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May 5, 2020

Who Is That Masked Man?


Friends, I know I'm a little late to mask making.

To be honest, I just didn't want to deal with it and scarves and bandanas seemed good enough.  But since it now seems we're going to be wearing masks for a long, long time, at least here in New York City, I figured I might as well give it a try.

There are a ton of mask patterns available in PDF form that you can download for free.  There are also countless YouTube tutorials and blog posts about sewing them.  I wasn't trying to make anything here that was as protective as an N95 mask, but rather something that I could wear that would keep me from touching my nose or mouth.  Nearly everyone outside is wearing a mask these days and my building requires you have one on when you leave your apartment and share public spaces like the lobby, elevators, and laundry room. 

There are many ways to make a mask more protective, but they often make the mask harder to breathe through, so it's a trade-off.  Many of you may have strong opinions about what kind of masks we should be wearing or even if we should be wearing masks at all.  I encourage you to do what works best for you.  In New York City masks weren't even recommended for non healthcare workers until April.  You could argue these homemade masks are a bit of security theater but at the very least they are an expression of social solidarity, something lacking in many parts of this country.

I tried two different patterns and both have their virtues.  Both are the contoured-type mask as opposed to the pleated style, which doesn't really appeal to me.  The first I found on a blog called The Crafty Quilter.  (TBH, I just did a Google search for free mask PDF's and this one looked good.)  It's a very basic design; you may have seen something similar elsewhere.

There's pattern sheet and a few pages of instructions to print.  It comes in just one adult size.



I whipped up a sample using a piece of an old sheet: nothing fancy.  I did not add a pocket layer but I'm pretty sure the instructions show you how to, as well as how to add a metal piece you can shape over the bridge of your nose.  I didn't try that but I may down the line.


The result is a pretty good-looking mask.  I added elastic to fit around my ears; you can also tie it around your neck and head.  It fit me pretty well but was too big for my mom and little too small for Michael.


Now apparently having a stitched center front seam makes the mask less effective, but again, I'm not wearing this to treat hospital patients. I will continue to social distance (is that a verb now?) even with a mask on.

The second mask pattern I tried is by a woman named Dhurata Davies.   This mask has a somewhat different shape and no center seam.  To fit your face it has a dart above the nose and dart under the chin.



Measurements are in centimeters: the seam allowances are approximately 3/8 inch. You can add a filter pocket.  You can also simply add a third layer of fabric or interfacing.  Again, the more layers, the harder it is to breath through and the more likely you're going to draw in air from the edges of the mask. 


Just like with the first mask pattern I tried, you basically are sewing two (or three if you're adding a pocket) layers of fabric together (right sides together) along the top and bottom, and then turning the mask right-side out through the ends. You then fold the ends and stitch to make a casing through which you can thread a piece of elastic or some sort of tie.  In this first sample I made a tie out of a piece of commercial double-fold bias tape, simply folding it and stitching down along the edge.


You can loop the the mask around your neck and then tie the mask behind your head, or loop it behind your head and tie it at your neck.  After trying both methods, I found I preferred to tie it behind my neck so there's not a bow hanging off the middle of my head.  I started with a size Small: that size fits my mom best.



Next I made a Size Medium for myself and one for Michael.  Each one takes about 20 minutes or so.  The one I made for myself is reversible: red polka dots on one side and blue on the other.


Michael's is blue chambray on one side and fine cotton plaid shirting on the other.  The tie is vintage double-fold bias tape.







What I like about this design is:

a) there’s no center seam, just darts at the nose and chin; 

b) There’s a horizontally stitched chin line improving fit; 

c) the pattern is multi-sized XS, S, M & L and instructions for choosing the correct size are included; 

d) there’s only one pattern piece. 

***

And that's it for mask making so far.  I plan to make a few each day since you really need more than one since they need to be washed regularly.  Plus it's nice to mix and match them with your outfits!

I'm betting a lot of you have been making masks for some time.  If you have a particular pattern you like or other tips you'd like to share, please do.

Happy sewing, everybody, and stay healthy!

