Plague Doctor Mask




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So after looking around online I decided I didn't quite like any of the plague doctor masks that I was seeing as far as tutorials, it all seemed like a lot of extra work for something that never turned out very clean.I decided to throw caution to the wind and just take elements of masks I've seen that I liked for inspiration and try and make one up on my own. I decided on a base of crafting foam, I've yet to see one made out of it which surprised me (maybe I wasn't looking in the right places) but it bends nicely and still has a firmness to it.  So here's what I did if anyone is interested:

You'll need:
Crafting Foam sheet (x2, one for the mask and one for the straps for the back)
clear colored plastic binder divider
fabric of your choice (thinner/lighter the better, you'll be hand-stitching a lot)
wire gauge, stiff enough to hold a shape on it's own and not instantly bend
black paint (forgot to picture, i used acrylic)
hot glue gun and sticks
needles of your choice (need to be durable and go through a lot)
any decor embellishments
paper and pen (to make the template)
something round to make the circles for the eyes and something straight to draw the lines


Step 1: Make a Template

using sheets of paper determine the size and shape you want your mask to have. The key elements are the left/right side panels, the bottom left/right panels, and the top panel (later you'll make the eye cutouts and head straps).

(attached are the scans of mine, the right panel is the same as the left, just face the flip side up and then they are symmetrical *also sorry for the poor lines, my scanner did not like me but I tried my best* originally cut out of computer paper so when I scanned it in I kept the same dimensions)

Step 2: Test Your Template

using tape try and test the shape, make sure it fits yourself or whoever will be using it comfortably

Step 3: Cut Out Your Foam

I was able to fit all of the template pieces (including eye cutouts, excluding straps) on one sheet. It goes a long way. (12x18 inch sheet)

Step 4: Fabric

Lay the foam onto the fabric, and outline in marker with an additional ~half inch margin around the pieces (enough to fold over). Cut out the fabric and fold over/hot glue the interior so the edges are also covered

Step 5: Assembling

Here you have two choices, you can dive into stitching or glue first. Gluing will make stitching a bit harder in the long run, but you get the reassurance everything fits in the right places. I personally glued first as this was my prototype but in the future if I make another I'm going to dive into stitching.

Step 6: Stitch the Seams

Start hand stitching! It's time consuming and depending on how much foam/hot glue/fabric is layered certain areas will be harder than others, but it's all doable (some will require a nice sturdy book to press the needle against to get it to go through all the layers), and some will cut through like it's just a cheese clothe. Focus on connecting pieces, the beak and the top. This is the connection time.

Step 7: Eyes!

For the eyes now we get to repeat the process! Take something round, (I used a roll of tape but it was too large and I cut it so much I really don't know what to recommend as far as the round size ratio but I threw in the final measurements for you if your going by my size choice), cut out the foam. Once you do that do the same with the fabric with the margins. When gluing the foam to fabric, it may help to cut little vertical slits (edge of fabric into the foam) in the fabric so it's easier to fold and glue.

Once the fabric is glued on, stitch the interior of the circle edge.

cut the plastic divider and hot glue to the interior

Then (if you want to glue first you can, I did, and) stitch the exterior of the circle onto the mask.

Step 8: Side Stitch and Hot Glue

Stitch the sides/edges of the entire piece, and cut/hot glue the wire (I did two circles of support) inside the beak

Step 9: Paint

My stitches weren't as dark as I'd like, so I took some black paint and darkened the area of the stitches to make them more apparent.

Step 10: Create a Strap and Embellish

A made two rectangles out of foam, did the fabric stitch paint process, and then did the same with the strap (I made it a one size strap). Attached it to the mask and added the embellishments (three metal studs on each side)

Step 11: And Done!

And we're done! Take photos and do with as you'd like!
(the interior I never cleaned up, no one but me will see the inside so I stopped there, but if you'd like to clean up the inside I'd just change the fabric to double over on the inside or create a cutout panel and glue it on).

Overall, ~7 hours, but I think next time now that I'm not making it up as I go I imagine ~5 hrs

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62 Discussions


Question 10 months ago

Personally, I found this very helpful. I did have some problems that I had to work around because I didn't know the exact measurements therefore,problems. I'm the end I made a crude paper mask that I intend to turn into something a little more sturdy. Still wearable. I was wanting to cosplay SCP-049. I guess my question is about the exact measurements.Also about the top piece. I couldn't figure out how to make it.


10 months ago

This is a great write up but the website wants me to pay for a premium service JUST for the images...


1 year ago

Amazing...I was looking for it. Now the crow will fly!!!


1 year ago

Where to buy craft foam in Perth, Australia? Plz help I need it for this Halloween!


2 years ago

how many yards would you recommend I buy to make two of these?

1 reply

Reply 1 year ago

I used three quarters of a yard but this also gave me a hat and a shoulder cloak so I would say three quarters of a yard would do two


1 year ago

Thank you so much for the how to! I made a form and crocheted around it to give an authentic fabric look i can breath through. hehe


4 years ago on Step 11

This is really helpful. I do have one question though. About how easy was it to breathe? Like, how often would you have to take the mask off to breathe fresh air?

2 replies

Reply 2 years ago

The original masks had breathing holes, they were from a time when it was thought that bad smells transmitted disease so the beaks were filled with aromatic herbs for protection.


Reply 3 years ago

I sewed the bottom of mine together and the gaps in the bottom allow for breathing.


2 years ago

gonna make it for this #eldiademuertos party, i will post the results in a few hours! great job, thanks!!

Mr Frosty

2 years ago

Is there a picture with all the cutout pieces on it?


3 years ago

Wow :O That's amazing

Prince Silhouette

3 years ago

Traditionally I'm an armorer, so I'm going to try making this from galvanised steel. I'll probably paint over it all with some high gloss black enamel.


3 years ago

I made this mask, very helpful tutorial.

however, here are some tips to help other users not make the same mistakes i did while making this costume.

1. I accidentally bought foam board instead of craft foam. Don't do that. 'nuf said.

2. At jo ann fabrics, i found my materials for putting overt the foam in the red tag section. I used black fake leather for mine, works great. Just make sure to use a big needle.

3. I used tape to hold my pieces together while sewing. Makes it a lot easier for the item to hold its shape while sewing. I used both hot glue and stitching to hold mine together, as well as a bit of e 6000 to patch up some parts.

4. For my eyes, I used some hardware such as washers and plastic mesh to make somewhat steampunk eyes, I used stitches, hot glue, and e 6000 to hold the eyes in place.

5. I used elastic for my strap, much easier and holds the mask to your face better. I stitched my elastic in and then used hot glue to hold it in place as well.

6. When hot gluing, i reccomend gluing the middle of the fabric to the mask so that i lies flatter.

Overall great tutorial, I just wanted to help people not make the same mistakes I did.