24” ruler (r24)
- Quality quilting cotton
- 6” pipe cleaner
- Pressing surface
- Sewing machine and thread
- Optional: filter cut to 5” x 6”
Cut and pin fabric pieces.
With rotary cutter, mat, and ruler, cut the following pieces:
- 1 pc: 9” x 14” for mask, for smaller face cut to 8” or 8 ½” x 14”
- 2 pcs: 2” x 4 ½” for elastic loop finishing ends
- 2 pcs: 1-7/8” x 36” for ties
Serge or zigzag stitch both 9” sides of mask. This will keep the inside edges of the pocket from fraying.
Fold fabric in half widthwise, right sides together, and pin. With ruler and pencil, mark 1 ½” in from each end. Stitch from end to each mark with ½” seam allowance. You are creating the opening for the filter pocket.
Press seam allowances.
Press seam allowances flat and turn mask right side out.
Do some topstitching.
On one side, topstitch along seam allowance. This will be the lower edge of the filter pocket.
Fold fabric at ½” above filter pocket opening. Topstitch along the folded edge. Press entire face mask flat.
Insert pipe cleaner.
Insert pipe cleaner in top fold and center in fold. Pin fold closed and stitch across ends of pipe cleaner and along bottom of fold.
On back of mask, mark the pleats starting at the bottom edge. Mark 1 ¼”, 1”, ½”, 1”, ½”, and 1”.
Fold bottom mark up to meet next mark and press. Fold next mark up to meet the 4th mark, press. Fold 5th mark up to last mark and press. Pleats on back of mask will face upward and pleats on front will face downward.
To make a filter easier to insert, pull front and back pleats away from each other. Refold pleats on each layer and baste close to edge.
Once you have completed this, you need to decide if you are making fabric ties or using elastic loops.
Option 1: fabric ties.
For fabric ties, feed ties pieces through bias tape maker and press with iron.
Find middle of fabric tie and mark with pin or marking pencil. Open pressed folds on ties and place the center point at a top corner of the mask on the front side. Pin tie in place and stitch along fold. Repeat on other side with second tie.
Wrap fabric ties to back of mask and pin in place. It may be helpful to trim away a little of the seam allowance on the mask before wrapping ties to back of mask. Fold ties in half. Start at one end of tie and stitch along tie edge to finish tie and secure to mask. Be sure to backstitch at beginning and end of tie.
Option 2: elastic loops.
For elastic loops, cut elastic in half to make two 7” pieces. On back of mask, baste ends of elastic at top and bottom on each side. Make sure there are no twists in the elastic.
Press both finishing fabric pieces in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. On back of mask, center fabric pieces on side edges and pin in place. Wrap short ends to right side of mask and pin. Stitch along sides with ¼” seam allowance.
Trim corners and pull out entire finishing piece, press. Fold entire finishing piece to front of mask. Topstitch along edges of finishing piece.
Check out the filter pocket.
Mask can be worn as is or a filter can be inserted between the fabric layers.
Print out the tutorial for this project.
To easily reference this project download this PDF file that includes the full instructions for this pleated mask.
Check out our mask-making tips & FAQs.
Here is another technique tutorial that you may find handy, also in PDF format for you to easily save and reference. It addresses many common mask-making questions.
Watch a YouTube video about this mask project.
If video is your thing, jump over to our Dritz YouTube channel and see this mask being made. The short video for this project guides you through the steps above.
Stay safe, friends!