Face mask pattern reviews, please add your suggestions

How about we help each other out by reviewing the face mask patterns we’re making & sharing opinions, pattern tweaks, etc? I’ve watched at least twenty-eleven video tutorials & still not found the perfect pattern to make. They all have a good aspect & then some wonky thing that could clearly be better or easier or quicker.
Would you please add links to the patterns you’ve tried? And be critical of whatever you thought could be better. Between us, I’m sure we can come up with the best tweaks & solutions. Because we’re awesome like that :kissing_heart:

ETA This article has info from the CDC regarding filter stats. Basically it says 2 layers of fabric are 74% effective (roughly the equivalent of a surgical mask). Even better if you add a layer of tshirt fabric to 2 layers of tightly woven cotton. I am going to eliminate the filter pocket option as I’m not sewing for care workers and it looks like it is not necessary for daily use.

ETA here is a quick tutorial on making flexible nose wire from aluminum baking pan (a soda can should work just as well).


Cut off the rim and the crinkly corner bits and flatten the pan.

Place over a firm smooth surface (I’m using cardboard) and press very firmly with a warm-hot iron.

I cut a piece from the side that was about 1.5"X6". Cut one long side straight (don’t use your best scissors for this project)

With about 1/4" of the straight cut side held firmly under a straight edge, crease.

Trim off all but 1/8" past the crease. Fold the edge over firmly, turn over onto a hard surface and burnish by rubbing with something like the handle of a pair off scissors.

Crease the sides in the same way. I made a strip about 4" long. Trim all but 1/8" past the crease, fold firmly and burnish.

Folding over like this prevents sharp edges of corners that could poke through the mask.

Hold the folded edge firmly under a flat edge and turn over at about 1/4".

Trim off 1/8" from the edge, turn over onto a hard surface and burnish.

I can get about a dozen and a half strips from a small sized loaf pan, I am being generous with the amount I’m trimming off though so you could get many more. Each take about 5 mins to make, less when you get into a rhythm.

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I posted this along with other suggestions in the mask challenge.

hey guys, this tutorial is for anyone who wants to make ties or bias tape for masks fast with just a tiny piece of paper! It is faster to make the bias and unpick a few inches to sew over some of the face masks that need it…

[Best way to make bias ties for mask…no tools needed]

([https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR7sWFwo48g ]

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR7sWFwo48g))

Also, I found this great tutorial on making adjustable ear straps if you don’t have elastic…you can use t-shirts, paracord, etc.

Just the ear holder part…using a bead to be adjustable

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Thanks! Would you add your own personal notes for things you’ve tried? I’m finding that when I use some suggestions I come up against issues but also some solves, those will be helpful to share with each other :).

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I have made over 100 fitted mask. This seems to be the preference for those I am making them for as well as the ones I am donating.

They do not have a pocket for a filter…I tried a few of those and after talking to people about the purpose of the mask to be a physical barrier and how they intended to use the mask, it seemed the filter pocket was more work for little return.

Most people are using them to go to the stores, practicing social distancing, so they just need something to keep their hands free and mouth covered if they cough and as a visual cue to others to stand back.

The two elastics behind the head has been cumbersome to most. They have to remember to stretch both over their heads, down to their necks, then bring it back up. It is not fast at all so many tend to just say forget it.

I have changed the elastic to behind the ear with a button strap between the two. The strap also keeps the mask on the body until they can get home, take it off, wash hands etc.

I also changed the ear elastic to a rounded cord…it feels gentler on the ears and is not as rough, but seriously, these are not meant to wear for hours and hours like professional masks.

I have left off the nose clip. Those who have worn them report back that they are uncomfortable, don’t hold very long with touching your mask, sliding down, etc. Most would rather just have the elastic pull tighter to hold the mask tighter.

Men are apt to be more picky than women in what they will wear. I am finding requests for grey is the most popular with older men while younger men don’t seem to mind plaid or fandom type of masks. Women just want a mask.

I highly suggest that if you are making masks for others, do not line it with another cute print…make it plain. This idea of a reversible mask is not really sanitary to me. If you have gone to the store and coughed, you don’t want to turn around the mask and reuse it with the gunk against your face! I suggest a cream or white or plain fabric. make sure everything is washable.

A few people I have spoken to have used a paper towel or coffee filter as additional layers. They can easily be cut to fit the mask and then tossed.

Topstitch the edges to make them more firm and fitting.

