Making a Pleated Fabric Face Mask

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April 10, 2020

Fabric Face Mask - two completed masksI found this pattern on the Kaiser Permanente website. It is for making a pleated style face mask. The photos are mine, but the instructions are based on their pattern. I have included the Kaiser link as well. The pattern is for a small/medium mask.


Note: Please remember that although the CDC is now recommending the use of face masks when we are out and about, or caring for a family member infected with the novel corona virus COVID19, they do NOT replace the directions regarding social distancing, disinfecting common areas, and hand washing. Be safe!



** Fabric type: Wash and dry the fabric 2-3 times prior to cutting to reduce shrinkage, as they will be washed over and over again (wash after each use). Use a cotton fabric that is breathable and can hold up to the frequent laundering. You will probably want to make several. Kaiser recommends that the fabric be 100% cotton or a cotton blend woven to 6-8 oz. - similar to a dress shirt or bed sheet type fabrics. If you choose to use a 100% cotton or cotton blend jersey knit it must also be 6-8 oz. Lighter colored fabrics are preferred per the instructions.

Note: All masks will use 2 layers of fabric as per the pattern instructions.

  • thread - cotton or polyester
  • For Mask
  • 1 piece of fabric 15 1/2" long X 7 1/2" wide **
  • Ties for the Mask
  • 2 strips of fabric 1 1/2" x 36"


Sewing instructions: Use a 2 1/4 or 2 1/2 stitch length on your machine. This is equivalent to 10-12 stitches per inch. Back stitch for added strength where noted. This will help ensure that the seams are strong enough to withstand wearing as well as repeated washing and drying.

  1. Cut a rectangle of fabric 15 1/2" by 7 1/2". (The website has a pattern you can print out or you can make your own. Paper that is a lighter weight than printer paper is easier to pin in place. You can also place your paper pattern on a fold and line up the arrow with the selvage edge of the fabric. Cut it out. I was making two masks, which is why there are two patterns in use.
  2. Fabric Face Mask - postioning the pattern
    Fabric Face Mask - using the pattern measure to ensure you are on the straight grain of the fabric
    Fabric Face Mask - pin on the grainline
    Fabric Face Mask - pin the entire pattern down
    Fabric Face Mask - cut it out
    Fabric Face Mask - pattern for two masks cut out

  3. Fold the fabric in half right sides together giving you a 7 3/4" by 7 1/2" two layer rectangle. Sew 1/4" seam on the edge opposite the fold. Back stitch about 3 stitches at the beginning and the end of the seam.
  4. Fabric Face Mask - stitch length screen
    Fabric Face Mask - full size rectangle
    Fabric Face Mask - folded in half with right sides together and pinned
    Fabric Face Mask - stitching along top
    Fabric Face Mask - turned right side out
  5. Turn the fabric right side out and press the seam.
  6. Fabric Face Mask - seams pressed
  7. Stitch down each of the open sides, again taking a 1/4" seam allowance. This will hold the fabric together when you make the pleats.
  8. Fabric Face Mask - stitching sides

  9. Measure down from the folded edge and mark at 1 1/2", 1 1/2", 1", and 1 1/2" on both sides.
  10. Starting at the foldline make the first pleat by bringing the first mark to the second mark on both sides of the mask and pin in place. For the second pleat, bring the third mark to the fourth mark on both sides and pin in place.
  11. Fabric Face Mask - beginning to fold pleats
    Fabric Face Mask - two pleats pinned
  12. Sew the pleats down on each side, 1/4" from the edge of the mask. Remove the pins as you sew, do not sew over the pins.
  13. Fabric Face Mask - pleats sewn
  14. Turn the mask so that the seam made in step one is at the top and the pleats open toward the top of the mask. Make a mark 7/8" from the top pleat on each side. Pin the top pleat to the 7/8" mark on each side.
  15. Fabric Face Mask - marking up from top pleat
    Fabric Face Mask - pin the last pleat

  16. Sew the 7/8" pleat down on both sides of the mask. This final pleat allows the mask to cup over your nose and to hug the sides of your face.
  17. Fabric Face Mask - looking down between the pleats to see the result of the last one
    Fabric Face Mask - sew last pleat, for nose and side fit
  18. Trim the side seams on the mask about 1/16" but no more than 1/8" to clean up the threads and straighten the sides. The mask is done.
  19. Fabric Face Mask - trim side seams
  20. To make the straps, cut out 2 strips of fabric 1 1/2" x 36".
  21. Fabric Face Mask - straps cut out

  22. Fold the strips in half to mark the center.
  23. Fabric Face Mask - fold to find center
  24. On the mask, mark the center on the 2 sides. Pin the center of the strip to the center of the mask on the short side, right sides together. Sew at 1/4". Repeat for the other side.
  25. Fabric Face Mask - pin the straps to the mask area
    Fabric Face Mask - stitching strap to mask
    Fabric Face Mask - stitched in place
  26. On the long sides of both strips press in 1/4". I finger pressed rather than using an iron.
  27. Fabric Face Mask - measuring 1/4" for turning in sides of straps
    Fabric Face Mask - one side of strap turned and finger pressed
    Fabric Face Mask - second side pressed in 1/4"
  28. Double fold the strip to enclose the edge of the mask, pin.
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  30. Next fold the rest of the strip in half wrong sides together and pin. Sew along the open edge, slightly in from the edge to close along the entire length of both strips. Back stitch at the beginning and the end.
  31. Fabric Face Mask - pinning strap now folded in half
  32. Clip any loose threads.
  33. Wash before wearing.
  34. Fabric Face Mask - ready to go for a walk
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