34 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post, I've been making the Craft Passion mask, very similar to the first one you made here. The Dhurata Davies pattern looks like it fits better on the bridge of the nose. I think I might give that one a try this evening and test out that fit.

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  2. I've tried several patterns, and really like the pattern (as well as the video tutorial) from craftpassion.com --it's becoming my go-to for my husband's masks. For my own, I'm mashing the craft passion with Joost's fu mask at freesewing.org. I've also set up bags for each of us for clean masks, and a common bag for masks to be laundered. Not the most fun project, to be sure, but good that we can experiment and tailor to what we think will work best for each of us.

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  3. Glasses/Sunglasses add an extra dimension of challenge.

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    Replies
    1. Keep up the good phight Phyllis!

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    2. I have that issue. I have progressive bi-focals and I cannot find a mask that lets me look through the "correct" part of my lenses.

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  4. Thanks for this post. I made our masks about 6 weeks ago when we first went into lockdown here in New Zealand and you are right in saying it just really helps remind you not to touch your face and it shows others around you that you are serious about your health. I like the look of the second mask you have so I might knock out a couple of those too. Although the only cotton fabric I have left that is suitable has sparkly rainbow unicorns or bright yellow glitter bumblebees. Guess that will make it easier for my husband to work out which are mine.

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  5. i've been making the simple pleated one that's all straight lines. i didn't want to mess with cutting rounded shapes, and i just felt that simple rectangles was a more efficient use of my spare fabric. i just give them away to whoever needs them -- mostly to family and friends, and then i put the rest in plastic bags in the Tiny Library in front of our house. they go away so fast i can't keep up! i struggle with the pleats, but once you're wearing it you can't tell anyway. Your masks are MUCH nicer!

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  6. oh, i meant to say that i am *still* waiting and hoping you'll make a mask out of the Peanuts fabric you used for the shirt, so you have a matching Peanuts mask to go with that shirt... :)

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  7. Some very good-looking masks there, Peter. I like to observe all the hand-sewn masks on the streets of my town, some people go for as uninteresting as possible, some go for cheerful and colorful. Masks are a requirement here in Germany in shops and in public transport, and maybe in classrooms, but nowhere else. We are being reminded though that a home-made mask is mainly for protecting others from our own coughs, sneezes, breath. The head of my federal state of likes to be seen in a mask with our state colors - a white and blue diamond pattern.

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  8. I like the one with the darts. Might try that one. I’ve made several like your first one. Meh. And I’ve made a couple of pleated ones which seem to fit my face better. I’ve been using pipe cleaners very successfully to shape the nose arch. I also find that looping the elastic all the way around the head in a big circle is more comfortable than ear loops. But it takes a lot of somewhat hard to obtain elastic. Hope to start seeing faces before too many years go by😞

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  9. SeamsterEast aol comMay 5, 2020 at 9:53 PM

    I made three from discard silk ties, pleated model face masks. From a discard dress shirt I made one, complete with Brook Brothers logo in the upper corner. I find two layers of knit fabric can be awfully hard to breathe through. I also found knit to be awfully hard to sew -- I don't sew knit much -- unless I use my walking foot attachment. I got too much time on my hands. I'm thinking of making a bias cut shirt just to see what it looks like. It may end up a UFO.

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  10. SeamsterEast aol comMay 5, 2020 at 10:07 PM

    BTW, silk ties aren't big enough for two layers of fashion cloth, so I used Bemberg on the inside. BTW-2, I made some friends with the doormen and workers in my (NYC) building by giving them free masks. What goes around, comes around, besides I want them to stay healthy. Some neighbors wanted masks, so I said "Sure for an old dress shirt for material and a can of chili for my efforts". (I like chili.) It now takes me about ten minutes to make a mask.

