How to Make a Form Fitting Face Mask

It is very important to use NON-WOVEN interfacing, as this traps more dust, allergens, and viral particles than woven interfacing does. I prefer Pellon brand interfacing as it holds it’s shape well.

ALL seams are 1/4” seam allowance unless otherwise specified. All seams must be back-stitched securely at the beginning and the end of each.

Supplies for one mask:

Copy of Mask pattern, cut out of card stock or other thick paper that will hold its shape when tracing (A cereal box works well, too.) Form Fitting Face Mask Pattern

Two 12” x 7” rectangles of fabric (one outer fabric, one lining fabric.)

Two 11 1/2″ x 6 1/2” pieces of featherweight, non-woven interfacing, (fusible is easier, but regular is fine)

One length of 3/8” braided elastic 12 – 15” long (depending on head size, measure for best fit)

One length of 3/8” braided elastic 10 – 13” long (depending on head size, measure for best fit)

One length of sew-in hook and loop tape (Velcro) 7/8” long

Thread to match fabrics

One 2 1/2” length of wire for nose piece, 16 gage to 14 gage, bendable, yet strong enough to hold its shape. (I’ve used jewelry wire from Hobby Lobby, and electric fence wire from Tractor Supply, with great results from each.)

One 2 1/2” x 3” piece of muslin to hold nose-piece wire

Needle-nosed pliers

One 2 1/2” x 3” piece of cotton quilt batting for wire cushion

If using fusible interfacing, follow the manufacturer’s directions and fuse one piece of interfacing to the wrong side of the outer fabric, and one piece to the wrong side of the lining fabric. Center the interfacing to allow about 1/4″ of fabric around all sides.

On the wrong side of the outer fabric, (the side with interfacing) trace the mask pattern on one half. I let the side of the pattern hang over the interfacing. This makes less bulk in the side seams.

Fold the fabric in half, right-sides together. Cut out the traced pattern through all layers of fabric and interfacing. Folding the fabric this way will give you mirror images of the mask pattern.

Repeat this process with the lining fabric.

(Note: If you are using non-fusible interfacing, trace and cut 4 mask patterns from the interfacing and place on the wrong sides of each pattern piece when assembling.)

You can cut out the pattern using scissors or a rotary cutter. I happen to have a ruler that I got years ago for use in garment making. It’s called The Curve and The Square. It is so helpful for cutting out curves because it holds the fabric still and gives me an edge for guiding my small rotary cutter around. I just lined up the side of the ruler which has the curve closest to my pattern and cut as far as I could along that line. Then, without lifting the rotary cutter, I rotate and slide the ruler along the traced line until the next section of the ruler’s curve fit my pattern. I continued the cut and repeated this process until the curved line was cut.

I used the same method on the smaller curve. Save any scraps as some will be used later.

I will be giving instructions with the assumption that you are using fusible interfacing.

Prepare the wire by curling ends tightly with needle nosed pliers. Pinch tightly to make sure there are no sharp points.

The silver wire is electric fence wire cut to 2 1/2″. The gold wire is jewelry wire cut to 5 1/4″, folded in half and slightly twisted.

Place the wire lengthwise in the middle of the muslin fabric piece. Fold the fabric in half and, using a zipper foot, sew across the ends and along the side near the wire to hold it in place.

Clip the muslin fabric in the seam allowance at the half length of the wire, almost to the stitching line.  Set aside.

Place interfaced outer fabric pieces right-sides together and, using a 1/4” seam allowance, begin sewing the seam at the nose area and continue along the front curved seam. Be careful to sew the slight curve at the bottom of the seam. This will help shape the mask to better fit your face. Repeat, using the interfaced lining pieces. Clip curves appx 1/4” apart.

Be sure to keep the curved area at 1/4″ away from the needle.
Pay careful attention to the slight curve at the end of the front seam at the chin area on both the outer fabric and the lining fabric. This slight curve will help the mask to form around your chin and give you a better seal around your face.

Turn each section right side out smoothing the center seam with your fingernail.

Match the outer fabric and lining fabrics right sides together, lining up the center seam of each. I place a pin to the left of the seam to hold the back seam allowance in place. Pin along top edge.

Place the wire/muslin piece at the top on the outer fabric side, aligning raw edges, and aligning the clip with the center seam. Pin in place.

Fold the cotton batting in half length-wise. Place the batting on the lining side of the seam. Since there are already several pins along this edge, I use clips to hold the batting in place.

Fold back 1/4″ at the raw edge of both the outer fabric and the lining at the side(ear) ends. Pin in place.

With the outer fabric on top, sew the top seam only. Back-stitch at the beginning and at the end of the seam. Go slowly, as the beginning and end curves are fairly sharp.

Be careful that the batting does not get folded out of place.

Align the bottom raw edges of the mask, lining up the center seams, pin and sew the bottom seam. Again, back-stitching at the beginning and the end of the seam. Pay close attention to the slight curve at the beginning and end of the seam.

Sew to the center seam, (To help insure that the seam does not shift, I leave the pin in until the needle is right in the seam.) raise the presser foot and pivot the mask to align the straight edge with the 1/4″ seam guide. Lower the presser foot and continue sewing the seam.

