Mask Madness

This isn’t a normal blog post for me, but I figured it might be helpful to someone out there. Now that America is beginning to slowly reopen, it seems obvious that face masks are going to be either recommended or required, depending on your state and governor. If you are like me, you have wandered through the craft aisles at Walmart, looking for fabric and elastic, only to find that there is none left. I asked my sister what she was using for elastic and she said she had taken the elastic out of a fitted sheet. Perfect! Fabric and elastic in one purchase! I went to Walmart and searched the sheet aisle for a fitted sheet that had thin enough elastic to work for a mask. There was only one style that seemed like it would work. I will post a picture of it below. A standard twin fitted sheet will have enough fabric for 34 masks and enough elastic for five. To top it off, this sheet only costs $5!

I tried two different patterns/tutorials, and the one I am sharing was definitely easier and resulted in a better finished product. The thing I don’t love, is that it is a video tutorial, which drives me crazy. You can play and pause, and play and pause, as you go, but then somebody calls or texts and you lose your place in the video and have to try to find it again. So, for those of you like me, who prefer to scroll as you go, I will give instructions and pictures as I go through each step. If you prefer the video or need to see something in action, I will add the link to the video at the bottom.

My mom and sister were helping make masks for hospitals in Washington, but Erich’s hospital here wasn’t using homemade ones for anything. When a friend posted a need for some facilities here in Virginia, we decided to hop on it. My kids were super excited to be helping nurses and each one of them have helped in one way or another. Asia and Jake have been especially helpful and, as bored as we have been, it forced us to look beyond ourselves and actually put the kids in better moods. It has been a great outlet for our family and I hope someone else out there will see this and be less intimidated by the task. You can do it! Using this tutorial and this sheet idea, you should have everything you need to make five masks for your family, coworkers, neighbors or friends, for only $5. If you can get your hands on elastic from somewhere else, you will have plenty of extra fabric from the sheet to make even more. I am going to try to make this simple enough for beginners, but like I said, I’ve never done a blog like this before, so bear with me!

Step #1: For each mask, you will need to cut one piece of fabric 15″x7″, two strips of fabric 2 1/2″x6″, two pieces of elastic around 8 3/4 inches long, and a twist tie or pipe cleaner.
Step #2: Fold the large piece of fabric in half, with the right side facing in. Sew along the side where the edges meet, two inches from each side with a half inch seam allowance. This opening will become a pocket for an added filter, if desired.
Step #3: Turn the fabric so the seam is somewhat centered, flatten the seam and iron it.
Step #4: This part is a little tricky because your fabric forms a loop now, but you need to sew along one side of the first seam using a 1/8 inch allowance.
Step #5: After you stitch along one side of the seam, fold so that the seam with the opening is about 3/4 of an inch from the top, with the stitched side on the underside of the opening. Iron the whole square.
Step #7: Slide a twist tie or pipe cleaner into the section above the opening, this will help the mask conform to the bridge of your nose. Place a pin to hold the twist tie as close to the top seam as possible.
Step #8: Sew this section closed using a seam allowance of 1/8 an inch to match the bottom side of the opening.
This is what it should look like at this point in the process.
Step #9: Adding the pleats is a little tricky, but it doesn’t need to be precise. I like to add three folds, which you will see in the following pictures. Once you have them where you like them, iron them flat and pin them in place. Looking back, I think I would iron the pleat folds down instead of up.


If you are an experienced sewer, you can probably get away with one pin on each side here, but if you aren’t, I suggest one pin to hold each pleat in place.
Step #10: Stitch across the pleats, to secure them in place.
Step #11: Trim your strips of fabric to one inch longer than the side of your mask. Place the right side of the fabric facing the mask, wrapping the extra half inch around each side and pin in place.


Do this step on each side.
Step #12: Sew along each edge using a half inch allowance.
Take the pins out and unfold.


Step #13: Iron the folded sides so they are straight and flat. Fold the outside edge 1/4 inch and iron.
Step #14: Fold this trim piece over to cover the seam on the edge of the mask, iron and pin it in place. I like the stitching to be prettier on the front of the mask (not the pocket side), so once I iron this fold, I pin it on the front side, so I can sew on the front side, it just looks nicer. Before you sew it in place, you will need to choose the next step based on what type of elastic you have.
If your elastic comes from a sheet and looks like the picture above, you can complete the previous step by making the finishing stitch on the trim. Then simply feed the elastic through the trim, sew the ends together forming a loop, and then continue feeding it through until the seam is hidden inside the trim.
If the elastic you are using is already in a loop, it will need to be pinned in place before you make the finishing stitch on the trim. If your loop can be pinned in place without any tension on your fabric, great! If not, you can place it around a Lego like I did above, to prevent pulling on the fabric while you make the stitch.
Now you can make the finishing stitch and remove the Lego.
And you are done! This mask is Jake’s. He is eleven and needed shorter straps, so these hair ties worked perfectly.
This one is even smaller, for River who is 8. This week I will be attempting a toddler size one for Micah who is 3. If you are interested in what the measurements were for any of the smaller sizes, let me know!

If any of my instructions were lacking or confusing, please tell me so I can fix it, explaining each step was harder than I thought. =)

Here is the link to the video tutorial and the brand of sheets from Walmart that had nice thin elastic:

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  1. You are so gifted with talents and creativity!! I have absolutely no patience to attempt this project because I haven’t even learned how to sew on a button. What a great tutorial for those who decide they are braver than I am. These are truly going to bless many essential workers! Beautiful job 👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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