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Making masks

It seems wrong to have a crafting blog in 2020 without having a posts on making masks.

So, confession time, I hate making masks. But there I was in April and May with a large stash of fabric, and even plenty of elastic.

So I made masks.

I believe I have mentioned before that I am a lazy seamstress. If there is any easier way to do something, you had better believe I'm going to do it. Especially when we're talking about sewing items I don't even want to sew.

So, no, I don't make the fitted masks that require cutting out pattern pieces and folding a piece of wire to fit over the nose and a pocket for extra filters.

Can I make this type of mask? Probably, if I wanted to. But I don't want to.

So I make pleated masks.

I'm telling you this upfront so you are not surprised when I'm not talking about how to make the fitted masks with wires and pockets. Because they look like a lot of work, and while they might be somewhat more efficient than the pleated masks, the pleated masks seem to work just as well.

Plus they require less fitting. Which means that I can just keep a stack of masks by the door so my family can just grab and go. This is also important in my family.

That said, my three year old daughter loves Frozen (the movie), so this mask was made with her in mind.

My three year old also loves hugs, so I may have done a little fussy cutting.

For adults, I cut rectangles that are 7 inches by 9 inches. For my kids, I cut 6 inches by 8 inches, so it fits a little better on their faces. I should also note that my three year old is the size of an average four year old, so I cut hers 6 inches by 8 inches as well, but smaller kids may need slightly smaller masks.

I cut two rectangles for each mask, plus two pieces of elastic. I cut my elastic to match the short edge of the rectangles, so for this mask, they are six inches. For adults, I cut seven inches.

As a side note, if you are have trouble finding 1/4 inch elastic for masks, try foldover elastic! It's a little softer on ears, and works great for my masks. Foldover elastic tends to be about 5/8 inch though, so it's probably a little wide for kid masks, which is why I'm using 1/4 elastic for this mask.

Next step is to attach the elastic. I put it about 1/2 inch from the edge on the short ends. 5/8 inch is probably better, because the seam allowance is 1/2 inch. I line everything up nice and neat on my cutting mat to measure the 1/2. It will pull a little, and double check to make sure the elastic isn't twisted!

I sew it about 1/4 inch from the edge. Less than 1/2 inch, anyway. You'll want to stitch over it a couple times, or backstitch, at least with the 1/4 inch elastic, because otherwise the seam isn't really enough to hold it in place.

Then sew the two rectangles together, right sides together. I use plenty of clips to hold it in place, particularly at the elastic, so it doesn't get caught in the seam. Be sure to leave an opening in one of the long edges for turning! You could leave it in a short edge, but we're going to pleat that part, and it might be harder to close. Sew at a 1/2 inch seam allowance, and don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end!

After it's sewn, clip the corners. Nobody's going to notice nice sharp corners in a mask, but it's a good habit to get it. I also like to cut the seam allowance at an angle up to where the opening starts and then trim the seam allowance along that edge, because it makes it easier to keep the fabric tucked inside when you topstitch.

Turn it right side out, and press (or iron) to get it nice and flat.

Take a minute to admire the perfection of fussy cutting, and how prominent the "I love warm hugs" is.

(Just me? Okay.)

Now comes the fun part. Fold your mask into thirds, and press. Just in the middle, all you are doing is marking where you are going to fold the pleats.

I start at the bottom mark and fold it up. I fold right where I pressed and bring about halfway to the next mark, and then use clips to hold it place while I make the next pleat.

With the second pleat, I basically fold it as close the mark as I can, and then line it up so the pleats are nested right next to each other. And with the kids' masks, I can get away with using one clip for both pleats, but I really need two clips for adult masks.

Then it's time to stitch everything down.

I sew about 1/8 inch all the way around. I like to start right before the gap, so I get that sewn down right away. If you have a walking foot, I suggest you use it for this part, it makes everything so much easier. Backstitch to close off the seam at the end.

And then you will have a finished pleated mask!

With a very warm message to it.

Have you made many masks this year? Let me know in the comments!


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