Google+ Skip to Content

Sew a Pleated Fabric Face Mask with Casings & Filter Pocket

Share this idea!

Learn how to sew a pleated fabric face mask with an opening for a removable filter. Help prevent the spread of germs by wearing a fabric face mask.


For some time now, I’ve been contemplating sewing a few fabric face masks for my husband and myself. For some reason, in our normal disaster preparedness, we failed to purchase face masks. Then, once we needed them, there were none available to be purchased.

I’m sure that’s a familiar story to a lot of families right now.

two fabric face masks

I’m covering a lot of material in this blog post, including:

  • Why sew a fabric face mask?
  • When to use fabric face masks.
    • Patient Use
    • Caretaker Use
  • Video: How to Sew a Fabric Face Mask
  • Subscribe to Download Printable Pattern and ad-free Instructions
  • Fabric Face Mask with Casing and Filter Pocket
    • Supplies Needed
    • Equipment Needed
  • Step-by-Step Tutorial with Pictures
  • Printable Instructions (How-To Card)
  • Video: How to Wear a Pleated Face Mask
  • What’s different about this face mask pattern
  • More Face Mask Tutorials & Resources

If you’d like to download the free printable pattern, complete with step-by-step instructions with photos, BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE BELOW. Once you subscribe, you’ll have immediate access to the PDF pattern. If you are an existing subscriber, you’ll find the pattern in the Subscribers Resource Library.

Why Sew a Fabric Face Mask?

You hear a lot about how fabric face masks aren’t effective and shouldn’t be used, except in cases of last resort. Well, I think that’s where we are folks. In an ideal world, we’d have unlimited access to medical grade face masks. And in that same ideal world, we’d also have access to a vaccination against the COVID-19 virus, too. (In case you don’t know, we don’t – yet!)

fabric face mask

“Some Protection is Better Than No Protection”

Since some protection is better than no protection, I’m going with the some protection. Who knows, when we come through the other side of this disease, we may just find that homemade fabric face masks were effective.

When to Use Fabric Face Masks

fabric face mask

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. I am not an authority on the subject of disease control and prevention. I am a wife to someone who is immunocompromised and trying my best to keep him healthy. I am relaying information that I have discovered while doing research on the use of fabric face masks to prevent the spread of disease, like the Coronavirus.

Please consult your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Since I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, the CDC as of April 3, 2020 now recommends that people wear fabric face masks:

”…CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Patient Use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says,

“ The role of facemasks is for patient source control, to prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes.  Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear a facemask until they are isolated in a hospital or at home. The patient does not need to wear a facemask while isolated.”

Caretaker Use

The CDC further advises that individuals who are not sick do not need to wear a face mask all the time. But, they do advise wearing a face mask when caring for someone who is ill.

And within the days since I started writing this tutorial, they now advise to wear a fabric face mask any time you leave your home and are unable to insure you maintain a safe distance from other people, such as the grocery store or pharmacy.

However, this information is changing daily. For the best and most current advice, please refer to the CDC website or your state’s healthcare director or your personal family healthcare provider.

Video: How to Sew a Fabric Face Mask

Below is a video that walks you through sewing a fabric face mask with an opening for a removable filter and casings to insert the draw strings or elastic.

For more tutorials, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

How to Sew a Fabric Face Mask

When selecting your fabric, keep in mind that you may want to bleach your face masks when washing them, so be sure to select fabric that is bleach-safe.

This mask actually has an opening for a removable filter. The fabric I selected for the removable filter is made of 100% non-woven polyester. You can find it in your fabric store or online and it is sold as interfacing. Be sure to select a medium weight 100% polyester interfacing.

Download Printable Pattern and Instructions

This pleated face mask pattern is available exclusively to subscribers of The Birch Cottage newsletter. As a subscriber you’ll have access to this free printable pattern and the ENTIRE Subscribers Resource Library

Remember, the printable pattern is available EXCLUSIVELY to subscribers. But, it’s pretty easy to become a subscriber and gain access to this free printable pattern. Here’s how:

Please note that these instructions are for NEW subscribers only. If you are an existing subscriber, you’ll find a link to the printable care tags in an email from The Birch Cottage or you can simply go to the Subscribers Resource Library and search for “potato” to find this set of printable care tags.

