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Friday, December 25, 2020

Making a mask/face covering in this pandemic

For the past few months, I have been on a quest to make fabric face coverings for myself, family and friends. Procuring materials during the pandemic when materials are barely available to now when the haberdasher is choc-a-bloc with plenty of choices has made me see how much  Singapore is returning to normality.

Mask diplomacy became something that I got into to reconnect with friends. It made me aware of how Singpost is so costly and slow in overseas mail and how DHL can be a godsend when I need to send the masks quickly and reliably. My little one over in the UK received more parcels of face coverings in the last few months of lockdown  circuit breaker than  all the past  5 years combined.  

Sewing calms me down and helps me focus on what matters at the moment; making a quality piece of reusable face covering that can keep my child and her friends safer in the community.

The following are a (almost) step by step pictorial of my mask is made. Though this blog post is not about cooking, this is the public space I own that I can document my handicraft. Use the information here to make masks for your loved ones. All rights reserved.

In my instructions below, I am sewing this for myself, a regular sized covering. For anyone with a smaller face, reduce the width by 1cm. I have not figured a golden ratio for a covering that makes one's face look slimmer. Use a piece of paper or scrap and superimpose on your face and see if the dimension is to your liking. A note though; do not have the covering too wide because depending on the material, the sides may not hug the face well.


All materials can be had at any good haberdasher. I get mine from Brighton Sewing Accessories in People's Park Center Level 3.

Sanitize your hands before touching the fabric. I don a mask while sewing but I would advice washing the new face covering before donning it.

Makes: 1 regular sized face covering, double layer, adjustable nose strip and loops


Cotton cloth for main covering and sides for loops

Plastic coated wire strip, 8-9cm

2 elastic bands 13-14 inches, 2 silicon stoppers, thin wire for assembly


Make a paper template of the main body. For a regular face covering, the dimension that works for me is  16x18 cm. For a smaller face, 15x18cm should suffice. 

Fold the cotton cloth to make 2 layers. Place the template on the cloth and cut to size as the template. It is best to cut along the weave of the fabric for a cleaner finish.

With the cloth right side together, sew the cut edge together.  Note the pitch setting on the sewing machine.

Flip over to the right side of the covering. Steam press the seam.

Readjust the pressed covering, such that the seam is at the edge. Press to neaten the covering.

At the seam side of the covering, sew another line with width enough space to slide in a plastic nose strip later. This is the top of the covering.

It should look like so. This is the top of the covering.

Make a mark 4 cm down from the top on both sides. Make a fold downwards, around 1.5cm. This is the 1st fold.

Below the 1st fold, mark 1.5cm on both sides. Pinch the 2 points and make the second fold, 1.5cm. Clip to secure. This is the 2nd fold.

Repeat the above to make the 3rd fold. Secure with clips.

Cut out a plastic nose strip, around 8cm. Too short, it's useless. Too long, it's uncomfortable. 

I slip in the strip at this juncture because I tend to forget after sewing the folds together. 

Increase the pitch ; the stitches will be removed later. Sew along to secure the folds.  I add a red fancy tag (3cm, folded) below the first fold as my own 'brand' and mark the outer left side of the covering for orientation. It's tacky and if you are new at this, give this tag a miss.

Use a sharp thin appliance to keep the folds in place as the footer moves down the cloth.

This is the preliminary result. The folds are held together and do not need to be sewn through.

Cut 2 pieces of cloth for the sides, 10x4cm.

Place the side piece right side to right side at the edge of the covering. Wrap the extended ends and secure with clips.

Set pitch to regular setting. Sew to attach the side piece to the main body. Double stitch to secure. 

Flip over the side piece.

Flip over to show the raw side of the side piece. Fold the 2 ends and double fold to wrap the raw edge of the main body. 

Secure the folded side piece.

Note that the bottom fold extends about 1mm beyond the intended seam line. This allows a neat finish. Now sew along the main and side piece slowly. 

Do a final check to ensure top and bottom of the main body is of the same length. If it isn't, mark and trim the other raw edge. This ensures the end product turns out professional looking.

Repeat for the other side piece.

For a final check, make sure both top and bottom are of the same length.

Cut out 2 pieces of elastic bands, 3mm width, to 13-14 inches long.

Use the threading device to guide the elastic through the side side. For ease of threading, I use a cut drinking straw to guide the blue threader into it. It prevents the threader from getting stuck in the inside folds of the side piece.

There it goes! Easy peasy!

Almost there! Knot the elastic. Hide the knot in the side piece. 

Here's the finishing touch! Use a thin wire to loop the elastic band through the silicone stopper.

The final product should be a symmetrical rectangle ( is there any non symmetrical rectangle ? But you know what I mean )

Ta-da! The final product that is good to go. Remember to give it a wash before using it. I iron mine for comfort before using them.

Handmade masks are 'artisanal' and therefore sizes vary between masks. Any deviation of more than 2 mm is visible to the eye, so take time to secure the material before sewing. 

A blessed Christmas to all my readers here.


  1. Merry Christmas! I see that you have a talent for sewing and I really like your homemade mask. I have issues with those (cheap) commercial ones because due to the choice/quality of fabric, they make my nose itch. I also two free (from purchasing something online) really good ones but alas the elastic band is too short!

    I don't sew (unfortunately) but if I did, I am confident I can follow your instructions.

  2. Darn I am a visual person. Might need to visit you with my material to learn step by step. But first need to get that silicon stopper n that nose strip but where to buy?

  3. Darn I am a visual person. Might need to visit you with my material to learn step by step. But first need to get that silicon stopper n that nose strip but where to buy?

  4. Sorry for the very late reply. I get everything from the harberdasher at People's Park Level 3 called Brighton Accessories.