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Easiest Contour Face Mask

Does the world need yet another contour face mask pdf? Aren’t there already dozens out there? Yes there are, and I’ve provided links to several of them months ago….and yet I wasn’t 100% satisfied with any of them.

#1. Contour shaped masks don’t stay securely on your face as well as the Origami mask that I wear every day.

#2. Yet, a shaped mask is a better solution for a sleek appearance, let’s say for special events.

#3. But every shaped mask I tried tended to fall down when speaking.

I wondered if the shape itself could be adjusted in some way to make the mask not only fit well but also stay on better. What I discovered was counter-intuitive: the more curved the top edge of the mask, the more it tended to fall down. The patterns that I thought I liked the best, with a straighter line along the bottom edge and a very curved line on the top edge, actually performed the worst. Then a friend told me that she wears her contour mask “upside down” for a more secure fit. Aha!

Here’s why the fit is better this way: if you look at any side-view portrait, you can see that the nose-bridge is more aligned with the top of the ears…and the bottom of the ears are much higher than the chin. So, it makes sense that a mask will fit better if the top edge is straighter across and the bottom edge has a strong upwards angle:

With that in mind I did lots of tweaking, and this pattern is the result:

  • the top edge is longer and has a shallow curve, connecting more directly from the nose to the top of the ear, for a more secure fit
  • the bottom edge is has the most curve, and is shorter to provide security under the chin
  • the sides are narrow, to sit securely on the cheeks and avoid “buckling” which happens when the sides are longer than your ear
  • the center-front corners (top and bottom) are trued; almost every contour mask pattern I tried was not trued at the CF (search “trueing” to see how much this bothers me!)

Want to know why this works? Here is a sample from the type of contour pattern I was using before (left) and the new one (right). Notice the ear elastic placement:

What happens when you wear the one on the left is that the sides naturally rise up to meet your ear level….which causes the center front to shift downward:

The key to a mask that stays in place in front is the secure fit at the sides….similar to bra design.


The construction is also different than you may be accustomed to:

  • No turning inside-out! Too time-consuming and wrinkly.
  • No need for an iron, which saves on energy costs. Most factory production lines these days avoid pressing entirely, substituting additional stitching steps.
  • The sequence-of-stitching is so streamlined that after a bit of practice you may not even need pins, you can sew “factory-style” for efficiency

This mask does not have the same level of protection as the Origami mask, because it does not have an opening for a filter….however I surveyed 3 dozen people about their mask-wearing habits and 100% said they never use a filter. So, personal choice: this is a non-filter simple-to-make mask. It does use non-toxic fusible interfacing which “may” have filtering qualities. Here’s how to make the mask:


  • 1/4 yard (.25 meter) 100% cotton lightweight woven fabric…this will make several masks. Fat quarters work very well. Suggested fabrics are quilting cotton, shirting, chambray, gingham, calico, batik, madras. Cottons are breathable and also have some “give” to them, making fabric manipulation easier.
  • 1/4 yard (.25 meter) 100% cotton lining fabric
  • 1/4 yard (.25 meter) Sheerweight fusible interfacing, to add body. It saves time to fuse your entire piece of fabric before cutting out.
  • 1 yard (1 meter) 1/4″ (.6 cm) knitted elastic (not braided elastic)
  • nose wires (I buy them in bulk through Amazon sellers, if you only need a few, a good option is the double-wire closure on coffee bags)



Print out the mask pattern and the lining pattern. To use this pattern, you will need the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader program.  You can download it for free here:(

Open the pattern by right-clicking on this link:

…which will open a new tab, then click that tab and in the upper right corner click on the arrow  to download the PDF file to your computer. Be sure to print at 100% scale so that the sizing is accurate. Notice that there are 2 pages, 1 for the outer fabric and 1 for the lining.

Trim the paper pattern to the size that you’d like, measuring from bridge of nose to under chin (approximately):

  • Extra Extra-Small: 5 1/2″(14 cm) for little kids
  • Extra Small: 6″ (15 cm) for bigger kids
  • Small: 6 1/2″ (16.5 cm) for teens
  • Medium 7″ (18 cm) for average adults
  • Large: 7 1/2″ (19 cm) for bigger adults

I like to highlight the edges of each pattern size in a different color before cutting out…here I’m using a size Medium:

If you line up the Outer and Lining pattern pieces, you can see that the Lining is a bit smaller. This is because the mask will be curved, so if both layers were cut the same size, the lining would buckle. It’s the same technique as drafting a Peter pan collar: the lining is smaller to create a smooth “roll”.

This mask can be made from scraps of fabric and interfacing.

My preference is for lightweight cotton quilting fabric for outside and inside, and Sheerweight interfacing.

Fuse iron-on interfacing to your outer fashion fabric, then fold your fabric right-sides-together and cut out the outside-fabric pieces. The reason for cutting right-sides together is to save a step, because the first sewing step is right-sides-together.

Fold your lining fabric right-sides-together and cut out.


Outer fabric: with right-sides-together and starting from the top edge, straight-stitch the Center-Front with a 1/4″ (.6 cm) seam allowance.

Do the same for the lining.

