How to Sew Soft and Stretchy Face Masks – Easy to Breathe Through – Free Sewing Pattern
Are you still looking for the perfect face mask pattern? This easy sewing pattern for a soft and comfortable face mask might become your favorite! It’s made with 2 layers of stretchy cotton fabric so it won’t slide around on your face and it’s very easy to breathe through.
There are lots of different sewing patterns for face masks available, so if the first one you try doesn’t fit your needs, try another. My Soft and Stretching Face Mask doesn’t have a filter pocket. If you are looking for a face mask with a filter pocket you might try the woven (non-stretchy) Olson Style fabric face mask or my Gaiter Style Face Mask Pattern instead.
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.
This fabric face mask pattern is generously sized to fit small and large faces. You can also enlarge or reduce the pattern template using your printer’s settings to make larger or smaller masks.
As designed, this mask is approximately 9 1/2’’ x 5’’ (not including the elastic). For our family, I varied the fit by cutting longer pieces of elastic for people with bigger heads – that was all the adjustment that was necessary. For small children, you may want to reduce the pattern to 75% or 85%.
Because of the stretchy fabric and elastic, you may find that one size fits everyone in your household.
I’ll share tips for sewing with knit (stretchy) fabric along the way and there are even more in this blog post that I wrote all about stretch fabrics.
For the best breathability, choose a lightweight knit fabric with at least 50% stretch. That means that if you take 5’’ of fabric between your hands, it will stretch to at least 10’’. Soft cotton or bamboo knit fabric would be a great choice.
So let’s get started!
DOWNLOAD THE SOFT AND STRETCHY FACE MASK TEMPLATE
You will need:
less than 1/4 yard lightweight stretch knit fabric (1/4 yard will make at least 2 masks, 1/2 yard will make at least 5 masks depending on fabric width and cutting waste)
20’’ of narrow elastic (I used 1/4’’ elastic – here are some other ideas for face mask elastic and ties)
a bodkin for inserting the elastic
Before buying, check to see how breathable the fabric is by holding two layers up to your face.
Always pre-wash knit fabrics before cutting. This will pre-shrink them and get rid of any leftover chemicals from the manufacturing process.
1. Using the pattern template, cut 2 pieces on the fold from your lightweight knit fabric.
2. Cut 2 pieces elastic 10’’ long (or as needed).
Sew the Mask
Use a 1/2’’ seam allowance (included in the template).
1. Place the two fabric pieces right sides together and pin all the way around.
2. Start sewing at one of the corners. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and then sew along a long curved edge.
Stop and pivot with the needle down at each corner.
Then continue sewing the second long curved edge.
Stop sewing at this point and backstitch, leaving one short end open.
3. To reduce bulk, trim away the extra fabric at the two corners where you pivoted.
Tip: To help with turning the open edges to the inside, make a clips almost to the stitching 1/2’’ away from the end on either side (top and bottom)
4. Turn the face mask right side out through the opening. Use your fingers or a point turner to turn the points and all the seams out as much as possible.
Fold the raw edges to the inside by 1/2’’.
At the opening, fold the clipped seam allowance in opposite directions so that when you fold the raw edges to the inside by 1/2’’, they lay in opposite direction and the edges are nice and flat.
5. Press the face mask flat, using steam to shrink it back to shape if there is any waviness.
6. Topstitch all the way around the mask 1/8’’ from the edge. This will close the opening at the same time.
Tip: I find it easiest to start and end on one of the long edges.
Make the Elastic Casings and Add Elastic
1. Pick one side of the mask to be the front (the other side will be the back).
Fold the ends over to the back by about 1/2’’. They will fold over naturally just past the seam allowances on the inside.
Pin the casings in place.
2. Sew the casings in place by stitching along the ends right over the previous topstitching. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.
3. Secure one end of a piece of elastic to the bodkin.
And push it through one of the casings.
4. Tie the elastic ends together.
If you prefer, you can sew the ends together. I think it’s faster to tie them, and I don’t mind the knot.
Adjust the elastic so that the knot and the ends are inside the casing.
Repeat to make an elastic ear loop on the other side of the mask.
Here are some additional resources you might find helpful:
Video Tutorial showing a quick method for making the Olson mask pattern.
How to use a Pipe Cleaner (or other wire) to Make Your Fabric Face Mask Fit Better
More tie options that I have tried, including different kinds of elastics and fabric ties.
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. 🙂
Caroline this is a perfect mask. It is better to breathe thorough and just feels better. The fit is great. Using the knit I made the ties too cutting them the greater stretch and stretching them until they curl . I used 11 inches and used square knot. I could use old t-shirts too!
Thank you so much
Thanks for the easy pattern, Caroline!
I thought stretch fabrics aren’t as good for masks since as they stretch, the holes in fabrics get bigger – but most of the masks for sale are stretchy, so who knows.
Stretch does fit better, though.
Caroline, love this! Also hope your son is better. Wanted to ask if you used straight stitch or stretch stitch?
Thanks so much for all you do to teach us! You are appreciated and loved! ~Kim
I am sooo grateful for the new Soft and Stretchy Face Mask Pattern and instructions for using knit fabric. I used some discarded T-shirts of my hubby. I’ve made a dozen already. Thank you so much!!!
Two things (1) I’m so happy you’re son is going to be OK, what a scary time.
(2) If I wanted to add a nose piece, I’m assuming I just add it with the channel like all the others I’ve seen.
Thank you for these mask-making tutorials! I have made the Olsen mask, but find that even though I adjusted it to be snug, it quickly falls off my nose when I speak. I feel like the soft and stretchy mask might stay better, but I prefer the shape of the Olsen.
So, first question–do you find the that the stretchy mask stays in place better? And secondly, have you tried using stretch knit to using the Olsen pattern? Do you think it would work?
Yes, and yes! The stretch knit mask does stay in place well – and I’m willing to bet that stretch fabric would work great with the Olson mask design.
I LOVE this mask design! I’ve tried so many and this is by far my favorite. It’s more comfortable and more breathable and I love that the ear straps can be untied and retied to fit better! Thank you so much!
I’m planning to use some scraps from other projects. If the knit has more stretch one way than the other should the most stretch be horizontal across the face? Thanks for these wonderful instructions. I think these will be great for the grandchildren.