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Sew a Medical Protection Mask


Adjustable side face mask

I am working with my local hospital network that serves the 800,000 people living in my valley and beyond to galvanize the sewing community to make cloth face masks that they plan to use to cover their limited supply of N95 masks. I am in contact with the director of supply chain to drop “loads” of these with her in the coming weeks and I need the help of my local community sewers…but frankly…anyone can send them to me. Additional drop sites will be added as I get them.

This is the specific pattern requested by my hospital, and chosen by the Director of Infectious Disease Control. They want the adjustable sides, because it can be made to fit all size faces with fewer gaps. The pattern is for either 1/4″ elastic or long 40″ fabric ties, so the only real supply you need is good quality, freshly washed, tightly woven 100% cotton fabric and a big heart. Update: the hospital network is approving several other mask patterns. I will provide links to these other patterns at the bottom of this post and continue to edit it as this effort gets more organized.

Yes. I definitely made octopus masks

There are lots of face mask patterns out there and a lot of awesome people making them. A word of caution however before any well meaning sewer starts these.

  1. Do not make them until you know where they are going and what is specifically needed.
  2. Do not overwhelm your local health centers with each person with a sewing machine calling them. I assure you, they have MUCH better ways to use their time. Instead, call your local quilt or sewing guild. They likely have a point person already. One email from the single community service chairperson is all that is necessary. Alternatively look up the “volunteer coordinator” for your health system.
  3. If you do not have a way to help locally but still want to make masks, then you are welcome to send them to me, as long as you are using my pattern. My area is in the next major metropolitan ring outside of the NYC area. The anticipated need will be high here. My hospital wants the network to start rationing the limited N95 masks by covering them with fabric masks, effective immediately .

EDIT: TIP!! Several makers have had trouble using a safety pin with the pleats. Instead, they are threading the tie through the holes, pinning it out of the way, THEN pleating and adding casing seams, making sure the tie can still “slither” in the casing before the tack stitch.

Here are the written directions:

N95 Mask Cover with Casing Edge

It is critical you follow these directions for the fabric masks prior to creation.
  1. You must not be sick in any way.
  2. Freshly wash you tightly woven high quality fabric in how water and iron dry on hot.
  3. Wash you hands.
  4. Sanitize your work space including your cutting board, rotary cutter, machine bed, etc.
  5. Wash your hands again.
  6. Immediately store a finished mask in a zip lock bag.  All the masks you make can go into one bag, however wash your hands regularly while you sew.
This mask is slightly harder than some designs you may have seen on line.  It uses a casing on the side so that the mask will gather around the ties,
which allows the wearer to cinch it closed for a closer fit around their face.  It is only harder, in that threading the final tie is a hassle.  It is not difficult to create.
Read through the directions first.  You will find, if you are making your own ties, it is best to work from full width of fabric pieces  of yardage. You can fold yardage in half, cut four (4) ties and two (2) masks from every 15" of fabric length.
  1. Cut one piece of fabric 7.5" x 19"
  2. Fold in half, right sides together along short side, then seam with 1/2' seam allowance along the short edge.
  3. Rotate the created tube until the seam is in the center, and press seam open.
  4. Remember, we are making a casing with open ends on both sides of the mask.  Seam the long sides of the mask closed starting and topping with a back stitch 5/8" from each side on one edge.  On the second long edge.  ALSO LEAVE A 2" GAP with back stitching so the mask can be turned right side out.
  5. Turn the mask right side out using the 2" gap and poke corners into square.  Press neatly flat.
  6. Create two (2) 1/2" pleats.  These pleats face away from each other and away from the center.  The center part of the mask will the highest ridge.  Pin the pleats into place and press firmly with steam.
  7. The final step is stay stitching AND creating the casing in one step.  On the top and bottom, stay stitch 1/4" from each edge.  On the short two sides, stay stitch 5/8" from edge.  You are finished.  Now decide on the ties.


Creating the ties for the mask

  1. IF YOU HAVE IT...cut two (2) 10" pieces if 1/4" elastic.  Using a safety pin or bodkin, thread the elastic through the casing.  This will require some fussing to straighten out the pleat, and more fussing to get it out of the open end.  Tie the elastic in
  2. a simple knot (do not over tighten) and rotate the knot into the casing.  This way, a medical professional can adjust the elastic to the face.
  3. Alternately, use two (2) 40-45" pieces of twill tape, OR make turned ties out of fabric.

Do not use ribbon, or any satin-finish product as satin comes undone easily.

To make turned ties.  40" or width of fabric long.

There are many methods to make a turned tie.  Use any your are comfortable with.  Examples include:

  1. Double fold bias tape, stitched closed.
  2. Hand made double fold tape with strips that start 1.75" wide and are stitched closed.
  3. Fold long strips of 40" x 1.5" fabric sides together and sew with a 1/4" seam.  Turn them right sides out with any turning tool, or even the old safety pin method.


If your mask has fabric ties, tack stitch the tie into the center of the casing so it cannot accidentally fall out when tied.  Our medical professionals will not be able to fix a mask that comes apart.  Video available:


EDIT: TIP!! Several makers have had trouble using a safety pin with the pleats. Instead, they are threading the tie through the holes, pinning it out of the way, THEN pleating and adding casing seams, making sure the tie can still “slither” in the casing before the tack stitch.
So…Hopefully all my quilt friends are staying healthy with their families all around them, safely. For those of you on the front lines, thank you.
As drop off locations are organized, I will add the addresses here. Many valley churches will begin to offer them, but need a few days to get things up and running.

EDIT: A drop off location for the Lehigh Valley, PA has been created 9am-3pm M-F at 2024 Lehigh St, Allentown, Pa

In the mean time, If you want or feel the need to make masks but don’t have a place to send them, and want to donate to my community, please send masks made with these instructions (or the new links at bottom of post with additional acceptable styles) to:

White Arbor Quilting, attn: Masks, 5515 Sequoia Trail, Allentown Pa 18104

Be safe everyone!
these are additional tutorials of mask designs accepted by Infection Control at LVHN:

And here is the official CDC wording. They note adjustable fit is key to success. As such, I personally feel the mask pattern given originally is the best universal option.

Here is information specific to Lehigh Valley residents about additional donations you can make to LVHN:

  St. Luke's Donation Form Link


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