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May 11, 2020

Mask Maker, Mask Maker, Make Me a Mask!


Readers. the mask making continues.

I've mainly been sewing masks for my family, but also for a few friends and neighbors.  It's easy and it's fun and it helps me downsize my remnant stash.  I've especially enjoyed making masks to match some of my me-made shirts.  I'm glad I saved the leftover scraps from these projects!

Reader "FrankO" requested I make a matching Peanuts mask and here it is!



I continue using the free design by Dhurata Davies, which is very comfortable to wear and fits well.  I've learned a few construction tricks too:

1) When you sew the two (or three, if there's a pocket) layers together, stitch with the lining next to the feed dogs and let the lining edge protrude an extra 1/8" (the regular seam allowance is roughly 3/8").  When you turn the layers right sides out, the lining will pull the outer layer to the inside a bit, ensuring that the lining doesn't stick out when you wear the mask.  You'll still need to press the edges, of course, as you would if you were making a shirt collar or a facing.



2) Be sure to clip the curves of your seam allowances before turning right sides out.  Again, these are the same techniques one would use when sewing a curved collar or facing.


3) It can be helpful -- though it's certainly not necessary -- to trim the lining layer 1/4" at the two far ends (where you're going to fold over the edge to create a casing for elastic or tie) before you sew the two layers together. This will leave less bulk when fold the layers over.  Not essential but helpful.

4) When you sew the layers together, be sure the center darts at both the chin and the nose match up.  You'll get a more professional-looking result.


My most recent mask is one I made for my mother using a Liberty of London cotton poplin remnant and some contrasting gingham for the lining.



I think the result is very sweet-looking.


I'll probably whip up a few more of these masks as needed.  They're easy to make and they're surprisingly satisfying since they are genuinely needed.  I still haven't sewn any masks using more than two layers of cotton or a filter pocket: I may try that next.

Have a great day, everybody, and happy mask making!

33 comments:

  1. Have seen some warnings about using HEPA filters as mask linings -- what sort of unknown fibers might the wearer breathe in from them?

    Also: don't make your masks so airtight that you can't breathe through them.

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    1. My understanding is that if you can't breathe easily through the mask, you end up sucking in air through the outside edges which results in no filtering at all.

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    2. I saw an video done by a medical doctor who warned against using HEPA filters and later saw a post from company who makes HEPA filters warning bags contain fiberglass and shouldn't be used in mask making. I have made masks with pellon stabilizer as a filter and also a mask making filter by filti.com. Check them out for filters. Product has a right/wrong side and are breathable.

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  2. I love these - I just ran out of elastic so am experimenting with the ties that lace the way you have yours. I find them a bit fiddly, but more comfortable once you have it secured.

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    1. They are indeed a little harder to get on, but once they're attached they stay on in my experience. Very secure.

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  3. omg, the Peanuts mask looks so great! and i love *all* the matching shirt/mask combinations, particularly the crossword puzzle. so striking and fashion-forward! i think you'll be on the leading edge of this, Peter. i'm interested in your tip about sewing the lining, too. having the lining peeking out has been kind of frustrating me, so i'll have to try your technique.

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    1. I trim my lining layer around 1/16th" smaller, top and bottom to account for the 'roll of the cloth' and this seems to work okay. I've been making the Olson style but I like the look of Peter's masks much better and will use it for my next batch. Love your matching combos Peter! Cheers Susan

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    2. I just made my first one using this pattern, and it's deceptively easy. Next mask I will cut the lining a tad smaller- that will ensure the lining's not seen on the outside.

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  4. I made 13 of them for family only, and hoped that nobody would bug me to make more. I got burnt out of the assembly line sewing. I made one similar to the ones you have made, and I do like the ties better than the elastic.

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  5. I'm in the process of turning out several masks of three types. Two found on your blog. I find it boring and depressing but will make more so enough for washing and maybe giving out. One new skill for the future.

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  6. Just curious. Do you or other mask makers wash and iron your fabrics before sewing? I do so for two reasons, masks won't shrink when you wash them and fabrics may contain residue of pesticides (not good if you are allergic to chemicals).

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    1. FWIW, I washed my fabrics twice in very hot water to make sure my masks wouldn't shrink.

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    2. Absolutely: everything is preshrunk and then pressed.

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  7. What timing! I was just going to read your last post this morning as I have decided to start wearing masks as we will be exiting lock down soon and I have a feeling they may be compulsory in some stores - as well as my friend in germany needs some as they are now in use there! Love how you got to use the left over shirt fabric...... so justifies holding onto those 'usable' scraps. Many thanks for the tips.

