Grace's Mosaic Moments

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Making Masks

4/5/20:  Too busy making masks to create a new blog.
Also, want to certain the mask-making information stays current.
This, too, shall pass. 

Updates added 4/5/20 under SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS,
including How to Make Self-ties 

3/30/20:  New Hints added under Special Instructions
 for those making masks on an assembly line basis.

~ * ~

At this perfectly awful time, we all need a bit of beauty . . .

Easter Wreath posted to FB by Sheri Cobb South


I've spent the last few days experimenting with different mask patterns. I am going to list them all below, with links to patterns, instructions, video. Are they worth the bother? The CDC has put out a bulletin which reads pretty much as "homemade masks are better than no mask at all." In some areas, I understand, hospitals are welcoming homemade masks because they have run out of the professional ones. Others—the unbendable types—will tell you, "forgetaboutit." So it's up to you or to your local hospitals, nursing homes, etc. If there's a need (or desire), below is information on how to make several different kinds of masks.

My experiments this week led me from the mask pattern provided by Jo-Ann Fabrics to variations on the Fu Mask (pattern available on the Net). It should be noted that Jo-Ann Fabrics is supplying ready-cut fabric and thread for making masks to their pattern, a very generous contribution to this crisis. (Just call ahead to make sure they haven't run out.) 

Addendum:  I just saw an email stating Jo-Ann Fabric has donated enough fabric to make 1.5 million masks! Also, if you place an order online, Jo-Ann is offering curb-side pick-up of your order; i.e., they are stepping up - hope you will too.

Since I can't stand anything obstructing my nose—I'm absolutely certain I can't breathe!—I decided to search beyond Jo-Ann's rectangular masks. I settled on the curved-seam Fu Mask, which allows more room for the nose. I made this pattern in several variations. See below.

Special Note:  "String" elastic, as seen on professional masks, is in short supply, as well as difficult to work with. To use different fastenings:  if you are fitting a mask to a particular individual, you can use 1/4 - 3/8" elastic or self-fabric in a C-curve on each side. (See #4 below.) But when making masks to accommodate a wide variety of unknown shapes and sizes, only 4 ribbons or self-ties will work. For example:  When I followed the Jo-Ann pattern, using a 7" C-curve of quarter-inch elastic on either side, the mask hung down around my mouth! I had to shorten it to 5½" before it would stay on. So, from my experience at least, 4 ties are more practical.

Before making any mask, please see the Special Instructions at the end.

1.  My personal favorite.

This version of the mask includes lightweight interfacing, which stiffens the fabric, giving people with phobias like mine more room for their nose. Below is another pic. Both masks are made from all cotton cannibalized from aprons the grandgirls have outgrown. For the ties, I cut the apron strings in half & zigzagged the raw edge.

Also made with interfacing

2.  The same mask but without the interfacing - just two layers of cotton.

 Less fuss to make; also, using ribbon takes less time than creating self-fabric ties.

3.  The same mask with one layer of cotton attached to iron-on interfacing.

 This one is not as pretty, but easy & lightweight. Ties are attached with a 1/4" turn-under to secure the raw edge. This is the one I'm keeping for myself, if I should feel I need it.

4.  Rectangular Jo-Ann's Mask (with pleats)

Please note the C-curve fastening.

An excellent how-to video by Jo-Ann Fabrics is available on You Tube:  click here.

Grace Note:   I was about to post this blog when I went rummaging in the back of my elastic drawer & discovered I actually had some string elastic in both black & white (maybe 20 or more years old but still viable.) So naturally I had to experiment with it. The problem with string elastic is that you have a make a knot at both ends before you can use it. This makes it difficult to attach to the cloth before stitching the two pieces together. I ended up inserting each of the four knots as I went along. Below is a photo of what one side looks like pinned in place before putting the lining on top (right sides together). For my experiment I cut 2  7" pieces. About ½" extends beyond each knot, leaving a C-curve of not much more than 5". But it extends to fit well over the ears [unlike ¼" elastic (in the photo above) which doesn't stretch as easily]. "String" elastic is rather a pain to work with, I discovered, but is the best imitation of the professional masks.

Note knot is almost at the edge of the fabric.

