Months ago, when the Coronavirus pandemic broke out here in Italy, I decided against sharing a face mask pattern because there was so much confusion and so many people were saying that reusable cloth face masks didn’t work and therefore were harmful. Now opinions have changed, so I’ve got a DIY contoured face mask pattern and tutorial for you!
I honestly wasn’t sure if there was even any point in sharing this tutorial months after the initial outbreak, seeing as there are already more than enough face covering patterns and tutorials on the web. However, not all of them are that great and I wanted to share what I consider the absolute BEST DIY contoured face mask pattern with all the bells and whistles, so to speak.
Also, even if I live in Italy, I am from the United States and I’m very disturbed about the news that I keep hearing about conflicting and often politicized views on wearing face masks. So I just want to weigh in with my two cents’ worth: You NEED to wear a face mask in public indoor places and private indoor places where there are people other than your immediate family that you live with if you live in an area with mid to high Covid cases. And you would do well to wear one in perhaps outdoor places, too, even in areas with a low number of cases.
Politics, race, sex, constitutional rights and socioeconomic standing have nothing to do with it. Saving lives does. Nobody likes wearing a mask, but is it really so much to ask when such a simple action can protect those around you? Please do your civic duty and help your fellow humans by practicing social distancing and mask wearing.
Anyhoo, I’ll get off my soapbox and show you all the awesome features that I’ve put into my DIY contoured face mask pattern:
- 3 sizes: standard, young child, and large adult
- shaped face mask to fit perfectly around your face and show off the cool fabric you used
- inside pocket to insert a removable filter
- elastic ear loops with adjustable length
- possibility to insert a strap to tie around the head
- removable wire nose bridge
- Beautiful, professional-looking finish
And contoured filters to fit in the filter pocket of each size mask to avoid bunching!
Just the very edge of the filter is visible at the pocket openings so that you can easily adjust and remove it.
I’m telling you, I thought of EVERYTHING for this design!
Can’t or don’t want to sew your own face mask? No problem! You can purchase a super fun and colorful shaped face mask in my Etsy shop! (And yes, I ship worldwide!)
THESE MASKS ARE NOT MEDICAL GRADE PERSONAL PROTECTION DEVICES. I am not a medical professional and cannot offer medical advice on protection against viruses or other disease-causing agents. I am NOT to be held responsible for the improper use and/or care of these masks and/or filters.
Ready to sew this DIY contoured face mask pattern? Heck, yeah! Watch the video (it’s long because it gives ALL the details and tips, and also shows how to adjust the various features once the mask is sewn) or continue reading below for the written tutorial!
- 36 x 24 cm (or smaller, depending on size) quilting weight woven cotton fabric for the outside
- 34 x 24 cm (or smaller, depending on size) quilting weight woven cotton fabric for the inside
- fabric shears*
- pinking shears* (suggested)
- ruler and/or sewing gauge*
- 90/14 sewing machine needle*
- small safety pin*
- florist wire* or bread twist tie (for optional wire nose bridge)
- needle nose pliers* (for optional wire nose bridge)
(If you’d prefer receiving the free pattern and newsletter in Italian, just sign up here instead!)
Prepare the DIY contoured face mask pattern:
Before starting, to be perfectly transparent, this pattern is based on the HKMask, but I greatly modified both the pattern and the sewing method so as to make it more professional-looking and to allow for all the features and their possible adjustments.
Download the DIY contoured face mask pattern (as described in the “materials” section) and print the pages for your size at actual size (100% scale). Check the test square to make sure that the size is correct. The pictures in this tutorial show the Italian language pattern, but you will get the English one when you click from this page.
If you plan to make a lot of masks, I suggest glueing the printed pattern to cereal boxes before cutting them out to make them more rigid and stable.
Reusable Face Mask Sizes:
- S: young children, up to about 6 years (18 cm side to side, 12 cm top to bottom at center)
- M: standard size like what you find in pharmacies, appropriate for almost everyone (21 cm side to side, 17 cm top to bottom at center)
- L: large (24 cm side to side, 19 cm top to bottom at center)
Cut the fabric:
1. Iron the outside cotton fabric (NEVER iron non-woven fabric, or it will melt!). Fold it in half, right sides facing, and place the outside mask pattern piece on it, checking the grainline direction. Trace around the pattern with pen, pin the layers together, and cut out along the line. (above left)
2. Repeat step 1 with the inside fabric and pattern piece.
3. Fold the non-woven fabric in half, then in half again o that you have 4 layers. Place the filter pattern piece on it, checking the grainline direction. (above right) Trace around the pattern with pen, pin the layers together, and cut out along the line. Then separate into two pairs of filter fabric and pin.
Here are all your fabric pieces. Notice how I’ve pinned them along the curved edge.
Sew the fabric face mask:
4. Sew along the curved edge of all pairs with a 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance, then trim close to the seams with pinking shears* or regular fabric shears if you don’t have them.
5. Fold the straight side edges of the inside fabric 5 mm towards the wrong side, press, then fold and press again. I suggest you use a sewing gauge* to help you. (above left)
6. Sew very close to the inside folded edge. (above right)
7. Match up the top center seams of the outside and inside pieces, right sides facing, and pin in place (A).
8. Finger press the fabric down the center seam to make sure that the layers are lined up properly, and pin the bottom center seams together (B).
9. With one side flat on the table, press outwards from the center seam to flatten and line up the two layers, then pin together (C). Repeat on the other side (D).
10. Sew along the top and bottom edges of the inside piece with a 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance (E).
