Introduction: Adjustable Medical Mask With Insert for Non-woven Filter

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, medical staff and hospice have been asking citizens to sew masks for them. Ideally, the mask will have a nose "pinch" of metal, offer the ability to change a non-woven filter, and adjust to fit multiple face sizes. This instructable is a combination of mulitple patterns to achieve that goal.

With about seven hours of watching videos and reviewing patterns, plus four prototypes, this is the final product.

There are a couple tricky seams with this pattern, but with sewing machine and patience, anyone can do it.

Thanks for visiting my instructable, and may you be safe and well.



Sewing machine
1 sheet 8 1/4" x 7 7/8" sheet of paper (cut A4 or 8.5x11 to this size)
Four 6" segments of narrow elastic
1/4 yard (preferrably 100% cotton) cotton or cotton blend woven fabric
(1) 3" pipecleaner segment (also known as chenille stem)
Narrow felt tip pen

Step 1: Cut Out Pattern and Two Pieces of Fabric. Pin.

Using either an A4 or Letter size paper, trim to 8 1/4" x 7 7/8".

If your fabric has a horizontal pattern, lay the longer side of the pattern with grain of the fabric. The longer side goes across the face, so we want the pattern to be parallel to the eyes when we're done.

Use the felt tip pen to draw a line around the pattern onto the fabric. You can lay one edge of the pattern against a selvage, but again, be sure the horizontal lays the right direction.

After you've drawn the lines, cut the fabric.

Lay cut pieces, right sides together (the pretty side side), with top edges touching, lengthwise. The 8¼" edge is the top edge -- pin a few pieces together along the top edge (see first picture in next step).

Step 2: Press Under 1/2" Along the Bottom Edge.

Pin a few pins across the top edge of your cut out pattern (along one of the the 8¼" edges).

On the bottom edge of one layer of fabric, iron a ½” fold to make a hem. Fold the edge away from you so that the right side of the fabric starts to show (first picture).

Open out the folded edge, and fold it inside again in half, so that the edge now is folded twice (picture 2). Now you have a nice clean folded edge with no selvage showing.

TIP: If you are making several masks at one time, press the first fold on a mask and set it aside to cool while starting the next one. This will prevent your thumbs from getting burned trying to turn the hot first fold inside to make the second fold.

Step 3: Sew the Hem of Both Pieces Individually

At the sewing machine, start at the end of one of your folded edges. Sew all the way across.

TIP1: Thread can bundle up at the start of your hem. To prevent this, start with the presser foot about 1/2 inch down from the top.

TIP2: A dull needle can cause skips, snags and some thread bungles. Consider replacing your needle if you start getting these issues.

Step 4: Sew Top Edge, Starting at 1/2" From the Side

Starting at the top left corner, place the zipper foot ½” from the edge and start sewing towards the right corner. Stop when you reach ½” from the right corner.

Step 5: Press Top Seam

Turn the seam inside out and press. I recommend pressing the whole seam to one side, then when you turn it right side out again, it's easier to press the seam flat from the outside.

Turn the seam right side out again and press till the seam is flat.

Step 6: Position, Pin and Sew Pipecleaner Nose Segment

Lift the fabric to expose the top seam on the underside, and place the pipe cleaner piece in the center.

Pin along both sides of the pipe cleaner, and also parallel to it, making a “u” shape.

Taking care not to let the pipecleaner shift, start sewing along one of the sides of the piece. When you get to the long edge of the pipecleaner, lift the zipper foot, turn it parallel to the long edge of the pipecleaner, sew, and repeat when you get to the last edge. See last picture on this step for final result.

Turn everything outside in again.

Step 7: Cut, Place and Sew Elastic Strips.

Cut four pieces of 6" elastic.

Lay one elastic piece on the inside at a diagonal, starting with the top left corner and heading the other end toward the bottom right corner. Pin the top left corner, catching the elastic. Repeat on the other side; from top right to bottom left. Pin.

Lay one elastic piece on the inside at a diagonal, starting with the bottom left corner, the other end headed towards the top right corner. Pin the bottom right corner, catching the elastic. Repeat on the bottom right corner, with the other end of the elastic headed towards the top left corner. Pin.

Before you sew, make sure none of the ends of the straps are hanging outside the mask. They should all be tucked away from side seams so that they won't get caught.

Sew one side seam, starting at the top of the mask, ½” from the side edge and ¼" from the top. Your seam should meet the seam that runs across the top and be sure to sew over and back up again where the elastic is sandwiched between the layers of fabric. Repeat on the other side.

Step 8: Measure, Pin, and Sew Pleats

Turn the mask inside out again. You can use the elastic strips to slightly pull the corners till they are almost square.

Press the mask so that the seams lay flat.

Fold and pin pleats:

  1. Lay the mask in front of you with the top closer to you. Fold back the top 2" (2nd picture).
  2. Now one one side, fold the first fold back 1/2" (3rd picture). Pin. (4th picture) Repeat on the other side.
  3. Fold under another 1/2" (picture 5). On one side, fold back another 1/2". Pin (picture 6). Repeat on other side (picture 7).
  4. Repeat step 2-3 again (picture 8)

Sew pleats (please read whole section before starting):

  1. Starting at the very bottom front of the mask, sew 1/4" from the right edge (picture 9). Go slowly and give the machine a little extra help as it goes over each pleat. Pull pins out just before the needle runs over it.
  2. When you reach the top seam of the mask (picture 10), lift and turn presser foot so it is in line with the pipe cleaner seam. Sew across top, going directly over the pipe cleaner seam.
  3. When you reach left side of the mask (picture 11), stop 1/4" away from edge and turn presser foot to head towards bottom of mask. Sew all the way to the bottom of mask. (picture 12) Trim threads.

Step 9: Finish.

Trim any loose threads and give the mask one more press. Tie elastics together gently so that the receiver can easily untie and re-tie to fit their face. The bottom opens to allow a non-woven fabric to be inserted (such as sewing interfacing, which is a melted compound rather than threads that are woven together). Non-woven fabric is a better barrier for droplets and other debris. While this mask is not an N95 grade, it provides the owner the option to tie this OVER another mask and/or insert their own type filter.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and thanks in advance, if you make these masks for medical professionals.

Blessings - Gina