Since I first published pattern and instructions for my Hybrid Cloth Mask, which fits gapless yet roomy and reliably stays in place, I’ve been asked about making a detail tutorial for beginners and visual learners, but as a video needs at least 2-3 quiet days and a picture tutorial was possible to just make inbetween, I decided to go with that for now!
Short introduction to my hybrid cloth mask
I have optimized pattern and manufacture of the cloth mask, by making it fit snug around nose, cheek and chin of the wearer, but at the same time allowing them to breathe, speak and laugh without the mask moving around or glasses fogging up. Thanks to a backwards pleat, it doesn’t even need a wire! Plus, all individual parts (wire, ribbons, filter) are simply replaceable and once you’ve figured out how the mask is made, it’s easy and quick to sew, wash and iron.
To follow this tutorial, you’ll need to download the PDF with pattern and instructions from the original post. There, you can also read about my personal mask test, the special features of my pattern and the general handling of cloth masks. Furthermore, I wrote an extended FAQ section you might want to look at while making the mask! ➔
Besides a printout of pattern and instructions (or just a ruler, if you don’t have a printer!) and bookmark for the FAQ, you’ll need (at least) two fabrics (please test in advance whether you can breathe well!), some wire, elastic straps or textile ties, a sewing machine or simply a needle, scissors, pins, chalk or pencils for marking, plus (ideally) a flatiron.
Picture Tutorial for Sewing the Hybrid Cloth Mask
The chapter numbers (1) – (6) in this pictorial step-by-step tutorial relate to the numbers in the illustrated instructions you just printed out from the PDF. I highly recommend to look at both simultaneously, in order to not get lost! :)
Chapter (1) Preparation of Pattern, Material and Supplies
(1a) Visit the original post, read it and keep the tab open or bookmark for the FAQ (in case you might need them later :)). Download instructions in your paper size [EU or US], print the PDF* and cut out both pattern and template.
*If you don’t have a printer, you could just use a ruler and look for measurements in pattern and instructions!
(1b) Once you’re ready, collect your materials and start cutting! Cut or rip* 20 x 20 cm / 8″ x 8″ of the back and front fabric and 2 strips of 5 x 10 cm / 2″ x 4″ each. Put the strips aside for the moment. Later, you will also need 18 cm / 7″ of wire for the nose holder and 60 cm / 24″ elastic band for the earbands or 120 cm / 48″ textile ribbon for a headband.
* Personally, I think ripping the fabric (as shown in my pictures) and pre-fringing 2-3 threads to prevent further fringing is the fastest solution. If you prefer to work more neat, you can cut your fabrics and / or overlock all edges!
Variation: To use more than 2 layers of fabric, arrange them to 2 even packages, pin them if necessary to avoid confusion, and use packages as one layer. By reinforcing inner layers, the nose wire fits softer, but maybe less tight.
Variation: To make the Hybrid Mask from NWPP (spunbond polypropylene), which can be washed but not ironed, you can finger press and streak out the seams and pleats. If you don’t need a filter opening, closing the bottom seam and topstitching the edge from the right will make pleating easier. For side channels, you can replace the NWPP with woven fabric, as it is easier to work with and also scrunches better, which helps the mask to fit gapless.
Chapter (2) Marking, Stiching and Ironing on the wrong side
(2a) Layer your fabrics with the wrong side out. Place the paper pattern on top and use chalk or crayon in a contrast colour to mark the opening for the wire at the top and both sides of the opening for the filter at the bottom.
In case you’re afraid to mess up your seam, you can now pin or clip your fabrics to each other, but they’re square and probably won’t slide too much… if you’re a little careful and hold them when sewing, it should work fine without!
(2b) Start stitching at the top, right after the mark for the wire opening. Your seam allowance is 1 cm / 0,4″ from the cutting edge, which is most likely indicated on your machine. Stitch all the way down to the edge of the fabric. Now, turn your piece 180° around. Start stitching the bottom seam right from the edge, then interrupt the seam when you meet the first marking, pull the fabric away from you and stitch on after the second marking, up to the edge.
(2c) If you did everything right, you’ll have stitched two seams, one with a small side opening for the wire in the top part, and one with a larger center opening for the filter in the bottom part, just like shown the pictures above.
If you don’t intend to insert a wire or a filter, you can just stitch a simple edge-to-edge seam at top and bottom.
(2d) Iron the seam allowances apart. A sleeve board works great for this, but you can also do this flat! Start with the top seam on the opposite side of the wire opening, iron all the way down and help the opening to fold into place. Do the same with the bottom seam. Now, you’re ready to turn your piece over to the right side! Once you’ve done that, lay it flat down and iron it. Be careful that your edges look neat and that the inside fabric doesn’t stick out!
Variation: If you want to work particularly neat, you can (a) serger the edges first or (b) cut a little longer, sew the bottom as first seam, fold in allowances, stitch down on both sides, then sew the upper seam! For a filter opening over the full width of the mask, cut the bottom slightly longer, fold in allowances and stitch down each side individually.
Chapter (3) Stitching, marking and pleating on the right side
(3a) First, find your top side by looking for the wire opening. Once you’ve found it, stitch the wire tunnel about 0,5 cm / 0,2″ – 1 cm / 0,4″ from the top edge. You can use the side of your sewing foot as a measure! Now, your piece should look like shown above, and you can iron it again. This makes the layers stay together and helps folding the pleats.
(3b) Get your paper pattern and fold over the seam allowance on top and bottom (as you have already sewn and ironed them in the fabric!), so you can use the pattern without the allowances. Place it on top of your piece, with the top line of the paper on the top line (indicated by the wire seam) of your piece. Now, mark your pleats on both sides.
* You can also fold the pleats with your pattern (instructions see pattern!), but as some of you might not have a printer, I’m showing the traditional pleating method here. If you’re using a ruler, the distances from top are 2 cm / 0,4” (backwards pleat 1), 4 cm / 0,8” , 4 cm / 0,8″ (inside of pleat 2), 2 cm / 0,4” , 4 cm / 0,8″ (inside of pleat 3), 2 cm / 0,4” .
(3c) Now, you’re ready to fold your pleats! Start with the first mark from the top edge and fold the edge backwards from there, to the inside of your piece (to the line indicated by a little A in the pattern!), on both sides. Iron, pin or clip it down. Then, pinch the fabric at the second mark on both sides and fold it down to meet the third mark (line B). Iron, pin or clip down the second pleat as well. Top edge and pleat should meet at the back (line A), without overlapping.
(3d) Now, fold the third pleat the same way, by pinching the fabric at the fourth mark and folding it down to meet the fifth mark (line C). Iron, pin or clip down the third pleat as well. Take a good look at your piece and make sure that both sides have the same length, and that you don’t have more than 6 layers of fabric folded in any place.
You can iron the pleats down either while folding (I prefer to do that, but for the pictures, I wanted to show you a clearer side view :)) or after pinning. Ironing helps with the sewing of all the layers, so I highly recommend!
Variation: To use the paper pattern as a folding template, print it out, fold it in advance, place it on top of your piece and fold all layers together. You can also use two paper patterns, over and under your piece, for neater pleating.
Another method I call eighths is most suitable for advanced hybrid mask makers, who already know what the pleats are supposed to look like. First fold back and pin the 2 cm of the reverse pleat at the top, and then you’ll fold your workpiece in half several times. You begin on the front of your piece, fold the bottom edge onto the top edge (half), hold these edges, turn your piece and fold the bottom edge onto the top edge (quarter). Finger press the folds, open them, and you will see the upper pleat! Now, pin it down on the marked line. For the lower pleat, fold the bottom edge of the workpiece back up to the bottom edge of the upper pleat (quarter), turn your workpiece and fold the bottom edge to the center line (eighth). Finger press, open and find your lower pleat, then pin it and proceed as instructed!
Chapter (4) Arranging and sewing the outer part of the tunnel
(4a) Place the strips of fabric with the right side inwards on the outer edges of your piece. Center the strips in relation to the piece and bend them to an angle of ca. 8° from top, to achieve a trapezoid shape*. Pin or clip the strips down.
* For finding the right angle for your trapezoid shape, you can either use the printed template or simply hold the top part of your strip at the top edge of your piece and move the bottom part of the strip app. 1 cm / 0,4” inwards.
(4b) Before you start sewing the first strip, fold its top overlap down towards you, from the place where it will attach to the piece. Stitch the strip down approx. 1 cm / 0,4″ from its cutting edge. Carefully stitch* your way to the bottom – and before your foot reaches the edge, fold up the bottom overlap of the strip, from the place where it will attach to the piece, and then finish your seam. Stitched overlaps will help you later, when inserting ties into the mask.
* If your machine can’t handle the layers, it can help to sew very slow but steady, to pull out the pins while sewing (I often do that :)) and to work the machine rather by hand on the wheel than by foot on the gas, or both at once.
(4c) After finishing your seams on both sides, remove all the pins and cut off the excess fabric of your piece right behind the cutting edges of the strips, approx. 1 cm / 0,4″ from the seams (if you’ve sewn according to instructions :)).
Variant: If you want to work particularly neat, you can fold the seam allowances on the top and bottom of the strip around the mask, and stitch the allowances down on the strip, right after sewing it on and turning it over.
Chapter (5) Ironing and stitching the inner part of the tunnel
(5a) Fold both your strips over and out, iron them down neatly and turn your piece around, so you look at its inside. Fold the strips over, and fold their cutting edges inwards. Pin the edges down, slightly overlapping the seam.
(5b) Turn your piece around again, so that you look at the outside, and stitch your tunnel down from the front, in the ditch – as precisely as you possibly can, because that part will be visible in the finished mask. When your seams are ready, take a good look at the back, if all edges are properly sewn down. Your mask is almost ready now!
Chapter (6) Inserting wire, ties and filter
(6a) If your wire is rather thin, please bend the edges before inserting, to minimize the risk of hurting yourself. Move over the edges of the seam with the end of the wire, to search for your opening. Once you’ve found it, carefully insert the wire all the way to the other side, and slightly bend the visible end, to hide it in the seam. If you like, you can pre-shape the wire now by bending it right in the middle. With that preparation, your mask will be easier to dress.
If you’re not comfortable with the wire, you don’t necessarily have to use it here! This pattern doesn’t need the help of a wire to stay put, or to stop foggy glasses. It’s just a tiny little bit better with a wire, so it’s up to you if you use it or not!
(6b) Use a safety pin, a bodkin or a homemade tool (approx. 30 – 40 cm / 12″ – 16″ thin wire folded in half, so that an eyelet is created at the end :)) to pull your ties through the channel. Secure elastics with a safety pin until you (or the recipient) can adjust them, knot or sew and pull them into the casings, so they are invisible from the outside.
Alternatively, you can make all sorts of ties easily adjustable with the help of sliding knots, pony beads or cord stoppers – and you can even combine ear loops and head ties (see infographics on mask tying techniques).
(6c) For your filter, cut a non-woven fabric (f.e. spunbond NWPP, paper towel or tissue) to 16 cm / 6,4” x 18 cm / 7”. Lay that filter flat, grab one of the upper corners with two fingers and insert it, as if you’d dress a cover on a pillow, into the outmost corner of your mask and fix it there with a safety pin, on the inside of the reverse pleat. Do the same on the other side, then straighten your mask down and distribute your filter evenly into the pleats on the sides.
(6d) Congratulations, you’re done! When putting on your mask, don’t forget to adjust ties to individual fit and pull the drawstring channels, so that the shape will round gaplessly on the sides, arch to the front and fit better overall.
Depending on questions, I update parts of this post sometimes (last: February 14th, 2021). If you think that something is missing or unclear, please feel free comment below (or via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or send me an email!
* Conditions of Use, Rights and Sharing
This design, pattern and instructions are protected by German copyright laws (© Iris Luckhaus | All rights reserved). I hereby agree to a non-commercial use of my design, which means that you may sew masks for yourself, your family and friends or for donating them to others for free, given that my copyright, name and website are always included!
Without my prior written permission, you may not reproduce, distribute or commercially use any of this material in any way. This means that you are not authorized to present this design (or modifications of it) as your own, and that you may not publish your own photo or video tutorials with my pattern! As long as it’s not a tutorial though, I enjoy seeing your pictures with my mask, and thank you very much for tagging @irisluckhaus and #luckhausmask! :)
For updates and further developments (which are sure to come!), please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Xing, LinkedIn, Pinterest or YouTube. If you’d like to share my pattern with your friends, feel free to use my posts!
I’m spending a lot of unpaid time on elaborating and explaining those instructions, helping the helpers to help. If you’d like to encourage this, I’d highly appreciate if you could buy me a little time via Paypal (post@irisluckhaus)!
If you’d like to use my instructions commercially (i.e. with the intention of making a profit), f.e. by selling masks sewn according to my pattern, please contact me and let me know more about your business, your location and your ideas!
Great thanks to Matthias, Angelika, Reinhard, Bruni, Margot, Rose, Tanni, Eli, Ilia, Chrissi, Henning and Ekke for amazing support from near and far, practical ideas, face measurements, advance reading, trying out and trying on! I am also extremely grateful to the hardworking volunteer seamstresses of several awesome mask groups on Facebook for their clever questions and sparkling enthusiasm for my pattern. Furthermore, I’d like to thank all those who sew, wear and give away this mask (or any other mask!) for their efforts to protect others: You are all heroes!