The ‘New Normal’
Updated: Jun 6
Firstly apologies for the radio silence over the last few weeks, not only has it been quite busy here at Two Little Birds HQ but we’re fighting over the use of the laptop as home schooling stretches ahead of us to the end of the summer term. I’ve wrestled it off Harry to bring you a tutorial for simple, pleated face mask.
As the lockdown is gradually eased, many more people will be returning to work and adjusting to a ‘new normal’ which may include wearing a face mask. This may be mandatory for some while others might just prefer to take precautions when heading out to the supermarket after a long 12 weeks in isolation.
For this mask you will need:
* Closely woven fabric, quilter’s cotton is ideal. A ‘fat quarter‘ will make two masks.
* Elastic, I used 5mm width.
* Some basic sewing skills and a sewing machine.
Cut a rectangle 8” x 13” (20.5cm x 33 cm) from your fabric, remembering to cut it on the straight grain ie. parallel to the selvedge, to avoid the mask distorting. If you plan to make a few I would recommend cutting a cardboard template to draw round to speed up the process.
Finish the two short edges with an over locker, zig zag stitch or pinking shears to stop the edges from fraying when the mask is washed.
Fold the rectangle in half so the two short edges meet. Stitch 1 1/2” (4cm) from each edge using a 3/8” (1cm) seam allowance. This leaves a gap of 5” (12.5cm) in the centre which will become the opening of your filter pocket.
Press the seam open, then move the seam towards one edge and press again. Pressing the folded edges here helps with positioning the elastic in the next stage.
Cut your elastic into two lengths each between 6 1/2“ - 8” (16cm-20cm) long depending on your size. I would suggest 8” (20cm) for adults and 7” (18cm) for ladies/teens.
Place the first piece of elastic inside the folded rectangle, with the ends up against the folded edge and lined up with the raw edge of the fabric.
Stitch the side seam with a 3/8” (1cm) seam allowance securing the elastic in place as you go, ensuring the elastic is not twisted. This can be tricky as the elastic is shorter than the opening but I found by stitching the first end in place I could then reach inside the open end and position the second end before continuing sewing the seam. Repeat for the other side.
Now you can turn your mask to the right side through the filter pocket opening. Pull on the elastic to tweak the corners out nicely and press your mask flat.
To make the pleats, I found pressing in some guidelines helped to place them rather than fiddling around with a tape measure! With your mask placed with the opening facing upwards at the top (like in the picture above), fold the mask in half and in half again to produce three fold lines.
Unfold and flip the mask over so the opening is underneath and bring the fold line nearest to you to meet the second fold line. Then take this pleat and push it towards the third fold line, forming another pleat.
You should now have two pleats and a mask measuring approximately 3”
(7.5cm). Smooth the pleats and give them a press with the iron to set them in place.
Topstitch all the way round your mask, stitching the pleats in place and reinforcing the elastic as you go. The finished mask should have the pleats facing downwards with an opening on the reverse at the bottom for your filter.
The masks work very well as they are but if you would like the added protection of a filter you can use dried out baby wipes, interfacing or j-cloths cut to size. Anything non-woven in fact. These can be inserted into the pocket between the layers and discarded after each use, leaving the mask to be washed either by hand or machine.
The sizes can be altered to fit by cutting a larger or smaller rectangle and by adjusting the length of the elastic. For an adult you could cut the initial rectangle 9” x 13” (23cm x 33cm) and similarly for a child reduce the rectangle to 7” x 13” (18cm x 33cm). Just remember the short side of the rectangle is the width across the face so for real littlies you could go even smaller.
I hope you find this useful and manage to stay safe, sane and busy as we all negotiate the new normal.