FREE Face Mask Sewing Tutorial with Hair Ties & Size Options - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

FREE Face Mask Sewing Tutorial with Hair Ties & Size Options

It’s time to come together and use our gift of sewing to pay it forward during these difficult times. We have come up with a FREE tutorial for you to make a face mask out of our favorite precut, Jolly Bars! However this project can be made using any of your scraps in hopes that you can use it or donate to those in need. Since elastic has been in short supply, this one uses hair ties, which you might have at home. The double layer of fabric creates an opening for inserting a filter for added protection.

This mask is NOT medical grade, but with a shortage of supplies, many hospitals and clinics are asking for basic masks like these. You can read more on the CDC’s recommendations for face masks on their website. If you would like to donate masks to medical centers locally, we recommend that you contact them beforehand and ask what requirements need to be met. Some need masks to be made from special materials or with a filter pocket, or with fabric ties instead of elastic loops.



Let’s take our quilting community to the next level and sew to make a difference that counts! We hope you enjoyed this basic tutorial and we can’t wait to hear about the impact it has for you.

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  1. do people realise that nothing from the store comes clean and ,say, fabric with chemicals (sizing) on it ,as well as fingerprints, is not …well, health friendly…

    1. Molly – Just wash your fabric first. Something is better than nothing. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. These are great for immuno-comprised individuals and those in nursing homes etc. Surgeons can have the medical grade ones. Thank you for sharing the pattern, FQS!

        1. We make quilts and clothes for infants by washing and drying fabrics…do the same so that the fabric is soft and easy to have on your face.

        1. Need some help please. What size hair ties are you using? Most are to small. He ones for a head band are to big. I’m disappointed and cat make any of them work. HELP please. Dianne

          1. Many people are saying they prefer ties for better fit and comfort. The bands annoy their ears. Bias tape works well for this!

  2. I would think it would pull hard on their ear all day..
    You can buy stretched braid on a roll in the jewelry making section and make them longer 7 inch and sew them in or knot them. I made mine 7×9 ,three pleats 3\8 inch seams. Perfect for a woman.

      1. I used these exact ties for mine because in my area there is absolutely no elastic. I made both a mask with these hair ties and then fabric ties. I liked these better. For frequent washing, the fabric ties will hold up longer. For a longer duration of wearing, the fabric tie will be more comfortable. I think this pattern was created with the intention of using what people already had in hand. Many states are in lockdown and many people are without jobs and can it afford to buy additional materials. Thank you FQS for an awesome free pattern. It is pretty similar to the one by the CDC.

      2. What is stretched braid, would you mind sending an image.. we are out of elastic here and that sounds like it might be a good sub .. thank you

        1. They are using elastic hair ties. Like what you use to put your hair in a pony tail. I have Goody brand.

    1. I was thinking about hair ties being too small. I was told about headbands similar to hair ties. I have not been out to look for hair ties nor headbands. I have never had either one so I can not say anything else. I wish just once I could read through a post without someone saying no to these. There are many situations where these would come in handy. One of my local hospitals have greeters at the main entrance. They would be happy to get these. At Cleveland Clinic, they worked with someone and she designed a specific mask for them. I am sure not for the ICU but they are taking them. Happy Sewing.

    2. Thank you for this pattern. I just ran out of elastic but I have hair ties!
      If you make the face fabric just a little bigger at the top, you can fold it over again and insert a piece of wire or even a bread twist tie before stitching it closed. The wire helps the mask fit closely around the nose.
      With the pocket left open, a dry baby wipe or other non-woven material can be inserted in the pocket to add additional protection.
      I hope these ideas help someone. Stay home and stay safe!

    1. Thank you FQS for being a leader in the community and helping us support the medical community during this crisis. Y’all are the best! ❤️

  3. DO NOT USE HAIR TIES, They hurt the eyes and the hospitals won’t use them. Your wasting your time if you use hair ties!!!

  4. Thank you! I’ve been making this exact pattern for the last couple of days. The EMTs were thrilled to have them. One even cried.

    1. Darlene – Actually our local hospital wants them w/ Hair ties. Hairties are holding up to the sanitize washings – where as elastic – is failing.
      The one thing i ran into Is you need to label what your sewing with– If adding a nose pc What are you using because metal has conductive properties ( I think i am saying this correctly ) and also was mention – not holding up to the sanitizing process I am full aware , all of this could change tomorrow ( shoot, it could change as i am sitting here typing ) Be a Tree, go with the wind 🙂 Make sure to label and store in plastic bags. Anything, is better then nothing at all

  5. Anybody thought of using thin elastic hair bands, the ones that go all the way around the head, instead of elastic? They come in cool colors, too.

    1. I have used hair bands cut into 7” length and am making some child size today with the hair ties for our Victim Assistance Center. For hospitals call and s if they want them and details. This style I have given to local family practice group, nurses and someone delivering medications for my local pharmacy. Some hospitals want specialized ones with pocket for filter and ties to make close fitting easier.

  6. Thank you, FQS, for a timely and thoughtful tutorial. We are all in this together, so let’s keep pulling together!

  7. On the European sites the ladies are cutting up pantyhose to use instead of elastic , and they find them much more comfortable and softer than hair elastic.

