Simplified FACE MASK / No Elastic / Filter Pocket / Upcycled T-Shirt Ties

No Elastic Face Mask - Youmakeitsimple.comAs you most likely have heard, face masks are in huge demand right now, as we experience this COVID-19 pandemic. There is a BIG movement going on with crafters making and donating homemade masks. Forbes even wrote an article calling all people who sew to help with the face mask shortage.

However, before you go crazy and start mass-producing a bunch of masks, I think it’s important that you get informed on the mask-wearing facts. I know there is A LOT controversy over their effectiveness and use, but from my research here are a few resources that I think are reliable.

This HUFFPOST article is loaded with links to who should and should not wear a mask, how effective homemade masks are and they even recommend some mask patterns. The World Health Organization has some good videos showing when to use a mask and other tips to protect against the coronavirus.

The purpose of this post is not to educate about the COVID-19 virus, but to show you how easy it is to make a simplified face mask for yourself, your family or serve the community by making and donating them, if you choose. 

Get informed!

I encourage you to be informed. Call your local hospitals, healthcare facilities and see what their needs are. If they are taking homemade masks and could use them, by all means, get out your sewing machines and your fabric stash and get your little sewing fingers moving!!!!! 

I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of different styles and patterns of masks out there and most of them call for elastic. If you’ve tried to buy elastic lately, you’ll find that most stores are out of stock. NO WORRIES! You can make this face mask without elastic using an upcycled t shirt!

This face mask has

  • No Elastic
  • A Filter Pocket
  • Wire Nose Clamp
  • Upcycled T-Shirt Ties

video tutorial

Simplified Face Mask-No Elastic_0237Material and Items Needed



If you do not sew and would like to purchase a face mask already made, I have them in my Etsy shop HERE.

If you don’t have any knit fabric or T-shirts to make ties with, I found a great resource where you can purchase this stuff already made. It’s called “FARMYARN”. This yarn is made from recycled lycra fabric that is REALLY stretchy and durable. It’s like elastic and can be used in so many ways ie: FACE MASKS! You can read more about it and buy it HERE


Simplified Face Mask-No Elastic cutting out


ADULT: Fabric 14 1/2 inches x 8 inches (36.8 cm x 20.3 cm).  
TEEN: Fabric 13 3/4 inches x 7 inches 
CHILD: Fabric 13 inches x 6 inches

Simplified Face Mask-No Elastic TIES2- CUTTING OUT TIES

The beauty of knit fabric, is that is doesn’t fray, and when pulled it will curl. You may be asking why do we want it to curl? When it curls it creates a little tube, like an enclosed tie, but you don’t have to sew it to keep it that way like you would a woven fabric. knit fabric strips cutting

Cut two strips either crosswise or lengthwise 1 inch wide. (2.5) cm

Cutting along the bottom of a t-shirt, the fabric will curl and expose the wrong side of the fabric. (Which doesn’t matter if using a plain color, preference only). But if you want the right side of the fabric exposed, cut the shirt lengthwise as shown in the diagram above.

Face mask sewing pattern Pull the strips to stretch and curl the fabric.

Cut ties to 15 inches (38.1) cm

Simplified-Face-Mask-No-Elastic3-  Finish the edges of the short sides of the mask piece using a serger or zigzag stitch.

4-  Place the right sides together of the SHORT ENDS of the mask piece.

ADULT: Measure 1 ½ inches from both sides and mark with a pin.
TEEN: Measure 1 inch from edges
CHILD: Measure 3/4 inch from edges.

5-  Using a straight stitch, sew from edge to the pin. Backstitch. Sew the other end the same way.

6- Open up seam and press.

7- Topstitch along both sides of the seam.

(It’s easiest to keep the wrong side out and sew inside the tube you just made).

8-  Place seam 1/2 inch from the top fold


9-Sewing the Face mask ties

Take the ties and place the ends in the corners of the mask, making sure they butt up against the fold. Allow the ends to stick out a bit to make sure you are catching them in the seam. Pin or clamp in place. Pull the tie ends out the hole to keep them out of your way.

I love these little fabric clamps, but pins work just fine.

Sew down the sides of the mask, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam.

Clip corners.

10- Turn inside out.

Poke out the corners and press.

Simplified-Face-Mask-No-Elastic pleats11- Mark and sew pleats

Lay the pleat guide along the edge of the mask and place pins in to mark folding points. There should be 6 pins on each side, as indicated in the photo above.

Fold the top pin down to meet the second pin. Clip fold in place using the fabric pins or pin in place. Continue this process until all three pleats have been formed.

