DIY plastic-free face mask with pocket


Face masks are going to be around for a while, so why not make yourself a comfortable, sustainable one?  This tutorial will show you how to make a face mask that’s



Can you tell how excited I am about this plastic-free face mask?


This project is easy enough to finish in about 30 minutes or less.  You don’t need special sewing skills either!  Here’s what you need:

Supplies to  make your very own plastic-free face mask:

  1. Fabric for your outer layer that measures 12” wide x 8.5 height” – I use organic cotton for fabric because it’s more sustainable than conventional cotton or cotton/poly blend fabric. I’ve got a whole post on why you should buy organic cotton over HERE. (
  2. Fabric for your inner layer that measures 9”w x 16”h.  Different outer & inner layer fabrics helps you keep track of the inside and outside of your mask, so try to use two prints/colors if you can.
  3. Cotton elastic that measures about 30” if you want it to go around the head. Or 14” (x2) if you want to put it around the ears.  If you can’t find cotton elastic, organic cotton cording works great too.  You’ll need about 45” to go around the head and less than that for the ears – try 16” to start and see if that fits.  I’ve also seen folks use strips of cotton knit fabric to make the loops instead of elastic.  If you search for “DIY t-shirt yarn”, you can find plenty of tutorials to upcycle an old t-shirt into yarn.  Any of these is ultimately going to breakdown in your home compost.  Regular synthetic elastic will NOT and is made with fossil fuels.
  4. Pins or clips
  5. Thread – organic cotton thread is great if you’re buying thread and trying to make a plastic-free mask.  You can also use regular cotton thread if you can’t find organic.  If you only have access to polyester thread, just remember that it’s a form of plastic & can’t be composted at the very end of its life.  You can recycle it in certain cities or with (with one of their fabric recycling boxes).  Just cut the stitched area out of your mask at the very end of its life to separate synthetic material from compostable material.
  6. Scissors – small ones are handy if you have them.
  7. Safety pin – the bigger the better!
  8. Pencil or chopstick
  9. Iron
  10. Optional: paperboard with pleats, alligator/salon hair clips
  11. Sewing machine


Got  your supplies?  Let’s go!

Steps to make a plastic-free face mask:


Also – if you want to see my YouTube video of this project, CLICK HERE!


First prep the two pieces of fabric & then sew them together:

  1. Fold over ½” of the top edge of the outer layer of fabric (wrong side to wrong side).  Press it down at the iron.  Then stitch a straight line across the fold to hold it in place.

2. Fold the inner layer fabric in half lengthwise so that now it measures 9” wide by 8” tall.  Find the center of the inner layers – you can just fold it in half lengthwise and press a small crease with your fingers at the top.  Do the same with the outer layer.  Place the inner layers on top of the outer layer of fabric, making sure that the centers are lined up with one another.  Make sure that the right sides of the fabric are touching.  And make sure that the folded edge of the inner layer is touching the hemmed edge of the outer fabric.  This’ll be the filter pocket when you’re done.

3. Pin the bottom edges together in a few spots.


4. Pin the top edges together at 2” away from the edge of the inner layer.  Place 2 pins right next to each other.  These side-by-side pins will remind you to stop when you get to the pins (I learned this little trick from Jennifer Maker of Youtube!).  Do this for both sides of the inner layer.  You’re going to sew about 2” on each side only so that there’s an opening where you can put the filter.  

Only sew from the edge of the liner fabric to the double pins, leaving an opening in the middle for the filter pocket.


5. Stitch straight across the bottom edge with about ½” seam allowance. Make sure to do a backstitch at the start and stop.

6. Stitch the two areas of the top edge – just 2” on each side of the inner layer – with a ½” seam allowance. Make sure to do a backstitch at the start and stop at each side.

Next, create the pleats:

7. Turn the mask right side out.  Use your pencil or chopstick to push out the seams and make a nice crisp edge at the top & bottom.  Iron the seams.


8. Next, you’ll make 3 pleats in your mask that are each about 1” tall.  You’re folding the mask from about 8” tall to about 3” tall by creating the pleats. 


**Note:  If you want to make lots of masks, you can create a little pleating board out of paperboard (like a cereal box or old posterboard).  Just cut a rectangle out of paperboard that measures 12” by 8” tall.  Then fold 3 pleats into the paperboard that each measure about 1”.  You want the final size of your pleating board to be 12” wide by 3” tall after finishing the pleats.  Press the pleats very hard – you can even iron them. To use your pleating board, just place the fabric on top of the pleating board and push the fabric into each of the pleats.  Take the board to the iron and press the fabric at the iron right on top of the pleating board.  Then just gently pull the pleating board out.  


If you don’t use a pleating board, just create your pleats by hand & then iron them really well.  Next, put pins into the pleats in a few different places to hold the pleats in place for the next steps.  If you want to get some metal alligator clips for this process, they work really well too.


Next, create the channels for the elastic/cording.

9. Fold over the short edge of the mask about ¼” and press in place at the iron.

10. Fold over the short edge again about 1” and press in place at the iron.  You want to have a channel that’s about ½” to ¾” wide after sewing so it can fit your elastic or cording.


11. Pin this channel in place.  I like to put the mask under the presser foot & lower the presser foot and then CAREFULLY pull the pins out before I start sewing.  Then stitch close to where the edge of the folded over fabric meets the inner layer fabric so the channel is as wide as possible.  I like to do two rows of stitches to really hold the pleats down.  Make sure to do a backstitch at the end when you go back over your original stitches.


