The Richardson Cloth Face Covering




Introduction: The Richardson Cloth Face Covering

"For this pandemic, and the next" The Richardson Cloth Face Covering combines current recommendations with research of historical precedents. Expedient to manufacture, and conscientious of material use and availability, it also offers a near universal fit and excellent comfort.

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This pattern uses only one piece of cloth+ties, involves minimal ironing, and includes an optional stiffener to contour the mask over the bridge of your nose.

This pattern covers the body of the mask, and shows my method of making ties, but any suitable material can be substituted including elastic ear loops if you prefer that style.

These instructions assume a basic understanding of sewing machine operation and best practices including but not limited to.

-Back tacking the start and end of each seam

-Trimming thread tails as you go along

-Ensuring that your machine is set properly for the stitch and type of material you are using


-Cotton cloth, quilting weight. Please use patterns, not solids, to differentiate your masks from medical supplies

-The phoElastic, shoelaces, ribbon, string, extra cloth or any other suitable material to use for the ties

-Measuring tool (tape measure, yardstick, ruler)


-Sewing machine with thread (zig-zag stitch is helpful, but the whole project can be complete with straight stitch)

-Iron (project can be done without it, but it is helpful)


- 16 gauge copper or brass wire, a few bread ties, a few layers of pipe cleaner, or any comparable material

-Wire cutters

-Needlenose pliers

Step 1: Cut Cloth for Mask Body

Cut a rectangle of your cloth, 13 inches by 10 inches.

I found it helpful to create a template from cardboard when making multiple masks.

Step 2: Fold and Sew Mask Body

Fold the cloth, right sides together, hotdog style (short edges matched up). Sew together along matched edges with a 1/4 inch seam allowance to create a tube 10 inches long with open ends of approximately 6 1/4.

Step 3: ​Turn Mask Body and Press Seam

Turn the tube that you just created right-side out.

Our goal is to press the seam we just stitched flat at one edge.

I find it helpful to lay the tube flat with the seam in the middle to press it, and then roll it to the edge and press again to end up as shown in the second image.

Step 4: OPTIONAL: Make Nose Stiffener

Cut a piece of wire or other material 4 1/2 inches long

Bend 1/8 of an inch of each end past 90 degrees (image 1)

Press this tail against the body of the wire to create a rounded edge, do not let the tail move to the side of the wire.

The curled ends should be in line with each other and both lay flat on the table as shown.

Step 5: OPTIONAL: Mark Center on Each Mask and Insert Stiffener

(IF YOU HAVE PINS) Fold each mask body in half perpendicular to the seam, and use a pin to mark the center. This helps to position each stiffener. If you do not have pins, you can measure or just estimate the center.

Slide the stiffener in on one side of the seam allowance as shown. This establishes the front face of the mask as well as uses the seam allowance material to put three layers of cloth between the wire and the wearers face.

Step 6: OPTIONAL: Sew Stiffener in Place

Using your sewing machine, stitch through all layers of the mask around three sides of the stiffener as shown.

A zipper foot could be helpful here but I did not find it necessary.

Step 7: Establish Pleats

From this point on, the 2 layers of the mask are treated as one.

The size and placement of the pleats is flexible and can be used to alter the fit of the mask, but what I have found yields a good "one size fits all" is as follows:

Starting 1 and 1/4 inch from the top edge, create your first 1/2 inch pleat, lapping downwards and press with an iron (this could be done without, but the iron is hard to avoid for this step)

Your second pleat should start right from your first, lapping downwards approximately another 1/2 inch.

More pleats could be made, but I have found that leaving a long-ish span at the top and using two larger pleats results in a great fit and seems to be reinforced by the designs of cloth masks used before the advent of disposables.

Step 8: Fix Pleats and Bind Edges

Using a 5mmx2mm zig-zag stitch (or straight if you machine doesn't zig-zag), stitch along each short edge to fix the pleats and protect it from fraying.

After stitching, trim loose threads from each end parallel to your stitching without compromising your seam.

Step 9: Roll Edges to Create Casing for Ties

Roll each edge over towards the front of the mask, first just past your zig-zag (approx 1/8 in), and again about 1/2 inch to create the casing through which the ties with go.

Sew through all layers approximately 1/16 from the folded edge as shown in image 2-3

It can be helpful to pin or iron these folds, but I find that with a little practice it is much faster to fold it and stitch, using the machine to hold it down as you go as shown in image 3.

Step 10: Mask Body Complete!

At this point, your mask is complete, simply thread your ties through the casings and it is ready to wear.

Image 2 shows how to use a wire with a loop on the end to thread the ties through the casings, a pencil or chopstick can also be used to fish them through.

The next step offers some options for creating ties.

Step 11: Creating Ties

You can use any suitable material for the ties. I find that a length of approximately 36 inches works well, though slightly shorter is OK.

One option to create ties from your fabric is to cut and iron binding strips and then stitch them flat as shown here:

My preferred method is to cut 2 inch strips. I fold them in half right sides together, and sew them along the length with a 1/16 seam allowance. I then use a tube turner to turn them right side out.

My turning tool is shown in image 3, here is an example of a commercial version and how it works:

I finish the ends by folding them over twice and stitching across them.

Step 12: Finish

Your mask is complete! Center each tie and carefully bend the stiffener to fit the profile of your nose.

Please research and be aware of the limitations and correct use of cloth face coverings for disease prevention. The CDC has guidelines for their use available here:

My website can be visited here:

Thank you for reading my instructable.

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    2 years ago on Step 11

    Ok, here is to being nice, because you have done well. I loved the way you did this your instructions seems as though you are talking directly to your students. Good job! Will try to make some tomorrow on my day off.


    Question 2 years ago on Introduction

    I am looking at making a mask to wear when mowing my lawn to help with alergies. Is there a modification or different material that I could use with this pattern? It would be nice to custom fit it to my size head, chin, bridge of nose, etc.


    Answer 2 years ago

    Being a cloth mask, intended to limit the spread of respiratory viruses, I no not know how much this mask would do to prevent allergies. This mask (and all cloth masks) do not so much filter air as they provide a physical barrier for large particles and droplets, and do more to protect others than they do the wearer. The best tool for allergy prevention would likely be an n95 mask or reusable respirator which are unfortunately not available right now due to the covid-19 pandemic.

    That being said, if your alergies are helped by tying a bandanna over your face, this provides a similar level of protection while fitting better and being less cumbersome to manage.

    The fit however is fairly universal, the wire in the nose bridge allows that part to be shaped to fit your face, and the ties along with the sliding casings allow the mask to flex and be tightened to form a good fit for anyone. Depending on the size of your face, there may be extra material below the chin that you could take in with a dart or two, but as long as the material above it is in contact with your cheek/jaw I don't think the extra is of any negative impact to the function of the mask.


    2 years ago

    Really well explained!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you!