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
- & HAS A FILTER POCKET!
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:
- 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. (https://notraceshop.com/orgcotton/).
- 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.
- 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.
- Pins or clips
- 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 Terracycle.com (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.
- Scissors – small ones are handy if you have them.
- Safety pin – the bigger the better!
- Pencil or chopstick
- Optional: paperboard with pleats, alligator/salon hair clips
- Sewing machine
Got your supplies? Let’s go!
Steps to make a plastic-free face mask:
First prep the two pieces of fabric & then sew them together:
- 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.
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.
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