How it's Made: Pleated Cloth Face Mask

Note: This is a work in progress. I intend to update it in the future with illustrations and may take some video to help clarify the process. For now, I've tried to be as detailed as possible in the written instructions. If anything is unclear, please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Read about the features and design choices for my mask design.

If you prefer to purchase a completed mask in beautiful, vibrant designer patterns on 100% quilting cotton, I have them available at the Arts Market (790 Queen East, Toronto)


For best results, use good quality cotton fabric, and pre-wash all pieces.

1x BACK PANEL: 7 ½“ x 7” [small: 7 ½” x 6”] (plain/light pattern)

1x FRONT PANEL: 7 ½“ x 7” [small: 7 ½” x 6”]  good quality cotton fabric rectangles for outside (dark/pattern)

2x SIDE CHANNELS: 3” x 4 ½” strip 

8” thin wire for nose strip or aluminum bar with adhesive

1 TIE: 48“ paracord or 36-40” shock cord/elastic


  1. Join main panels 
    • Place BACK and FRONT PANELS together, good sides facing in.
    • Sew top and bottom seams (¼” seam allowance). 
    • If using aluminum bar with adhesive for nose wire, glue in place now on BACK PANEL seam flap, so smooth side will be inside and against the nose when folded
    • Turn inside out so that good sides are outside. Iron seams flat.
  2. Topstitch seams
    • Trim sides flush if needed
    • Starting in the middle of one side, sew a ⅛” seam allowance on sides and bottom.
    • Leave ¼” for top if using wire, or mark and stitch along aluminum bar (approx ½”).
    • If using wire, cut a piece of wire ½” shorter than the TOTAL width of the mask.
    • Round off both ends of wire by making a small loop with needlenose pliers, and feed into the top channel.
  3. Pleats and finishing
    • Mark and iron FRONT crease 1” from top. Make the second crease by folding in half again (bottom edge meeting the folded edge of the first flap).
    • Fold and iron back creases so pleats are approximately ½” tall and front creases angle towards the bottom of the mask. Mask height should be 2½" to 3½” high.
  4. Side channels for tie
    • Place SIDE CHANNELS next to pleated mask. Fold in the top and bottom ends of each channel to match the height of the mask and iron flat. Turn 90° and fold in half with good sides facing out.
    • Align the raw edges SIDE CHANNELS and BACK PANEL sides and sew in place from the front (use seam allowance greater than previous side stitch line), securing the pleats.
    • Fold SIDE CHANNEL around the edge, making a channel for the elastic and covering the raw edge. Sew to the FRONT PANEL.
    • Thread elastic through from top to bottom, then back up the other side, forming a loop in the bottom section. Elastic can be placed in the channel while sewing the previous step, if desired (do not sew over top of the elastic).

Feel free to make as many as you like for personal use and gifts. If you intend to sell them, please don't give me credit for the design, and include a link to my website or @awordinthewoods instagram account

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