Kate Underdown

Patrick Grant, presenter of the Great British Sewing Bee, Saville Row tailor and founder of Community Clothing, has launched the Big Community Sew campaign to create face coverings. This is in response to the new UK Government guidelines (published on 11th May 2020), which advises people in England to wear face coverings (not face masks, more on this below) in some enclosed spaces. Patrick has launched the Big community Sew campaign to bring together the UK sewing community to create face coverings for those who need them and information for makers like you and me to create our own.

The Big Community Sew campaign is designed to provide information and a community resource where you can find out about what the UK sewing community is doing to help create face coverings and resources on how you can make your own. Search using the hashtag #bigcommunitysew on Instagram. You can find videos from your favourite designers and bloggers such as Elisalex of By Hand London, Atia from The Bright Blooms and Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons. The information provided is for creating ‘face coverings’ not ‘face masks’, this is because ‘face masks’, also known as ‘medical masks’, should be reserved for healthcare workers. With limited supplies of face coverings available to buy, the UK Government for England has also published this article on how to create your own ‘face covering’ using household items such as t-shirts or cotton fabric from bedding and this is why Patrick Grant decided to launch the Big Community Sew campaign.

On 11th May 2020 the UK Government for England said “as more people return to work, there will be more movement outside people’s immediate household. This increased mobility means the Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. Face-coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically.

A face covering is not the same as a face mask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it. It is important to use face-coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.”

In the sewing community many makers have been making face masks and coverings, scrubs, scrubs bags and gowns for many weeks already. Patrick has several years of experience in the clothing and textiles industry and since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, he and his team at Cookson and Clegg have already created over 350,000 items of PPE.

Patrick also wanted to take this opportunity to thank “the scrub making groups, sewing clubs and thousands of other sewing volunteers who quietly jumped into action to stitch for health and social care workers across the country” but he wants more people to get involved. “It would be fantastic if local communities could look out for each other in the same way they did when lockdown started with all the messages on social media groups and notes through neighbours’ doors offering help with shopping or any other jobs.”

Here we have collated some of the most popular face covering patterns available from sewing community designers, you can also download two different types of face coverings from the Big Community Sew website.

Sewing Community face covering sewing patterns

Trend Patterns – free face covering

Lucy Sinnott is the designer and owner of Trend Patterns and she has a free PDF face covering sewing patternon her website to download. This was one of the first face covering sewing patterns that came out and has been made by lots of people. The great thing about this version is that it comes with a lining so there is an option to add a another layer of  removable protection to the face covering. This pattern comes in one size is three A4 pages long and the instructions are on the pattern pieces.


Sweet Red Poppy – pleated and fitted face mask pattern

Whether you’re looking for a simple face covering with pleats of something more fitted around the face then Sweet Red Poppy has both options for you. There is also very clear step-by-step pictures of how to make these face coverings. There is a tutorial for the pleated face covering and a pattern for the more fitted face covering as well.


The Spruce  – free face covering tutorial 

If you’re new to sewing and looking for something simple then this might be a good option from The Spruce. There are step-by-step images and it’s a good tutorial that holds your hand through the process to create a face covering.


McCalls – Free Face Cover Sewing Pattern

The McCalls simple face cover comes with three pleats so that it will fit a multitude of face shapes. The PDF file is in four pages including the instructions and this pattern comes in one size. It is finished using elastic but you’d be able to add ties if you wanted instead.


Sew Over It – How to sew a face cover video tutorial

Lisa Comfort has shared a video on the Sew Over It YouTube channel showing you the steps to create a face covering. You don’t need a pattern with this one, all you need to start off is two rectangles of woven cotton fabric measuring 22cm by 16cm.


Craft Passion free face mask sewing pattern

This face covering has been made in three sizes so great if you’d like to sew them for your family. There have been tweaks made to the original pattern to include a wire over the nose for comfort as well as an option to add ties rather than elastic as many people are having issues getting hold of it.


Free Sewing – Florence face covering

The Florence face covering is a one page sewing pattern that also comes in three sizes, there are also options for either ties or elastic at the sides.


Dhurata Davies – Face covering

Dhurata Davies is the owner and designer of Dhurata Davies Sewing patterns. She has designed this face covering in several sizes. The pattern is free to download and has been updated to include additional instructions on how to insert a wire. The tutorial shows you how to create this face covering using three thin layers of cotton fabric, two woven and one knit t-shirt fabric.

Disclaimer: this blog post has been created in response to new UK Government guidance (11th May 2020) and the Big Community Sew campaign. Please note that this page is about the UK sewing community and is not linked to or endorsed by Public Health England. Where images are not our own they remain the copyright of the author. Always refer to official UK Government guidance on how and when to wear and make a cloth face covering in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This information was sourced on 11th May 2020. 

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