How To Sew A Face Mask That Ties

I’ve already shared how to sew a face mask that uses elastic, so today I want to show you how to sew a face mask with ties.

After speaking with a good friend of mine who is a nurse at a large hospital in the Bay Area, she reminded me that not everyone likes the face masks with elastic. Sometimes they pinch too much, or the elastic leaves an indentation behind the ears and becomes uncomfortable over time.

At her hospital, she reminded me, people wear both types of masks: elastic and ones with ties. It may not be the most popular, but it’s still good for our medical professionals to have options because we never know what they’re facing on a day-to-day basis.

So this is a quick tutorial on how to sew a face mask with ties.

Please note: It may appear that the ties are going the wrong direction in the picture above, but making them vertical allows for people to ‘perch’ the first tie easily on top of their heads without it slipping as much.

Materials For This Face Mask

Sew a face mask with ties

The materials you’ll need for this style face mask are:

  • 100% cotton fabric, a tight weave is preferred
  • Bias tape (store bought or make your own). You will need two pieces that are 36″ each.
  • Fabric marker (if you like to mark before pleating, I am just winging it with clips).

Steps To Make a Face Mask with Ties

Sewing this face mask is very straightforward.

Here is a quickie explanation for the experienced sewers:

  1. Fold a 15″ x 7.5″ rectangle in half wrong sides together.
  2. Sew the top edge with 1/4″ seam allowance, finger press open the seam, turn it right sides out.
  3. Add 2 – 3 pleats, clip, and baste with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  4. Bind the pleated rectangle with 1/2″ double folded bias tape that is long enough to use as ties in the back. The length of ties not bound to the mask end up being ~16″ depending on the height of your mask.

For those of you who would still like to see how it’s done, I have a step-by-step explanation below with some pictures thrown in to make sure things are clear.

Step One: Cut a 15″ x 7.5″ piece of fabric.
Step Two: Fold the rectangle in half and sew the top edge with a 1/4″ seam. Use your fingers to press open the seam.
Step Three: Turn the fabric right sides out. Place the seam in the middle on the (now) square.
Step Four: Create 2 – 3 pleats, clip, then secure with 1/4″ seam.
Prepare the pleats before you sew the ties onto the face mask.
Step Five: Prepare the bias tape and sew both pieces onto the mask.

This step requires a little more explanation. You’ll want to finish the each end of the tape so that it doesn’t fray. That’s a total of four edges (two for each tie).

So fold over the edge (first pic) then fold the tape back in place.

I also marked the middle of the bias tape with a clip so that the mask can be placed so that each tie is even (pic 2).

Once you know where to place the mask, secure it with clips or pins (pic 3).

When you sew the bias tape, make sure to start at the end to sew the two sides closed. To make it easy, I placed and secured one tie at a time because the tape is long enough that clipping them at the same time would be annoying while sewing one down.

The length of part that will be used tie the mask behind the head ends up being ~16 inches depending on the final height of your mask.

Done! A finished face mask with ties.

To create a more finished look, it’s best (of course) to use matching thread. For the purpose of the tutorial, I used a contrasting thread so you could see how the ties were finished.

Let’s Help Medical Professionals

I realize there are conflicting messages online about whether or not fabric face masks are acceptable. So, as with any handmade donation, before you get started find out if local-area hospitals and clinics are accepting donations. It’s also good to speak with friends and family in the medical profession to see how their organizations are handling this crisis. Some people have even created Facebook groups like this one and this one to create a centralized location to support national and local efforts.

If you know of a medical professional in need, please contact me or leave a comment below so I can help get the word out. I also welcome suggestions of additional tutorials or featuring other organizations in need of donations.

One thought on “How To Sew A Face Mask That Ties

  • March 26, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Thank you! I’ve been wondering where there was a pattern, knowing there are lots of sewers who would love to help out in this way.


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