The Mask Brigade

I've (sort of, kind of) joined the mask-making brigade.  I qualify that comment because I've been watching hours of YouTube video tutorials on how to sew these masks.  I've wanted to make something that's sturdy and comfortable and that will limit exposure (though I know nothing can prevent exposure) as much as possible.

Why have I watched hours of videos?

I liked the feedback and look of the duckbill masks I was seeing and decided that this was the way to go for me.  But sewing curves scared the bejeezus out of me.  Okay, I was a total chicken about starting.  I didn't come to quilting from garment making.

Eventually I took the plunge.  Many hours later I had my first mask.

I'm slow, in part, because I don't have any elastic.  I have to make my own ties.  I don't have any t-shirts either so I'm making bias tape binding.  I don't have one of those little doodads that automatically folds the fabric for you. Major time drain.

1AM and that mask is finally done.

Since then, I've made some more masks.  I've forgotten to sew things front sides together.  (Rip out and resew.) I've clipped through the stitches on curved edges.  (Try to fuse fabric over the cut sections and resew.)  I've sewn ties to the wrong side so that when things are flipped out, the ties are on the inside.  (Yup, rip out and resew.) Very slow progress.

My family, bless their hearts, have received my guinea pig masks.   The good news: everything has survived a hot water wash and high dry cycle post-construction. In fact, they're still rather sturdy.

I still have to make masks for my elderly parents who live in Illinois and for my in-laws who live in Arizona.   But once my family masks are done, I'll be making masks for the healthcare workers at a local disabled adult residential facility, using their pattern for masks that go over N95 masks.  Now that I've made all my mistakes, I think I can more confidently make masks that will be heading to the front lines.  It'll be good to do something that serves others as opposed to myself.  I'll be slow, but thank heavens fabric doesn't spoil if it sits out for a while.


kathy loomis said…
Hi Vivien! I'm several masks ahead of you on the learning curve. I'm not making the duckbills, instead doing the rectangle-with-pleats, but I can give you some tips. First, don't make bias ties unless you already own bias binding from the store. It's easier to fold and press binding cut on the straight. You're right, it's the most tedious part of the whole process. Maybe you have ribbon or some other kind of cord or tape on hand??

Second, if you forget to sew right sides together, let it be. The wrong side of the fabric might not look quite as spiffy (although you're using batik, so what's the difference?) but it will stop the virus just as well as the right side. Third, don't stitch your ties into the seams before turning the mask inside out. Turn the mask inside out without the ties, then stitch the ties to the outside of the mask. Just fit the "trough" of the binding over the corner of the mask and stitch three or four times up and down to secure.

Happy sewing!!
Vivien Zepf said…
Hi Kathy! I made straight grain ties for my first mask. After using it, I decided that they were too bulky and didn't hold the knot as tightly as I would have liked. Hence I've switched to the bias cut ones. I WISH I had something else to use in my stash but, alas, I never shopped for ribbons or cord. Great idea about how to secure the ties on the outside of the mask! Thanks for reading and for the tips!
Norma Schlager said…
I think your duck bill mask looks great, but understand how tedious it must be. Kathy's tutorial is excellent.