If you are making a lot of these masks after a while you won’t need to measure and pin, you’ll be able to just eyeball it. 

Repeat this on the other side. Press pleats in place.

12-Top stitch along the side edges of the mask.

First pass sew close 1/4 inch from the edge, and the second pass sew close to the edge.

13- Wire Nose Clamp

Take the pipe cleaner or wire that you are using and insert it through the hole in the back of the mask. Align it at the TOP of the mask and centered. Make sure it is against the folded edge of the mask.

Sew along the top edge at 1/2 inch seam allowance to create a casing for the wire.

Sew along the bottom edge as well to reinforce and stabilize the mask. 


There you have it.

Keep in mind that these masks MAY not prevent us from contracting Covid-19, but they can act as a physical reminder for us to keep our hands away from our face, and when it comes down to it, they may be better than nothing as a protective barrier.

If you think that a handmade mask cannot be used, think again. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a place for them — in times of crisis, like the one we are in right now. On the CDC page: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks, they explain that as a last resort, a homemade mask is acceptable.

NEED A GENUINE N95 Respirator Mask Reusable, (FDA Registered) Face Mask?

Check out this reputable source

Take care my dear friends! We are all in this together! 

Sending love to all of you!

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  • Suzette GardnerApril 1, 2020 - 2:04 pm

    Hi Jan, you have a great easy video and pattern. Some people do not have sewing machine and I believe all people should where some sort of mask. Since there is a shortage, could you create a video to show people how they can take a T-shirt and make a mask for their families. This can be something the family can do together.

    Thank You,
    Suzette GardnerReplyCancel

    • JanApril 1, 2020 - 8:58 pm

      Hi Suzette, Are you talking about making a mask without sewing?ReplyCancel

  • Suzette GardnerApril 1, 2020 - 10:40 pm

    Yes, maybe using the same width and adding enough length to fold in thirds, then use the T-shirt ties to tie the mask around the head and neck . You can pull the ties vertically though both ends of the mask. The ties will need to be about 30”.ReplyCancel

  • Suzette GardnerApril 3, 2020 - 3:48 pm

    I came up with a No Sew T-Shirt Mask pattern. Not sure how to add a PDF to this format.ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 5, 2020 - 9:01 am

      Hi Suzette, You could email it to me at and I will add the suggestion to an upcoming post if you want.
      That would be awesome to share. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • TayelorApril 3, 2020 - 4:53 pm

    Thank you for this post. I watched the video originally on Youtube and I am grateful you updated the photos for the opening so I could raise it up!
    My question is about scaling for size. Do you have any recommendations on how to scale down to a kids size? I just purchased materials today before Hobby Lobby closes. Thank you again!ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 5, 2020 - 9:03 am

      Hi Tayelor, I am getting ready to post the adult, teen and child pattern today. Teen: 13 3/4 x 7 inches, child: 13 x 6 inches. Sew the same way.ReplyCancel

      • Leann KrickApril 5, 2020 - 6:08 pm

        In the material list you have the child size with the same dimensions as the adult.ReplyCancel

        • JanApril 6, 2020 - 7:26 pm

          Thank you Leann for bring that to my attention. I really appreciate it!ReplyCancel

  • DawnApril 3, 2020 - 5:33 pm

    What are you using fofr the filter?

    I found it easier to use chenille stems and zigzag in place, so when washed they don’t get lost in the casing.ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 5, 2020 - 9:14 am

      I am finding the same thing. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Linda ColoradoApril 3, 2020 - 8:25 pm

    What size should the pattern be for a child, a woman, and a man?
    The pattern dimensions of 14 1/2″ x 8″ appear to be for a woman.
    Thank you,

    • JanApril 5, 2020 - 9:29 am

      Hi Linda, I am just getting ready to list the printable pattern in my Etsy shop, which will have instructions for all sizes. Here are the measurements Teen: 13 3/4 x 7 inches, child: 13 x 6 inches. Sew the same way.

      • DebApril 21, 2020 - 11:35 am

        I just made one !
        It is small.
        Not wide enough, from ear to ear
        I ll adust it maybe try 8 1/2 by 16
        Thanks so much !ReplyCancel

        • JanApril 22, 2020 - 10:13 pm

          Good idea if you want it wider.ReplyCancel

  • Latonya MontgomeryApril 7, 2020 - 10:22 am

    Do you sell your masks? If so can you reach out to me. ThanksReplyCancel

  • Jessica RamosApril 7, 2020 - 12:05 pm

    This is the exact perfect set of instructions for the materials I have on hand. I thought I’d have to mind meld two sets of instructions. I’m truly grateful.