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  11. The first batch I made was the simple rectangular ones with the pleats and elastic over the ears. That was in mid-March, and there weren't a lot of patterns out there then. That batch went to my city. They gave them to the seniors who use the city-provided transport for grocery shopping and medical appointments. Second batch was using the pattern from JenniferMaker.com, which I thought might be easier because my machine didn't like the thickness of the pleats. JenniferMaker's pattern is shaped, with a curved seam at center front. That batch was for my husband, our grown children, and our five-year-old grandson. They were OK, but the fit was not great. Third batch, that I'm working on now, is from craftpassion.com. There is a seam at center front, but she has you press the seam to one side instead of open. Very good pattern, with a wire pocket and a filter pocket as well. It fits very well around the face. This batch is for my sibs and their spouses and children. About 45 masks, two for each person. I do a little bit each day, and I'm nearing the end. Hope to have them in the mail by this weekend.

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  12. Thanks for madethis.I a couple of pleated masks, with pipe cleaner as nose grip, and added dart to chin to improve fit. I was going to try the shaped mask with centre seam, but like you say, it creates flawed filtration over mouth and nose. Your pattern looks like a better option. Only a handful of cases here (regional south east Queensland), so masks not so critical. Really just want them for shopping if it gets more crowded as restrictions ease.

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  13. thank you for the share. We are not required to wear masks but like a lot else, things can change. I work in a hospital (clerical) and not required, unlike nursing staff who have been for the last few weeks. I can see it may be recommended as we exit lockdown, but the health agency dont want supplies to be compromised for medical staff...... I was thinking of making up a few just in case..... I like one of the comments above for reusing old ties. I like the look of the second one best

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  14. Your masks look nice. Using silk ties sounds like a nice touch. Of course, so would using nicer fabric than the "what was I thinking" batik and bed sheet I used.

    I've saved a pattern for every version I think, SO much conflicting information on style and materials to use. The one I used mostly is from 7 Pine Design using folds at the ends. And one from Instructables for a guy with a beard. And for those making pleated ones, Kathleen at Fashion Incubator has instructions for making a pleater to make those faster.

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  15. Kudos to you for making such lovely masks! I, too, prefer the shaped versions to the pleated ones. A friend made some little stretchy bands with a button sewed on each end for use with the elastic-loop masks that our church gave away to members (we had volunteers sew up masks for us; we will not allow anyone inside our buildings without a mask, once it is safe for us to open back up). You put the band behind your head and loop the elastics onto the buttons -- saves your skin from irritation.

    If you plan to go into production for your family and friends (we'll need masks to match each outfit, no?) keep in mind that a firm finger-pressing is quite sufficient for your seams. No need to go to the iron until you've finished the mask, if you even think it needs pressing even (saves the skin on the ends of your fingers).

    And, scraps of fabric can be easily turned into strings for masks. Does not have to be bias binding. You can even cut strips of t-shirt knit into acceptable tie-strings.

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  16. For me, the rectangular pleated masks work well for donations. They are easy to cut and make in bulk, and they fit a variety of face sizes. A nurse friend recommends a pattern that can take an added filter. For the filter, cut up a HEPA vacuum cleaner bag. Here is the pattern I have used for sewing large numbers of masks for donations: https://www.raisingnobles.com/diy-face-mask-tutorial-how-to-sew-a-face-mask/

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  17. I have used several face mask patterns and settled on one similar to this, but I like the ability to make different sizes that this pattern offers. I find the dart patterns fit the best. One problem I've identified with all mask patterns is that the wires for shaping the nose just don't seem to hold up well and aren't strong enough to hold their shape with repeated bends and laundering. AND I'm constantly touching my face to adjust the mask, which defeats the purpose of the mask!

    So, I created an exterior pocket across the bridge of the nose and left one side open for inserting and removing a piece of foil that I cut and folded from a disposable aluminum pan.

    To make; decide how large you want your pocket to be. Mine was 1 1/2" to 2" long and about 5/8" wide, finished. Double the size and add a seam allowance, especially generous on one long side; fold right sides together to make a rectangular shape, sew along 3 sides leaving open one long edge. Turn and press. Your pocket will now be finished on 3 sides with one long edge raw. Pin pocket to the right side of the mask at the bridge of the nose, raw edge of pocket aligned with the raw edge of the mask. Trim edge to fit the shape of the mask, if necessary (this is where the generous seam allowance comes in); top stitch along two sides of the pocket, leaving one short end open. Finish mask according to directions. Cut a piece of aluminum foil from a disposable pan about 3 times the width of the pocket insert, fold into thirds and insert into the open end of the pocket. Voila! The foil is sturdy enough to bend and hold the mask and can easily be shaped to fit any face. It can also be removed for laundering, if you wish, and/or replaced as necessary.

