top of page

Sew a Cloth Mask

Originally posted March 2020.

Cloth Face Mask with Elastic

With the increasing need to wear a cloth face mask, we are delighted to see the many people who are willing to help sew. These masks are very simple to construct, even for novice sewers. While they do not provide protection as well as the N95 masks, they are better than no protection. The size and pattern are recommendations from Vanderbilt.


100% woven cotton (quilting cotton) - 2 rectangles 9" x 6" 1/4" elastic - 2 pieces 7" long Straight pins Scissors


1. Wash and dry fabric without fragrance or dyes prior to sewing.

2. Cut 2 rectangles from your fabric - each 9" x 6". Below is a cutting diagram if you are working from a "fat quarter" which is a 18" x 22" piece of quilting cotton.

3. Along one 6" side of the rectangle, place the elastic 1/4" from the top edge of the mask. Pin in place. Place the other end of that piece of elastic 1/4" from the other end. Pin in place. Repeat with the other 6" side.

4. With right sides together, pin the two rectangles together and stitch around the perimeter, leaving a 2" opening along the bottom of the mask. You will use this to turn your mask inside out after you stitch.

5. Pin 3 pleats on each side of the mask. Make sure the tucks are pressed in the same direction. After adding pleats, the rough measurement of the mask will be 9" x 3" Topstitch around the mask with a scant 1/4" seam allowance, closing the 2" opening and tacking the pleats in place.

Surgical Mask Pattern

So much need out there, and we love seeing how many of you are rolling up your sleeves, and diving into your fabric stashes to sew for this cause. While there are many patterns for surgical masks, we will be using a pattern that does not require elastic for two reasons: 1. we've donated all our elastic to others sewing that style mask 2. we spoke to several healthcare professionals who actually preferred the ties so they could get it tighter against their faces. I think it is all a matter of preference.

Here is the pattern I will be using in our video tutorial. On page 4 of this document is the revised pattern for the mask, converted for 1/4" seam allowance. You can print this page, there is a 1"x1" test square to be sure you are printing accurately.

Some sources are specifically asking for masks with elastic - so if you have a supply of elastic, please SEW some of these. Here is the latest information from Vanderbilt Medical Center for those of you in Nashville. Use this hashtag and post what you sew! #rosietheriveter2020

Adding Wire to the Top of the Face Mask

Click the printer icon below for printable version.


bottom of page