The 5 Best Easy and Free Fabric Face Mask Patterns including the Olson Mask Pattern
Learn how to sew a face mask from fabric to keep yourself and the people around you safe! These 5 free face mask patterns use easy to find fabrics and can be sewn up in just a few minutes. Even if you are new to sewing – this is a great project for beginners too.
Handmade face masks are still important! Even if they are not required everywhere, you may still want to carry a few face masks in your purse or car for those situations when you feel unsure and want to feel safer. And I think we’ve all learned by now that fabric face masks last longer and are more comfortable to wear than the paper kind.
If you choose to be vaccinated, you can sew a pretty Vaccination Card Holder Wallet to keep your record in.
This list of the 5 best face mask patterns includes the hospital approved Olson Pattern, a very similar adaption that I designed for using adjustable mask elastic ties, the traditional pleated style face mask pattern, a gaiter-style face mask pattern that many men prefer, plus a soft and stretchy mask that is easy to breathe through.
Classic Free Face Mask Patterns
The first tutorial below is the one that have used to make many masks – it’s my favorite.. I have made my own filters using Filti face mask material.
My sister in law is a hospital nurse and she asked me to sew her some fabric masks using the Olson Mask Pattern. She says it’s the only one her hospital approves. The free PDF is a little bit tricky to follow, so I emailed the author and obtained permission to photograph the process and write an easy to understand blog tutorial showing how to sew a fabric face mask and a fast and easy video tutorial.
Now that lots of people are sewing face masks, we have more ear loop choices available! I love these ear loops with adjusters that I found on Amazon so much that I created a template in 5 sizes with a tutorial showing how to sew a fabric face mask with adjustable ties. Watch my free video tutorial and get the template for an adjustable face mask.
Another style of face mask that is becoming more and more popular is the Gaitor Face Mask Pattern. It can also be worn as a scarf or headband, which gives you more flexibility. Men seem to like this style better, too – including my husband.
If you find it hard to breathe through face masks that include a filter pocket, try my Soft and Stretchy Face Mask Pattern with just 2 layers of lightweight fabric.
My sewing machine does embroidery also, so I tested out a few in-the-hoop machine embroidery mask designs. This one is by far my favorite. It’s easy to make and comfortable to wear, plus I love the swans! The designer has some child size mask designs in her shop too.
I gathered some new information about cloth masks from the CDC website. It says:
Multi-layer cloth masks can both block up to 50-70% of these fine droplets and particles and limit the forward spread of those that are not captured. Upwards of 80% blockage has been achieved in human experiments that have measured blocking of all respiratory droplets, with cloth masks in some studies performing on par with surgical masks as barriers for source control.
Finally, you’ll need a Face Mask Wallet to carry your masks and other essentials with you!
Most of all… Stay calm and sew on!
Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂
I look at face masks as another barrier, another line of defense, so long as one isn’t constantly fussing with them and putting their hands all over their face. You have to admit, they’re awfully cute done up with fabrics!
A cloth mask is not a surgical mask. A cloth mask will do nothing to protect. The masks we wear in surgery are special filtering masks. They do not filter like a N95. Surgical masks are not what people need. They need to stay home if they have symptoms or are vulnerable. I would like to spread the word to people to please quit buying actual surgical masks. We are having a very hard time getting them to actually DO surgery these days. If you have a loved one having surgery, wouldn’t you like us to have the proper equipment to do the surgery safely in a sterile manner? Thank you for spreading the word!!
Thank you, Caroline, for this face mask pattern. But even more so, thank you for cautioning everyone that these homemade masks will not provide any protection against someone else’s germs or viruses. I will tuck this pattern away for a future time (hopefully never!), and yes, I now need to get back to my charity baby quilt. I love the inspiration and common sense you share with us.
I bet this could be a good face mask when I mow the lawn or have to deal with stinky situations. Sometimes I want just a dust mask, and this can be personalized.
