How to Sew a Face Mask for Personal Use

April 8, 2020

How to Sew a Face Mask with a Filter Pocket and Ties for Personal Use

This pattern is adapted from the pattern created by Sarah at the ‘Sarah Maker’ blog. Follow this link to her blog to learn more! 

CDC Recommendations

CDC face mask recommendations are changing everyday, and we will try to keep this document up-to-date. Since Sarah created her pattern a few weeks ago, the CDC and health care professionals have clarified that masks should not be reversible, and they should have a clear “right side” and “wrong side.” Plus, personal-use masks should be washed after each day of use. Sarah’s mask pattern uses one piece of fabric. My modification enables the pattern to work for two different fabrics.


  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pins
  • Wonder Clips
  • Iron
  • Fabric Marker
  • Thread
  • Seam Gauge


(1) 8.5” square of high-quality quilting cotton for the outside. I’ll refer to this as the “main” fabric.

(2) 4.75” x 8.5” squares of high-quality quilting cotton (preferably solid) for the inside. I’ll refer to this as the “lining” fabric.

(2) Yards bias tape (4 18” ties)


Note: I found using the dual-feed function of my machine (or a walking foot) helpful, but not crucial.

  • Prior to sewing make sure that your fabric has been washed, dried, and pressed.

Lining and Filter Pocket

  • Sew the two lining pieces, right-sides-together along one 8.5” side. Leave a 3” to 4” gap in the middle for the filter pocket and to turn the mask right-side-out. Backstitch on either side of the gap.
  • Press the seam allowances open, and then tuck the raw edges under and press again. You’ll have a ¼” turned-under border on either side of the seam. 
  • Topstitch the ¼” borders to the lining.

Prepare the Ties

  • Cut the ties into four 18” lengths.
  • Or, cut 1 ½” bias strips from quilting cotton, and cut it into 18” lengths.
  • If you’re using double-fold bias tape, skip the next step.
  • If you’re using single-fold bias tape, fold it in half again lengthwise, and press it into a long tube.
  • Topstitch each tie along the long edge, so it is a closed tube. Use a starter scrap of fabric because the ties are liable to get pushed into the throatplate below the needle. Pivot and stitch across one short edge of each tie. Because they are cut on the bias, the ends of the ties won’t unravel, but sewing across the short edge adds a little bit of security.

Make A Mask Sandwich

  • On the right side of the main fabric, mark ⅝” from the top and bottom on both sides. 
  • Position the four ties so their raw edges are lined up with the raw edges of the sides of the main fabric, ⅝” from the top, and ⅝” from the bottom. Use the short edge of the tie that you didn’t sew across.
  • Lay the lining piece on top of the main piece, right-sides-together, sandwiching the ties on the inside. The slit for the filter pocket should be oriented horizontally, or from side to side of the main fabric.
  • Wonder Clip or pin the ties and the fabrics. Use more Wonder Clips or pins as needed.
  • Being careful to only sew over the ties when you are securing them to the sides, sew all the way around the square with a ½” seam allowance. Pivoting at the corners.
  • Trim off the triangles at the corners to reduce bulk.
  • Turn right-side-out.
  • Press.

Make the Pleats

  • Fold the mask wrong-sides-together along the slit for the filter. Press a crease. Fold the top and the bottom toward the center and press creases.
  • Make a mark ½” below each crease on the main fabric.
  • Fold the creases down toward the marks and Wonder Clip in place.
  • Increase your stitch length to 3.5 mm.
  • Using the dual feed function on your machine or a walking foot (if you have it), topstitch the pleats in place @ approximately ⅜”, backstitching at the beginning and the end.

You’re done!

Check out our Facebook page to view Kate’s live-streamed video of this process, and feel free to email us,, with any questions.

We also recommend listening to NPR’s All things Considered story More Guidance On How To Properly Wear Masks, as well as frequently checking what the CDC and WHO have to say on this topic, for more information about face masks in general.

Stay in, stay safe, and stay sewing!

2 thoughts on “How to Sew a Face Mask for Personal Use

  1. ROBBI CATHER says:

    Hi. You mentioned you would teach how to make bias ties if none were available (that’s the case in Dallas). Would you send or post a quick tutorial on this? I’m making out of old sheets for Covid19 face masks. Thank you!

    • kate says:

      Hi Robbi,
      I will pop in soon with a quick tutorial. We also have a ton of bias tapes available on the website. 🙂

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