Face masks are likely with us for an extended period of time, and there are dozens and dozens of stylish options available, both DIY versions (our choice) and off-the-shelf alternatives. What we felt was missing was an equally stylish carrying case. This cute and colorful zip pouch is sized and designed to hold your favorite face mask plus a spare as well as additional protective supplies in the outside pleated pockets, like gloves and wipes. Best of all – it’s a beginner friendly project that is the perfect next step for all those new sewers out there who are ready to step up from mask making to a fun, new project.
Our friends at Janome America came to us with information about their new initiatives to encourage kids and teens to continue to explore sewing. As we mentioned, many people who had never sewn before took the plunge to make face masks. When you’re brand new to sewing and craft, it’s very rewarding to be able to make something yourself – even something as simple as a mask, but in order to continue – and expand – your interest level, you need creative projects that are beginner friendly.
A zippered pouch is something everyone can use. And although ours is designed with a specific purpose in mind, it can actually be used to store and carry any number of necessities, from make-up to a cell phone to pens, pencils and notepads, even secret snacks for a long day of virtual learning.
The pouch has pleated pockets on both the front and back. The pleats are patterned after the pleated style face masks that the pouch just might be carrying when complete. We offer a downloadable folding template, so even if you’ve never pleated before, you can easily master this look and get a professional finish that’s flat and perfectly spaced.
There’s a D-ring tab along one side, which is optional. We used ours to clip on a lanyard we had on hand, which can make the pouch easier to carry, wear around your neck, or find inside a larger bag.
The zippered top opens wide and can easily fit two or three finished masked. We recommend adding in a re-sealable sandwich bag or similar so masks that have been worn can be zipped inside the plastic bag, keeping them away from fresh masks. Once home, as experts suggest, drop used masks into the laundry.
The top of each pocket sports a cute measuring tape ribbon that adds some flair and helps stabilize the edge.The pleating allows the 4” deep pockets to expand to hold a variety of items; we used our sample to stash latex gloves and some pre-packaged alcohol wipes.
This certainly qualifies as an excellent ScrapBusters project since you need just very small pieces of coordinating fabric; leftover precuts would be an excellent option. We used scraps from two of our favorite Tula Pink collections for FreeSpirit Fabrics: HomeMade and Monkey Wrench. The adorable ribbon is from the Renaissance Ribbons companion set for HomeMade so the color match is spot on!
Sometimes, even experienced seamstresses admit to a fear of zippers (zipphobia!). So why would a beginning sewer want to tackle one? Because this type of zipper installation is one of the easiest there is – especially thanks to our signature S4H step-by-step instructions and follow-through full tutorials. You’ll learn how to make and apply zipper end tabs, a pro finish that can make future zipper insertions look better.
We’ve also included a free downloadable S4H pattern for a classic shaped face mask, but we haven’t added any construction steps below. There are so many patterns out there, you likely already have your favorite so there’s no need to duplicate everything here. You can see in our photos we created two popular styles: one with elastic ear loops and another with custom-made bias binding ties. If you’re still searching for a favorite pattern, check out our article on DIY Protection Supplies, Patterns + Resources. We are continually updating this main article with the latest information, including 20 of our favorite static and video face mask tutorials from a variety of online sources.
For more inspiration to get new sewers you know excited to continue their hobby, take a look at our Sewing is a Real Life Survival Skill article.
Our Face Mask Zip + Pleat Carry Pouch finishes at approximately 7½” wide x 5” wide.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Scrap, fat quarter, or ¼ yard of Fabric A for the exterior side panels, zipper end tabs, and D-ring loop; we used Spots on Spots in Guava from the Monkey Wrench collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- Scrap, fat quarter, or ¼ yard of Fabric B for the exterior center panels and pleated pockets; we used Seed Stitch in Night from The HomeMade collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- Scrap, fat quarter, or ¼ yard of Fabric C for the lining; we used Cut Once in Noon from The HomeMade collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- Scrap or ¼ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon ShapeFlex
- ½ yard of ⅝” ribbon for the pocket accents; we used matching Measure Twice ribbon in Morning Green from the HomeMade collection by Tula Pink for Renaissance Ribbons
- ONE 7”+ zipper; we used a contrasting pink metal zipper with a decorative fob from our S4H stash – any 7” zipper will work. We show you below how to trim a longer zipper to fit the opening.
- ONE ½” D-ring
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- All purpose thread to match ribbon, or use our favorite: invisible monofilament thread
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
Getting Started and Pattern/Template Downloads
- Download and print out the Pleating Template for the exterior pockets. If desired, you can also print out our S4H Face Mask Pattern. The two items has been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each of the two pages in the PDF is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale. If possible, we recommend printing the Pleating Template in color to better see the different folding lines.
- Cut out the pleating template along the solid line.
- From Fabric A for the exterior side panels, zipper end tabs, and D-ring loop (Spots on Spots in our sample), cut the following:
FOUR 2½” wide x 6” high rectangles for the side panels
ONE 2½” x 2” rectangle for the zipper end tabs
NOTE: Our tab size was based on the width of our zipper, which was 1¼”. Measure your zipper’s width and adjust as necessary. The height of 2” can remain the same; the width should be double the actual width of your zipper.