That is all I can think of with just one cup of coffee but I will see if I can remember anything else. Thanks to FB, my friends have found me and I have 50 more masks to make!

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That is awesome feedback, thank you! Exactly what I was hoping for.
I liked the idea of fitted masks, I made the HK pattern for our neighbour. It’s supposed to take an optional filter but that seems quite awkward to me, how do you insert a flat piece of something into a curved mask? You don’t. Leaving that part of assembly out makes the pattern easier to make though.
Some tutorials leave out edge finishing which would mean fraying fabric if washed. Some tutorials end up with folded parts that are up to 10-12 layers of fabric in total, come on now. Then there are others that have many extra stitched bits that could included in other sections, ei the olson mask tacks down parts that could be sewn when assembling, it adds time & is unnecessary.
I like the idea of an optional bead/etc to adjust elastic fit but would like to hear if that’s comfortable from someone who has actually tried it? I know some people said behind the ear elastic is not ok for them.

I also thought all that bias tape making was a bit much…maybe down the round when there is the luxury of time…I am in the assembly line mode…I cut out all the outside fabric, then all the lining (I use white plain cotton)…I do chain piecing of everything, cut them with my fancy chain piecing gadget, clip and iron, etc. I do no hand sewing…I leave inserting the elastic last as I can watch some tv as I do it…

And, yeah, sewing through all the layers…and putting a flat into a curve…stopping to do hand sewing…

But, each kind at least functions and if a person is just making for their own family, they can get feedback and adjust…so to me, anything is better than none!

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btw–I just tried the bead adjustment on the elastic cord…in the video, she used paracord…it might work for that, but on elastic and t-shirt cord, the bead slides after being adjusted if you even smile under the mask…it does not hold well and is fiddly to adjust…I don’t see many of the elderly people I am making these for reaching behind their ears and finding the bead, etc. to adjust…ugh

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Ya know. I just kind of made up my own. I cut two rectangles and played with them. I saw a pattern yesterday that is no sew and it has ear holes. @lindyv321 made one.

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Hmm, interesting. Is it made out of tshirt fabric? I tried to find it but without a view all images function for people it is a bit hard to locate. @lindyv321, maybe you’d link it and review the pattern? What you liked but more importantly anything you didn’t think worked as well as it should. I’m trying to tweak patterns here to come up with something really functional. Thanks!

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Here it is:

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I think a lot of things are showing up for people who don’t sew. Many of them will work just fine in the short term. I saw two young women with bandannas over their faces…better than nothing! I am going to carry a few masks in baggies to hand out to people like them for at least trying!

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I’ve made both the more fitted kind for personal use and a few family members, and as many of the faster rectangular pleated masks. With sewn in elastic (most efficient use of very precious elastic) and bias tape tie ones. Making my own bias tape is a pain. I did find an order of twill tape that should work as well for ties.

I do use floral wire for nose wires, no pocket, two layers of cotton with non-woven fusible lt. wt. interfacting. I was lucky to score a bolt of the stuff before it disappeared from availability. I keep running out of tie or elastic!

As to fabric color/pattern. Nobody cares about that in the health industry. Just give me a face mask…any kind. They do like the ability to wash them. These are mostly for the nurses, techs, janitors, etc. that are around patients all day (with or without COVID19) and aren’t being issued enough face masks, or none at all. They are just grateful for anything. They want to reduce the spread in any way possible.

So I am making about 2 doz + a week, all I can fit in to my schedule of work/etc. I am getting faster, but running out of supplies slows the process down.

I’m going to try the t-shirt strap thingy…if anything, they can tie the straps to fit.

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I’m a VERY novice sewer. I’ve only made a few masks so far. This was my first for visual reference:

This was the pattern I used for mine:

Now. I find the directions (especially the video) really helpful and straightforward.

Things I like: It’s all pretty simple stitching. Nothing too many layers, nothing too thick for my basic machine. It fits well. I’ve done one with elastic ear loops and a couple with ties and both worked fine. As a newbie, overall, I was never confused or lost in this one which is helpful.

Things I don’t like: I put my elastic or ties in before I sew down the side seam because the very first one I did, I couldn’t thread the tie through one side after it was stitched. There simply wasn’t enough space to feed it in there. FRUSTRATING! Also, the pocket flaps make it very fiddly trying to keep them in place when you’re making the pleats. (I did try to make just a solid, single piece instead of two flaps, but I think if you do that, you need to make it bigger so there’s more give because it seemed to be too tight and didn’t fit right. So the fact the inner layer is two flaps does seem to matter to the fit. I don’t know if I’m explaining that right.)