    I’m very much a novice. My pleats were quite thick! My little machine struggled. Then I realized I needed to move my seam over.

    My grandpa ordered 3! for his one face!

    Thanks again!ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 7, 2020 - 5:57 pm

      Wonderful, they get easier to make the more you do. You are so welcome. Enjoy the rest of your week!


  • Jessica RamosApril 7, 2020 - 1:26 pm

    I see that in the video you put the filter pocket opening in the middle of the mask and in the written instructions the pocket opening is at the top. Is the right? Which do you prefer and why?ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 7, 2020 - 6:01 pm

      Hi Jessica,
      Yes, after I filmed the video I learned that nurses and those wearing the masks for long periods did not like the opening for the filter over their mouth. Others are making them this way as well with better results.

      In the video description on YOUTUBE, I do have a written update stating the change. Wish I could edit that, but oh well, I hope others notice the change.
      So, yes, I prefer the opening at the top.
      Thanks for commenting. Enjoy the rest of your week and stay safe.

      • JoMay 8, 2020 - 4:06 pm

        Hi Jan! Have you tried the pony beads with the tee shirt ties? Once you have your rolled ties, fold it in half, and loop a doubled piece of thread around the tie. Pull that (the u-shaped end) thru a pony bead, then pull the tie thru to make an ear loop. Tie off the ends, so they can’t get back thru the bead. You can sew the top of the loop in, or add an extra inch to each side, to fold over a casing.

        Now you have a fully adjustable, comfortable ear tie! 😉ReplyCancel

        • JanMay 8, 2020 - 4:08 pm

          What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!!!!ReplyCancel

        • annMay 9, 2020 - 6:28 am

          “Jo’s” pony bead idea sound great. my mind can’t picture it. could you send a few pictures?ReplyCancel

  • Sarah ZambellaApril 7, 2020 - 5:47 pm

    Hi Jan…thank you so much for this video. I have been making masks for my postal Worker husband and his coworkers but ran out of elastic. I came across your video and jumped for joy that I could continue make more without elastic. Thank you for sharing! God bless and stay well.💜ReplyCancel

  • TApril 11, 2020 - 10:59 am

    How deep is the fold around the filter opening? What is the seam allowance for the rest of the piece?ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 12, 2020 - 10:18 am

      You fold the filter seam down 1/2 inch from the top. 1/4 seam allowance for the whole project. I hope that answers your questions, if not, let me know.
      Have fun making masks. Be safe.ReplyCancel

  • […] Simplified FACE MASK / No Elastic / Filter Pocket / Upcycled T-Shirt Ties […]ReplyCancel

  • Jennie C.April 14, 2020 - 9:28 am

    Has anyone figured out how quickly the pipe cleaners will rust and/or break? I make my casing open at one end so I can remove them for washing.ReplyCancel

  • TammyApril 15, 2020 - 10:01 am

    Do I have to serge or zigzag the edges?ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 15, 2020 - 10:58 am

      You could do a small rolled hem, otherwise it will fray after washing.ReplyCancel

  • Sherry Lee SchooleyApril 15, 2020 - 10:53 am

    I found the adult size to be way too small. I will donate it as a child size.ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 15, 2020 - 11:00 am

      Hmmmm, how big did you make your seams? I haven’t had anyone experience them being too small. I guess it could be preference too. If you want it wider, you can add more on the sides.ReplyCancel

      • TayelorApril 15, 2020 - 3:28 pm

        We found the 14×8 fit myself a petite female, and our children very well. However, my husband found it tight. So I am doing two sizes, the 14×8 and a 16×10 same instructions.ReplyCancel

  • […] Simplified FACE MASK / No Elastic / Filter Pocket / Upcycled T-Shirt Ties […]ReplyCancel

  • Jane EApril 15, 2020 - 2:22 pm

    I want to thank you so much for the easy no stitch face mask instructions for using an old T-shirt! My husband drives the city bus everyday and the masks with elastic that goes around the ear have made his ears so sore. I found you today while searching for a mask I could make him. I decided to make his 6 layers thick, I cut the fabric twice as long, rescued the little metal strip from the disposable one he had (I’ve been saving these! ), I put the metal strip at the fold of the fabric and used liquid stitch to hold it in place, then proceeded as you instructed. After it was done, I hand stitched the inside folds to keep them together so he doesn’t fight getting it on! I learned to hand stitch as a child, many, many years ago. But never learned with a machine. But it looks great! My deepest thanks to you. I will make several more of these for him. Plus by having the seams the way I put them in, we can add a coffee filter for more protection, or at least peace of mind!ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 15, 2020 - 6:50 pm

