Sewing Face Masks

I sewed two face masks using bandanas for the fabric and two different patterns I found on the internet. I used to do a lot of sewing, including making many of my clothes, but in recent years I have only used my sewing machine for mending.

The face mask I sewed using an old girl scout bandana

Fabric stores used to have large selections of beautiful wool and other good quality cloth for making garments. Today most of the fabric for sale is polar fleece, and cotton for quilting. The clothing industry has changed so that buying clothes is relatively cheap, which is related to “fast fashion”, a topic for another blog post. One reason I do not sew much any more is that it is hard to see that tiny hole in the needle.

My mom was an excellent seamstress and I started learning from her at a young age. When my junior high home economics class was hemming dish towels and making aprons, I had already made simple garments at home.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, my mom and grandma bought some of the inventory from a sewing store that went out of business. After that we had entire display cases of thread and drawers full of zippers and seam binding in the basement. Any time I needed thread for a project, I went downstairs to pick out the right color. I still have some of the thread and zippers leftover from those days.

Zippers from 1970

For my high school graduation present my parents gave me an Elna Lotus compact size sewing machine. The Elna Lotus machine did not have any fancy attachments or stitches, but it was well built and reliable, and has served my purposes to this day. I even used it to make my own wedding dress.

Back to the face mask project, I realized it may be necessary to have one when out and about in the coming months. I think part of the purpose for the mask is to reduce fear in other people you might have to interact with at a store. I found a couple of bandanas and some cotton fabric in my stash that would be suitable. There was plenty of elastic and thread in the house.

Plenty of thread in the house

I researched ideas and patterns for masks online. There are many variations with a center seam or side pleats for shaping, with or without a pocket for inserting a filter, and different methods for attaching the elastic or ties. For the first one, I settled on a pattern that had a bit of shape to it and was designed for health care workers with a slot for a filter. I made a simplified version without the slot, using only one of the pattern pieces provided. Here is the link for the pattern: https://northmemorial.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/north-memorial-health-homemade-healthcare-masks.pdf

Cutting out the pattern pieces
Sewing the center seam
Sewing together the two layers
Adding a casing on the side for elastic
Not my most attractive look

I decided to try a different pattern for the second face mask, using another bandana for the fabric. This one was basically a rectangle with pleats to give it some shape, and with the elastic sewed into the corners instead of threaded through a casing.

Second face mask

Sewing the elastic on makes the face mask more or less one size fits all, so for the next one I will try ties on the side instead. I hope face masks won’t be needed for much longer. I think we are all ready for our lives to go back to something like normal.

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

8 thoughts on “Sewing Face Masks

    1. I will probably just make them to give to family members and friends. Torri posted that she is going to make a bunch…maybe she will be selling them. Oh, and I have a request to share a photo of my wedding dress that I made. That could be for another post some day. It is still in the box from the dry cleaners, stored under a bed.

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  1. I’ve been making the second one for healthcare workers. It’s on the Allina and Blue Cross website. But I agree the fit is a bit weird.
    I just had given away most of my cotton laying around here 😣. But our quilting group from church made up a bunch of kits to work from.
    Stay well, Girlfriend!!

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  2. I have been making the pleated one but cant seem to get the pleats even. Plus no one has any 1/4 ” elastic.. So I tried cutting a wider piece but it ravels. Then I tried folding the elastic … then I tried crocheting ties . That works well unless you have shoulder issues and can’t reach up to tie it. I think I’ll try your first pattern. We are making them for the homeless shelter, both workers and residents. I have lots of cotton fabric from the ‘old days’ and interface… a friend has a supply of elastic coming but it may still be a few weeks. Kind of fun to see, but I prefer crocheting. There are some crochet patterns too that you use with a filter…. haven’t looked to see what you use for a filter. Happy sewing!

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    1. I made 1 more successfully today using the first pattern with the seam for shaping but with ties instead of elastic. And I tried to make the pleated one wider and with deeper pleats, but it was to gaping out at the sides so that was a dud. I have plenty of elastic so I will probably make more with the shaped pattern with elastic, like the first one I made. However I do not have much fabric (amazingly). I can probably find some here in Fergus in the fiber community.

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