Friday, April 17, 2020

Finished On Friday: Soft Contoured Face Masks For the Finicky Ones

Grocery Chic: My Modified Olson Face Mask in Produce Aisle Print
Good morning, and happy Friday!  I'm stunned to be typing those words, because I was convinced that it was Tuesday all day yesterday.  This quarantine thing is a lot like being stranded on a desert island or locked up in a dungeon -- if you don't keep track of the days with little tick marks carved into the walls of your cell, you can lose all sense of how long you've been there very easily.

An Ordinary 45-60 Inch Shoe Lace Makes A Strong, Soft, Easy Mask Tie
Of course, there are many other aspects of the quarantine/stay-at-home/shelter-in-place that are not at ALL like being in a dungeon or stranded on a desert island.  I know this is temporary, I still have my espresso machine to keep me properly caffeinated and a well-stocked wine fridge, for dealing with the 24/7 horror show that the news has become.  My dungeon/island is well-stocked with fabric, sewing machines, and books to read, and the idea of feeling "imprisoned" in a big climate-controlled house with a puppy to follow you around and play with you, television and Internet and books to read for entertainment?  Well, that doesn't sound like much of a punishment after all, does it?  Okay, so it's not a dungeon -- it's like we're all emperors in exile on tiny private islands, and we're pacing around impatiently because we are NAPOLEON, damnit, and we've got Big Things we'd rather be doing out in the Real World!

Napoleon in 1814, Exiled to the Island of Elba.  Probably All Dressed Up for a Zoom Conference
Anyway, unlike Napoleon, I get to leave my island paradise periodically to procure food for the family, as long as I'm wearing a face mask.  My two teenaged sons get to leave our island several times a week to work as cashiers and cart sanitizers at our local grocery store, where they need to wear masks as well.  Since mask wearing in public has become almost as necessary as PANTS wearing in public, I finally decided to make some for my immediate family members.

Assembly Line Mask Production Happening on the 'Nina 750QE
...And so, after that very long-winded and totally off-topic introduction, I am now ready to share a few of my mask finishes with you:

One of Anders' Masks
One of My Husband's Masks (Why Did I Ever Buy That Fabric?!)
These contoured face masks are based on the Olson Mask pattern that was developed by a hospital up in Iowa, I believe, but with the addition of a lining fabric (super-soft, old T-shirts) and with the filter pocket eliminated.  I found the FREE pattern download on the Instructables web site here.  All of these masks for myself, my 6'8" husband, and my 6' sons, are the Large size.

Kaffe Fassett Fabric!  I Think This One Is My Favorite
I had plenty of fabric in my quilting stash to choose from for the outside of the masks, but was really wishing I had kept the super-soft outgrown Hanna Andersson T-shirts from when the boys were little.  I raided everyone's closets for old T-shirts to cut up for mask linings, but the color options were very limited and anyone who knows me will understand that the lining fabrics absolutely had to complement the face fabric for each mask.

A UNC Chapel Hill T Shirt Died to Make This Face Mask Lining
I had a few packages of single fold, 1/2" wide bias tape stashed away from projects that were planned but never executed, and that's what I used for the nose wire casing at the top of each mask.

My Husband Says My Face Masks Look Like Bikinis
Bernie says my face masks look like bikini bathing suits.  Maybe for an alien woman who only has one giant boob...  Note to self: Do NOT allow the Husband to pick out my swimsuits!

Okay, I know that everyone on the Internet who has a sewing machine has been churning out a bazillion face masks over the past few weeks, so I'm not going to take you through mine step-by-step.  I will say, these masks do not whip up in a few minutes.  Each one took several hours, so if you're looking to mass produce masks for donation purposes, you're better off with the pleated rectangle versions.  However, these masks give a great custom fit, show off your favorite fabrics better than pleated versions, and they are extremely soft and comfortable against your face.  If you know anyone whose child has heightened clothing sensitivities (this is a common symptom for intellectually gifted children, twice-exceptional, Autism/Asperger's, etc), this is the perfect mask for them because there are no rough edges, no seam allowances against the skin, all 100% cotton fabrics, and the shoe lace or ribbon strings are infinitely adjustable for that child who freaks out when clothing is either slightly too tight or slightly too loose.  Using an old T-shirt for the lining that has been through the wash a gazillion times ensures that the inside of the mask is as soft as -- well, as soft as their favorite old T-shirt!  All of those children (and adults!) who are tormented by the seams in their socks, who feel like their skin is crawling with ants when wearing clothes made of synthetic fabric, and whose mothers have to go searching from store to store to find the exact same underpants as the ones that were outgrown because it's the only kind their kid can stand to wear -- those families are having an even harder time dealing with the need to wear masks than the rest of us.

