Projects Tips and tutorials

DIY Mask with filter pocket

…and ideas on what to use if you can’t find filters. (Plus contest at the end!)

Being a woodworker, I have masks to keep sawdust out of my lungs. With the newest guidelines from the CDC recommending wearing facemasks when in public, I knew my box of them wasn’t going to last long. I adapted a pattern to be pretty simple to make a DIY mask.

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The problem? I haven’t touched a sewing machine since middle school. Luckily my oldest daughter was given one years ago that she left behind when she moved away (sniff). I decided I should probably dust it off and make some DIY masks. In case you want to give it a try, I adapted a pattern I found to make it pretty easy.


For a non-sewer, I was a little surprised at how many sewing supplies I actually had. I guess my supply collection from upholstery projects like the Jewelry Frame and fireplace mantle headboard come in handy.

You don’t “need” a cutting mat and rotary cutter, but they do make the job much faster and easier, especially if you are making multiples masks at one time.

How to

Cut fabric into pieces.

pieces of DIY mask- large fabric piece and two smaller ones with mexican food print and rotary cutter laying on cutting mat.

Quick Tip: If you want your image to be upright, make sure you orient the large piece of fabric in the long direction or all your images will be sideways on your finished mask.

Fold in half long ways and pin about 1.5″ from each top edge to hold it together.

large fabric piece folded inside out and pinned at 1.5" in from each top corner. laying on cutting mat

Sew each side (edge to 1.5″ pin mark) with a 3/8″ seam allowance and press open.

seam of fabric piece folded and pressed open laying on cutting mat

Turn the “sleeve” right side out and sew the opening edges at 1/8″. (This is the only tricky part of the DIY mask project.)

fabric piece turned right side out and showing the opening sewn on both sides. laying on cutting mat

Orient the fabric that the opening is about 1/2″ from the top of the project. Press flat. This will be the back of the DIY mask.

Quick Tip: If you have a print, it should be upside down on this back side. Note that mine is not, so the finished project is upside down on the front- Oops

fabric piece with opening placed about 1/2" from top and pressed flat. laying on cutting mat

Sew the two open sides together with a 1/8 seam allowance.

fabric piece with sides sewn shut.

Cut a pipe cleaner piece to about 1/4″ shorter than the width of your DIY mask (roughly 7″ or so). Use pliers to twist the ends back onto itself. This will keep the metal from poking out either side when you’re done. Insert and center the stem along the top and sew closed at about 3/8 to 1/2″ to hold in place.

Flip the mask over and create 3 pleats of roughly 1/2 each. This is done by folding the mask down leaving about a 1/2″ space under each fold. (I found it easiest to pin the mask to the ironing board cover and press first, then pin to hold it together after pressing.)

Sew sides with 1/8″ seam allowance.

front of diy mask with mexican food print showing three pleats sewn in place on sides. laying on cutting mat

Take the smaller pieces of fabric and flip the mask to the back. Center and pin them along the edge leaving about 1/4″ to hang over each side. Wrap the excess around to the front and pin down. (It’s important that it stay aligned with the top edge all the way around) Sew the edge at a 1/8″ seam allowance.

Head over to the ironing board again and pull the flap open and press down the “tabs”.

side flap on diy mask pulled open and small flaps pressed down flat. laying on white fabric with grey dandelion print with window in background

Fold the flap over about half way and press down.

side flap of diy mask folded over and pressed down. laying on white fabric with grey dandelion print and window in the background

Fold that flap over and press then pin down to the front of the mask.

diy mask with side flaps pinned down. laying on white fabric with grey dandelion print

Sew as close as you can to that inside edge. You have just created a pocket to hold your ties, elastic or attachment pieces. CONGRATULATIONS!!

(or how to hold the DIY mask to your head)

NOTE: I used elastic so they can slip over the ears. The rest of the instructions are for that method. If you can’t find it, You can use ribbon or even bias tape and have them tie at the back of the head.

How long do you make the elastic?

Insert one end of elastic into one side of the pocket you created in the last step then sew it in place.

diy mask with one side of elastic sewn in place and marked with a pencil for insertion. laying on cutting mat

To figure out sizing, I cut a piece of elastic about 9″ and used a safety pin to insert it into the pocket on the side. I tied a knot in the elastic and stretched it over everyone’s ears. We have pretty big heads. My husband, my 11-year-old daughter and myself needed about 6 3/8″ of exposed elastic, my 10-year-old son needed about 6″.

Mark the distance needed with a pencil and thread the elastic into the other side of the pocket stopping at the pencil mark.

elastic of diy mask inserted in second side of pocket to the pencil mark.

Sew the second side of elastic in place and repeat process on the other side of the mask.

diy mask complete and ready to be worn. laying on cutting mat

Flip the mask over and use the pocket in the back to insert a filter.

back side of completed diy mask showing pocket opening for filter placement. laying on cutting mat

YOU ARE DONE! Put your mask on and wear it with pride.

woman wearing DIY mask in front of window

I don’t have filters! What can I use?

I am not, nor do I claim to be a medical expert of any kind. Please do your own research.

These are things I have seen listed online as filter replacements:

  • HEPA filter vacuum bags (these may be hard to breathe through so please be careful if you go this route)
  • HEPA air conditioner filter (can be bought by the large roll just also make sure it’s easy to breathe through)
  • nonwoven fabric Composed of short and long fibers that are bonded together by chemicals, pressure, or heat to create a product that behaves like a woven fabric. The gaps between fibers are much closer together so it is thought to do well as a filter option for masks. You may even have some in your house already. I do.
box of 325 cloth-like rags sitting on sofa back in front of window


My friend Danielle over at DIY Danielle feels so passionate that everyone should be “masking up” in public that she is running a contest. Make your own mask and show it to her. It doesn’t even have to be this version- even just be a bandana tied around your head…. no judgement. She’s giving away a gift card funded with her very own money to one random entry. Head over and enter when you’re done with your mask, or maybe you have one to show her already? The contest is open until April 30th, 2020 so you have time to get your diy mask done and snap a pic.

Please Share and Pin this Post!

pinnable image leading back to blog post about making a diy mask with filter pocket.

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    […] adapted mandatory facemask requirements. If you have a sewing machine and about an hour, I have a simple pattern. Don’t fret if you don’t have access to a sewing machine though. Here is a super quick […]

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