ONE 2” x 2” square for the D-ring loop
- From Fabric B for the exterior center panels and pleated pockets (Seed Stitch in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 5½” wide x 6” high rectangles for the center panel
TWO 5½” wide x 17” high rectangles for the pleated pocket panels
- From Fabric C for the lining (Cut Once in our sample); cut TWO 8½” wide x 6” rectangles.
- From the lightweight interfacing, cut TWO 7½” wide x 5” rectangles.
- From the ribbon cut TWO 5½” lengths, centering the measurement markings or your own ribbon’s motif.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Pleat the pockets
- Find the two 5½” x 17” rectangles for the pleated pockets and the printed template. You’ll also need pins and your scissors.
NOTE: Our instructions here are super detailed as is the paper template. If you are a pleating pro, you can zip through the steps, simply creating four even pleats. But if you’re brand new to sewing in general or pleating in particular, go step by step with us.
- Fold one panel in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 5½” x 8½”. Press flat.
- Place the template on top of the folded panel and pin in place. The edges of the paper template should be flush with folded fabric.
- Make a small clip into the raw edges of the fabric at each of the eight numbered guide lines. You are clipping through both layers.
- Do this along both sides.
- Remove the paper template and insert pins at each clip.
- You will start at the top (the folded edge of the fabric) and work down towards the bottom raw edges. Fold up the top edge until the first set of pins are aligned, creating a fold.
- Check to make sure your pins are aligned front to back
- Press well.
- Pin the first pleat in place at each side edge. Then, repeat to align the next two sets of pins (2 to 2).
NOTE: Referring to the paper template, you are matching numbered lines: 1 to 1, 2 to 2, 3 to 3, and 4 to 4. If you are brand new to pleating, you might want to first go through the folding steps with just the paper template to best understand the process and then repeat the steps on your folded fabric panel.
- Repeat twice more, matching 3 to 3 and finally 4 to 4. Remember to place a pin at each side of each pleat to hold it in place.
- With all four pleats in place, press all of them down towards the bottom of the panel.
- Repeat to create the second pleated pocket in the same manner.
Add the ribbon accents and layer with the main center panels
- Find the two lengths of ribbon. Place the ribbon across the top folded edge of each pleated panel and pin in place.
- Stitch the ribbon in place along each edge.
NOTE: Whenever you’re sewing ribbon, stitch in the same direction along each edge to help prevent rippling.
- Baste along each side of each pleated panel to secure the pleats.
- Find the two 5½” x 6” main center panels.
- Place a pleated pocket on top of each center panel, aligning the side and bottom raw edges of the two layers. Pin in place.
- Baste the two layers together, running this new basting seam directly on top of the original basting you did to secure the pleats.
Attach side panels
- Find the four 2½” x 6” side panels.
- Pin one side panel to each side of each layered center panel.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each side panel in place. You are sewing through all the pleats once again at this point.
- Press each seam allowance out towards the side panels.
- Re-thread as necessary with thread to best match the side panel fabric and slightly lengthen the stitch. Edgestitch along each of the four seams within the side panels.
- Find the two 7½” x 5″ panels of interfacing. Center one panel on the wrong side of both the front and back assembled exterior panels. There should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides of each panel. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Prepare and attach the zipper tabs
- Find the zipper and the zipper tab.
- Fold the zipper tab in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 1″ x 2½”. Finger press to set a center crease line.
- Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible. Fold in the raw edges so they meet at the center crease line.
- Finger press, then fold in half again along the original crease line and press with an iron. Your finished piece should now be ½” x 2½”.
- Cut in half so you have TWO ½” x 1¼” tab pieces.
- Open up the zipper halfway.
- Open up one of the tabs along the center crease line.
- Slip the top end ends of the zipper into the tab. The ends of the zipper tape should be flush with one folded-in side of the tab. The top metal stops of the zipper ends should sit just outside the fold of the tab. If they don’t, trim the zipper ends slightly to adjust the fit. Keep the ends together – ie. side by side. Pin in place.
- Re-set your stitch length to normal. Re-thread if necessary to best match your fabric.
- Stitch the zipper ends in place. It’s okay if this stitching is messy, it will be covered within the folds of the tab. We attached our Zipper foot and moved our needle position all the way over to the left.
- Re-fold the tab along the original crease line, sandwiching the zipper ends between the layers. Pin in place; the inner folds should be flush on either side of the zipper. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch in place, close to the inner folds.
- Find the front exterior panel. Place it right side up on your work surface.
NOTE: The front and back panels of this pouch are the identical. Simply choose one to be the “front.”
- Measure ½” in from each side edge and mark with a pin. Find the zipper with its top tab in place.
- Place the zipper right side down on the front panel with the tabbed top end of the zipper at the ½” pin mark at the one edge of the panel. The side edge of the zipper tape should be flush with the top raw edge of the front panel. Pin in place.