Carefully trim the batting from the seam allowance only. Cut a notch at the center nose seam. Clip all curves appx. 1/4” apart.

Clip close to each side of the lower seam at the center chin seam.

Clip the curves at the sides of the bottom seam.

Turn the mask right-side out. Use a point turner, wooden spoon handle, or some long, straight utensil to help smooth out the seams.

I recently discovered the most amazing tool. It is made by Clover and has many uses. Help push out points, help get seams all the way out to the edge, use like a “wooden iron”, so helpful for this project!

When the seams are smoothed out to the edges, I like to pin them so that they stay out to the edges until I am ready to top stitch!

Because the end seam allowances were folded back before sewing, the raw edges should tuck easily into the open ends. Pin or use clips to hold them closed until time to sew.

At this point, measure yourself for the length of elastic you will need. Hold the mask up to your face. (You may need a friend to help with this part.) Hold the end of a measuring tape at about 1/4″ inside the top of one side seam. Pull the measuring tape across the crown of your head to 1/4″ past the top of the other side of the mask. Deduct one inch from this measurement and cut one piece of elastic to the new measurement. My measurement was 15″, so I cut my top elastic to 14″. Repeat the process beginning at the bottom of one side opening, pull the measuring tape around the back of your neck to 1/4″ past the opening on the opposite side. Make sure that the tape is snug, but not tight. Use this exact measurement. My measurement was 10″. I’ll refer to the elastics as the head or the neck piece. Cut a piece of elastic to each measurement. Set aside.

From the scraps of interfaced outer fabric, cut two squares 1 1/2″ square each. I cut them so that 1/4″ of the fabric has no interfacing on it. Fold down the un-interfaced sides to form a hem. Place the squares right sides together and pin the folds in place.

Insert one end of the neck elastic between the pinned squares as shown. Align the end of the elastic with the raw edges of the square. Pin to secure.

Beginning at the top right, sew around three sides of the square. (Hint, when you come to a corner, stop about 1 stitch away from 1/4″ from the edge. Turn at 45 degree angle, sew two stitches across the corner, pivot again to line up the raw edge with the 1/4″ mark on the sewing machine’s throat plate, stitch to other corner, and repeat the diagonal stitches across the corner. Stitch to the upper folded edge. Trim seam allowance to 1/8″ and across the corners. Adding two stitches across the corner allows more room for the fabric in your seam allowance, giving sharper corners.

Turn the square right side out. Tuck in the folded ends and, beginning at the “hemmed” (folded) opening, top stitch all the way around. When you’ve stitched back to the beginning, back stitch two stitches and pivot.

Center the loop side of the Velcro tape on the square. Stitch all the way around. Back stitch to secure. Set aside.

Now, it’s time to top stitch the mask. Begin about 1/8” in from the bottom edge of the mask. (I usually start somewhere between the mask’s left, lower corner and the center seam.)  Stitch along the bottom edge, pivot slightly at the center seam, then stitch to the corner at the lower, right side of the mask.

This first corner will have no elastic inserted, but instead will have the loop side of the Velcro sewn to the lining side. With needle down at the corner, pivot the mask and begin sewing up the side. Use tweezers, if necessary, to pull the folded outer fabric even with the folded lining.

Stop about half way up the side and insert one end of the elastic head piece about 1/4” into the side opening. Slide the elastic up to the top of the opening (over the seam allowance). Top-stitch the rest of the side seam closed, catching in the elastic.

At the corner, again, pivot the mask and stitch across the top of the mask until you are about 1” from the side opening. Stitch slowly across the nose section as you have several layers of thickness there. Stop about one inch from the corner. Pull the head elastic around as shown. Be careful to keep the elastic flat and to not let it twist. Insert the elastic 1/4″ into the end, and above the seam allowance.

Stitch to the corner and pivot the mask. You may need to hold the elastic in place as you pivot. A stiletto will help hold the elastic as you pivot the mask and begin stitching. Stitch across the elastic head piece. Top-stitch half way across the open end. Lay the neck piece of elastic, Velcro loop side up.

Insert the raw end of the neck piece of elastic, about 1/4” in, and slide it to the end of the opening. Make sure the loop side of the Velcro is still facing up. Top-stitch the opening closed, stitching over the elastic. Pivot the mask at the corner and finish stitching to where you started.

Stitch the “loop” side of the Velcro to the inside of the face mask at the lower right inside corner.

Your mask is now ready to wear!

Sometimes the head piece of elastic can begin to slip down from the crown of your head, or perhaps it is more comfortable for you to wear the elastic lower. Using a clip or a barrette on both sides of your head to clasp hair and elastic can stop the slipping.

For those with short hair, a clip may not help. In this case wearing a hat and pulling the elastic up over the crown of the hat will keep the elastic in place.

I hand-wash my mask. Swish it in hot, soapy (laundry detergent) water for at least 20 seconds and leave it in the soapy water until the water is cool. Then I rinse it well with hot water, squeeze out the excess water, wrap it in a towel and squeeze out any more water.

Hang to dry. Machine washing mangles the wire in the nose piece and may eventually break it.