How to Subscribe & Download Pattern

  1. Complete the subscribe form above.
  2. Once you submit the above subscription form, you’ll receive a confirmation email from The Birch Cottage.
  3. So, go check your email, look for a message titled “Please confirm your subscription” from The Birch Cottage and open up that message.
  4. Then simply click on the link in the email to confirm your email address.
  5. After you click on the confirmation link, two things will happen:
    1. You’ll be redirected to the file in Google Drive where you can preview, download, print or save the PDF. (All downloads from The Birch Cottage are contained in the Subscribers Resource Library. The Library is a shared Google Drive folder.)
    2. A few minutes later you’ll also receive another email that contains a link to the file. Again, this link will take you to the document in the shared Google Drive folder that is part of the Subscribers Resource Library.

Fabric Face Mask with Casing and Filter Pocket

I have made many different types and styles of face masks over the past few months or so. The pattern I’m sharing with you today is the one that I thought was not only the most effective, but the best fitting, most comfortable and the easiest to put on and remove.

fabric, pins, wonder clips, ruler, scissors, elastic, rotary cutter

According to an independent study, “The best masks were constructed of two layers of heavyweight “quilters cotton” with a thread count of at least 180, and had thicker and tighter weave.” Please keep this in mind when selecting fabric for your face masks.

DISCLOSURE: This blog post contains affiliate links for products or services we think you’ll like. If you make a purchase from one of these links, The Birch Cottage will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions expressed are 100% our own.

Supplies

Equipment

This face mask is my personal favorite because it has casings on the sides that allow the string or elastic to be pulled up or down and is easily adjustable. Plus, it’s easier to put on because you don’t have to tie it in two places, unless you make it so you have to tie it in two places. The option is yours.

Be sure to use 100% cotton fabric for both the front and back of the mask. Additionally, you should use a different color of fabric for the back so that the person wearing the mask can easily tell the difference between the front and the back. And, as always, your fabrics should be pre-washed, dried and pressed.

HINT: I like to insert my elastic BEFORE I sew the casing seams. Just be sure to not catch any of your elastic or ribbon in your seam. It saves an extra step! If you do this, you can skip step 5.

back of two face masks

Face Mask Filter

I have read different things about what to use for the face mask filter. If you need a filter, choose non-woven fabrics such as flannel or interfacing. Simply cut the filter fabric to fit inside the mask and insert.

Keep in mind that there is a fine balance between breathe-ability and infection control. From what I’ve read so far, choosing good quality quilters cotton fabric for the mask front and back are your best options. Again, this is subject to change based on recommendations by the CDC or your local healthcare authorities.

Pleated Face Mask Pattern

Sew a Pleated Fabric Face Mask with Casings & Filter Pocket

Yield: 1 Fabric Pleated Face Mask

Follow along with these instructions to make a pleated fabric face mask complete with casings for the drawstrings or elastic and a filter pocket. This is the most versatile face mask and fits a variety of face sizes and will fit over a surgical or N95 mask. For best results, use 100% cotton fabric and thread.

Materials

  • cotton fabric for front of mask (main fabric)
  • cotton fabric for back of mask (contrast fabric)
  • 1/4” wide elastic cord, ribbon or extra fabric for strings
  • cotton thread

Tools

  • scissors
  • rotary cutter, cutting mat and acrylic ruler
  • cotton thread
  • safety pin
  • sewing machine
  • steam iron

Instructions

Step 1: Cut Fabric and Elastic

    1. Cut 1 piece of main fabric for the front of the mask 7’H x 10”W.
    2. Cut 1 piece of contrast fabric for the back of the mask 7"Hx10"W (it's best to use a different color for the back so you can distinguish the front of the mask from the back of the mask)
    3. Cut elastic 36” long - or - cut ribbon 48” long if you want the elastic/ribbon to go around the head. Cut two pieces of elastic 8-9" long if you want the elastic to only go over the ears.

