How to Make a Pleated Face Mask

Close up of face mask on model

How to Make a Pleated Face Mask

I never thought that I would be writing a post about how to make pleated face masks on Create Whimsy. This is a place to share inspiration and projects for our every day creativity — things that bring us joy and smiles on our faces. Now we are covering up our smiles, to protect our health.

We read a lot of posts and articles about face masks, so we put together two projects for home sewers – How to Make a Fitted Face Mask and this post on how to make a pleated face mask.

Elastic behind your ears uncomfortable? Learn how to make a button band for face masks.

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The good news is most of us have the supplies in our home – good quilters cotton. Here is a great article for fabric selection for making face masks.

This pleated face mask pattern not only has a small pocket for a nose wire, you can also add extra layers of fabric, for extra protection. The mask can use elastic or ties, whichever you prefer.

How to make a pleated face mask

Start with cutting one piece of fabric 8″ x 14-1/2″ and two end pieces (for casing) that are 2-1/4″ x 4″. If you are making a lot of face masks, then go ahead and use your rotary cutter, layer your fabrics and cut away!

Fabrics cut and ready to make the pleated face mask

Take the larger piece, fold it in half right sides together, lining up the 8″ sides, then sew in 2″ from each edge with a 1/2″ seam allowance. There will be a 4″ unstitched section in the middle of the seam.

Sew 2" in on each of the short sides of the fabric

Go to your ironing board and press the seam open. The gap in the middle will be how you place the nose wire in its pocket when the mask is complete.

Press the seam open

Turn right side out. Then line up this seam about 1/2″ down from the top fold. Use your 1/2″ seam allowance as the guide. This will be the inside of your mask, and where the nose wire pocket will be when you finish the mask.

I’ve intentionally opened the gap so you can see.

Turn the right side out and fold down about 1/2" from top

While at the ironing board, we’ll now press in the pleats for the mask.

With the inside of the mask (the seam allowance and gap) facing up, fold in half with folded edges together, then press.

With the opening on the top, fold in half and press

Open up the folded fabric. Now fold from the top down to the center pressed line.

Open up, and then fold the top down and press

Then fold the bottom up to the center pressed line so that the folded edges meet.

Bring the bottom up and press

Now fold this in half.

Fold in half again and press

Press well. This will create your pleats.

When you open it, you’ll see the three pleat lines on the right side of your mask.

Open up and you'll have all of your pleats pressed

Gently finger press the pleats down. Make sure the opening for the nose wire on the back it at the top. This makes sure that the pleats will be going down your face when wearing the mask.

Fold them down with your fingers and press the pleats in place

Adjust the pleats evenly with your fingers until the finished height for the mask is about 3″. Then press the pleats in place.

Pleats pressed in place

Here is a little video I made to help show you how to make the pleats — with some tips I’ve learned along the way.

Now you are ready to finish the edges of the pleated face mask.

Place the right side of each edge piece (casing) to the wrong side of the mask at each end, matching centers. See how the edge piece is wider than the mask? This will finish off that edge.

Finishing the edges with the other pieces

Fold the extended edges of the casing to the front of the mask and clip.

Fold the fabric over about 1/2" and clip

Take to the sewing machine and sew raw edges together with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Sew with 1/2" seam allowance

Open the fabric out. See how it covers the raw edge.

Turn edge out and press

Back to the ironing board and press in the seam allowances from the long edges.

Pressed edge

Turn over and fold the casings to the right side of the mask, then turn in the edges twice and clip.

Turn the edge in, and fold over to top stitch

Leaving the top and bottom open, top stitch along the open edge. (Sorry for the blurry picture.) This forms the casings for the strap or elastic.

Edge finish top stitched

Next, we’ll make the pocket for the nose wire. Turn the mask with the wrong side up. See where that gap is on the back? Sew an L shape from the upper edge of the mask at each edge of the gap, down to almost the seam line, turn and sew about 1″. The following two images help explain this step.

Sew from the top edge of the mask almost down to the seam line, at the end of the opening. Stop with needle down.

Stitch the pocket for the nose wire

Pivot the mask 90 degrees so you are now sewing towards the center of the mask. Topstitch the nose wire pocket 1″. Do this on both sides of the pocket. See how there is an opening in the middle? This is where you’ll insert the nose wire.

Pocket stitched for the nose wire

Cut wire and round the edges. I’d use 18 gauge wire if I had it in the house, but I didn’t. So I doubled up some plastic covered floral wire, and used my needle nose pliers to curl the edges. This makes it more comfortable on your nose, as well as makes sure there are no raw wire edges that might poke through the fabric onto your nose bridge.

Wire is ready to be placed in the nose wire pocket

Insert the wire into the pocket.

Putting the wire in its pocket

Now you are ready for your elastic or straps. It’s a personal preference – some people prefer the elastic, and some prefer straps. I had this t-shirt knit fabric which makes really soft straps.

I cut a 1″ strip from the 60″ wide fabric. Cut it in half for two 30″ strips of knit. Light weight knits like this curl and make a great, soft strap – so no finishing is needed!

If you are using elastic that you tie off to put around your ears, cut two pieces of 1/8″ wide elastic at 12″ length. Don’t use elastic wider than 1/4″ – it will not be comfortable.

Use a safety pin or a bodkin to thread the strap or elastic through the opening in the side casing.

Ready to insert the strap

Here I’m putting the strap through the casing.

Using a bodkin to insert the strap

And, here’s the finished pleated face mask, from the inside.

Finished pleated face mask

Here is a close-up of the wire nose bridge. You can bend it to fit your nose. And, if you bend it so much it breaks, because it is in a pocket, you can easily replace it.

Close up of the wire nose bridge

Here is the finished pleated face mask.

Side view of pleated face mask

Finished pleated face mask folded and ready to use.

Finished pleated face mask side view
Finished pleated face mask top down view
Finished pleated face mask
Pleated face mask on model
Close up of face mask on model

Check out how to make a fitted face mask. Pick the style you prefer, or make some of each – they are both fairly easy sewing projects.

How to make a pleated face mask pinterest image
How to make a pleated mask pinterest image

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