How to Sew a Face Mask with a Sewing Machine

Face masks have lately become an everyday necessity. Knowing how to sew one has become a highly valued skill. Whether you are hoping to save some money, or earn a little extra dough by selling face masks online, this tutorial will teach you everything you need to know about how to sew a face mask with a sewing machine.

Using an overlocker sewing machine to sew your face masks will make the job much faster, and far less tedious. You will also end up with a better finished product; This is especially important if you are planning to sell the masks that you are making. An overlocker will trim and bind the seams of your fabric, giving your mask a professional finish and preventing the fabric from unravelling.

Sewing a face mask is simple and requires very few supplies. For extra protection, you can add a filter into this pocketed face mask that will help guard you against viruses. You’ll be surprised to learn that you likely already have what you’ll need for this step in your home and don’t even know it! To ensure your mask fits more snug to your face, simply add some gardening wire to the top of your mask for shaping. After reading this tutorial, you’ll be ready to embark on a new sewing project, make a personalized face mask for yourself, and help flatten the curve.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Fabric (1 fat quarter will make 3 masks)
  • 1/4 Inch Twill Tape
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors or Rotary Cutter
  • Vacuum Cleaning Bag for the Filter (optional)
  • Gardening Wire (optional)
  • Measuring Grid Ruler (recommended)
  • An Iron (recommended)
  • An Overlocker (highly recommended)

Flatten the Curve with a Face Mask

In order to “flatten the curve”, or to successfully curtail the spread of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that individuals of all ages wear a protective face covering when they are outside their home. There are many types of masks available on the market with varying levels of effectiveness. The type of mask which offers the highest level of protection against COVID-19 and other viruses is the N95 mask. It’s name comes from the fact that the “N95” are able to filter 95% of virus carriers from the air that you breathe.

However, if you want to save money, you can make your own face mask at home that is also 95% effective in guarding against viruses with a standard vacuum cleaner bag. After you’ve completed your mask by following this tutorial, cut out a swatch of the vacuum cleaner bag to fit inside your mask’s convenient filter pouch and you can have as much protection as a professionally manufactured N95 mask offers! 

When it comes to choosing the fabric for your face mask, you want to take into account what will be most effective in preventing the spread of viruses. You should also consider what will be easiest for you to clean. According to scientists at Cambridge, cotton blends will be your best bet; They are 74% as protective as a surgical mask (surgical masks are a slightly lower grade than N95 masks). 100% cotton, however, is only 69% as effective as a surgical mask.

We recommend buying one fat quarter cut of cotton blend fabric to make your face mask(s). However, you can also make your mask from an antimicrobial pillow case (65% as effective as a surgical mask), linen (60% as effective), or a dish towel (82% as effective). If you’re more concerned with function and simplicity than fashion, you can even skip the normal outer fabric all together and use a vacuum cleaner bag to make the mask itself. With so many options, and the ease with which you can learn to make your own face mask, you should never have to go without!

MAKING YOUR MASK

For making your face mask(s), you will want to buy what is called a “fat quarter”. This standard cut of fabric measures 56 cm by 45 cm (22″ by 18″), and is often used in quilting. Any fabric store should carry fat quarters, and they come in countless colour and pattern options for you to choose from. One fat quarter will allow you to make three masks. So, whether you’re simply creating them for your family, or are looking to make a profit on them, using this specific cut of fabric will prove to be very cost-effective and easy.

When you are ready to begin, you’ll want to fold your fat quarter into thirds. Once you have folded it into three even-sized pieces each measuring 15 cm by 56 cm (6″ by 22″), crease the fabric. For a more defined crease, it is a good idea to use an iron for this step. After you’ve made a deep, visible crease, cut along the crease using your scissors or rotary cutter so that you have three separate pieces. This will make three masks.

Sewing Your Face Mask

STEP ONE: Use your overlocker machine to overlock each narrow edge, using three threads.

STEP TWO: Match the overlocked edges up with one another by folding them together. Mark each one with a line 2.5 cm (just under one inch, for this step, it is better to measure using centimetres for accuracy) away from the edge.

STEP THREE: Begin on one edge of the mask and stitch up to the line. When the line reaches the foot area on your overlocker, lift the needle and the foot area.

STEP FOUR: Pull mask away from the overlocker and trim the excess thread away.

STEP FIVE: Place mask back under the footer and repeat step three and four for the other edge of the mask. The gap left in the middle is where you will later place your filter, if so desired.

STEP FOURTEEN: Repeat step twelve and step thirteen, stitching the ribbon to the other side.

STEP SIX: Flip the mask “inside out” so that it is now in reality right-side-out.

STEP SEVEN (optional): If you wish, you may insert gardening wire to better mould the mask around your nose. To do this, fold the fabric over 1 cm from the top, with the wire sandwiched between the folded portion of the fabric. Make a stitch across to secure the wire within the mask.

STEP EIGHT: Fold the fabric down the middle to create a section on either side of the crease, Then fold both of those sections in the middle, creating a total of four even-sized sections. For precision, it is best to iron down the creases.

STEP NINE: Pinch the fabric up in the centre area of each crease and fold up halfway to the next crease in order to create pleats. After pleating the fabric, the mask should measure approx. 7.5 cm (or 3″) from top to bottom.

STEP TEN: Take two 1/4 inch pieces of twill tape that are 95 cm (or 36″) long and find their centres, placing them on each edge of your mask, then pin them in place.

STEP ELEVEN: Lift the needle and foot area of the machine up and slide the mask underneath.

STEP TWELVE: Remove the needle on one edge and stitch on the ribbon.

STEP THIRTEEN: Lift needle and foot and pull the mask away from the machine, trim excess thread.

STEP FIFTEEN (optional): Cut a swatch from a vacuum cleaning bag to fit within your mask’s pouch, if desired.

STEP SIXTEEN: Congratulations- now you know how to sew a face mask! Tie two ribbons above your ears, and the other two below your ears. Make sure to cover your nose and mouth with the mask in order to ensure that it will be effective, and stay safe!

Here is an additional video for clarification if needed: