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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Mindfulness and Masks

As the world population battles COVID-19, my moods have swung from disbelief to sadness, then anger and fear.  I suspect the mood swings are not over, but for me, staying busy keeps the anxiety at bay.  

A Facebook group called Crafters Against COVID-19 *PDX* was created March 18.  By April 1st ,  over 8000 Portland area members had delivered 5427 homemade masks to Multnomah County Health Department.  The County is distributing them to care facilities and shelters.  

Sew Many Good Patterns!

I have made 200 masks using four different patterns. All were good patterns, but not all were suitable for production-like sewing.  A few days ago, I found another pattern that I will use going forward.  It goes together very quickly.  The finished product is attractive and easy to wear.  It hugs the face around the edges, while leaving a bit of breathing room at the nose and mouth.  

The pattern was created by Liz Schaffner, owner and creative genius (I kid you not) of Moments by Liz.  She has many great patterns with innovative sewing techniques.  I learn a lot from Liz and her talented group members.  Liz shared the free pattern with the members of her private Facebook group.      

I modified the pattern to comply with the Crafters group guidelines and to make it more suitable for production-like sewing.  After a few trial runs, I was able to make a mask in about one half the time it took to make any of the other masks.  And, the mask is so much easier to wear.  

I sent Liz a photo of my finished mask and she has generously allowed me to make the modified version public.  

Download free PDF version here. 


For each pattern, you need:
  • 8" x 10" 100% cotton outer fabric
  • 8" x 10" 100% cotton lining fabric
  • two 9" pieces of elastic  (updated December 6, 2020)  7" elastic was too short after several washings


Cutting and Turning

Place outer fabric and lining fabric right side together, edges aligned.  Measure and make a small mark 2” in from each corner on all sides.  Draw a diagonal line connecting the marks.  
I made a cardstock template to make this faster and more accurate. 

Don’t cut the corners yet.  This is my personal preference.  It is easier to maintain the shape as you sew the bias (diagonal) cuts of the fabric.   


Using 3/8" seam allowance, sew the lining and outer fabrics right side together leaving open about 3” to 4” on one long side for turning.  The diagonal lines are where you will cut.  Make sure you sew 3/8" inside that cut line.  When sewn, cut the corners off along the diagonal lines.

Turn right side out.  Press the mask making sure the seam allowance you left open is turned inside and pressed flat.  Roll the seams between your fingers to make sure they are fully extended and corners are sharp. I sometimes use the "non-hooked" end of a small crochet hook to gently push the corners out. Corners that are not fully extended will be troublesome when you make your folds.  

Folding the "Liz" Pleats

The pleats create the cup shape that make this mask so comfortable to wear.  This picture shows what we are trying to do.  Read on to see how to get there. 

Fold the bottom up on one side about 3/8” to 1/2” above the side corner.  

Hold the top of the fold in place and pull the lower corner to the right so the edge is parallel to the side of the mask, as pictured below.

Pin in place.

You will be sewing across the pleats top to bottom.  Pinned edges should be aligned to make a straight edge at an even distance from the side of the mask.  Try to make the two inner points meet in the center. I do not spend a lot of time trying to eliminate any gap between the points.  If there is a short gap between those points, it will not impact your finished mask.  As long as you can sew a straight line from top to bottom, it will work.  Be consistent on both sides.  

Top Stitch Finish

The top stitch will accomplish the last three steps: 
  • Sew the pleats in place
  • Secure the elastic
  • Close the opening used to turn right side out

You can do this in whatever manner you feel most comfortable.  I like to do the entire top stitch without breaking my thread. 

This picture of the inside of a finished mask may be enough to explain what I have done.  If not, you can read on for more pictures and detailed instructions.   

Starting at one corner, top stitch close to the edge across the long edge, down the side over the folds sewing the pleats in place.  When you have sewn across the first set of pleats, stop sewing with needle down and pivot.

Insert one end of a 7” piece of elastic into the pleat next to the fold and as far as it will go.  Top stitch to the side of the mask on top of the pleat catching the elastic inside.  Pivot.  

Sew up the side of the mask to about an inch from the second pleat.  Stop and insert the second side of that 9” piece of elastic.  Continue sewing to the fold.  Pivot and sew along the fold, catching the elastic as you sew.  

Stitch back and forth from top to bottom a few times catching the elastic at each end.  Continue sewing the remaining long edge to the other side.  Sew over the second set of pleats, stop and pivot.  Insert one end of the second piece of elastic and complete the top stitching as you did on the first side.  Continue sewing until you meet the top stitching where you started.

You are done!  So easy!  

Thank you Liz Schaffner, Moments by Liz, for the great pattern and for allowing me to share.