Open up the seam and from the outside edge-stitch the center-front just to the right of the seam, keeping the seam allowance underneath pushed towards the right. Go slowly with the edge-stitching, gently pulling apart the fabric as you go.

Repeat with the lining, edge-stitching the center-front seam from the outside, again keeping the seam allowance underneath pushed towards the right:

Place the outer and lining pieces right sides together along the bottom edge, pinching together at the Center-Front seams (if you prefer to pin together that’s fine….with practice you will not need pins):

Straight-stitch along the bottom edge with a 1/4″ (.6 cm) seam allowance:

Open up the seam and from the outside edgestitch along the lining, just to the right of the seam, catching both seam allowances with your stitching:

The center front seam allowances should be going in opposite directions to alleviate bulkiness:

The next step in most contour mask patterns is to place RIGHT side together and stitch along the top edge and then flip inside out. This is time-consuming and wrinkles the fabric, causing extra pressing steps. Instead match the WRONG sides together and smooth the lining against the outer fabric up to the top edge, matching center-front seamlines (pin together if you’d like, although with practice you won’t need to):

Straight-stitch the top edge with a 1/4″ (.6 cm) seam allowance:

Then baste the sides again 1/4″ (.6 cm):

Your mask should look like this now, with the curved center front seam, the edge-stitching, and the interfacing creating creating a shape that will keep you from “eating” the fabric while wearing:

Finish the top edge and the sides using a serger, zig-zag stitch, or pinking shears. If using a serger (overlocker) be sure to stitch with the outer fabric on top, because the thread looping is softer on the upper side and will be more comfortable later against the face:



The nose-wire will be encased along the top edge inside a casing. You can stitch the casing and then insert a wire…however my favorite method is to stitch the wire directly first and then fold over the top edge to create the casing.

To do this, use plastic-coated nose-wires (I use 2 pieces per mask):

I place the wires onto the lining close to the top edge, then using the widest zigzag I stitch the plastic directly to the mask:

Now the wire can’t shift out of place:

Turn down the top edge towards the lining 3/8″ (1 cm) and finger-press:

Straight-stitch the top edge being careful to avoid the nose wire, manipulating the fabric along the inner and outer curves by gently stretching :

Finish the ends with zigzag or overlock:



Cut 2 pieces of narrow elastic:

  • Extra Extra-Small: 12.5″
  • Extra Small: 13″
  • Small: 13.5″
  • Medium 14″
  • Large: 14.5″

Hoop the elastic into a loop, overlap ends slightly:

And stitch together (I prefer to use a zigzag stitch):

Place elastic overlap section onto the lining of the mask at the ends, 1/2″ (1.2 cm) from the side of the mask, cover by folding over the end of the mask, tuck in any stray threads, and straight-stitch to create a casing (if you have labels this is the time to stitch them in):

Tie a loose knot in the elastic ends to allow for personal fit adjustment:

Your simple contoured mask is done!

Well I hope we don’t need to keep wearing these much longer, but until then stay safe out there!

Happy Sewing, Janet


  • Jo

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and pattern. I think like many other seamsters around the world I have tried a good number of the designs on the net and will give this one a go now. So far I have avoided the shaped ones for the reasons you outlined, but I especially like your simplified production techniques and your thoughts about shaping. Much appreciated.

  • [email protected]

    There are sooooo many patterns out now….which is great, because everybody’s face is different, plus many patternmakers have been tweaking their patterns for better fit. This is the one that worked for me….I hope it works for you too!

  • Kari Van Herk

    I have been busy making masks for family members and have been struggling with fit around the nose area. I made 2 of the sizes on this modification and tada the feedback is “this fits perfect!” Now if I can just figure out how to make them more breathable for the poor kids that have to wear them all day. Thanks so much for your work on this! My kids are so happy to have something fit

  • [email protected]

    Oh I feel SO badly for the kids who have to wear them all day! Hopefully the schools will soon follow some of the adaptations made in Europe and Asia: masks breaks when outdoors, or when sitting alone reading socially distanced. Happy the fit worked for your family!!

  • Natalia

    THank you SO much! I know this will be the best one out there because of the care you take with these things! I was asked to make several for my daughter and want to use this pattern. Have you tried it without interfacing? I know it’s for body, so am wondering how much this design might collapse without it. Thank you for any input.

  • Theresa in Tucson

    I somehow missed this when you posted. I was thinking it was your previous tweak of the origami mask. I like this one and your reasoning makes perfect sense. I’m making some more masks today so I will give this a try. Many thanks.

  • Hermione

    Hi Janet,

    Thanks for sharing your design and the detailed steps and pics!

    Do you think the Origami pattern is the best fit between the two? I’ve been struggling to make something completely fit to my face around the nose, even with wire in the nose it seems to have a tiny gap somewhere. My glasses often fog up, so I know I’m getting unfiltered air when I breathe in. I have a small face, but I’ve managed to get a really good fit everywhere except the nose. Maybe I have a prominent nose-bridge. Thanks! Hermione

  • [email protected]

    The fit is just different between the two: the origami design has more space for breathing (is less claustrophobic), the contour design fits closer to the face. Either way, fitting around the nose-bridge is (as with all masks) the biggest challenge. The best solution is to play with the shape of the wire.

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