Introduction: "Plague Doctor" Mask From Fabric Face Mask

In this Instructable (my first, so hello!), I'll be showing you how to convert a normal fabric face mask into a more stylish - well, more creepy and more suitable for Halloween - mask in the style of the old, beaked plague doctor masks. It only took me a few hours to make this mask, and that includes the time I spent taking pictures and figuring out the pattern as I went. Let's get started!


I wanted to make this mask without having to go out and buy more supplies, so I used items that were easy to find in my house. To make this mask, you will need...

  • A face mask (like the kind you wear for protection from COVID-19) that fits you. I used the type that's two curved pieces of fabric sewn together so that it fits around your face when unfolded. Pleated masks might work, but it would be harder to place and arrange the wires of the beak. The face mask anchors the wire of the beak to your face (and helps protect against the spread of COVID-19 like it would without the beak attachment).
  • Wire. The only wire I had around was thin beading wire, so I twisted several strands of it together to improve its strength. The wire will provide the shape of your beak and make it more durable. You'll only need a couple yards of it, but the exact amount will vary with how big you want your beak to be.
  • Swim goggles, straps adjusted to fit you. The only kind I had available were had clear lenses, but I think mirrored or tinted goggles might give a neat effect.
  • Fabric. I used cotton fabric in a navy color, since that was what I had available. Black or leathery fabric would look neat, but avoid using too many layers or too thick of a fabric, since you already will have the protection (and stifling feeling) of your face mask. You'll only use a couple square feet of fabric.
  • Miscellaneous tools. You'll need scissors, wire cutters, a needle and thread for hand-sewing and, optionally, a sewing machine. (Note that it will be very difficult to attach the goggles to the mask via sewing machine, so I recommend hand-sewing at least part of it.

Step 1: Form the Beak

Alright, we'll start by shaping the beak with the wire and face mask. To begin, poke small holes on each corner of the mask and in the top and bottom of the center (see the red dots on the first picture). These will be how you attach the wire to the beak. Make the holes a small distance away from the seams to avoid damaging the mask more than necessary.

Next, you should cut 6 strips of wire, one for each hole and each slightly longer than you want the beak to be. I made mine about a foot long. This step isn't pictured.

After cutting the wires, you should bend the last half-inch of each wire at a 90 degree angle, so that it's in a sort of "L" shape. Then, thread the wire through the holes (starting from the inside side of the mask) until it reaches the bent part. The bend should get stuck on the edge of the hole and prevent the wire from sliding all the way through the mask. Look at the second picture to see how this should look.

Then, bend the top three wires into the same curved shape, and twist the ends together. If you do this while the mask is folded along its center, you can ensure that the curve is as uniform as possible between the wires. The curvature you make here determines the final shape of your beak.

With the mask still folded, curve and twist the bottom wires onto the top ones. If the beak curves down, you'll have more leftover wire to twist in or cut off. Finally, unfold the mask, try it on, and adjust the beak's curvature until you're happy with it.

Step 2: Add the Beak Covering

Begin by tracing the profile of the mask and beak (while both are folded again) with a wide margin; I recommend about an inch on all sides. This margin will let the beak be a bit more three-dimensional than it otherwise would.

Next, cut out two copies of the tracing from your fabric. Pin the edges, then slide the mask inside to ensure it fits and figure out where to sew (only along the wire part of the beak, not along the fabric of the mask itself). You may want to add another panel on the underside of the beak, but I found that my oversized fabric cutting let the beak be three-dimensional without that.

Then, sew, but only along the wire part of the beak. Anywhere where the wire overlaps with the fabric of the mask itself should not be sewn. I sewed along the red line in the picture. Once finished, flip the piece inside out and slide the mask/beak inside.

Finally, pin the raw edges of the fabric (the unsewn part) along the mask's sides, and sew to secure the fabric onto the mask. You'll want to cover the wires with the fabric. Be sure to leave the mask's straps exposed. I recommend sewing this part by hand to give you more control.

The beak is complete! Take a moment to admire your work before proceeding.

Step 3: Prepare the Goggles

To start, trace the eye holes of the goggles and draw a rectangle that's at least an inch from all sides of them. Cut out the rectangle and eye holes from paper and fabric. You only need one piece of fabric with them.

Then, slip the fabric over rubber eye cushions of the goggles (the part that suctions to your eyes when you were them for swimming) from behind. If you look at the front of the goggles at this point, the nose band will be in front of the fabric. This is fine; we'll cover it later. Sew through the rubber eye cushions and the fabric to connect them together. (It's easiest to do this sewing by hand.)

Once the rectangle is secured, cut three new strips of fabric, approximately 2 by 5 inches each. Sew along the edges so that no raw edges of the fabric is exposed. Then, pin the fabric above and below the eye sockets, in front of the nose of the goggles (in the middle) and over the edges of the goggles. Sew across horizontally to secure the fabric in place.

Step 4: Connect the Parts

You're almost done! Now all you need to do is connect the beak to the fabric around the goggles. Start by pinning and sewing the bottom of the goggles fabric onto the top of the beak. Make sure the goggles are oriented correctly - you don't want to wear them upside-down!

Now, all that's left is clean-up. The fabric above the goggles should be folded in and sewn so that it isn't a rough edge. Don't fold it in too far - you still want to have a fabric border around the goggles, after all. Trim the excess threads and admire your work!

Thanks for reading/making this Instructable! I hope you enjoyed it. Since this is my first one, I'd really appreciate any feedback and/or constructive criticism.

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