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Learn how to make a face mask with a HEPA filter, pocket lining, and wire casing for kids, teens, and adults with this printable face mask sewing pattern.
It’s crazy how fast the world can change. Just this morning, the CDC recommended that all people wear cloth face masks in public settings. In our house, we’ve been making and donating cotton face masks to local hospitals and wearing them when we have to leave the house, but today I’m grateful to show you the best DIY face mask tutorial I’ve created so far.
I’ve spent countless hours perfecting it and tweaking this printable design to fit kids, teens, and adults.
While there are a lot of homemade face mask tutorials, I believe this one is among the safest DIY options available because of it’s additional safety features.
This DIY face mask includes a built-in wire casing along the ridge of your nose to get a more secure fit. When your masks have a more secure fit, it helps contain germs more than a loose, open fit.
This mask sewing pattern also comes with instructions on how to create your own filters using HEPA vacuum bags. In my opinion, this is the most important feature of a face mask since a HEPA filter can catch smaller particles and bacteria that cotton alone cannot. However, this mask and any other homemade face mask is not equal to an N95 mask.
The sewing pattern also includes a pocket for your filter to be removed, washed, and re-used!
You’ll also learn several alternatives for elastic ties on the sides of your mask if you don’t have access to elastic. Several of you have mentioned that elastic is no longer available online or at local craft stores. In that case, I’ve got you covered with several other options!
Last but not least, this DIY face mask tutorial also comes with a headband tutorial to get an even more comfortable fit for extended wear. Often, medical masks can start to irritate and pull uncomfortably on your ears when they are worn for long periods of time. This simple headband design is a quick and easy project that takes all the pressure off your ears and makes snug, medical masks incredibly comfortable to wear all day.
So without further ado, let’s move on to the tutorial!
DIY Face Mask Supplies
How To Make A Face Mask
The first step in making your own homemade face mask is getting your supplies ready. Download and print the 3-page sewing pattern here. This pattern is an instant download so you can get started right away.
Your face mask sewing pattern comes in 3 different sizes to fit your whole family. Small, medium and large. The small size is meant for children ages 6-12, the medium fits teens, women and most adults and the large is ideal for adult men. Just pick out the correct size face mask for you and cut out all four sewing pattern pieces.
Once your paper pieces are cut, it’s time to cut them out of your fabric and your filter material. For this tutorial, we’ll be using 100% cotton and your HEPA vacuum bag for your filter.
Cut out each piece twice.
To keep my workspace organized, I like to prep my sewing pattern pieces as they are cut. To do this, once each piece is cut, separate the two pattern pieces and then put them together again with the right (or the pretty sides) together and pin before setting aside. You’ll only need to pin them in place across the front, curved edge since that’s where we’ll be sewing.
We’ll be cutting two 100% cotton lining pieces, two pattern pieces of your main body face mask and two pieces of your filter cut out of your vacuum bag.
You’ll sew these in place using a standard straight stitch at a 5/8″ seam allowance. Your seam allowances are already added to your sewing pattern so there’s no need to add extra.
How to Make A HEPA Filter for a DIY Face Mask
When it’s time to cut the filter, first you’ll need to open your vacuum bag. I like to trim it across the top so you can open one edge wide, and then cut it open it again at the bottom so you have one solid sheet of fabric. This is going to give you’re most bang for your buck and give you the most usable space to work with.
From here, you’re going to treat it like any other fabric and cut two filter pattern pieces. The only difference when it comes to working with your vacuum bag is when it comes to sewing. While sewing, you’re going to use a wider stitch length because you want the least amount of needle puncture holes in your filter as possible.
Tip: While you’re at it, it might be a good idea to cut a few extra filter pieces since this is the only disposable piece of your DIY face mask. After you’ve worn it a few times, you’ll want to switch out your filter while the rest can be washed in a washing machine.
When it’s time to sew your pattern pieces, sew a straight stitch along the front, curved edge at a 5/8″ seam allowance. You’ll also add either a narrow hemline, standard hem, or serge the bottom edge of your face mask lining.
When sewing your filter, extend your stitch length to 3.0 or 3.5 and use a smaller needle is you have one on hand. I recommend a Microtex or silk needle to create smaller holes.
In order for your face mask to curve nicely around your face, we’re going to cut small triangular shapes out of the seam allowance on all of your pattern pieces. Use your paper scissors to cut into your filter (making sure you don’t cut into your stitch line) and your fabric scissors to cut into your cotton pieces. These tiny notches help your face mask expand and contract when it’s flipped right side out and make it much more comfortable to wear around your face.
