DIY fabric face masks

The Children’s Inn is in need of facial masks for all residents and staff members. To send masks to The Children’s Inn, please ship directly to us:

The Children’s Inn at NIH
7 West Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814

If you are interested in making your own, please follow the tutorial below. Additional photos and details can be found at Contact [email protected] if you have questions.


Materials needed:

  • 1 piece of fabric measuring 8” x 14”.  Until you get familiar with this tutorial, I would suggest a non-directional print.  One that has a scattered image printed on the surface such as the one shown.
  • 2 strips of fabric measuring 1.75” (1 3/4”) x 6”.  This will be the accent edge piece.  It can be the same fabric as the main piece or a small-scale print or solid.
  • Two pieces of 1/4” width elastic.  These will be about 6 1/2” long.
  • Ruler
  • Fabric marking tool.
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine, threaded.


  1. Fold the main piece of fabric in half, right sides together.  Sew along the 8 inch width edge, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
  2. Turn this tube shape inside out, so that the right side of the fabric is now on the outside.  Press this flat, keeping the seam to one end of the flattened tube.
  3. Place the tube of fabric so that the raw edges are on each side and the seam edge is at the bottom. Using a ruler, measure and mark (using a fabric pen) a line 1 1/2 inches from the bottom edge. Make another line 1 inch above this line, or 2 1/2 inches from the seam edge.
  4. Fold the seam edge up, making the crease on the first line that you just marked.  You should have 1 1/2 inch edge here.
  5. Flip the tube piece over.  Match the crease edge to the second line that you made earlier.  Press.  The pleat that you just created will be 1/2 inch deep. Pin the pleat down on each raw edge end.
  6. Now you will mark the lines for the second pleat. Mark a line measuring 1/2” from the top crease of the last pleat, (or 2″ from the bottom seam edge).
  7. Now mark another line one inch above the last line that you made (or 3 inches above the seam edge).  Using these lines as your guide, repeat the steps that you followed to make the first pleat.
  8. You should now have two pleats, each one being 1/2 inch deep.  Repeat the steps you used to make the second pleat, so that you end up with three pleats total. Press.

  9. This is what your main piece should look like at this point. Using a 1/8” seam allowance, baste stitch the raw edges.
  10. Repeat this step so that both raw edges are basted as shown in the picture above.
  11. Pin one elastic piece to the raw edge, making sure not to twist it before baste stitching it to the edge at both ends. I placed mine 1/8” from the top and bottom edge of the main pleated piece. Baste elastic in place 1/8” inch from raw edge.  Repeat, to attach remaining elastic piece to the other raw edge.
  12. Your pleated piece should now resemble the picture above.
  13. Fold each accent strip of fabric lengthwise in half, matching raw edges, as shown in the picture above.  Press.
  14. Place the strip on top of the elastic.  Make sure the raw edge is facing outward, and the creased edge is facing the main body of the pleated piece.  It will be a little longer on the top and bottom and that is okay, as we are going to fold some of that to the back.
  15. Tuck about 1/2” of the top edge to the back as shown in the picture above.
  16. Pin all layers in place.
  17. Trim the other end of the accent strip, so that it is about 1/2” longer than the bottom edge of the main pleated piece.
  18. Fold the bottom edge of the accent fabric strip to the back, just as you did with the top edge.
  19. Pin both ends in place.
  20. Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch the length of the entire edge, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.
  21. Open the the accent fabric strip seam by flipping it outward away from the main pleated piece, then press.
  22. This is what the mask should look like if you flip it over.
  23. Fold the ENTIRE accent piece down toward the main pleated piece, encasing the raw seam. You will now see the accent piece on this side, but not at all on the flip side. Press. Pin edge down.
  24. If possible, change out your presser foot to a straight stitch foot. Stitch this accent strip down to the main body of the mask, sewing along the edge, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.
  25. This step isn’t necessary.  It just gives it a nice finished look, and helps to give that elastic a little extra stability. Stitch down the edge of the mask close to the elastic side.
  26. The front of your mask should now resemble the above picture.
  27. The back of your mask should look like this.  Following the previous steps, attach the remaining accent fabric piece to the other end of the mask.
  28. You should now have a reusable, washable mask that measures approximately 4″ x 7″ (unopened).