Here are a couple of things that I did differently from the mask tutorial on Instructables.  

First, I eliminated the filter pocket for several reasons.  It simplified the pattern, for one thing, and I was not making masks for a healthcare environment where the need for filters is really warranted.  Furthermore, I wanted to keep the masks as light and breathable as possible.  One of my friends who works in an assisted care facility advised me that we need to take the masks down to get a good breath of fresh air periodically, because the thicker our masks are, the more they have us reinhaling our own CO2, so it's a balancing act.  I knew that, for my finickiest family members, if the masks were extremely uncomfortable and difficult to breathe in, they would not be worn at all.  Multilayered masks also take longer to air dry after washing.  So, no pockets in my masks, just the 100% cotton quilting fabric on the outside and the 100% cotton knit T-shirt fabric on the inside.  When sewing the two mask layers together around the perimeter of the mask, I sewed with the woven quilting cotton on top and the knit T-shirt fabric on the bottom, so the feed dogs could control the stretch of the knit fabric.

Also, for some strange reason, the pattern I was following told me to press that contoured, vertical seam in the center of the mask OPEN rather than pressing it to one side.  Pressing a curved seam open is a royal pain, plus it doesn't make sense from a protection standpoint,  since seams pressed open leaves gaping holes (from the virus's perspective) down the front of the mask between the stitches.  Much safer and easier to press the seams to opposite sides; that way the fabric is overlapped at the seam line in the finished mask.

Bernina Edge Stitch Foot #10, Needle 3 Clicks Left of Center on my 750QE
After sewing the mask together around the perimeter and turning it right side out, the side edges get folded in 3/4" and stitched down to form a casing for whatever you want to use for  attaching the mask to your face -- elastic loops, bias tape ties, T-shirt ties, ribbon, 45" to 60" shoe laces, twill tape, selvages that have been trimmed off of fabric yardage -- really, anything goes.  Because this seam will receive stress from the ties or elastic loops, I used the Triple Straight Stitch (Stitch #6 on my Bernina 750QE) to sew these casings, with Edge Stitch #10D and my needle three clicks to the left of center position.  Although my fabrics are 100% cotton, I still used all-purpose polyester sewing thread for strength and durability.

Side Casings Sewn With Bernina Triple Straight Stitch #6
I also used the Securing Knot feature at the beginning and ending of these seams rather than reversing to secure the seam, for a neater finish.

The next thing I did differently from the Instructables tutorial was an accident the first time, but I liked it so I kept it for the rest of my masks.  Instead of inserting a nose wire between the two mask layers and stitching a channel to secure it before closing up the sides of the mask, I accidentally skipped that step and had to make my own little channel on the lining side.  I cut a 7" length of 1/2" single fold bias tape, turned the ends under 1/4", and pinned it in place along the top edge of the mask.

Bias Tape Casing for Nose Wire
I secured the bias tape with Edge Stitch #10 and my needle 3 clicks to the left of center.

Nose Wire Casing Stitched In Place
I used thread matched to the face fabric of my mask to edge stitch the nose wire casing, since those stitches show on the right side.

Right Side View of Nose Wire Casing Stitches (Mask Shown Upside Down)
Then I cut a 6 1/2" length of pipe cleaner from our crafts supply bin, and bent the tips of the wires back to create tiny loops at the end with a pliers (this step is important; it prevents the sharp wire ends from poking holes through the mask fabric).  

Inserting Pipe Cleaner Nose Wire
And then I inserted the pipe cleaner into the casing, tucking the ends of the wire into the bias tape fold at each end to keep it in place.