      That is awesome Jane! Thanks for sharing!!!!!!! LoveReplyCancel

  • Diane LeirerApril 17, 2020 - 11:20 am

    Thank you, Jan, for posting the Youtube video.
    I’m geeky and saved the flat/parallel wires strips that are on coffee bags as (a closure device). Those work great in the nose zone .
    After seeing you use a Baby Lock, I want one. What model do you have?
    Thanks, Diane🧵ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 18, 2020 - 9:51 am

      You are so welcome!Thanks for the wire tip.
      I have a Baby Lock Verve model. Some day I will upgrade, but this is a good model, they also have a more basic one that is nice as well.ReplyCancel

      • DianeApril 18, 2020 - 12:23 pm

        Thanks for the information on your Baby Lock model. 😊My apologies to submitting a comment twice (and w/ 2 different email addresses). My smart phone appeared to not be loading next page and I initially thought I had made a typo with big fingers/ little keyboard.ReplyCancel

  • JulieApril 17, 2020 - 2:49 pm

    Thank you for the mask info.
    It is important to note that viruses are extremely small, MUCH smaller than the tip of pins used in sewing, so please be careful and do not use pins in the body of the mask . It pretty much would negate much of the protection you are aiming for.ReplyCancel

  • Jane MeschApril 19, 2020 - 8:43 pm

    Has anyone used the t-shirt for ear loops instead of making the ties? And if so how long do you make them? I have people that prefer the loops rather than ties. I make the pleated face masks using 8 1/2 X 16 inch pattern.ReplyCancel

    • Deb McGurganApril 21, 2020 - 8:09 pm

      I just asked my mask making friend – she cuts one long 1” strip – stretches it then cuts into 7” lengthsReplyCancel

      • JanApril 22, 2020 - 10:12 pm

        good idea. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Sheila ProppApril 21, 2020 - 7:20 am

    Your directions include an opening for a filter, but you don’t describe what size or dimensions of this filter should be. Also no suggestions on what can be used for a filter. Really appreciate your mask design and instructions. Would just like to have the additional info also. Thanks so much.ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 22, 2020 - 10:15 pm

      Hi Sheila, I am not an expert on the filter parts of the masks. I personally don’t add a filter, but some need to add filters where they work. I did mention that you can add a layer of flannel, which some have suggested. Sorry I am not much help regarding the filters.ReplyCancel

    • Diane L.April 23, 2020 - 3:01 am

      FWIW, I ordered furnace filters with a MERV13 designation. The whole thing is a cardboard frame, with an electrostatic non-woven fabric with metal mesh adhered on one side. I deconstructed the furnace filter. The side of the fabric where the metal mesh is the side the will go towards my face when I insert the fabric filter. The ‘fabric’ is NOT fiberglass.
      To make sure the fabric is sterile, microwave it for 2 minutes in a 600 watt oven.
      I’m sure there’s a lot of information out on the internet.
      I don’t think the MERV13 rating is equal to the filtration level of N95 medical masks?
      I’ll dig up some links. A friend of mine did more in depth research about using the furnace filter fabric.
      I ordered the MERV13 furnace filters via Amazon.ReplyCancel

  • […] Simplified FACE MASK / No Elastic / Filter Pocket / Upcycled T-Shirt Ties […]ReplyCancel

  • ann bApril 24, 2020 - 7:49 am

    Hi, We have run short of woven fabric for masks. I can get donated unused 100% cotton t shirts. Would you have any thoughts on making a good nice looking reliable mask with 100% cotton tshirts? i want the mas to be beautiful like the “woven fabric” masks, very washable(health care workers sanitation process), simple to make for our “makers” some have 10 thumbs like me. Your rply would be appreciated. Thank-you, Ann B.ReplyCancel

    • JanApril 24, 2020 - 9:34 am

      Hi Anne,
      I am currently working on a new design using both t shirts and woven fabrics that is much easier to make and has 4 layers when it’s all done. Stay tuned. Most likely I’ll have it up (the video and pattern) by early next week.ReplyCancel

      • ann bApril 24, 2020 - 10:04 am

        Hi Jan,
        Thank-you. Music to my ears. Our volunteer seamstresses are chomping at the bit to keep sewing. Here is our site Face Masks for Broome County for Health Care workers & Essential personnel.ReplyCancel

      • annMay 9, 2020 - 6:32 am

        Hi Jan, I was wondering about two things… 1) how’s the new mask design with 4 layer s coming? and 2) any chanc you would have tried a “Surgical cap” with tshirt fabric?ReplyCancel

        • JanMay 9, 2020 - 8:39 pm

          Hi Ann,
          The video on youtube just went up, but it may be a few days before I finish the PDF pattern and get it listed. Here is the link for the video.

