Introduction: N95-Style Fabric Face Mask

About: Medical massage therapist, feminist scholar, hack seamstress.

This design has a pocket for filter material such as sanitary napkins, absorbent fabric like Zorb with Silvadur, air conditioner filters, or even paper towels.

I made this pattern because I wasn't happy with the others online. I sewed several styles of fabric masks, but none of them stayed in place. The one with pleats and fabric ties slipped down unless I wore a high pony tail and it also got annoying because one of the pleats kept going in my mouth like a Muppet. So I designed this one with gathers rather than pleats and a pocket on the bottom so there would be a smoother surface against my face. The side loop design creates a sling for the elastic and because the elastic is made for hair, it's comfortable, non-slip, and stays in place.

Disclaimer: This fabric mask has not been tested and is not guaranteed to protect against Covid-19. Because of the shortage of PPE, fabric masks are better than nothing.


What you will need:

  1. 100% cotton* percale bedsheet or similar material (crisp cotton works best)
  2. 1 elastic headband (no-slip grip)
  3. 1 overnight extra heavy maxi pad

* "While not much is known about how this particular virus interacts with clothing and fabric, “coronaviruses in general last a lot longer on a solid, nonporous surface compared to porous fabrics,” Juan Dumois, a pediatric infectious-diseases physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., told MarketWatch. He suggested they would survive better on “artificial fibers” such as polyester than on cotton."

Step 1: Cut 5 Rectangles of Fabric


A - 2 pieces 8" x 9"

B - 2 pieces 3" x 4"

C - 1 piece 1.5" x 17"

Child or Small Adult

A - 2 pieces 7" x 8"

B - 2 pieces 3" x 3.5"

C - 1 piece 1.5" x 16"

Step 2: Sew Main Face Mask; Hem Bottom

  1. Place both A pieces right sides together and stitch 1/4" seam allowance along one of the shorter sides. This will be the top border of the mask. If you are using fabric with a directional pattern, make sure the fabric is upright.
  2. Open and press seam.
  3. Turn up 1/2" bottom hem and press in place. Stitch the bottom hem down.
  4. Fold wrong sides together and press the top border of the mask.

Step 3: Baste Tracks

  1. Along each side edge, sew parallel baste tracks 1/4" and 1/2" from the edge. Start your stitching from the top border seam. Use a locking stitch or backstitch to secure the upper basting threads. You're gonna be gathering only from the bottom hem, pushing the fabric up, so you want the threads on top to stay put.
  2. Canine assistant optional. Follow @saverio_aussiedoodle on IG.

Step 4: Make Chin Darts

  1. Mark 2" from the edge along the bottom border for the chin darts.
  2. Fold right sides together along the marks you made on the bottom border.
  3. Stitch about 1/2" or so, staying very close to the edge. You want to make a little tuck, not a big dart.

Step 5: Make the End Caps

  1. Fold one B piece lengthwise, right sides together. Press in place.
  2. Turn up 1/4" hem on both sides. Press in place.
  3. Stitch the sides together. Trim the excess fabric at the seam.
  4. Turn inside out and press.
  5. Repeat with other B piece.

Step 6: Gathering

  1. With wrong sides together topstitch along the upper mask border.
  2. This is the fun part. Along each side track, pull the two top threads and gather the fabric towards the top border. The gathered side needs to fit into the end caps, so scrunch accordingly.

Step 7: Attach End Caps

  1. Fiddle with the gathers so that the bottom seams line up and the gathers are evenly distributed. Pin the end cap in place (make sure the underside is lined up too).
  2. Topstitch 1/4" and 1/8" from the opening.

Step 8: Make the Tie

This will be the top border trim of the mask and form the side loops to hold the elastic headband.

  1. Fold C piece lengthwise wrong sides together. Press in place.
  2. Open and fold each side once towards the mid-line. Fold together and press in place.
  3. Stitch along the entire length.

Step 9: Attach Top Border and Loops

  1. Line up the center point of the tie and the center of the top border of the mask, pin in place.
  2. Topstitch the tie along the top border. When you get to the end caps, stitch a rectangle to secure it firmly.
  3. Loop the elastic band through the side tie and sew the end of the tie to the bottom border of the mask, stitching a rectangle to secure it firmly to the end cap. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Voila! You can wear the mask as is or fill it with filter material.

Step 10: Adding Maxi Pad Filter

  1. Cut the wings off of the maxi pad, being careful not to cut too close to the pad (it will open and make a mess). Cut the pad in half.
  2. Attach the pads to the inside of the outer surface of the mask with the adhesive away from your face. For a child-size mask, use only half of a pad.

Step 11: Other Filter Material

Other suggested filter materials include Zorb antimicrobial fabric with Silvadur or H13 air conditioner filter stripped of its casing and metal weave layer.