Here are pictures and descriptions of how I have altered the Jesse Killion mask pattern. I’ve put additional notes on other patterns and materials here: How I make my masks.


A friend asked me to make a mask for him. He gave me his measurements, but the mask I made using those measurements did not fit. I realized that it’s difficult for people to measure themselves accurately. To get around this difficulty in the future, I made card stock copies of all 23 Jesse Killion mask patterns.

Then my able assistants (kids and husband) helped me make all 23 out of a king size sheet. I later added A for average, W for wide and N for narrow.

I like putting a channel on the side that is reinforced with a zip tie, so the pattern as is won’t work. What I wanted was a new pattern that folds back to make a perfect channel. These are examples of how I altered the JK pattern to fit people in my family. The following slides show how I did this.

I ask the person to try on all my sheet-masks which have been washed in hot water with bleach and hot dried. If the back end by the ear is fine, I don’t use a pin. If the preferred back edge is in a little, he or she pins back the unwanted portion. I mark the original pattern piece where the new fold line will be. See silver markings.

The following will be in instruction format. Trace the original pattern on a spare piece of card stock or paper. I have created the next 10 or so slides in two ways. The first set uses carbon paper. The second set does not.

Draw the new fold line. Add 1.25 inches and draw another line.
Fold the pattern along the fold line and insert the carbon paper in between, carbon side down.

Trace along the dotted lines and the solid line 1.25 inches in.

Cut along the front of the pattern until you get to the fold line.

Turn the pattern over and cut along the solid line and the dotted lines. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of what that looks like on the back.

If you do not have carbon paper, fold on the fold line.

Turn the paper over and draw a line on the fold line and another one 1.25 inches to the left of the fold line (away from the curved line).

Cut out the rest of the pattern looking at the front side.

Fold under the uncut portion.

Trace 1.25 inches from the fold line towards the curved edge. Draw another line.

Draw the dotted lines about 1/8″ in. This allows the finished product to not have little corners hanging over the top and under the bottom edge of the mask. Cut along the dotted lines and along the last solid line. The next picture shows that I haven’t quite mastered the little dotted lines. The angle along the top edge was not big enough, so the little corner is peaking over the top of the finished mask. Oh well!

This is what your new pattern should look like.

Either way, you end up with the same altered pattern.

When folded over, the flap will not extend to the edge of the original pattern so that, again, you will have a clean look when finished.

Now on to how to sew.

Sew the rounded edges starting from the bottom edge. 1/4 inch seam allowance. (The “5” in this slide was part of my original slide presentation — but then I added lots more slides!)

Turn ends in about 1/4 inch and press.

Sew the top and bottom seams, 1/4″ seam allowance, starting at the very edge, being sure not to sew the ends shut.

There are a few snips at this point that can make turning it right side out easier. I used a scrap to sew just the flap portion. Cut out a triangle or snip at the pencil point to make that corner lay flat. Do the same where the seam ripper is pointing. Cut towards the scissors to make this smoother, as well.

This picture shows what happens when you don’t snip the curves before turning it right side out. This mask is almost finished and the top edge is puckering. It is difficult then to attach bias tape to the inside of the mask. As I stitch on the inside, the outside is making small tucks. Next time I will snip!

Snipping the curves like this would avoid this problem and cause the finished product to lay flat.

This is what the inside looks like when you have completed step 8. It helps if you trim off the triangles on the edges so that when you turn it right side out, those corners aren’t so bulky.

Turn right side out and press ends in.

Fold the sides in and press. You should have an inch of folded over tab. Remember that about 1/4 inch is tucked in and stitched shut in the ends. The rest is space for you to add the reinforcing zip ties and for creating the channel for the tie. Notice that on this mask the folded over tab comes right to the edge of the mask front. Cutting the tab down with the dotted lines makes them just a bit narrower than the mask front.

Stitch a piece of single fold .5 inch bias tape to the outside of the press line in the shape of a U. Do not close off the little box. Take a pen and mark an arrow pointing up so that you don’t forget which side of the mask goes up on your face. In this picture, the 12 is at the bottom of the mask since that is the side with the angled edge.

Insert each zip tie portion into the casing and finish sewing off the casing, being careful to not sew into the zip tie. The ties create some stability on the sides so that the sides do not crumple up when you tighten the mask.

I added this slide and the next to show a time saving trick. After sewing out of the 4 seams for the zip tie, making sure to reinforce the ends, slip the zip tie in and close off and reinforce that end, too. Make sure that you hand crank it the first stitch to avoid sewing onto the tie.

Close the flap. Sew about 5/8″ seam to the inside of the zip tie casing. This creates the channel for the t-shirt tie or parachute cord. When I begin a line of stitches like this, sometimes my machine jams because there are too many layers of fabric. So, to avoid jamming, start your line about a half inch down, then reverse, then continue, so as you begin stitching, you are getting a running head start on a smaller pile of layers.

Pin or clip a strip of 1/2 inch bias tape, starting from behind the flaps, all the way across the top. Stitch that in place, again, not closing off the ends.

This is the front view so far.

Stitch in another piece of bias tape down the center from right below the nose wire channel to your chin. In other words, don’t make the center channel all the way to the bottom of the mask. You might have to experiment with this. You are putting this zip tie channel in to help keep the mask away from your mouth.

Close off the top of the channel.

So far from the inside without the wire or zip tie down the center.

Cut another zip tie a little shorter than the channel.

Again, I am showing a mask I am making today. Prior to putting this tape in, I put a pin through the front just a hair above the slight corner on the chin of the mask. I like the boning to start right above there. Then I put a dot on the bottom edge of the center bias tape where that pin is to show where the bottom reinforcing seam will go. Then I remove the pin. That way I can see it as I am coming down the right and left sides.

Insert the zip tie and secure it along the bottom, again, taking care to not sew through it.

Cut about 8 inches of copper wire. This is 14 gauge copper wire. It comes in a roll with 4 wires enclosed in the white rubber. 3 of them are coated in colored rubber and one is bare.

Bend the wire for an initial approximate fit according to instructions from Don McCunn’s Custom Face Mask pattern. You actually need about 9 inches to get the curves all the way to the bottom of the sample lines, but unless you have a very wide mask, you won’t need the wire to be 9 inches anyway. You can see that I did not bend this perfectly. This is okay, since the ends get trimmed.

Insert the wire in the channel and trim off excess.
Add the t-shirt ties or parachute cord and try on! Oh for a haircut. The loose ends come out the top of the mask. The bottom is one continuous loop.

This is the size that fits me better. I did not include the center boning in this one.

I made this one before I had made all of the sample masks. I needed to put tucks in. By using the sample masks first, I think I could get a perfect fit.

On of my faithful assistants. You can see this mask is really too big for me. Just made it as a sample.

2 hole bean cord lock from Rip Stop By the Roll. These are actually a little tough. The springs are teeny and stiff. The alternative is a one hole ball cord lock that has a larger spring. But either one beats tying the cords and getting your hair caught in the knot. This is all!

These are the 2 masks I made today, minus the cords. We will see if they fit tomorrow!
I have made a further alteration to my design. This is what it looks like from the front. I wanted to pull the fabric away from my mouth more, so I have 2 zip ties on the inside.
The zip ties work best when they are held with just little pockets. At first I tried encasing the vertical one completely, but that made it bow out too far and made attaching the horizontal one difficult. If all 4 ends are held with little pockets, the pressure is even horizontally and vertically. These are zip ties labeled as up to 75 LBF. I treat all the edges of the single fold bias tape with Fray Check.

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