Making Masks

First I tried sourdough. Then I considered learning to play guitar. I cleaned out closets, weeded gardens (a pointless exercise given how out of control they are now) and bought new Adirondack chairs for all the time we’d spend relaxing outside (which, given the mosquitos and “Cicada Killer Wasps,” also became pointless).

And then I started making masks. Now let’s be clear, while I have a sewing machine (thanks mom!) I would not call myself a seamstress. Before the mask making began, my largest sewing project was curtains for our daughter’s room – and I used stitch witchery for those. But there is something very satisfying, for me, about making masks. Maybe it’s the research and experimentation as we try different patterns (who knew there were so many ways to make a face covering). Perhaps it’s the mix of creativity and repetition. Or maybe it feels like something I can do to protect my family and my community, when I feel helpless as the world seems to spin out of control.

After a few “favorites” I believe I’ve finally hit on my favorite. It’s a big mask – turns out, the masks that work best for our faces, particularly when we are speaking, cover a lot of skin – and, the simplest of the patterns I have tried.

(Important note: I can’t find the original pattern that inspired this version. If I find the video I will be sure to share it).

This is my pattern. The curves at the end will meet to become the front of the mask. Using posterboard let me cut away at the pattern to adjust it to our liking. The measurements shown are for the middle (horizontally) and then from the top of the nose to the bottom of the chin.
Use the pattern to outline and cut out two pieces of fabric.
May I suggest a good pair of scissors? I had these from that curtain project and they are a game-changer.
Sew together each side of the mask, following the edge from top of the nose to bottom of the chin.
I’m getting so much better at straight seams!
Bring together the seams to start forming the mask – this is my favorite part of the pattern as it is much easier/faster than other options I’ve tried.
Sew along the top and bottom, leaving a gap to allow you to turn it right side out.
After it is turned right side out, you can decide which side will be showing – although sometimes it will tell you.
It’s fun to see how the design comes together.
Sew along the top and bottom of the mask. I find the marks on the sewing machine are helpful for creating a straight hem (and yes, I know that’s why they are there).
Tuck in the edges as you pass to seal up the bottom.
To keep the mask from gaping at the edges, I put small pleats at each end. I’m sure I could adjust the pattern to accommodate for this, but I find the pleat also gives some breathing room.
Create channels for the ear loops by folding over the ends (again, using the lines as a guide to keep it even-ish).
For the ear loops, I’ve been using recycled t-shirt yarn from the Fox Yarn Company instead of elastic, mostly because it allows the masks to be adjustable and washable.
A bent paper clip is an easy way to string the yarn through the channel.
Ta Da! This one is made with fabric my mom gave me, but most of our masks have been made out of upcycled/recycled clothing from around the house.
From old swim trunks.
From an old Pan-Mass Challenge t-shirt


2 thoughts on “Making Masks

  1. If you decide to add a channel for a wire at the nose, I’ve found that twistie-ties work well for the wire. How well does the T-shirt yarn wash? Sounds comfy and durable. 😷💪🏼😎


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