I’ve also been looking for a simpler 3d mask shape. But most of the patterns out there, honestly? Confuse me. Like I said, I’m a REALLY novice sewer. And they involve far too many layers and steps and…ugh. I’m not feeling confident.

I found this youtube video which I really like the shape. But man, it’s not the best for details since the auto translate is super wonky:

One person in the comments gave some English (American) info and measurements but I haven’t tried it yet.

The measurements in inches are as follows: fabric is 12 5/8" x 9 7/8". Corners are 1 5/8". Elastic - measure for the individual. I made (4) ties from matching fabric for securing the mask. I attached them on each corner of the end sections. It is so much more comfortable! This is such a fantastic mask - functional & looks great. I did add 1 layer of interfacing & an additional layer of fabric. It needs enlarging for most men, fits most average size women & teens, and reduce a bit for small children.

I’d love to find a more clear version of this even though the video is pretty good, a better step-by-step would help me.

Now, I did find this one too:

It seems to be the same concept and the directions are DEFINITELY better. It does have a filter pocket though and I’m going to admit, I don’t think a lot of people are putting filters in there. I think it just makes it harder to breathe for most people so they don’t.

I’m also with AIMR on this; guys are PICKY about wearing a mask. Even on our weekly shopping trips, I see 90% of women wearing them and maybe 50% guys. I bought some green plaid fabric to make one for my husband.

The ones so far, I’ve made the “nice” fabric on the front, the one people will see and then whatever random one for the back. I’m using my uglier, or boring or whatever fabrics for the back because no one seems them anyway. I don’t like the idea of reversible either though the pattern I’ve used so far isn’t because of the filter pocket.

A friend of mine also suggested this pattern for basic, quick batch masks: https://www.skiptomylou.org/face-mask-pattern/

It’s not full pleats, just side pleats which should make it faster I guess, but I haven’t tried it yet. Honestly, I haven’t had problems making pleats, just problems getting the two flaps of the pocket layer to lay properly when pleating.

Anyway, those are my chaotic and maybe? helpful thoughts so far from a newbie. LOL

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Would you share your pattern links and review of what you think works, anything you tweaked?
I’m thinking about cutting strips of tshirt for the ties, they’ll be stretchy, can be laundered, can be left long for 2 ties around the head or tied behind the ear to fit the wearer. Everybody has a tshirt they can sacrifice for that too, we’re all running out of elastic and none to be had at this point!

Thanks for all those details, that’s all very helpful. I have a suggestion for you regarding the pleats, this pattern does the folds in a way that mimics the mask you linked to and would like to try (I’ve reviewed that style and decided against it, so many complicated steps for a result that isn’t any better than a more simple pattern). The pleats can work with the opening for the optional filter depending on placement. I prefer not to fold over the sides, opting for stitching the elastic or ties right into the body of the mask for less bulk.

I’m working on a very basic pattern now, I’ll post it and hopefully some of you will try it out and give feedback to help me refine it as needed.

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I know white elastic is hard to find…I was able to get 50 yards of black elastic shipped and arriving tomorrow from Amazon. I actually like the black elastic better…some of the odder colors are way easier to get than the white.

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I made mine with a filter aka napkin. I did not have elastic but I did have some left over ties from making pot holders so I used those. They are pretty comfortable. LOL!

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I’m going to try a tshirt mask like the one you posted @kittykill but I’ll sew it since I have a serger. I like the idea of twisting the ear part, that looks interested. We’ll see how it feels on though.
What were the results of you playing around with 2 rectangles, were you totally happy with the construction and fit or were there things you’d like to have seen changed?

I was happy with it. Since I am not much of a seamstress it was easy. I made a little pocket in the top to put the paper towel in and then made pleats. I did look at measurements people were using. I used the kids size for me and the adult for Mark.

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I’m making my first and quite honestly probably last for now masks. I am making 8. Two for each of us in my family. I am using the sweetredpoppy dot com pattern. It’s basic with just 2 layers of cotton fabric. I am not adding in the nose wire because I know we wouldn’t like that.

Half of them are reversible in fabric design choice.

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If you need a quick source if elastic and cotton material. Fitted bedsheets are a sure bet. I’ve cannibalized them in the past for quilt backs or aprons and it is easy to cut the elastic out with a pair of good scissors.

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