Face mask tutorial

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Who knew that there would be a moment when all of that lovely fabric we have stockpiled would come into its own? My friends, now is the time to raid your stash.

The government has announced that the wearing of face masks will be compulsory on public transport from 15 June, and a good quality face mask will help to protect those around you in a crowd.


Pattern: I’ve been using the ‘official’ recommended Belgian pattern. You can find a pdf to download here. Make sure, when printing the pattern out, that you have your printer set to ‘100%’ and not to ‘scale’. You’ll have to stick the various bits of the pattern together with some sticky tape.

Fabric: good quality (thick) quilting cotton. You need two different fabrics, so it’s always clear which side goes on the outside. I would recommend pre-washing your fabric at 90 degrees so you know it won’t shrink.

NB: We’ve been measuring our fabrics in inches so far, but this tutorial uses centimetres!


  • Fabric A (front): 20cm x 20.5cm
  • Fabric B (back): 20cm x 18.5cm
  • ties (fabric tape): 4 x 40-45cm lengths
  • piece of kitchen paper as removable filter

Tip: I ran out of fabric tape, so I’ve been using all kinds of things as ties. You need something strong, that can be pulled and handled. I’ve found that cutting the seams out of old jeans and towels works pretty well!

You’ll also need an iron and ironing board.


I like to make two masks at once, so you really get the most out of having the iron on.

1. Take your pattern pieces and lay them on top of your fabric pieces. Mark all of the lines on the right side of the fabric. You don’t need to pin.

markings   first fold  

2. Switch on your iron. Fold the fabric along the first mark down from the seam allowance, as shown above. Make sure you have your pieces the right way up – there should be 4cm between the seam allowance mark and the first folding mark at the top. Press along this line.  

iron first  1 step

3. Now take the section you have just pressed flat, and fold it downwards towards the next mark. You should end up with a 1cm fold. Press flat and pin down at either edge.

1st fold

4. Repeat the process with the line underneath that: fold along the line, press. Then fold the ironed edge down to the next mark, press and pin down.

2A  2B

5. Repeat with the third fold. You should now have three folds, pinned down on both sides. Press on the back of the pieces to ensure a nice crisp fold.


6. At the bottom of both pieces, you have marked a 1/2 cm seam allowance. Fold inwards (wrong sides together) along this edge and press flat. Pin in place.

7. Now we’re going to chain piece (sewing all pieces in a ‘row’, to save thread and time!). I like to sew the folds in place at this point. This is not absolutely necessary, but I find it easier and you’re less likely to stab yourself with pins later. Start by sewing up all the bottom seams. Then sew down all your folds.

bottom seam

8. You’ve now got the front and the back of the mask with the bottom seams finished and the folds securely in place. Put the two pieces right sides together, and pin along the top edge. Sew along the seam line (0.5cm). Once sewn in place, press the seam open, then fold the pieces over right sides out, and press the top seam flat. It’s now starting to look a lot like a mask! (In the picture below, I hadn’t sewn up the folds; but trust me, from experience, it is easier if you do!)

upper seam

9. If all is well, the front section of your mask should be longer than the back. This is because we’re going to fold the longer section over to create a ‘pocket’ into which a piece of kitchen towel can be inserted. Fold this section over along the marks, wrong sides together, and press. I would recommend sewing along the lower edge of this fold to ensure it stays in place, as otherwise it can get a bit ‘baggy’. I forgot to take a picture of this process, but you can see the fold in the picture below.


10. We’re nearly there! Now we need our ties. Fold your mask ‘outwards’, right sides together. You’re going to insert your ties as shown in the image above, with about 1-2 cm sticking out. Two ties are going just below the top seam, and two just above the bottom seam. Pin them in places carefully and sew over them using a 0.5cm seam. Be careful that your straps don’t get caught in places where they shouldn’t be! Sew back and forth over the ties to fix them in place.

11. Your mask is done! Turn it correct side out and give it a final press. Insert your filter if required – make sure to change it every 4 hours or so, or when it gets damp. Don’t touch the front of the mask once you’ve put it on, wear it only once, and put it straight into a 60 degree wash when you’ve finished with it.


Remember that a mask doesn’t necessarily protect yourself, it protects others around you. Please observe a 2 metre distance at all times and keep washing your hands regularly.

Don’t despair if it takes you quite a while to make your first one. You will get faster. Also, absolute accuracy is not required – you’re not trying to win a prize! That’s what the virtual Festival of Quilts is for.

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