          I haven’t tried a surgical cap.ReplyCancel

  • Jane EichhornApril 27, 2020 - 11:29 am

    Do you ave a written pattern for your face mask that I can print out?


  • gretchen henryApril 28, 2020 - 5:02 pm

    i did fine following directions, but: place seam 1/2″ from top fold & press. Place ties, let stick out a bit sew sides of mask. I end up with 2 15″ ties coming out of one side of the mask. How do the other 2 ties get sewn in? The other end, facing my ties is a fold. Nobody else had this problem 🙂 Please help. Thanks you, GretchenReplyCancel

    • JanApril 29, 2020 - 3:47 pm

      Hi Gretchen,
      Follow step 9 directions. You’ll place one tie in each corner and clamp in place. Then sew down the sides.

      Let me know if you have further questions.

  • Carolyn HilpertMay 3, 2020 - 10:57 am

    Jan thank you so much for a wonderful pattern, I’ve made a few for my family and got the biggest compliment from my 17 year old daughter when she said “thanks mom this is actually the coolest mask I’ve ever seen”.

    I also wanted to share a modification I made. I kept the opening slit in back about 1.5” from the top. After finishing sides, I sewed the top wire insert seam leaving a 1.75” opening on each end. I folded a pipe cleaner in half and fed the pipe cleaner in from one side (using folded side to feed in). It fits perfectly and can be removed so the mask can be thrown in the washer. I also used jewelry pliers to fold n crimp ends of the pipe cleaner so there are no sharp ends.ReplyCancel

    • JanMay 3, 2020 - 2:44 pm

      Thanks Carolyn for sharing these wonderful tips. There are so many ways to adjust and improve this pattern. Your ideas are great!ReplyCancel

  • claire DeschenesMay 27, 2020 - 9:28 am

    Hi Jan , Your mask pattern are the best and easy one to make. I am not so good in using a sewing machine but if need it I will succeed to do what I want. Would like to show you how I made your pattern some change and I hope you will like the idea. A mask when is finish need to be 7.5 inches x 3.5 inches same size than the one used by nurses and doctors. If the fabric is 100% cotton and you don’t see trough you need two thickness ,if the fabric is 100% and you can see trough ,it will be better to have 3 layers of Fabrics
    Fabric good quality cut 15 inches by 7.5 inches
    Fold 1 inch at the top and 1/2 at the bottom.
    Bring the 1/2 inch from the bottom to the top living leaving a space of 1/2 “inch and
    sew each side 1.5 inches to make the pocket, insert the pipe cleaner for the nose and sew the bottom to secure it.
    Make the pleats so the mask is not bigger than 3.5 inches.
    Sew each side of the mask
    Add a strip on each side and sew it so you can pass the elastic in.

    If you need a 3 layers of fabric Cut your fabric at 18inches x 7.5inches
    fold 3.5 inches for the top and 1/2 inch for bottom
    Bring the bottom to the top and leave 1/2 inch and proceed like the 15x 7.5 inches.
    You don’t need to sew with fabric on wrong side everything’s is done on with the right side at the top and is faster to made.
    Hope I didn’t make to many errors of spelling ,I am French.
    Sincerely MiaReplyCancel

    • JanMay 27, 2020 - 12:43 pm

      I’ll have to give it a whirl. Thanks for sharing! Do you have a photo you can share? Can’t quite understand how its put together. But I will play with it.
      Good ideas!ReplyCancel

      • claireMay 28, 2020 - 10:28 am

        Hi Jan ,I just finished one mask with the 3 layers 18x 7.5 inches and the correct procedure is fold 5 inches at the top and 1/2 inch at the bottom , the layer go much down to protect the nose and the mouth . and you finish it like the 15×3 .5 inches and the result is perfect. To made the pleats I use a cardboard cut 8*inches x 3.5 inches . I am not knowledgeable enough to send you some pictures ,I will ask my Grandson if he can help me and if he can I will send it to you. Thanks again for the good pattern ,now I am enjoy to make the mask for my family. Sincerely MiaReplyCancel