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  8. Nice! Masks are next on my list- I've finished 60 scrub sets and feel the burnout lol My 83 year-old dad has requested a cat's nose and whiskers on his. OK pater, as you wish

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  9. Trick photography!

    You have the technology, so when do we get twice the Cathy??

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  10. Peter, you didn´t topstitch around the mask, right? I was doing this with mine, I don´t know if it´s really necessary...

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    1. I find keeping the lining a little small than the outside layers eliminates the need to topstitch. It might look nice if you want to use a contrasting thread however.

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  11. I’ve made one so far as a test and like the fit really well. They are definitely more fiddly to make but well worth it. I’m going to put in the Pelion interfacing to make them more filterable for going in stores. Maybe just wishful thinking.

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  12. You are so lucky to have such great remnants. I doubt anyone else will be able to wear matching shirts and masks. Covid 19 couture!

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    1. Great to hear from you, Nancy. Yes, I think I have a piece of almost every fabric I've sewn with if you can believe it!

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  13. What a wonderful contribution you are all making to keep yourselves and others safe and using up scrap fabric as well. We don't have to make any masks (yet) over here in Australia and things starting to open up. I just hope we don't have a second wave! Looking forward to seeing Cathy again too :)

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  14. I have the feeling that many people are missing the main point about masks. They seem to be primarily concerned about a mask to protect themselves, but the most important argument for everyone wearing masks is to protect the people around you. If everyone could, and would, wear a mask whenever they were outside of their home, the transmission rates would drop significantly. The doctors and nurses in an operating room wear masks to protect the patient on the table. Yes, of course medical personnel also need highly technical masks with filtering that protects them when providing care for infectious patients. It is doubtfull that enough of those types of masks will ever be produced to supply all of the general population.(Which probably wouldn't wear them correctly anyway becasue they are uncomfortable.) But almost any kind of face covering can protect others from you if you happen to be infectious, particularly when you don't realize yet that you are carrying the virus. Along with distancing and hand-washing of course, but especially when distancing isn't possible. It is a matter of social consciousness and responsibility. Of course when a few people don't follow the consensus, it isn't a catastrophe. But it is like voting, people often think their lonely little vote doesn't make a difference. Except when a large percentage of the population doesn't vote, you have an election which isn't really representative. The fact that most people are not infectious does not mean that masks are useless. Outside of exceptional circumstances (like a hearing impaired individual who needs to see someone's mouth to understandwhat they are saying) wearing a mask is not a huge thing to ask. Going without a mask is not a "right" in this context. There are plenty of things we are required to do to protect others or not to do because it would endanger others. So ... please ... think about wearing a mask when you are around other people. You might might even save someone's life. And as sewing enthusiasts, we can even make a fashion statement with our masks ! Wooo hoooo.

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  15. Thanks so much for sharing your considerations and mask choices, I am on mask 5 now can skip through like a breeze - except for a Scottie dog pattern. I had forgotten that a pattern across the width of the material needs to be cut across the width, I only had a narrow length left over, eventually decided to join with run and fell seam as it was for a dog loving friend. Learning curves never cease. its a great blog.

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  16. Have just seen Cathy on instagram looking incredible in her lockdown ensemble. Does this mean a Cathy Lane photo shoot/blog post is imminent? Pleeeeeease.
    Spud

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    1. First she needs a new outfit. That rose-print number is from years ago and Cathy is very particular about not being seen in the same dress twice.

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    2. It stands to reason - Cathy would never drop her standards.
      Silly Spud

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  17. if you had to sew a casing for a nose wire would you sew it at the top of the filter pocket or at the top of the outer layer? I guess sewing it on the pocket would "look" better since it wouldn't be seen on the outside BUT it may be uncomfortable having the wire right up against the nose. OTOH, sewing on the outside requires a bit more care but you might benefit from having the 3 layers cushioning the wire AND possibly providing a tighter seal. What do you think? TIA for any replies.

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    1. I made one with a nose wire: I created a casing for the wire (I used a reshaped paper clip) and sewed the casing to the lining at the seam allowance on the wrong side of the fabric. The casing ends up between the layers. It works quite well.

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  18. One more quick comment- I used a t-shirt strip (cut across a t-shirt I no longer wore, so the tie is the length of the diameter of the t). It seems to be soft, easy to tie, and secure, and no slipping so I don't have to adjust it. Just cut the strip across about 1 inch (I used a rotary cutter), cut off one side seam, and pull- the strip rolls in on itself- I don't think I'll vary from this in my mask making.

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    1. I too have been using strips of cotton jersey leftover from an old project and it works great. Thanks for the tip!

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