Whew, what a crazy ride we’re on right now! A few months ago feels like a different world. As much as I’m a homebody and like staying home, I never thought it would be something I had to do in order to look after myself and others. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. It seems we may be out of the worst of it (this is debatable) but in order to get back to some sense of normality, we may have to get very comfortable with face masks. As you can see already, the mask I ended up making is mainly in an African print/ Ankara fabric. I bought this for happier times but hey ho, if this helps us get back to the ordinary, you just do what you gotta do!
Have you struggled to find a face mask to buy? Because the options are endless and overwhelming. Well, finding the best mask to sew is pretty difficult too. I’ve been bombarded with TikToks and Facebook How To videos on how to make them out of socks, t-shirts and cabbage leaves. Once you’ve decided if you’re going to use a mineral, fruit or a vegetable, you have to decide on a style . Pleated, smooth, with filter pocket, a snood, bandana etc.
After getting frustrated and annoyed with my search I went onto YouTube and searched for the most viewed tutorials on best fit face masks. You’ll find a lot of the YouTubers commenting that this is the 5th, 6th, 13th or whatever iteration of the design and they have FINALLY got a great mask that fits so well. So in a months time, this will probably be redundant!
Eventually I went with this one from Daisy Multifacetica. To be honest, I was swayed by the 3.1 million views and the candy skull material. She also gives a link to a printable pattern and explains how to draft the pattern if you have no printer.
It seemed like it was an easy to follow video, the comments where really positive from people who’d just watched it and were impressed to those that had actually made the mask. What could go wrong?!
I bought the fabric to make some accessories for my friend’s wedding in September last year. I was supposed to write up a post about it but I just haven’t got round to it yet. And it’s June! But if you want to see the finished products click here!
This fabric was bought from the eBay store of Fabric Republique but they have their own website too. I spent £34.95 for 5 yards of fabric. I was hoping to make skirts, shirts, necklaces etc. but it might all go towards our face mask effort because I love this print, the fabric is thick, and if my Googling is correct, Ankara is 100% cotton. Which fared favourably in some scientific style tests.
I decided to make the mask in Medium for my first attempt.
Like the comments under the video indicated, it was a fairly easy process to follow. YET I still got the lining of the filter pocket wrong… twice. In my defence though, I was trying to make this thing at like 10 o’clock at night. The mask is made out of only 6 large pattern pieces and as a fairly new sew-er, it’s great because it’s just not that complex.
The only thing that I found a real challenge was the zig zag stitch over the pipe cleaner (for moulding at the nose) as I’ve never done anything like that before. And I think that it’s a nice touch. I think you need it because it definitely made the mask fit that little bit better. Which segues nicely into…
The Finished Product
Woop woop! I did it! And if I hadn’t screwed up the inner pocket twice, the whole thing would have been done in less than an hour – that’s the pressing, cutting, pressing, sewing, pressing all done. I hate ironing and I know how important it is to a good looking final sewn product after watching a few series of The Great British Sewing Bee but really? After every step? It’s tiring but must be done.
Daisy gives two options for how to do the ear loops and I ignored both. I was worried about the mask irritating my ears and constantly needing adjusting so I did the elastic loops so they go round the back of your head above and below the ear without needing to knot it. Not necessarily compatible with curly or afro hair but good for the ears!
This is a 3 layered fabric mask. I used the African print for the 2 outer layers which might have been a bit thick. And this is before I’ve even considered adding a filter. However, a 3 layered mask is seen as sufficient (at the moment), so the filter may not be needed. But I may need to review the materials I used. I didn’t like how it fit around my chin. I think I might need to play around with the pattern so it goes under more. Personally, I would like a little more space around my mouth. It felt a little claustrophobic and a bit more support under the chin as it felt a little gappy which is not ideal. The mask needs to create as much of a seal as possible with the skin.
Since I made this only the other day, I’ve found that Daisy actually seems to have another mask that might fit my requirements better.
The filter pocket was a great idea. Not all DIY masks have them, mine however, seemed a little baggy which affected the comfort of wearing it. Therefore, I need to figure out how to give that a tighter fit.
If I make a mask more like the tutorial with the ear loops, I would definitely consider making one of these ear savers. However, I don’t plan on wearing masks that often because I don’t plan on leaving my house.
A Sneaky Surprise
Okay, so all the guidance and suggestions say you can use what you’ve got lying around. So Peppa Pig made an appearance. Yup, good ol’ PP. We had some PP curtains that were shortened a few years ago. I was supposed to be making matching cushions to go with the curtains. But now my daughter has grown out of Peppa Pig and I’m stuck with this fabric. So actually it was quite nice to finally put it to use.
Will I Make More?
I will be making a few more but for the kids to pretend to be vets, as requested by them in my African print fabric. Honestly, I would be more comfortable with bought masks because I don’t have to fiddle with the pattern and fit and unpicking stitches if it goes wrong. That would be someone else’s problem BUT as I am able to make my own, I really should. I just don’t know if I will. It’s a big maybe, more a yes than a no but I really can’t say. We aren’t going out much, we have a load of dust masks we’ve been using but the time will come I guess when they are more essential for us.
I would recommend giving making your own a go though. You don’t need a sewing machine for them as you can hand sew or there are a lot of no-sew alternatives. But regardless whether they’re made or bought, we will should all be using them!
Have you bought masks yet? Where did you get them from? Would you consider making one (or loads, depending on how big your household is)?
Let’s keep sewing together!
xx Lee xx
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