Make a Face Mask which is washable and reusable

April 8, 2020Sew White

We have created a pattern so you can Make a Face Mask which is washable and reusable at home. This is a non medical face mask which has a metal wire to help the mask have a better fit the face.

With the help of Rebecca Reading (amazing seamstress and crafty sewer) who worked out the pattern and Bee Smith (Milliner and sewing teacher) who helped test the pattern, we have created an easy to make face mask which is washable and reusable. It also has a piece of soft metal wire for the nose which can be fitted to your face to give extra coverage.

At these weird times more and more people need non medical face masks that they can wear out to the shops and when we need to be out of the house. We wanted to help create these face masks for commuting essential workers. After speaking to a few of them they didn’t have any protective wear for getting to their front line positions.

Before we start here are some guidelines on using the masks. Please make sure you tell these points to the recipient of the masks.

•These masks are not medical masks. They an extra layer for you and anyone you make them for, for when they are out and about.

•Only wear for a MAXIMUM time of 1hr per mask, do not put it back on if already used.

•Wash after every use!

•To put on, place mask on face pinching the wire tight to the bridge of the nose, tie the top tape horizontally behind the head. Then tie the lower tape from below the ears to above the top tape at back of the head. Ensure the side of the mask is flat against the side of the cheeks.

•To take off, first untie the nose tape and hold top of mask at bridge of nose, then untie the lower tape whilst pulling the mask down and away from the face.

•These masks have ties rather than elastic to give a better fit for whoever wears them. Making them able to fit more people. The ties also help protect the ears as there won’t be any rubbing.

Making the Face mask at Home

PREWASH YOUR FABRIC AT A HIGH HEAT, DRY, AND IRON FLAT. This is so important as it helps make sure the fabric won’t shrink when the masks are washed.

Materials you will need for each mask:

•9inch x 18inch piece of fabric
•2x 40inches of ribbon OR 2x 40 inches x 2 inch material (cut on the grain-so it does not stretch)
•10 inches of fairly flexible wire, preferably one that does not rust, such as jewellery wire
•Lots and lots of thread
•A handful of pins
•A sewing machine
•An iron and ironing board

There are two options for the ties for how you make a face mask. Either use ribbon you already have or make the straps using fabric at home.

Here is the step by step instructions of how make a face mask with photos. For the full pattern instructions scroll down.

Cut the fabric and turn in and press a half inch seam around the edges.
Fold the fabric in half and press. Take the metal wire, fold it in half and bend in the edges to avoid sharp edges. Sew the metal strip in the centre of the middle fold.
Fold in half so the seams are inside. Turn the square so the centre fold with the metal is at the top. Pin the bottom edge and sew it shut.
Take the ribbons, line them up centrally on the mask and sew them on.
Measuring from the bottom up towards the top of the mask, mark at ½”, 2 ½”, 3 ½”, 5”, 6”, and 7 ½ inches on both side edges of the rectangle.
Rebecca drew this to show me how the pleats will fold down and it made a lot of sense to see it like this.
•Fold the 2 ½” mark down to meet the ½” mark, and pin.
•Next Fold 5” mark down to meet 3 ½” mark, and pin.
•Fold 7 ½” mark down to meet 6” mark, and pin.
Trim off any treads and your mask is ready.

Method for making the face mask with making the fabric straps:

1. Turn in ½” seam allowance on every side of rectangle, and press with iron. (If it’s got a right side fold on to the wrong side).
2. Fold rectangle in half (right side out) so it now looks squarish, and press centre fold.
3. Fold the wire in half and turn the edges in to themselves (no pointy ends).
4. Place the wire in the centre fold crease and stitch around it to hold in place.
5. Stitch along the bottom edge (opposite the centre fold) ensuring they line up nicely. Stitch along the bottom.

6. Take a strip of the 40×2 material fold in short edges by ¼” and press
7. Press in half along the width (long and thin not short and fat)
8. Unfold, and taking the bottom edge fold in to just below the centre fold, and press
along entire length, repeat for top edge
9. Find the centre of your tape and pin this to the centre of the top on the rectangle (use
like bias binding)
10. Sew the tape closed through entire length
11. Repeat steps 6-10 for the bottom of the mask

12. Measuring from the bottom up towards the top of the mask, mark at ½”, 2 ½”, 3 ½”, 5”, 6”, and 7 ½” on both side edges of the rectangle.
13. Fold the 2 ½” mark down to meet the ½” mark, and pin.
14. Fold 5” mark down to meet 3 ½” mark, and pin.
15. Fold 7 ½” mark down to meet 6” mark, and pin.

(This should make the mask around 3 ½” tall, if the person you are making
these for has a smaller face, pleat to 3” tall, and if a longer face pleat to 4” tall. The masks should sit under the chin up to the bridge of the nose, with sides flat against the face)

16. Sew a line from top to bottom 1” in from the side edge on both sides to hold the pleats in place.
17. Give a final press and voila!

Method using ribbons for straps:

1. Turn in ½” seam allowance on every side of rectangle, and press with iron. (If it’s got a right side fold on to the wrong side).
2. Fold rectangle in half (right side out) so it now looks squarish, and press centre fold.
3. Fold the wire in half and turn the edges in to themselves (no pointy ends).
4. Place the wire in the centre fold crease and stitch around it to hold in place.
5. Stitch along the bottom edge (opposite the centre fold) ensuring they line up nicely. Stitch along the bottom.
6. Stitch the ribbon tapes onto the top and bottom of the mask.

7. Measuring from the bottom up towards the top of the mask, mark at ½”, 2 ½”, 3 ½”, 5”, 6”, and 7 ½” on both side edges of the rectangle.
8. Fold the 2 ½” mark down to meet the ½” mark, and pin.
9. Fold 5” mark down to meet 3 ½” mark, and pin.
10. Fold 7 ½” mark down to meet 6” mark, and pin.

(This should make the mask around 3 ½” tall, if the person you are making
these for has a smaller face, pleat to 3” tall, and if a longer face pleat to 4” tall. The masks should sit under the chin up to the bridge of the nose, with sides flat against the face)

11. Sew a line from top to bottom 1” in from the side edge on both sides to hold the pleats in place.
12. Give a final press and again voila!


With craft shops being closed we have used a range of fabrics that we have at home. So they will all look very different but I think the mix and match of fabric will bring a lot of joy.

Disclaimer - these are not medical masks. 

Check out my other lifestyle posts.

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