July 6th, 2020

by Becky Goddard

As quarantine continues, I have been trying to fill my time with things other than just binge-watching TV series (yes, I am one of the many who inhaled "Normal People" in one sitting, an activity which has subsequently resulted in an obsession with Connell and his infamous silver chain). Anyway. Since the government in the UK recommends that people wear face masks when in public, I figured it was a good opportunity to make some myself. It's a fun way to spend my time and I like that it also has a useful outcome. I made one for myself first, and then my family and friends began to ask for ones of their own. It's great making them yourself rather than purchasing them online because it's cheaper, and you can personalise them to make them as cute as you like! I embroidered smiley faces on some of mine so that they look happy and can then trick people into thinking that you don’t, in fact, have a resting bitch face. Bellow are the simple steps I followed to create these simple pleated masks. 


Suggested Materials:

- Sewing machine 

- Measuring tape 

- Pins 

- Fabric scissors

- Elastic (I used 6mm) 

- Cotton thread 

- Cotton fabric (I used old pillowcases)  


1. First I created a paper pattern block. This isn’t essential: you can simply measure the size required, mark it on the fabric and cut accordingly. However, I find that it's easier to follow a pattern block for efficiency and especially if you're making a large quantity. Cut the piece so it measures 20 x 38 cm using your preferred method. 


2. Next, iron the fabric rectangle in half.


3. Following this, machine-stitch (with a 1 cm seam allowance) down the raw edges parallel to the fold, leaving a few cm gap in the middle of the stitching.


4. Using an iron, press the seam open. Having prepared the piece, measure and cut the elastic for the ears. For women’s masks I used 16cm of elastic and for men's I usually go with 17.5cm.


5. Pin the two pieces of elastic vertically on the inside corners of the square so that they are inside the mask.


6. Machine-stitch them into place.


7. The next step is the most fiddly one. Turn the fabric inside out. For this, I simply push the corners of the fabric through the hole I had left in the middle between the stitch lines from Step 3. 


8. With the fabric facing the right way, iron it flat. It should be in  a square shape with elastic elastic pieces on the sides.


9. Once the fabric has been ironed, make sure that that the hole you used to turn it inside out is hidden. Using the iron, create two folds on the fabric and make sure that the hole is covered by a fold on the inside. The reason the pleated design is great is that it is adjustable: it can cover the face from the nose to the bottom of the chin. 


10. Pin the pleats and then machine-stitch them down the sides with a 0.5cm seam allowance.


11. Voila! Your pleated face mask is complete. Now you can make it unique and personalised. I’ve been stitching initials for some family and sewing smiley faces on others. But get creative and see where the wind takes you. Embroider a mural of Paul Mescal if that makes you happy. 


Becky Goddard is a fashion design graduate from Surrey. Since graduating, she has worked as a fashion intern in London, while making accessories and garments in her spare time. You can find her work @rebecca__goddard