Introduction: DIY Cloth Face Mask (Simple, No Pleat Design)

This guide will teach you how to make a reusable two ply cloth mask with a pocket for extra filter material.


  • Sewing Apparatus
  • Fabric Material (Breathable cotton fabrics like denim & drill cotton are a good choice. Alternatively, you can use non woven polypropylene, which some reusable grocery/tote bags are made out of. This material is hydrophobic and may provide additional protection.)
  • Elastic Bands (You may substitute string or rubber bands if elastic bands are not available.)
  • Twist Tie (Optional, for the nose bridge)

Step 1: Sewing 101

Double Threading a Needle:

  • After threading your needle, pull the end of the thread through to match the other end of the thread and tie them together.
  • Each stitch you make will now have 2 threads running through it

Sewing a Backstitch:

  • This is a strong stitch that is easy to do.
  • Start the stitch by making a few stationary backstitches:
  • This involves putting a few stitches through the same position (around 5 times), looping them around to create a small mess of threads.
  • This locks the ends of the thread in place.
  • While looping the threads, create a knot (by passing the thread through the previous loop) somewhere in the middle to secure the stationary backstitch further.
  • Continue by stitching forward:
  • Thread the needle through the fabric to the other side [Hole 1]
  • Thread the needle back through the fabric to the original side around 5mm forward [Hole 2]
  • Bring the needle back to [Hole 1] and thread the needle through to the other side.
  • Thread the needle back through to the original side 5mm forward of [Hole 2] to make [Hole 3].
  • Bring the needle back to [Hole 2] and thread the needle through to the other side.
  • Thread the needle back through to the original side 5mm forward of [Hole 3] to make [Hole 4].
  • Continue this pattern of sewing till you reach the end of your stitch.
  • Make sure to pull the thread fully through and tension each stitch.
  • If the stitches wrinkle up, you are over tensioning the stitch.
  • Finish the stitch by making a few stationary backstitches as with the start of the stitch to secure the ends of the thread.

Sewing a Double Fold Hem:

  • The bare ends of a piece of fabric are prone to fraying – individuals threads pull out easily and the fabric begins to unravel.
  • .Hemming is a basic sewing operation that prevents fraying.
  • One of the most basic hems is a double fold hem.
  • The end of the cloth is folded in twice, this hides the end of the fabric inside the fold and protects it from damage.
  • The fold is then stitched to prevent it from coming apart.
  • Use small clips (e.g. paper clips) or pins to hold the fold in place before stitching.
  • Remove the clips/pins as it nears the needle of your sewing machine. Do NOT stitch over pins or clips. This will damage the needle.
  • You can also iron the folds so that they hold better. This will result in better work, but is not absolutely necessary.

Step 2: Making a DIY Cloth Mask (Introduction)

  • This is a very simple, no pleat cloth mask design that features straight cuts and stitches only.
  • There are 2 components to the mask: the main body and the pocket.
  • The main body is the front of the mask and will house the nose bridge and elastic straps.
  • The pocket of the mask is a smaller piece of fabric that is sewn onto the back of the main body. This will create a 2 ply mask with a pocket for additional filter material.
  • All measurements used here are in millimeters (mm).

Step 3: Sewing the Main Body

  • Sew a double fold hem (12mm) into the top and bottom of the main body.
  • Insert the metal strip (e.g. twist tie) for the nose bridge into the pocket formed by the top hem.
  • Sew a double fold hem into the left and right sides of the main body. This is where the elastic straps will go through.
  • Your sewing machine may have trouble stitching the left and right hems at the ends where they intersect with the top and bottom hems.
  • To fix this, sew the ends separately using your sewing machine’s buttonhole stitch function – the stitch that forms the top and the bottom of a buttonhole is perfect for securing the ends.

Step 4: Sewing the Pocket

  • Sew a double fold hem into the top of the pocket.
  • Align the pocket with the main body.
  • Tuck the sides in once and sew the pocket to the main body.
  • A double fold hem here is not necessary as the edge of the fabric is fairly protected by being inside the pocket.

Step 5: Threading the Elastic Strap

  • Choose between ear loops and straps that go around the back of your head (recommended)
  • Although ear loops are less conspicuous, they may turn out to be quite irritating after a while.
  • Having straps that go around the back of your head results in a mask with a tighter fit. The straps can be also adjusted if a particular area gets sore. This is recommended for long term wear.
  • For ear loops, cut two lengths of elastic band and thread them through the pockets formed by the double hems on the left and the right side and tie them off.
  • For straps that go around the back of your head, cut an elastic strap around 55cm long. Thread it through the top of the left hem, out the bottom of the left hem, through the bottom of the right hem and back up through the top of the right hem. Tie the ends of the elastic band off.
  • Use a metal wire with a loop on one end to get the elastic strap through the fold. If you don’t have metal wire at home, you can use a thin wooden stick or sacrifice one of your clothes hangers.

Step 6: Usage Instructions

  • Put the cloth mask on and ‘pull’ on the straps.
  • The left and right sides of the mask should ‘wrinkle’ up to form the ‘pleats’ you see in standard surgical masks.

Step 7: Printouts

For a pattern you can trace onto your cloth, print these images out on A4 paper at full size (full page photo).