Masks: some things I've learnt and how to make your own

Posted by Emily Lord on

Right back at the beginning of lock down I made my first batch of masks for myself and my immediate family. I made a simple pleated rectangle with 2 layers of fabric and fixed elastic ear loops at each end. I measured the loops for my masks, they are comfortable and I wear them regularly when out and about at the shops and on deliveries etc. I guessed at the adjustments for other family members and got it wrong. A mask that is too small is uncomfortable and keeps coming off. A mask that is too big causes similar issues. This design was definitely not a 'one size fits all' solution. I felt that simply sewing the end over on a pleated mask might be too bulky so instead I added a bias casing at each end to run the elastic through so that it can be adjusted by the wearer. This works well and is my preferred method for the pleated mask.

More recently I had a go at making a shaped mask that I had seen people wearing out and about. I found a pattern and made a couple. My favourite is this bee print mask.

I added an iron-on interfacing to the outer fabric of this mask. I also glued on a nose wire made by repurposing a plastic coated wire twistie from some food packaging. What I immediately noticed was that it was a little harder to breathe in this mask. A good sign because it suggests the fit is better around the nose and that the interfacing is doing some filtering. What I didn't like about this mask was that it tends to ride up when speaking. This can prove rather awkward whilst in the queue at the Post Office with an armful of parcels and a mask not only covering your mouth and nose but also threatening to obscure your vision. I can think of circumstances where this might be more problematic. A mask needs to stay put until it is taken off. So, back to the drawing board to add a little shaping at the chin and a new improved fit mask was the result.

I was still using the bias casing for the elastic but decided that this was fiddly and not really worth the effort involved. Simple elongating the sides a little and stitching them over provided a much quicker casing for that all important adjustable elastic. 

If you would like to have a go at making this mask then head over to the mask kits. It is a really great little sewing project, especially for beginners, that can be completed by hand sewing or on a sewing machine. It is also a great way of repurposing clothes such as shirts or using up small scraps from your fabric stash. I hope I've inspired you to make your own mask and maybe some for friends, family and other people in your community.

Stay safe everyone 😷


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