    I've found this especially helpful for family and friends who live away to extend the life of the mask. I hope you find it helpful as well!

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  18. Thanks for the referral to the new to me facemask. I have been making facemasks out of necessity, they are not that much fun but as I am at an essential worker I need them for work. I like this pattern because of the sizing and the darts and the fact that it fits around the back of the head instead of the ears. My ears are starting to get sore in the back.

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    Replies
    1. Linda, any mask that has a casing (as opposed to the elastic bands stitched on) can have eitehr ties that go around the ears or around the back of the head. I recommend that style mask.

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    2. I've seen people put buttons on head bands to hook the masks to. Also various types of bands that go around back of the head with hooks for the elastic. I saw one person used one of the monkeys from a Barrel Of Monkey toy. Do a search for "ear savers for face masks" for ideas

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  19. One hospital requested no blue masks (might be confused with medical-grade masks) and they should not be reversible (so a soiled side isn't inadvertently worn toward the mouth and nose). They requested the lining be clearly the lining: white or a solid color if the outside is a print. I like the second mask you show. I've been making pleated masks and giving them away but I wear an N95 which was slightly used and in my workshop for years before the current need.

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    1. For the maker to wear, and as it will be washed between wears, the reversible surely is fine. I understood that they should be changed for a clean one after a couple of hours of being breathed through anyway. Fortunately for me I am in the extremely vulnerable category due to no spleen, so don't go anywhere apart from a quick foray with my dog at 6 in the morning and 11 at night when I am the only person on the streets. I am claustrophobic to things across my face and the thought of needing to wear a mask makes my cringe.

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  20. I've made a few now, I've used the pattern from Instructables which is ok but nothing fancy and one from the pattern by Twig and Tale here in New Zealand; I tested version 2 and have got version 3 cut out ready to go. Masks aren't recommended here yet, but I've been wearing one when grocery shopping anyway since I'm shopping for my parents. One thing I hate about them though is that I end up with a permanent hot flush while wearing the things, not ideal when in the midst of a pandemic with fever as a main symptom!

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  21. Your marvelous masks are in such quiet good taste...How about a mask for Simplicity?
    I can't get to the dart-fitted mask--the site says my email address is not approved! Others seem to be having trouble too, so I just improvised off your photo. Am almost 90, sewing for my friends and neighbours, also oldsters, so your info is MUCH appreciated.

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  22. I got around the difficulty of the center front seam not being protective enough by trimming the seam allowance and pressing it to one side, then top stitching it down. I do it going the reverse way for the lining piece. Hope this helps! LOVE THE MASK OPTIONS. Thanks!

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  23. Thanks so much for these links I have been using a pattern from a neighbor but my husband wanted more. This is a real help thank you.

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  24. I too have been making masks of various designs. I've been making nose bridge stiffeners by folding a sheet of 18" by 18" aluminum foil several times into a 1/4" - 3/8"
    band, cut into 3" lengths. If you make a mask with a pocket for a filter, you can sew a 3", three sided pocket at the top edge, insert the aluminum band, and close the pocket. Now you have a bendable, rust free, metal piece that will conform to your nose shape, keeping a good seal around the bridge of the nose. Also, the filter material used in medical grade masks is called melt blown polypropylene non woven fabric. It looks a lot like sew-in interfacing, but it has the ability to block particles as small as viruses (0.3 microns). I purchased a roll of the fabric off eBay that I cut into squares and put them inside the masks.

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  25. I like the look and feel of this mask the most of the several designs I've tried so far. However, can anyone suggest the best way to make the lining a bit smaller than the outer layer? I have it bunch up, which is annoying. This is probably an obvious thing to fix, but I'm not getting it quite right, yet. Any suggestions welcome.

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