- Smooth the zipper into position across the top and mark the tail end zipper tape at the ½” mark at the opposite edge of the panel. This is where the zipper will be trimmed to fit. Place a second pin directly opposite the first. You could also draw a line across the zipper at this point with fabric pen or pencil in a contrasting color.
NOTE: If your zipper is a perfect fit. Yay! No need to trim. But knowing how to trim a longer zipper for a perfect fit is a great skill for your sewing toolbox!
- Find the remaining end tab. Unfold the tab. Place the tab right side down on the right side of the zipper so the outer raw edge aligns with the marking pins. Pin in place.
- Bring the zipper to your sewing machine and drop the needle in at the first crease line from the outer raw edge. Stitch across through all the layers, keeping your seam within the crease line. You are stitching across the zipper teeth. Go slowly and carefully. For extra control, you can stop, with your needle in the down position, and use the hand wheel to walk the needle across the teeth.
- Trim away the excess zipper at your previously drawn/marked line.
- Re-fold the tab along its original crease lines, wrapping it around the cut end of the zipper. Pin in place.
- Stitch in place as you did above with the top end tab.
Insert the zipper between the exterior and the lining
- Place one of the exterior panels right side up again on your work surface. We are working with our back panel.
- Pin the zipper in place across the top, double checking that the zipper and the panel are right sides together, that each tabbed end sits ½” in from the sides of the panel, and that the zipper pull is situated so, when closed, it’s to the right of the front panel. In our sample, because we are working with our back panel, that means our zipper pull sits to the left.
- Pin in place along the top of the zipper tape.
- Find one lining panel. Place the lining panel right side down on top of the front panel, sandwiching the zipper between the layers. The top raw edge of the lining panel should be aligned with the other layers. Pin well.
- Open the zipper about half way.
- Stitch across the top through all three layers, using a ¼” seam. We use our Zipper foot.
NOTE: All with all zipper insertions, when you feel you are approaching the zipper pull, stop with your needle in the down position. Raise the presser foot and twist the layers slightly so you can access the pull to move it out of the way of the presser foot. Once clear, drop the presser foot, re-position the layers, and finish the seam.
- Fold the lining back so the front panel and the lining are now wrong sides together and the remaining free side of the zipper tape is sticking up. Press.
- Find the remaining exterior panel and the remaining lining panel. Make a second sandwich similar to the first one. Place the back exterior panel right sides together with the front exterior panel, aligning its top raw edge with the free edge of the zipper tape. Lightly pin in place.
- Place the remaining lining panel right sides together with the in-place lining panel. The top raw edge of the lining panel should also be flush with the free edge of the zipper tape. As with the first sandwich, you have sandwiched the remaining free edge of the zipper between the remaining exterior panel and the remaining lining panel. The two exterior panels are right sides together and the two lining panels are right sides together. Pin in place through all three layers.
- Stitch across through all the layers as you did above, moving the zipper pull as needed.
- Open up the entire unit so it lays flat. The exterior front and lining are wrong sides together to one side and the exterior back and lining are wrong sides together to the other side with the zipper in the middle. Press well and pin in place.
- Again slightly lengthen your stitch and edgestitch along either side of the zipper.
NOTE: Because our center panel and side panel fabrics were very different in color, we took the extra time to re-thread and stitch the sections of edgestitching separately: black thread for the edgestitching within the side panels, then switching to green thread for the edgestithcing within the center panels. This is optional.
Create and place the D-ring loop
- Find the 2” x 2” fabric square. Similarly to how you made the zipper end tabs, first fold the square in half and finger press to set a center crease. Open, wrong side up, and fold in each raw edge to meet along the center crease.
- Re-fold along the center crease line and pin.
- Re-thread if necessary with thread to best match the fabric. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Edgestitch along the folded edges.
- Slip the tab through the D-ring.
- Bring the raw ends of the tab together forming a loop.
- Pin the loop in place against one exterior panel. It should sit approximately 1” down from the center line of the zipper and the raw ends of the loop should be flush with the raw edges of the panel.
- Machine baste in place for extra security.
Complete the pouch
- Make sure the zipper is open about half way.
- Flatten the layers so the exterior panels are right sides together to one side of the zipper and the lining panels are right sides together to the other side of the zipper. Align the raw edges along both sides and across the bottom.
- Pin in place all around, leaving an approximate 3” opening along the bottom of the lining for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all the way around. Remember to sharply pivot at all the corners and to lock your seam at either side of the opening along the bottom of the lining. Go slowly and carefully across the ends of the zipper. Your seam should be alongside but not directly on top of the end tabs.
- Clip all the corners and press open the seam allowance all around.
- Carefully turn the pouch right side out through the opening in the bottom of the lining.
- Hand stitch or edgestitch the opening in the lining.
- Push the lining down inside the pouch. Align the corners at the bottom and push out the top corners to either side of the zipper tabs. Remember, as you push all the corners out into place, the finished tab ends of the zipper should be free from side seams; they should sit just above the seam, making a teeny gap at each end.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild