Introduction: Fast and Easy Single-seam Pattern for Two-layer Cloth Mask With Ties and Opening for Additional Filter

In trying to supply masks for hospitals and nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, speed is of the essence. This pattern can make a lot of masks very quickly, with practically no measuring, cutting, or even sewing. Most of the sewing is replaced with ironing, which can be done more quickly and separated into different steps for batch processing.


Cotton or cotton blend tightly woven fabric, 44-45" wide

Standard or sewing ruler

Sharp scissors

Iron and ironing board

Sewing machine and thread

Step 1: Lay Out Fabric

Lay out fabric so that the width extends in the same direction as your arm. Here's my bright batik fabric laid out on the floor, with the width extending vertically. It is folded in half so it doesn't look like 44". Folded or unfolded does not matter for this step.

Step 2: Rip a Straight Edge

One of the great things about cotton and cotton blends is that they rip straight. Cut into the fabric about an inch from the edge. With one hand on the small strip and the other on the main piece of fabric, tear the strip from the fabric. The result should be a strip of fabric 1" wide and about 44" long, and a straight edge of fabric to work from. Discard the small strip. This step only needs to be done once; after you've straightened up the edge of your fabric, all the subsequent rips should also give a straight edge, so you can just use up the rest of that fabric for masks without repeating this step.

Step 3: Rip the Ties

Cut into the fabric about 1" deep at 1.5" from the straight edge. Rip that strip. Repeat. These long, thin strips will be the two ties of the mask.

Step 4: Rip the Mask Body

Make another 1" deep cut 9" from the straight edge and rip it. This piece will be the main body of the mask. It is enough for 3 masks, so fold it into thirds, cut 1" into the two folds, and rip for three equal pieces of 9" wide and about 15" tall.

Step 5: Iron the Ties

Lay out one of the tie strips lengthwise, wrong-side up, along the ironing board and spray with water. Fold the top down into the center and iron, all the way along the length of the tie. Now fold the bottom up into the center and iron along the length of the tie. Then fold the top down to the bottom. Now both of the raw edges are tucked into the center of a skinny tie. Spray again, and iron. Fold the tie in half lengthwise and press just the top inch. This crease labels the middle of the tie for later use. Repeat with the second tie.

Step 6: "Hem" the Mask Body

Lay the 9” piece wrong-side up on the ironing board. Spray with water and iron. Fold the edge of one short side in about 1/4” and iron. Repeat on opposite side.

Fold the edge of one long side over about 1⁄2” and iron. Repeat on opposite side. Now there are no rough edges on the outside of the mask body.

Step 7: Fold the Mask to Make the Pocket

Fold the short sides in together so that one overlaps the other slightly. Tug a bit or refold until the folded panel measures about 7” wide. Iron.

Step 8: Pin the Pleats

Pin pleats along what was previously the long side. Make a small fold, hold it in your fingers, and pin it. Pin 3 pleats, trying not to make a pleat at the area that the edges of the panels overlap. Repeat pleat pins on the other side. (If you're new to pleats, it helps me to pull a fold that runs evenly from the bottom-most pin to the other side, and pin that pleat so they are even on both sides. Repeat with the other two pleats.)

Step 9: Pin the Ties to the Mask Body

Take the middle of the tie and place it in the middle of the top edge of the mask, above and parallel to the lines of the pleats, with the folded edge of the tie on top. Pin the tie at the middle and on both edges. Repeat on the other edge of the mask.

Step 10: Sew the Mask

Backstitch briefly and start the seam in the middle of a long edge, removing pins as you go. Sew slowly over the pleats, gently tugging them if they not at full length. Once you finish one full circle of the mask, don’t lift the needle. Sew around it again! Backstitch to seal. Cut loose threads.

Step 11: Knot the Ends of the Ties

Loop the tie gently around your finger and tie a knot near the end of each tie. This step keeps the tie closed so that it won't come apart from the insides or the ends.

Step 12: Great Job! Now Make More and More and More...

All done! Next time, do a lot of ripping, and then a lot of ironing, and spend only a few minutes at the sewing machine to complete a batch of masks. Or a willing assistant help you to complete the steps simultaneously!