DIY N95-Style Face Mask Pattern

After having my mask keep sticking to my face I knew there was a better way… Welcome the next in my series; the DIY N95-Style Face Mask Pattern. It closely mimics and holds shape as the N95’s.

Am I a mask expert? No, but I am one of those particular people. When I see something that is not functioning well I want to make it better. It’s how I have been pretty well as long as I can remember. The curve of the Ultimate Face Mask also scared some sewers so this only has a point.

What fabric?

I have been going through my stash of fabric (trust me, it’s a pretty extensive collection) and holding it up to the light (to see the holes) and over my mouth to test breathability. I question the high thread count cotton as it’s so difficult to breathe through!

I saw some advertising of using faux ‘Shammy’ fabric. These brand-name products are a non-woven felt like fibre made of rayon and polypropylene. It’s quite thick as it can hold a lot of water. Since I do a lot of dyeing and sewing I have to know my ‘fibres’. Rayon is a natural fibre made of wood products, absorbent as well. You may have a blouse that is quite comfortable to wear and also very silky soft; it’s probably Rayon. Viscose is almost the same as well. Craft felt is often only polyester and much thinner. There are some wool felts but I am not sure of the comfort level.

I was told that cotton can take the moisture from the covid partical where as polyester does not. Odd, as any professional N95 masks have no cotton in them. (Do your research)

These shammy’s (like Sham-wow) are machine washable and some even bleachable. I love felt type of fabric since it does not fray at edges, can be sewn so easily and hold shape well. I have used industrial felt for purses and containers often.

Back to Designing:

My N95 mask (from concreting) is sturdy and stiff. I like that. It stays OFF the face and he round outer edge rests pretty well around a wide variety of face shapes. So, from that shape I took my inspiration.

I teach a technical type of drawing so I understand form quite well. I love the challenge of working with forms (I guess that’s why I like concrete) and constructing or deconstructing them.

Fabric is flat and then needs to fit a rounded form. How ‘cool’ is pattern making?! I have never had to ‘fit’ faces; usually just my ‘bumps and lumps’! Round becomes flat… awesome.

I have fond memories of my mother working as a milliner, over a wooden head form making exquisite hats for some very sophisticated ‘dames’. She would cut and sew and steam and get such amazing shapes. It’s been over 50 years but it must have made an important impression. Look how similar to the N95 the shape is!

I have made a pattern for you; download it here:

The DIY N95-Style Mask Pattern:

  • Can be left unlined
  • Bias edge finish, no turning
  • Optional extra stiffening insert
  • Very flat Metal Nose Piece
  • Keeps form & shape
  • Innovative 2 piece Pattern
  • Adjustable tie casings

Print the Pattern at 100% (note folded piece) and cut the pieces. I like to trace it on the felt with a fine marker as then I can cut it more accurately.

As with the ‘Snug-nose Mask Pattern’ I love using the iron-in nose strips. You can put it in place before assembly if not lining or between the layers if lined. For the unlined version cover the inside with some folded bias fabric. Keep it .25″ from the edge.

The Scary ‘Point’:

The nose section is sewn in 2 stages. Match the dots after clipping to the dot.

The stitching starts at the ‘dot’ and continues to the edge. Clipping around the face curve helps sewing the curved seam.

Not so scary… 1/4″ seams.

After the first half, open at centre and match the other side and sew to the matched dots again.

It is like 2 seams that meet at the dot, and clipping is vital. If, it is too complicated, feel free to add seam allowance at the centre and then treat as separate seams (but still match dots)

The bottom centre seam is much like a dart; and ends curving into the edge at the dot. Trust me, after one, it’s super easy.

Looks odd, but has great shape already.

Since this felt like ‘shammy’ is a felt, it does not fray and can be trimmed very close. I love that about working with felt.

Turned right side out it holds shape already, without any pressing at all.

