How to sew your own reusable 3 layer cloth mask
Welcome to my very first blog post! So excited at the thought of anyone reading my words, at the thought of creating a community of like minded individuals who are curious about the same things I am. I am entering my 19th year as a textile designer/maker/entrepreneur so I figure I might have a few thoughts worth sharing.
The last few years have been a wild wild ride! In 2018 I was back in textile studio mode with Frances Felt; indigo dyeing and felting. Towards the end of the year I started a passion project with my daughter hoping to kindle her entrepreneurial spirit. We created reusable snack bags, produce bags and reusable napkins to help people reduce single use plastics in their homes. She lost interest but people loved them so I carried on and Anise & Dill was created (my children’s names are Anise and Dylan…Dill for short;). 3 months in and the pandemic hit the globe. My reusable business was ready to pivot and I started making masks for my community and then soon enough, across Canada. Thousands of masks later I feel like I have designed the perfect reusable mask (if I do say so myself!). Based on my return customer rate I think many other people do too.
As the pandemic starts to slow down and the word is easing its restrictions, I am happy to turn towards my textile practice again. As long as people need reusable masks I will always have them for sale in my web-store BUT I thought there might be a few of you who wold like to experiment with sewing your own. Below is a step-by-step guide to sewing the “perfect” mask. Please feel free to ask questions or leave a comment or even better, send me a photo of the finished product.
These instructions are for a 3 layer, pleated cloth face mask. The third layer is a washable, sewn in polypropylene filter.
- Good quality quilters cotton (outside fabric)
- Broadcloth fabric (for the lining) poly/cotton blend
- Polypropylene or sew-in interfacing
- Soft elastic 1/4” wide or less
- Metal nose pieces (available here)
Here are the CUT measurements for the 3 sizes of masks that I offer:
- Regular: 6.25” x 8”
- Large: 7.25” x 8”
- Kids: 5.25” x 7”
* I do not wash my fabric beforehand. There is minimal shrinkage on a piece this size but you can if you want. Feel free to adjust the size if you would like it smaller or bigger.
Cut 1 piece of the cotton fabric and 1 piece of the broadcloth in the size of the mask you are making. Cut the polypropylene but make the length 2” shorter. For example, if you are making the regular size the polypropylene should measure 6.25” x 6”.
Cut the elastic 10” long x 2. Decide how you want to finish the loops. Do you want them to go over the ears? Or maybe you prefer them to go around you head. Decide now and cut the appropriate length. I use soft silicone toggles to help get the perfect fit.
- I use 1/4” seam allowance for all my masks.
- I use a 14-16 gage needle to get thru the pleats.
- Sew the polypropylene filter to the BACK (broadcloth) lining piece. Just 2 sewing lines along the sides.
- Line up the mask pieces, right sides together. Start sewing about 1.5” from the corner. Do a small backstitch to start.
- Turn the mask once you get to the corner. With needle down, lift up the pressure foot and insert the end of one of your elastics. Make sure it is butted up nicely to the first line of stitching. Sew half way down the side of the mask. Before you get to the end, stop and insert the other end of the elastic at the bottom of the mask. Continue sewing over the end of the elastic and stop 1/4” before the edge. With needle down, lift up the foot and tun the mask so that you are now sewing a straight line down the bottom of the mask, 1/4” seam.
- A the corner stop and turn the mask so you are now sewing the second side. Lift up the pressure foot and insert the end of the second elastic. Sew over it and continue down the edge. Half way down insert the other end of the elastic and sew over it with a 1/4” remaining. Turn the mask once more and sew about 1.5” towards the centre. Backstitch to finish.
- Turn the mask and poke out the corners with a pen or knitting needle. You could iron it at this stage if you want. You can also iron and pin the pleats at this stage.
- With the lining side facing up start topstitching at the top left corner. Sew in about 1.5” and stop. Turn the mask and sew about 3/8’ and then turn again and sew about 3.5”. Stop and then turn again and sew towards the top about 3/8”. Stop and then finish the topstitching to the corner. You have just sewed the casing for the nose piece.
- Now the pleats! I pinch the fabric and fold it up towards the corner (You could pin the pleats beforehand to make this easier). Sew over the pleat and then fold the next one, sew over it and then the next pleat. I backstitch over each one to make it very solid. Turn the mask and topstitch along the bottom seam and repeat the pleating on the other side. Make sure the pleats are all facing the same way!
- When you get to the corner turn the mask one last time and sew the final topstitch to complete the casing. Stop about 1/4” from the edge of the casing to create the hole for the metal nose piece to go in and out.
- Inset metal nose piece and add ear elastic toggles. Voila! Your new mask.