5.  Rectangular Jo-Ann's Mask with String Elastic

Finished result, using "string" elastic

Masks 1-3 (in Small, Medium, Large)

For the basic Fu Mask pattern,  click here.

For Fu Mask instructions,  click here.

Materials needed:

Jo-Ann's Rectangular Mask:  

cotton, 9 x 12"
Choose one:  14" narrow elastic (cut in 7" segments or less)  OR  48" ribbon (cut in four 12" segments)* OR 14+" string-style elastic

Fu Masks (curved center seam):   

One-quarter yard cotton or scraps big enough to cut FOUR (4) of the c. 8" x 6" pattern.
Choose one:  14" narrow elastic (cut in 7" segments or less)  OR  48" ribbon (cut in four 12" segments)* OR 14+" string-style elastic

For Mask 1 you will also need one quarter yard lightweight iron-on interfacing. Cut TWO. Trim c. 1/8" all around on both. Apply to Front mask pieces BEFORE sewing the center seam.


Masks 1-5:  Use ¼" seams throughout. 
Placement of elastic, ribbons, or self ties should be just inside the ¼" seamline. (The elastic in the black mask above is a bit haphazard - I felt lucky to get it to stay into any kind of place at all!) 

Masks 1, 2, 4 & 5:  When turning mask right-side out, use blunt-end scissors or something similar to poke the corners out to 90°.

Masks 1 - 5: The masks will look better (with crisper corners) if, before turning right-side out, you clip the seam diagonally at each corner & trim a bit of the seam on each side of the diagonal clip. 

Mask 3 only:  Cut two of fabric, two of interfacing. Trim 1/4" off the TOP ONLY of all four pieces. (This compensates for the seam you won't be stitching and keeps the mask from rising up in front of your eyes.) Apply interfacing to wrong side, placing wax paper or similar underneath to keep interfacing from sticking to ironing board. Stitch Center seam. Open seam & top-stitch down each side, flattening seam. Serge or zigzag around the edges (I used 3.5 wide by 1.5 spacing.) Attach ribbons on front by turning under ¼" & stitching in place.

*HINTS added 3/30/20 - for those making multiple masks.

1.  Assembly-line style. It seems to be more efficient, if a bit teeth-grinding, to cut out multiple masks at one time, iron on interfacing in one fell swoop, stitch as many center seams on the Fu masks as you can stand, attach several sets of ribbon as the next step, etc., etc.  

2.  Interfacing.  Everything goes faster if you make a separate Interfacing pattern (mask pattern with 1/8" cut off all the way around). This saves having to trim each set of interfacing. 


3.  As elastic, ribbon & interfacing become distant memories, keep in mind that you can make self ties. Experienced seamstresses have their own methods, but for those who don't, This is how I did it;

1.  Cut a straight strip of fabric 1-3/8" wide.
2.  Fold one end in half, tucking in the outer edges c. 1/4" each side. 
3.  Set machine to slightly longer stitch than regular stitching (topstitching length).
4.  Anchor the fold with the machine needle down.
5.  Pull on the fabric & it will fold itself with only a little help from you
6.  Topstitch down open side.

Cut into desired lengths. I will probably anchor the open ends with Fray Check. Clear fingernail polish will do.

Last night I also experimented with making a chain of cotton yarn as a possible tie. Haven't actually used it, but it seems feasible. Shoelaces also ought to work. Videos of how to crochet a chain are available on the Internet (4-ply cotton yarn preferred). Update:  I am making all my masks with crocheted cotton chains now.

Whether for yourself, your family, or for outreach to those in need,
I hope you find this information helpful.

~ * ~

Masks added after 3/26/20

Mask Stained Glass - c. 6x9
Mask Coral & Black - c. 6x9

Mask Coral - c. 6x9

Mask Tan (Large) - c. 7x10

Mask Patriotic

Mask Navy

Mask with crocheted ties (chain stitch)
The black blob in the upper left is Squeak's paw - she thought I put the towel down just for her & refused to get off. 

~ * ~

For Blair's website, click here.
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For a link to Shadows Over Greystoke Grange on Amazon, click here.

For a link to Shadows Over Greystoke Grange on Smashwords (20% free read), click here.

For a link to Blair's updated Facebook Author Page, click here.

Thanks for stopping by,


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