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April 21, 2020 5 min read

Wow, what a crazy time we're currently living in, where we can't leave the house without a face mask securely placed on the face. It's essential to wear face masks because it helps our germs from contaminating other people.

A few things you should know before you start making the Reliable Face Mask without Elastic because it has some unique features compared to the standard face masks I've seen people make.

What the CDC says about homemade face masks today

The most important takeaway from the CDC's message is that covering your face when you leave the house is a "voluntary public health measure" and must not replace proven precautions such as self-quarantine at home, social distancing and thoroughly washing your hands.

The CDC is the US authority on protocols and protections against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

In the CDC's words, it "recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission." (The emphasis is the CDC's.)

The institute says not to seek out medical or surgical-grade masks for yourself and to leave N95 respirator masks to health care workers, opting instead for basic cloth or fabric coverings that can be washed and reused. Previously, the agency considered homemade face masks a last resort in hospitals and medical facilities. 


*The fabric mask’s you create will NOT prevent you from getting the COVID-19.*


Anyways, back to the making of the Reliable Face Mask without Elastic...

I binged watched many YouTube videos and jumped from many different websites to create this Reliable Face Mask. This mask is unique because it takes different elements of different face masks to ensure a snug fit with minimal time sewing. Plus, it's durable and can be washed and rewashed tons of times without failing. Also, it's easy to become a factory and crank out four face masks made from two fat quarters—one fat quarter for the main fabric and a second fat quarter made from flannel for the backside.

I'm proud to share with you (from many embarrassing tries)


The Reliable Fabric Mask features:

  • It's reversible
  • Multiple layers of cotton fabric
  • Breath without feeling restricted
  • Doesn't need elastic which is gold right now
  • Comfortable fit that's snug but yet breathable
  • Secured with knit ties to be adjustable for any adult head size including children over the age of ten
  • The ability to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to the shape (it should go into a laundry garment back to ensure the ties don't get tied or knotted together or take them out and handwash if you're concerned about entanglement 

The Reliable Mask is a one-size-fits-most. My 10-year old boys, myself, and partner Nate who has a larger face then myself, including facial hair, can wear the mask in comfort.

Supplies you'll need:
(I made four Reliable Masks from two-layered fat quarters)

9" x 8" main fabric - 100% cotton fabric
9" x 8" back fabric - 100% flannel cotton fabric
2 - 1" t-shirt knit fabric or knit fabric approximately 40" or more (before stretched) (I used the boy's t-shirts they outgrew.)

Other items you'll want handy:

  • Scissors
  • Iron and ironing board 
  • Ruler larger than 9" x 8." 
  • Sewing machine with thread 
  • Rotary mat more significant than 9" x 8." 
  • Rotary cutter - to cut multiple layers together 
  • Binder clips (or pins but Binder clips work best) 

This pattern using different seam allowances, read directions carefully.



1.  Cut the main fabric and flannel fabric together at 9" x 8." (Again, you can cut 4-Reliable Fabric Face Maks from two-layer fat quarters.

2. Place your fabric Right-Sides together.

3. Use your Binder clips (or pins) to secure the edges of the fabric from moving when sewing. Leave an approximately 3" no-sew space (the no-sew space will to turn the fabric inside out.)

4. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew around the mask (minus the 3" no-sew area).

5. Take your scissors and clip off the corners, but don't cut your stitches.

6. From the 3" hole, turn the fabric inside out.

7. Carefully poke the edges using chopsticks or the back of a pen to push your corner seams - be careful not to poke through the corners.

8. Iron.

9. Cut your knit fabric into 2 - 1" by 40" or so for the string ties.

Take your knit string ties and find the appropriate center and then place the center in the middle of both of your hands with a 9" distance and stretch the fabric.



10. Flannel side up, place the knit string tie fabric on the face mask while being mindful of the center of the knit string tie - Place the string tie to the top and bottom of the mask.

11. Using your binding clips, create a tube by folding up the bottom of the mask 3/4" inch and clip in place. I used three clips on the bottom of the face mask. BEFORE YOU CLIP make sure the knit tie-string is at the edge of the fold because you don't want to sew on the tie-string; otherwise, you won't be able to bunch up for a snug fit at the nose or chin.



12. Repeat step 10 for the top of the mask.



13. Head to your sewing machine to sew a top stitch along the edge of the fold, but, before you start to sew backstitch when you start and end (see the photo as an example). Topstitch top and bottom of the mask.


The next step is creating pleats.

14. Turn the fabric around, having the main material facing you (the non-flannel side).

15. Next, eyeball 1" down from the tube sew line and gather the mask by pinching down and folding at the same time to create mini pleat, once the pleat is even on both sides of the mask use a Binder clip to clip it in place. The crease should measure approximately 1/4" (See photo).


16. Do this twice to create two pleats.


17. Using the tube sew line as your guild, start at the top of the stitch line and then stop at the end of the bottom tunnel sew line. DO NOT sew into the tube sew-lines because then your knit string tie won't work correctly.

Back-stitch both start and end of the pleats. Use a 1/4" seam allowance on both of the side edges.

Lastly, sew the mask with the pleats going down.


Turn it around because it's ready to wear!

Quick fix for a custom fit:

Does the top of the mask need to be tighter around your nose? Pinch the top of the tube to stretch the knit fabric tie-straight to create a ruffle and closer fix. Do the same if you need the bottom tighter for your chin.

A video is coming soon! 


Email with questions or leave a comment! 


Norton House Quilting 
30 West Main Street, Wilmington, VT 
Open daily 10am to 5pm 

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