Now that your seam allowances are trimmed, hem the bottom of both face mask lining pieces. You can either use a narrow hem, a standard hem, or a serged hem.
Next, it’s time to assemble the lining and the base of your face mask.
Open your 100% cotton exterior and attach the lining at the center front seam. Hold it in place with a pin. Then, work your way across the curved edge at the top of your lining and pin in place. Your lining is going to end 1/2″ before it reached the edge of your larger piece. This is intentional for a better fit.
Once you’re done on one side, just work your way down on the other side until the entire top edge of your lining is secure with pins. Then, start on the bottom using the same method.
When everything is pinned into place, it’s time to sew.
Once it’s sewn, it’s time to cut more notches into the seam allowance of your mask. This will help it fall nicely and be more comfortable when you’re wearing it. Make sure you don’t cut into your stitch line and cut across the entire top of your face mask. On the bottom, you’ll only need to cut a few notches into the bottom seam allowance since it’s a relatively straight line.
Once your notches are cut, it’s going to be significantly easier to flip your face mask right side out. Bring your seam allowances out to the front so it looks really pretty and give it a quick press with your iron on the linen/cotton setting.
Next, we’re going to topstitch 1/4″ away from your fabric edge across the top of your face mask. This casing is where we’re going to slide our wire to give our mask a more tailored fit overall.
If you don’t have any wire on hand you can use jewelry wire, expand a metal paperclip, or even take apart a metal Christmas ornament hook to use in your casing. Use pliers to round one edge of your wire before sliding it through so it doesn’t snag on your fabric. Slide your wire through the base of your fabric making sure to not press too hard to puncture your cotton and come out.
Now its time to finish off your face mask!
Fold the top of your lining over the bottom before folding the front piece of your mask toward the back and pinning in place. This is going to create another casing so you have several options on how to attach your straps. Sew along the side seams of your DIY face mask using a standard stitch.
Once your edges are sewn, your mask is nearly complete! It’s time to put your filter in to make sure it fits correctly. Slide it in the top edge and gently work its way into the corners of your mask. In my opinion, the filter is the most important part of your face mask because, without it, it’s really just cotton.
What To Use For Straps When Elastic Is Sold Out
Once your filter is in place, its time to attach your side straps. Since elastic has been so difficult to find lately, I’m using hair ties for today’s tutorial. Just cut them in half and you will be left with a 7″ strip to use as ear ties. If you happen to have extra elastic on hand, cut two 7″ pieces of elastic instead.
Tip: If you would really like elastic and would prefer to avoid using hair ties, you can also cut apart a scrunchie and you’ll find extra elastic in there, as well as cutting a t-shirt into strips and creating elastic that way.
Since these hair ties are much thicker than my sewing machine can easily handle, I’m going to hand sew these in place with a hand sewing needle and universal thread. To do this, just slide the top edge of the hair ties into the casing we created and hand sew it to place. If you are using elastic, you can slick the elastic into your casing 1/2″ and topstitch across the top and bottom edge of your homemade face mask.
Once all four sides of your elastics are sewn into place, your face mask is complete! It should fit really well, have a nose guard so it has a nice, tight fit, and the filter should offer more protection than standard cotton fabric.
Now, you can either stop here and enjoy your new mask or we can continue and make a DIY face mask headband so the elastic never bugs your ears with extended wear.
How To Make A Headband For Homemade Face Masks
To make the DIY face Mask headband, cut one piece of stretch fabric to 6″ wide and 16″ long. make sure your fabric is extra stretchy!
Tip: You could even use a spare t-shirt if you don’t have any fabric on hand.
Your first step in assembling your headband is to fold it in half hot-dog style and pin along the long, top edge.
You can sew it in place with either a zig-zag stitch on a standard sewing machine with a ballpoint needle or using a serger.
Once your fabric is sewn, it’s time to flip it right side out. Lay your seamline carefully in the center of your tube. This is going to be the back edge of your headband and it’s also going to give your buttons more durability.
From here, you’re going to fold it in half again, hamburger style. Pin and sew along the short edge. This is going to complete the tube that is going to be your headband.
Once the short edge of your headband is sewn, it is basically complete and ready for wear. Feel free to try it on to make sure it’s comfortable before adding your buttons.
To get the correct button placement, measure 1 1/2″ in from your back seamline and place your buttons there. In this tutorial, the larger the button, the better because it will make it easier to wrap your elastic around them when you are on your way out the door.
Use a hand-sewing needle and thread to attach your buttons to your headband.
Once your buttons are sewn in place, your headband is ready to wear with your new DIY face mask.
I really, truly hope you found this tutorial useful during this chaotic time.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Happy making!
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