See the unlined and lined option. Rayon is not uncomfortable and this mask pattern does not really lay on the face, so I actually like it in one layer… but suit yourself. (skip down to the edging if no lining desired)

Lining Optional:

If desire you can also line this N95-Style Face Mask Pattern. Repeat the same steps as for the outside with a cotton fabric. Be aware of breathability. I like to top stitch to keep seams as flat as possible and less ironing.

Shape Stiffener:

To make a mask not be able to keep collapsing you can also add some ‘boning’ as they call it in the fashion industry. Remember the corsets? To add a flexible but shape hugging strip ‘zip ties’ can be easily cut and inserted into an added casing.

Determine where you would like the strip to follow across, higher near the nose is better as that is where the space in the mask is most comfortable. Cut a 3/4″ strip of fabric on the bias (45˚ angle) and pin across.

Stitch across on the wrong side of lining.

Sew the casing by leaving a space wide enough for the zip-tie.

When using a lining the metal nose piece is ironed into place between the layers. (make sure to keep at least 1/4″ from edge)

Stay stitch lining to outside, wrong sides together.

Edge Finishing:

As an edge finishing, the outside edge has a bias strip applied. You can use purchased bias band or easily make your own.

I like to stitch the outside last so I sew the first seam from the wrong side.

Fold over to the right side and topstitch the bias band only on top and bottom edges. (side casings will be folded)

Sew the casing line on one side. Insert the zip-tie and cut to length taking in account of the fold for the casing.

Sew the other casing line. This will keep the zip tie in the channel.

As an alternative to double folded bias, you can ‘cheat’ by only folding back and leaving the raw bias edge on the inside. Bias edges tend not to fray. The seams are also cut very close so there is no large seam to bother your face.

Tie one on:

Rather than elastic, (which is getting scarce) I love to use t-shirt strips! If you use a t-shirt with some lycra it has a great stretch, and is soft in the ears. 3/4″ wide or so works well and a ‘Pony Bead’ can act as a toggle.

So, what do you think of this N95-Style Face Mask Pattern? It holds shape nicely, stays off my skin, breathes well, and is blue. But you be the judge… I have a few patterns to offer. We all don’t like the same.

But above all, make good decisions and practice good cleanliness. I hope to just help keep you safe and comfortable one mask at a time.

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  1. Hi!
    Thanks a lot for this! Its amazing! And, indeed, I loved how nice the “Ultimate fitted mask” looked, as its seems so organic with the curve and all, but in one try I got scared as I couldn’t sew correctly that part. I was like “how does that curve looks so good and mine so shabby” and such.
    I still loved that pattern and I can´t wait to try this one. Thanks a lot. I really aprecciate it.

    1. Whenever there are curves to sew it can seem scary. The trick is clipping the seams enough to allow for flattening at the seam line. It may take a first one to get a hang of it, then much easier. Good luck.

  2. Hi Barb
    I’m about to try your pattern, do you have have any recommendations for a mask (for a friend) for narrow long flat noses 👃 and protruding lips 👄?? I’ve made a couple 3D e her but for some reason they still touch her lips and gapes at the bridge. She is a glass wearers too but likes a thicker fabric so the wire is an issue causing bulk. No pressure though I love your work and will report back how I go with this n95 styled pattern. Thank you so much for sharing 🙏🏻 Bee

  3. Dear Barb, You mask shape is ideal. The cone shape seems to be the best defence against the Covid virus, compared with oother shaped masks.. In case you are interested. It appears that new information is suggesting that polyester is a smooth fibre, and not so good at stopping omicron, however it does make a good ‘electrostatic’ layer; ideal in the defence of Omicron when used in conjunction with other rough surface layers, eg felted wool . The more rough layers, the virus has to contend with, the better. Research is suggesting that rough surfaces make it harder for the virus to get through. It has been recommended by one scientist that 2 layers of terry cloth mask, is just as good as an N95 mask, at least until it gets moist. A moist mask, is useless no matter how good it is.