This mesh laundry bag will help you keep fabric face masks (and other items) separate and wash them safely in your washing machine. Just toss them in the bag and then toss the bag in your washer. Some hospitals and first responders are asking for bags like this to help safely clean and re-use fabric masks.
This project is easy to sew and I have lots of tips to ensure that anyone can do it!
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This mesh wash bag has a zipper at the top, which won’t get tangled in the wash like a drawstring bag. The mesh edges that aren’t enclosed in fabric are sewn with easy french seams to prevent fraying and ensure that the bag will hold up through many washings.
The bag will hold 20 or more face masks, but I wouldn’t put more than 10 in for washing, to ensure that all get washed thoroughly.
In case you were wondering, I’ve been using the Olson Pattern to make fabric face masks for my family and community. Here’s the free face mask pattern with my video tutorial.
With just one yard of mesh fabric and a quarter yard of quilting cotton, you can make 2 wash bags (fat quarter friendly).
After this crazy virus is contained and we aren’t wearing face masks anymore, you can use your wash bags for swimsuits, lingerie, and other small items.
To make one wash bag, you will need:
1/8 yd cotton fabric such as quilting cotton
1 zipper, 18’’ or longer (regular zippers and handbag zippers will both work great)
1 piece of 1/8’’ – 1/4’’ wide ribbon, 6’’ long (optional)
From the mesh fabric cut 1 rectangle 18’’ x 32’’
From the cotton fabric, cut 2 rectangles 4’’ x 18’’
Make the Fabric Panels
1. Fold one long edge of each 4’’ x 18’’ rectangle over to the wrong side by 1/2’’ and press.
2. Pin one 18’’ edge of the mesh fabric rectangle to the right side of a cotton fabric strip along the unpressed edge.
Tip: after sewing many of these bags, I have decided that it is easier to sew with the mesh on top.
Polyester mesh fabric like this is prone to stretching whether you sew with it on the top or the bottom. If you decide to sew with it on the bottom, it might work just as well. Don’t worry about the stretching, just try to sew as smoothly as possible and we’ll trim away any uneven edges later. 🙂
3. Sew along the 18’’ edge with a 1/2’’ seam allowance.
As you can see, my mesh fabric still stretched a bit by the end of the seam, but I’m leaving that for now.
4. Gently press the seam toward the cotton fabric.
5. Wrap the pressed-under edge of the cotton fabric around to the other side and pin it over the seam. Both edges of the cotton fabric should line up.
6. Topstitch about 1/8’’ from the fold to secure. Press the top panel flat.
Repeat to sew the remaining cotton fabric strip to the other 18’’ edge of the mesh fabric.
Both sides of the fabric panels should look about the same, so it is up to you to decide which side you want to show on the outside of your wash bag.
Attach the Zipper
1. Center one of the fabric panels on top of one side of the zipper and pin. The fabric panel should overlap the zipper tape by about 1/4’’.
Tip: Most zippers have a raised thread running down each zipper tape that can be used as a guide line. I like to place the folded edge of my fabric panel right on top of the guideline and then pin it in place.
2. Topstitch about 1/8’’ from the folded edge of the fabric. If you are using a regular sized zipper like I did, switch to a zipper foot on your sewing machine. If you are using wider (YKK size 4.5) handbag zippers, you may not need to use a zipper foot.
3. Pin the other fabric panel to the remaining zipper tape (making a loop of mesh) and stitch in place the same way.
4. Lay the bag flat (right side out) and trim away any extra zipper tape and stretched out mesh along the sides.
Sew the Sides of the Bag with a French Seam
1. With the bag still right side out, pin the top side edges together on the fabric panels. You can pin along the side mesh edges too, if you like, but I did not.
Stitch the side edges with a 1/4’’ seam allowance. You can sew over the nylon zipper teeth, but be very careful not to sew on a metal zipper stopper (they are at both ends unless you cut them off when trimming previously). Metal zipper stoppers have broke many needles for me!
2. Turn the bag wrong side out and use your fingers to push out the seam from the inside.
At the top corners, flatten the side seam and tuck the ends of the zipper down inside.
3. Finish the French seams by sewing along the side edges with a 1/2’’ seam allowance. This will enclose the raw edges of the fabric and mesh inside the seams. They will be pretty and long lasting!
Turn the bag right side out.
To make an optional ribbon embellishment for the zipper pull:
Cut the ends of your 6’’ length of ribbon to make sharp points.
Push both points through the hole on the zipper pull at the same time.
Push the ribbon ends through the loop and pull tight.
Trim the ribbon ends again if they became frayed when inserting them through the zipper pull.
Enjoy your pretty new wash bag!
As always, I love to see the things you make with my free patterns and tutorials. Please post a picture to Instagram and tag me @sewcanshe or #sewcanshe so I can take a look!
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