I know this is for last resort but thinking if you have someone sick at home and no masks it’s better than nothing. Wondering if it would be a little more effective if you used interfacing?🤔. And have extras on hand if one gets dirty can wash
I understand that these masks are not as effective as the surgical masks and have to admit that I used to think it ridiculous seeing people walking around the streets wearing them (pre-covid20). Now I see them as something we should all be wearing, particularly as a reminder not to touch our faces. Surely just something on your snout will reduce the amount of times you touch your face and therefore reduce the risk of infection. Also, some of the homemade masks have an opening so you can stick a tissue inside (to be replaced regularly!) to act as a better filter… I actually read that would be about 95% effective – I like the sound of that. Stay healthy everyone and keep busy sewing whatever will keep you busy and off social media! x
It was never ridiculous. If someone was wearing them pre-covid, odds are they needed it for allergies, or to keep cold air from burning their lungs, or because they were very sick. None of the reasons would have been ridiculous to them.
Thank you for sharing these patterns. I’m going to try a couple of these for my husband to use for his drywall business, now that N95s are so desperately needed for medical personnel. If the homemade ones work out for him, I may even make some with his business logo. 🙂
The new CDC recommendations for nurses to use bandanas and scarves to protect themselves changes things. Some of our hospitals have run out of masks of any kind. Our quilt shop has been asked to make masks for Maine nurses. We should all do our part and make these.
I appreciate the reminder that this mask is not virus protection but look forward to wearing one as a constant reminder not to touch my face when out in public. Thanks for the pattern and here’s to chapped hands!
It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of homemade masks. There are just too many variables – what material/fabric is used, how the mask fits the face, whether it is worn and used properly. People also tend to be less strict with hand washing and keeping safe distance from others when wearing a mask.
Impeccable hygiene is key, wearing a mask is secondary. However, for those of you who want to make a face mask, here is my DIY Face Mask tutorial with free printable pattern here https://hellosewing.com/face-mask-sewing-pattern/ – you can start making your own and more for your loved ones
Please use fabric ties, NOT elastic. Elastic bands will not hold up to high heat needed to sanitize masks.
It might be an issue of sizing to be honest. If the mask is the right size for their face, but it is uncomfortable behind the ears, the elastic is too short and is pulling on the ear. You just want it to fit snug, not tight. Some elastics have more stretch than others as well. More stretch is more forgiving on sizing of the elastic.
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Do you have any recommendations for sizing it down for children?
Hello. Does the filter in the Olson mask need to be removed then replaced after every wearing? I’m assuming the answer is yes (vs tossing the mask AND it’s delicate filter in the wash.) The hyperlinked Olson video instructions didn’t address this issue.
Mucho thanks, by the way. I live in New York and will be making them for two family members undergoing chemotherapy who sadly haven’t been able to find any masks in-store or online, for my RN husband + other NY friends and family.
What fabric is best to use? Would 100% cotton be good?
Yes. Tightly woven, if possible.
I am a nurse. I think if you are going to use the home made masks you need to make a bunch. You need to use them once and put them in the washer and dryer each time.
Must you fold the filter? Or can you use it flat
A pleated filter provides a better fit.
Something to remember is to keep the stitches used around the mouth and nose on a homemade mask to a minimum because any piercing of the material creates a possible pathway for the virus to enter and/or exit the barrier. In other words try not to embroider anything on the face of a mask or sew on patches. For patch attaching use iron on fusing tape which in itself will act like an additional barrier.
Really enjoyed reading your article. Wanted to share with readers, I used this 6mm Elastic String to make my mask. It’s the best I’ve found. You can buy it here.
Great idea! I was wondering how to get a nose bridge in. I was thinking that making the pipe cleaner double might make it thick under glasses (mine). I know it was a struggle to get past the seam in the center. What if you folded over the end about a 1/2", like a hook and stuffed the pipe cleaner through. You could possibly stick a crochet hook or something like that to pull it the rest of the way through and maybe not have the bulkiness of a double cleaner. Thanks for sharing. I am going to attempt to make a mask for every one of my middle school students at the school I teach at for a Christmas present. I have had a couple of kids tell me I should make them one. I have quite a few also that get the free ones that are available in the office every day because they can’t afford them for all of their families. So, I guess that might just come true. Now all I need is a lot of material, time, and stick-to-it-tiveness to get them done. How long did you make your elastic for the pieces that went from top to bottom of each side? Did you tie it in a know and thread through?
Hi Shannon – I find it’s best to be generous with elastic and leave a loosely tied knot. Since everyone is different, better too much than too little!