A Step-by-Step Guide to Sewing Face Masks for Children and Teens

Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping Institute

From Good Housekeeping

Face masks have become the most popular accessories that everyone (including kids!) should own, and with good reason: studies have shown that people without symptoms can spread the coronavirus when they cough, sneeze, or even speak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone over the age of 2 wear a face mask whenever it's difficult to keep a safe distance around others, and many state and local governments are making it a requirement for public places.

While you can certainly buy a face mask for your child, there are some perks to sewing your own at home. First off, you get to choose your own fabric to make sure your kid will love it (from a design and comfort perspective). It can also be more cost effective: children may be wearing a face mask every day if they're heading back to school, so you'll likely need several on hand because you should wash them between uses. Not to mention, face mask orders sometimes take a while to ship due to high demand.

Good Housekeeping's Textiles Lab, health editors, and parenting experts have been researching and reporting on face coverings for months to help you buy and make masks for yourself, your family, and healthcare workers on the front lines. Now, we teamed up again with Amanda Perna, Project Runway alum and designer behind The House of Perna, who has been making face masks for kids and adults since her studio had to close due to the pandemic, to learn how to sew a face mask for kids.

Here are Amanda's detailed instructions and patterns that you can use to make a child's face mask with a sewing machine:

First, the dimensions and patterns:

Since toddlers as young as 2 may be wearing face masks, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Here are the measurements for a child's face mask based on two different age groups, and the printable patterns for both can be found here.

  • Ages 2-6: 8" x 6" fabric, with 5" elastics.

  • Ages 7-14: 8.5" x 6.5" fabric, with 5.5" elastics.

Photo credit: Solomon Strul
Photo credit: Solomon Strul

The supplies you'll need:

The best material for a homemade face mask is tightly woven, 100% cotton fabric in multiple layers. You can purchase fabric on your own, but items around your house like bed sheets or woven shirts also work. For added protection, add a non-woven layer in the middle. Here is the full supply list for making a kids face mask:

Photo credit: Solomon Strul
Photo credit: Solomon Strul

How to sew a fabric face mask for kids:

  1. Stack the layers of fabric, with the outer fabric on the bottom facing up, then the inner fabric facing down, and finally the filter layer on top

  2. Insert elastics between the top and lining layers 1/2” from top on the short sides, then pin

  3. Stitch both short sides with 1/2” seam allowance

  4. Sew top seam at 1/2" seam allowance

  5. Center nose piece in top seam allowance and stitch down

  6. Pin bottom, leaving 2-3” open at center

  7. Sew both sides of bottom from one part of seam to the pin and back stitch (making sure not to pin the center gap)

  8. Clip all 4 corners at an angle without cutting the stitch lines

  9. Turn right side out

  10. Pull corners out so mask forms a rectangle

  11. Fold bottom opening in to the same point as seam allowance

  12. Press all 4 sides

  13. Fold in half (top to bottom) then press

  14. Fold with top and bottom meeting at the center fold, then press

  15. Start from top and take press fold to halfway to the next fold line and pin. Continue for all 3 pleats, then press with iron

  16. Sew 1/4” top stitch around the entire mask, making sure to close the bottom opening

  17. Press pleats, and now you are ready for your little one to be protected


Photo credit: Solomon Strul
Photo credit: Solomon Strul

Check out the video above to see Amanda's step-by-step instructions in action.


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