How to Sew an Easy Pleated Face Mask – with a filter pocket


DIY face mask pattern

Sew a simple pleated face mask with just a single rectangle of fabric and 12’’ of elastic with my easy to follow sewing tutorial. You can do this – and since fabric masks are washable, you won’t have to spend money on any more disposable face coverings.

Finding the right face mask is like finding a the right hat – you’ll know when you find one that suits you! This face mask is 2 layers of fabric with pleats on the sides. I used regular quilting fabric and there is an easy to access filter pocket at the bottom edge that you can use with my free filter pattern. Of course, you don’t have to use a filter, but it will be nice knowing that you can if you want.

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The blog post below is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $2 is totally optional.


  • cut 1 fabric rectangle 15’’ tall x 9’’ wide

  • cut 2 pieces of elastic, each 6’’ long



Sewing Steps:

1. Press the raw edges of the top and bottom (9’’) edges of your fabric rectangle to the wrong side by 1/4’’, and then again by 1/4’’.

Sew close to the edge to make a narrow hem.


2. Fold the rectangle in half (wrong sides together) with the hemmed edges together and press the fold at the top.


3. Open the fabric rectangle and place it right side up on your work space.

Pin the 6’’ pieces of elastic to the side edges as seen above, just below the fold that you pressed in the fabric.


You can either sew the ends of the elastic in place – or to save time, just use pins but place the heads of the pins facing out so you can remove them in just a minute.

4. Fold down the top hemmed edge so that the rectangle is folded in half again, this time right sides together, and the hemmed edges are lined up again.

The elastic pieces should be sandwiched in between the fabric layers – right next to the fold.



5. Sew each side with a 1/4’’ seam allowance:

  • start at the hemmed edges, backstich,

  • sew down to the fold (remove the pin!) and backstitch again over the elastic.

Turn the mask right side out and press the edges flat.

Front side of the face mask.

Front side of the face mask.

Back side of the face mask.

Back side of the face mask.

6. Make a 1/2’’ pleat just below the top corner on the right side.

Then make the same sized pleat on the left side (see photo below).


  • I don’t like my pleats to overlap the elastic because it makes the top bulky. You can see from the picture of the back of the mask (above right) that my 1/2’’ pleat goes just up to the elastic, but doesn’t overlap onto it.

  • Some have said that downward facing pleats are better for repelling germs. I don’t know if that’s true, but I think they look better anyway. 🙂

  • It makes it easier if you go ahead and form the pleats on the left side of the mask before moving on.

7. Make a 1/2’’ pleat that ends just above the hemmed edge.

Again, I don’t let my lower pleat overlap on the hemmed edges because I think it makes it too bulky.


8. Make one more downward facing 1/2’’ pleat in the middle of the mask.

Adjust all 3 pleats so they look even, if necessary.


9. Bring the loose end of the elastic on one side around to the bottom and insert it in between the hemmed edges close to the side seam. Take care that the elastic is not twisted.

I found that wonderclips were great for holding the ends of the elastic in place until I stitched them.

Repeat with the end of the elastic on the other side of the face mask.

10. Secure the end of the elastic by stitching (and backstitching) the hemmed edges together for just 1/2’’ at the bottom corner.

Then pivot and stitch over the pleats until you reach the top of the mask. Backstitch and cut threads.

Repeat on the other side.

If you find that stitching over the pleats from the bottom to the top is like ‘swimming upstream,’ you can start at the top and sew downward.

However, I like securing the elastic at the bottom edge first.


Using a filter is optional, but you can make one using my free template and any filter material you prefer.

This tutorial is included in my list of the 5 Best Easy and Free DIY Face Mask Patterns. Be sure to let me know what you think!



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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. 🙂

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  1. Do you have instructions to show how to do this without the opening for a filter?

  2. Jean Tanner says:

    Thank you Caroline.

  3. I love the fabric! Where did you purchase it?

  4. Sandra J. Saenz says:

    I tried this for myself and its a perfect fit. Your Instructions were perfect! (Simple).
    Thanks so much!

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