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Covid-19; the Nixi Free Face Mask Project, Sewing Team Guide

Thank you so much for volunteering your efforts to help us sew masks for those on the front line!

 HERE is also a YouTube video with some helpful tips about homemade facemasks and alternate supplies.

Materials included in your kit: (makes 10 face masks)
• 10 sets of "upper" fabric—all 100% cotton, pre-washed in hot water and dried on high heat.
• 10 sets of lining fabric—100% cotton flannel, also pre-washed in hot and dried on high.
• Elastic: You might have an assortment of elastic, depending on supplies currently available. Adult size: 5” Kid size: 4". If you have hair ties in your kit, these are to be snipped at the join point , and trimmed to the appropriate length. Unless noted, you have an adult kit! *We are actually preferring hair ties to braided or knitted elastic, both for comfort while wearing, and also for assembly speed.
• One finished mask sample for reference. Please return with your finished masks :)

Let’s get started! You will need:
• Sewing machine, straight stitch
• Serger (not required, but speeds the process)
• thread/bobbins
• pins
• iron
• *tweezers can be helpful

• Mid weight interfacing. This is not an optional step. We are using fusible mid weight #931TD from Joann Fabrics, anything similar is fine.

These are the exact steps we have found work these masks up the fasted. We recommend doing one first to get the hang of it, and then the rest in assembly line style. They work up very quickly!

• Interface the backsides all the cotton/printed upper pieces of your masks. (Uppers only, flannel lining does not get interfacing)
• Set stitch lengths:
Straight stitch: should be a tight stitch, about 12-14 stitches per inch.
Serger: suggested { length 5.5 }  {width 3} {neutral differential} **If you are using a serger, DISENGAGE the KNIFE.

• Trim elastic hair ties if needed (5" adults, 4" kids)

• All seam allowances are 1/4"

Note: If you are not using a serger for this project, just sew with straight stitch instead.

• • •

OVERVIEW: The instructions below are very detailed; don't be intimidated! We just like to be thorough for the best possible end result, and to make sure sewers of every skill level can easily follow this method.

We are basically just 1. sewing left and right pieces together 2. joining outer fabric to lining 3. inserting elastic 4. turning, pressing, and tucking and 5. topstitching.


Step 1: Assemble the left and right face pieces to make the mask upper layers and linings, matching right sides together.
Match all corresponding left and right upper pieces, right sides together. (Note: we were not picky about “right sides” on the flannel, it makes no difference) Pinning is optional. **The interfacing on the uppers will make things a little “sticky” and cause a little resistance going though the serger. If you hold and guide carefully as you sew, you shouldn’t need to pin, but take care. Serge all left and right sets together, sewing in the direction from bottom/chin to top/nose.

 Step 2: Join the uppers and linings:
Grab a sewn lining for every sewn upper. **Now is the time to do a quick size check, just to make sure the pieces are cut the same exact size—we cut these about 25-30 layers at a time, and sometimes there can be size variance depending on where the fabric is in the piles. Line up the center curves, and then do a quick trim if needed.
Spread open one interfaced cotton uppers and one flannel and face right sides together. Match center seams and nestle your seam allowances folding them in opposite directions. Trim  threads and clean up the curve. Pin at top and bottom centers. Repeat for rest of kit pieces.

With flannel side on bottom/interfaced upper on top (slides best through the machine this way), serge the top and bottom edges, leaving both sides completely open. Take care to make sure your SAs remain in opposite directions so you get a nice flat nose when you turn.

Step 3: Sew the elastic in the side seams
(Switch to straight stitch machine)

Elastic will be sewn sandwiched inside the two layers--if you have a flat elastic in your kits, you can go ahead and pin all sides before sewing, taking care to make sure it doesn't twist; if you have hair ties, inserting with tweezers while sewing the sides we found easiest, the hair ties are a pain to pin.

Position mask with interfaced cotton on the bottom, flannel on top. Insert the elastic like a C in between the two layers, butting the ends up parallel to the stitching lines at the top and bottom. Raw ends should be slightly poking out.

Sew one side completely closed, back-stitching over the elastic, and repeat on the other side, but leaving about  3/4" to 1” open in the side seam to turn; be sure to back-stitch where you start and stop. This order of stitching and elastic application should give you the cleanest turned corners with perfectly placed elastic with no measuring.

Step 4: Press and Pleat

Trim threads and turn your mask through the opening you just left. Gently poke corners if needed; a light tug on the elastic should pull out corners enough. Flatten out and finger press, rolling out the edges. Press with an iron (with steam) taking care to not scorch the elastic while pressing. Placing a paper towel over the elastic can help.

Pin your pleats: we are taking 1/2" on the double, so 1" volume total. The pleat placement is on the lower half of the side, facing down from the nose. If the pleat is placed too high, it will pull the mask away from the nose, and not towards the face. See reference sample for placement.

Step 5: Top stitch

Starting on one pleat, back-stitch across the entire pleat, then sew the perimeter of the mask edges at 1/8". When you reach the second pleat, back-stitch along the entire pleat for durability. Trim threads. All done!


Please mail your finished masks back to us. If you have local donations that have already been arranged, please let us know when they have been delivered.

Thank you again SEW MUCH for your help!


Want to sew your own from home? Download our free pattern HERE. (coming soon)

Stay healthy, my friends!

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