Step 2: Press

    1. Lay the main fabric face down and fold 1/4” along one of the long edges toward the wrong side and press in place. 
    2. Lay the contrast fabric face down and fold 1/4" along one of the long edges toward the wrong side and press in place. 
    3. Stitch 1/8" from folded edge of each piece. This will be the TOP of the face mask.

Step 3: Sew Lining to Main Fabric

  1. With right sides together, begin sewing from what will be the top of the face mask, using 1/4" seam allowance and leaving a 3" opening in the middle (where you will insert the removable filter), along the folded edges of the fabric.
  2. Sew all the way around the mask, making sure you leave a 3" opening in the top of the face mask. Turn mask right side out.

Step 4: Make Pleats

  1. After you turn the mask right side out, press flat.
  2. Make sure the opening is at the top of the mask. Measure down about 1" from the top of the mask and make a 1/2" pleat. Pin in place. Do the same along the other edge. Making sure the pleats are going in the same downward direction.
  3. Make two more 1/2" pleats that are approximately 1" apart and pin in place. You should have three pleats that are all folded in the same direction.
  4. Press the pleats in place and remove the pins/clips. Sew a 1/4" seam along each pleated edge to hold the pleats in place.

Step 5: Make the Casing

Fold the sides (short edges with the pleats) over 1/2" and pin in place. Sew close to the edge of each fold, making sure to allow plenty of room to insert elastic or ribbon into the casing. HINT: I like to insert my elastic BEFORE I sew the casing seams. Just be sure to not catch any of your elastic or ribbon in your seam. It saves an extra step. If you do this, you can skip step 6.

Step 6: Insert Elastic

  1. Attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic or ribbon, insert pin from the top of the casing opening and push the pin through the casing.
  2. Then insert the same pin in the bottom of the casing opening on the other edge of the mask, working the pin through the opening.
  3. If using elastic, the loose ends of the elastic should both be on the same sides (top or bottom) of the mask. Overlap the ends of the elastic and sew with a zig-zag stitch. Trim any loose ends of the elastic and thread.
  4. If using ribbon, the tail ends of the ribbon should be at the top of the face mask.

Notes

Be sure to use 100% cotton fabric for both the front and back of the mask. Additionally, you should use a different color of fabric for the back so that the person wearing the mask can easily tell the difference between the front and the back. And, as always, your fabrics should be pre-washed, dried, and pressed before beginning this project.

How to Wear Fabric Face Mask

Here’s a quick video showing you how to wear the face mask with the “looped” face mask ties or elastic. I just really think this makes the face mask so much easier to put on and take off.

What’s Different About this Face Mask Pattern?

You may be wondering what’s different about this mask pattern from others you’ll find online. It’s the casing. Like I said, I personally think (and I may be wrong) that the casing makes the mask easier to put on and take off. And it makes it so it can more easily fit a variety of head sizes.

More Face Mask Tutorials

As I said, I am not a healthcare professional, contagious disease specialist or any kind of face mask authority. I am simply sharing what I have made to help protect my family.

Here are some other patterns from various institutions that you may find useful:

You’ll also find these face mask and sewing project ideas right here on The Birch Cottage blog:

If you are looking to make masks to donate, please check with the institution you are donating the masks to for their preference/instructions on the types of face masks they will accept.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Please stay healthy!

Til next time…

Pam Baker from The Birch Cottage

Share this idea!

Marisa

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

Thanks for this! I received a mask from someone who used one drawstring and I find it much more secure. Do you find that you wish you had a wire nose piece? How could I add one?

Pamela Baker

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

Hi, Marisa. That is a good question! I've actually made the masks with the wire nose piece. What I did was to leave the opening for the insertion of the filter at the bottom of the mask. Then I inserted a 4" piece of wire into the top of the mask (centered over the center seam), pinned in place and then sewed around the wire, completely incasing it in the stitching, kind of like a "U" shape. I hope this makes sense. Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks, again! Stay healthy!!

Pam Baker The Birch Cottage

Cathy

Tuesday 21st of April 2020

Hi Pam. Can you demonstrate how you put on the mask with elastic? Thanks!

Comments are closed.
Skip to Instructions