12. Repeat these steps for the other short side of the mask to make the other channel.

13. Take a safety pin onto the elastic or cording and then push it through the channels.  Tie a loose knot & try you mask on to adjust the length to fit comfortably.  Once you have the right lenght, you can hide the knot inside the channels if you like!  Trim the loose threads.

You’re done! 

These masks sew up so fast and have 3 layers of fabric for even better filtering.  Plus with the filter pocket, you can catch even more particles from the air.


I hope you have fun making masks of your own!  If you need a plastic-free kit to make your own mask, I’ve got some here.


I’d love to see a photo of your masks or hear about it!  Leave a comment below & tag your project on Instagram with #notracemaker!


Thanks for reading!


Liz at No Trace

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How to sew a plastic free scrunchie! (organic & plastic free!)

Scrunchies are back!  I love this trend because they’re easy to make AND easy on your hair.  No more tangled knots of hair on your hair ties!  And now that I haven’t had a haircut in months due to COVID, I’m loving my scrunchies more than ever to tame my locks.  


Sewing a scrunchie is an easy, beginner friendly project.  And if you’d like to make a 100% organic, plastic free scrunchie, I’ve got kits for sale HERE.  


Here’s what you’ll need to make your own organic cotton, plastic free scrunchies.



Organic cotton fabric in strips.

Strips should measure at least 3” wide and 18” long.  You can go wider – up to 6” wide.  The wider your strips of fabric, the fluffier your scrunchie.  And you can go longer – up to 24 or 25” long.  Any type of fabric will work.  If it has a stretch to it, great.  If the fabric doesn’t stretch, that works too!  This project is a great way to use up scraps of fabric.  Several strips of organic cotton fabric are included in a No Trace kit.


Organic cotton or cotton elastic

The organic cotton elastic in a No Trace kit measures 7.5” because it is a firmer elastic.  If you use a non-organic cotton elastic, it might be more stretchy and you may only need about 6.5” of elastic.  You can find organic cotton & cotton elastic on Etsy.


Safety pins 

Two, including one larger one if you have one.  These come in a No Trace kit.



You might want thread to match your fabric for one outside seam.  If you don’t have matching thread, no biggie!



I love my smaller scissors for trimming loose threads, but any scissors will do.


Straight pins

Sewing machine



Get your supplies & let’s get started!

Here’s how to make your plastic free scrunchies:


Step 1 – Iron one short edge of the fabric.

Fold one short edge of the fabric over about ¼” so that the wrong sides of the fabric are facing each other when you fold it.  Iron it in place.  

Step 2 – Pin the fabric lengthwise.

Fold the fabric lengthwise so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other.  Line up the edges with one another and pin all along the length of fabric.





Step 3 – Stitch the fabric lengthwise.

Sew a straight stitch along the edge that you just pinned in place about ¼” away from the raw edge of fabric.  Make sure to backstitch at the start & stop of the line of stitches to lock in the stitches.  You’ve now created a long tube of fabric.

Step 4 – Turn the tube right side out.

Pin one of your safety pins (a larger one, if you have one) to the unfolded opening of the tube.  Push the safety pin into the tube and all the way through the tube to turn the fabric right side out.









In order to do this, push the pin forward with one hand and then feel for it through the fabric with the other hand.  When you feel it, hold onto it and gently tug the bunched up fabric off the back end of the safety pin.  Continue to push the pin forward and tug the fabric off the back until your tube is completely right side out.  






Step 5 – Insert the elastic into the tube.

Use one safety pin (the smaller one) to pin one end of elastic to one end of your fabric tube.  Use the second safety pin (the larger one) to pin to the other end of elastic.

Push the second safety pin with elastic through the opening of the fabric tube – the same opening where you have one end of elastic pinned already.

Push the safety pin all the way through your fabric tube towards the other opening.  The fabric will start to bunch up on the elastic and will start to look like a scrunchie.


Step 6 – Sew the elastic together.

Unpin one end of the elastic from the fabric tube, being careful to hold onto the elastic.  Remove the safety pins from each end of elastic but keep the elastic in your fingertips – if you drop it, you have to thread it through again.  Bring the two ends of elastic together and overlap them about ½” to ¾”.  Put a straight pin into the area where they overlap.

Take it over to the machine and lower the presser foot down onto the overlapped area.  Then carefully pull the pin out, making sure the fabric stays overlapped.  


Set your machine to a zig zag stitch and stitch over the overlapped area a few times to hold it in place.  Trim loose threads.


Step 7 – Connect fabric ends.

Make sure that there aren’t any twists in your fabric.  You can tell it’s straight if you can follow the seam all the way around without a twist.

Take the raw end of the tube and carefully insert about ½” of it into the folded over edge of the tube.  Pin it in place.  Look carefully that there aren’t any raw edges showing and that the fabric is completely inserted on both sides of your scrunchie.

Take it to your machine, lower the presser foot, and then carefully remove the pin.

Step 8 – Sew the scrunchie closed.

Put your machine back on the straight stitch and stitch close to the edge of the fabric.  Make sure to backstitch at the start and stop.  You’ll sew over your elastic, which is fine.  Trim your loose threads and you’re all done!

This is such a fun and quick project to sew.  And scrunchies make awesome gifts – especially organic cotton ones!


I hope you have fun making your own organic cotton scrunchies.  And I’d love to see a pic of them!


Thanks for reading,



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