11. Trim the seam allowances along the top and bottom edges, leaving the bit of outside fabric showing untrimmed (F).
12. Turn the mask right sides out (G). Flatten the layers, adjusting them with your fingers from inside.
13. Iron the fabric flat (I suggest doing one half at a time, pressing towards the center seam with the tip of the iron), turning the edges of the outside fabric inwards to continue the top and bottom curves of the mask. Then sew along the top and bottom edges, all the way from one edge to the other, with a 5 mm seam allowance (1/8″ or 2/8″). (H)
14. Fold each side of the outside fabric in 5 mm and press, then fold them in again so that they meet the edges of the inside fabric. Press again, then sew them down VERY close to the folded edge, as seen above.
15. Sew a few stitches back and forth 5 cm (2″) to the right of the top center seam on the front of the mask, so as to close the casing on one side, as seen above. (This is where the wire nose bridge will go. If you’re sewing size S, sew 4 cm over, not 5 cm.)
Sew the removable filter:
In step 4, you already sewed the curved edge of both pairs of filter fabric, then trimmed the seam allowance. Let’s continue sewing the removable mask filter.
16. Pin together the two filter pieces, wrong sides facing, making sure to match up the center seams and flattening out the fabric so that the edges match up.
17. Sew along all the edges with a zig zag stitch or with a serger/overlocker. You can see both filters sewn in each of these ways above.
I suggest sewing the sides and bottom with white thread and the top edge with another color so as to easily differentiate the top when you’re putting it in the mask. I also use a different color for each size so that they don’t get mixed up.
Add elastic ear loops and strap ties:
18. Cut 2 pieces of 3-4 mm wide elastic. These are the suggested lengths:
- Size S: two 23 cm pieces
- Size M: two 25 cm pieces
- Size L: two 27 cm pieces
19. Stick the safety pin into one end of an elastic piece, and slip it through one of the side casings. Repeat on the other side. Then knot the ends of the elastic. (above left)
20. Trim the excess elastic beyond the knot, then gently pull the loop so that the knot goes inside the side casing. You might need to open up the end of the casing a little with your fingers so that the knot can get through. (above right)
Some people prefer a strap that ties around the back of the head. With this mask you can choose elastic ear loops, strap tie, or both!
Cut a piece of ribbon or cording. These are the suggested lengths:
- Size S: 110 cm
- Size M: 120 cm
- Size L: 140 cm
21. Stick the safety pin into one end of the strap/ribbon/cord, and pass it through one casing, starting from the top. (above left)
22. Pass it through the casing on the other side, from the bottom. (above right) I suggest tying a knot in each end of the strap to keep it from pulling back into the casing.
When you put on the mask, slip the bottom loop of the strap behind the base of your head and pull the two ends to tighten it, then tie a knot/bow behind the upper part of your head.
Add the wire nose bridge:
The wire nose bridge is optional, but I highly recommend adding it for a closer fit.
I use florist wire*, but you can also use a twistie tie from a loaf of bread as long as it will fit through the tight casing on the top edge (described at step 24).
23. Use the needle nose pliers* to bend down the end of the wire a few mm and press it as flat as possible. Measure a little more than 10 cm down the wire (8 cm for size S) and cut the wire with regular scissors (not fabric shears!). Bend and press the end down so that the wire measures 10 (or 8) cm long.
24. Slip the nose wire into the little opening at the top right of the lining, and push it all the way through until it hits the stitching from step 15. You might have to wiggle the wire around a little to get it past the center seam.
I always store my mask folded along the center seam, bending the wire in half. The wire has never come out on accident. I highly suggest you remove the wire before washing the mask.
Inserting the mask filter:
25. Fold the filter into thirds horizontally and insert it in one side of the pocket. Push it through a bit, then pull it through from the other pocket opening.
26. Hold one edge of the mask/filter in each hand and use your thumbs to unroll the filter inside the pocket, flattening it out.
Now all that’s left to do is put your mask on and get on with your life!
This video is a shorter version of the sewing video tutorial, showing just how to insert the filter, adjust the elastic loops, add the strap tie, remove the wire nose bridge, and put the mask on:
You can get really creative with your masks by using fun fabrics, color blocking the outside, or adding embroidery or appliqué on the front part before sewing it together, like you can see below!
I love using my own DIY fabric face masks because I can customize them to my liking, but also because they are eco-friendly. A lot of people worry about the hygiene of reusable face masks but they’re very easy to take care of. Now I’ll explain how to disinfect reusable face masks.
How to disinfect reusable face masks:
Disinfection of the masks: remove the filter and wash the masks in hot water in the washing machine. Air dry or machine dry on hot. Once dry, iron both sides of the masks with a hot, steam iron.
Disinfection of the filters: There are various schools of thought regarding the disinfection of nonwoven fabric. Most experts claim that washing it reduces the material’s filtering capabilities, so do not wash it. Some experts suggest spraying nonwoven fabric with an alcohol solution, but others claim that this can also reduce its filtering capabilities.
It seems that the safest way of disinfecting nonwoven fabric is to do nothing at all except wait for any potential viruses present to die. Some studies show that the virus SARS-CoV-1 can live on some materials for up to 48 hours. I therefore suggest you hang the filter or leave it in a place where it won’t get touched for AT LEAST 72 hours, to be on the safe side. You can do this many times. (source)
If you would prefer disinfecting your filters with alcohol, this is what you should do: Disinfect filters by spraying a water-alcohol solution (at least 65% alcohol) on both the inside and outside surfaces from a distance of about 25 cm. Leave the solution for about 30 minutes. If the surface is still damp, let it dry completely before using the filter inside a mask. You can repeat this process up to THREE times. If the mask is to be used by medical personnel in a hospital (doctors, nurses, etc.), do NOT reuse the filter, but throw it away after every use. (source: Dr. Roberta Carpinelli)
NEVER iron nonwoven fabric filters, as the heat will ruin or even melt them.
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