  8. So, can someone confirm what the final dimensions are with the pleats?

    I’m also going to add a place to add a filter pocket – my daughter is a RN and she stated that would be very helpful. She also prefers the binding ties, instead of the elastic.

    Thanks in advance…

    1. How large should the filter pocket be? And is it placed in the very center of the mask?

      (PS My email address might sound like the name of a business, but I don’t have any business of any sort. It is my husband’s studio, because he is an artist. So I am want to make masks just as an individual sewist.)

  9. Is there an downloadable PDF for this? I have friends at work (I work in a nursing home, so we are still working!) who want to make masks for themselves and others. Thanks in advance.

  10. I am making fabric strip ties (like korean war masks lol) by cutting material. Trying to use what I have. Definately colorful using quilting cotton.

  11. My nurse friend that works in doctor office said they need FOUR layers of fabric. Batiks work best because of denser (higher) thread count.

    1. How about inserting furnace filters that remove pollen, bacteria and viruses? One large filter cuts into about 24 pieces. Just label the pieces “Face” in the same direction of the arrow on the box. Remove the filter, hand wash it, wash the cotton & sanitize it. Replace the washed & dried filter.. Viola! Super clean filtered masks

    1. Look on Pinterest. I found several free scrub cap patterns there. Some had a place to tuck longer hair too.

  12. Is there an easier way to make fabric ties. I made 4 of them for 2 masks and its so time consuming. I used 1″, folded both sides to the center and then folded over to make it 1/4″ then sewed all the way down the piece.

    1. I cannot find the video – but I saw someone fold the fabric for a double fold bias tape and thread it through the small hole of a cell phone cover (back of the cover to the front). As she pulled the cover down the length of the strip of fabric (gently hold on the end) it folded and she ironed as she went!! It looked like she started with about a 1″ wide strip of fabric.

    2. I saw a post where they used t-shirts cut into 1 inch strips ( cut horizontally at hem of t-shirt). After you make the cuts and have a 1 inch strip, pull the strip tight and it is a soft and I think perfect to cut your strip lengths.

  13. According to the CDC and WHO, these offer zero (0) protection against Covid-19 and very little against any other virus since viruses are small enough to pass through cloth. They will help bacteria because bacteria is a microscopic elephant.

    1. The tutorial plainly states these masks are not medical grade. My brother in law is using home made ones over his N95 because he has to sanitize it and re-use it several times, and he can use them with non-COVID patients.

      He is also giving home made masks out to some of his patients who are coughing to help them from spreading germs. He said these patients are scared and really seem to be touched when he gives them a mask.

      It’s a good idea to check ahead with the hospital or medical professional you are making them for to make sure they can accept the masks and will use them.

      Before making them wash the fabric and dry it to help it shrink as much as possible and use a tightly woven fabric.

      1. Thank you, Margie. Those are excellent tips! It’s true, all kinds of people can benefit from a mask, and it’s a good reminder to not touch your face. Each medical facility has different mask requirements and can tell donors exactly what materials and features they need.

  14. I am happily teaching my Kentucky Daughter and Granddaughter to make masks. Using prewashed materials of White Flannel facial side lined with Pellon 101 non-woven interfacing followed by an outside top layer of 100% cotton in cheerful patterns that is also lined with the 101 then using quarter inch round elastic for the ear braces. As an added safety measure e also steam set the pleats and seal each in a small zip-lock bag marked with the size. Our first shipment will be heading to a nursing home in North Carolina where my son and Daughter-in-law work. We found several other places locally that are sadly also in need.

    1. Janet- This is exactly what I was thinking.. the interfacing would be more filter-like than just woven fabric. Great work!!

  15. As a health care worker I hope that we will not reach this point, however I’m thankful that this tutorial has been made available just in case. In terms of laundering, the virus is fragile and will die in regular laundering. Sanitize cycle with some bleach should ensure they’re clean. If you are a layperson considering wearing these outside your home to protect yourself, please consider this. If you have contact with the virus it will stay on the outside of your mask. Take special care when taking off the mask to not touch the font. Place it directly in the washer when you take it off. DO NOT touch the mask while you are wearing it. You are most likely to contaminate yourself when handling soiled protective equipment. Thanks again. Stay healthy everyone.

  16. I have made several doz face masks using some bright Hawaiian material I have and the staff loves them. I cut a piece of material about 7″ x 8″ fold it in half so pattern area is inside. You have about 3 1/2 x 8. Insert a piece of elastic about 6″long (folded in half). Now its laying on the pretty side pin or clip in place, inside the folded part. Sew a seam down the short side going over the elastic several times to make it stronger. Do the same with other side. Turn inside out now you have the pretty side facing you, with the elastic loops on each side. Sew down the unfinished side long side but turn under the seam so you have no raw edges. Its all done, I stopped putting pleats in it, they really don’t have to have them. They make up fast like on assembly line. I live in a Retirement Center and the director even sent off to CA to get me 3 more yds of elastic. I am 83 and sewed most of my life. If you run out of elastic I have used ties of bias tape I had or you can fold over strips and make your own. They can’t get enough of them Adjustments can be made in the width and length if need be. Hope this helps at least one person thru this stressful time.

  17. Nurses ears are sore from constantly wearing face masks. Headbands with buttons to fasten the mask to help with the problem. Can you provide directions for sewing them?

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