Pipe Cleaner Ends Tucked Into the Folded End of the Bias Tape Channel
I used a pink satin ribbon tie for this mask.  You just thread a single string of whatever kind through both side casings, like an upside-down U, and that makes it easy to take the mask on and off with a single bow to tie.

Found a Soft Satin Ribbon in the Right Shade of Pink
Now, how cute is that?!

Finished Face Mask, Ready to Wear
The danger of making cute face masks is that, once you have one, you feel this overwhelming urge to put it on and GO SOMEWHERE instead of STAYING HOME as we've been advised/ordered...

My Other Favorite Face Mask
I've only had two occasions for mask wearing this week.  The first was the big grocery shop, and the second was the trip to the pet store to stock up on dog food, treats, toys, and to exchange Sam's too-small harness for the correct size.

Side View of My Other Favorite Mask
In addition to creating a better fit at the top of the mask, with less opportunity for those respiratory droplets and virus goblins to get in around the mask, the nose wire is also key for those who wear glasses -- it prevents your glasses from fogging up from your breath coming out at the top of your mask.  

Making two masks each for my four family members took me three whole days, and I'm really glad to be crossing that off my list!  I'm washing the masks after each wearing in a mesh lingerie back in the washing machine with warm water, then reshaping them and hanging them up to line dry just like I do with lingerie.  I want these masks to last as long as possible before I have to make new ones.  Oh, and one more tip -- you might want to get some unscented laundry detergent if your regular laundry detergent is strongly fragranced.  A scent that smells nice to you when you're folding fresh laundry can be overpowering when it's right on top of your nose and mouth and you have to breathe through it!

So, if you want to make a mask like mine, you can find the FREE pattern and instructions on  Instructables here.  If you're looking for fabulous prints for the outside of your masks, I recommend supporting the small businesses on Etsy.  A fat quarter of quilting fabric is more than enough to make a single mask, with extra fabric for your project stash, and there are plenty of options for buying assortments of these pretty Kaffe Fassett fabrics on Etsy.  You can also find novelty prints there that are sure to coax a reluctant child to put on a mask, whether they are into super heroes, princesses, Star Wars, or whatever.  You can get basic colored shoe laces at your local grocery or pharmacy, or any color shoelaces under the sun on Amazon here.  Lots of pipe cleaners available on Amazon as well as the 1/2" single fold bias tape for the nose wire casing, and we all have an old T-shirt or two lying around the house that can be sacrificed for the lining.  

And of course, if you want a cute mask but you don't have the time or ability to make one yourself, there are tons of Etsy shops that are selling adorable handmade face masks in every color, pattern and style imaginable, at very reasonable prices.  Seriously; Etsy sellers are pricing their masks so low that they are barely covering the cost of materials.  So no, I'm not making these masks for people outside my immediate family and I'm definitely not making more of them to sell -- my creative time is worth a lot more to me than the going rate for handmade face masks!  If the masks I've already made wear out before this pandemic has petered out, I might be buying replacement masks from some of those Etsy sellers myself.

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties, and then I'm getting right back to quilting!

·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  
·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
·       Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
·       Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty
·       Finished Or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
·       Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre
·       TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here:  

·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland


Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, those are really great facemasks. I really like the idea of using t-shirt fabric for the lining part and shoe laces or ribbon for the ties. I really, really hope that I won't have to make more masks but I will remember these tips if I do have to make more. I think that the fabric for your hubby's mask looks great on him. Personally it looks more like a man's swimsuit than a woman's :-) Feel free to link up to Free Motion Mavericks - it's not just about FMQ! take care.

The Joyful Quilter said...

OMG!! I didn't even recognize you without your glasses on, Rebecca. You've created some lovely masks for your family. Nice work!

Sandra Walker said...

I made masks for my family, using a very similar pattern, one each for my husband and myself in Ontario and two each for my daughter and son-in-law across the river in Michigan. I did find that two layers of batik were a bit difficult to breathe through after a time (only reason I left home was to mail said masks, and do one in-store shop otherwise I shop online and pick up the order, no contact with a human, and I know these do absolutely nothing to stop the wearer getting the virus as it is even smaller than the 3UG that N95 masks are... I like the various fabrics you used! I agree that these are not quick makes! Quilting is much more fun!

Jill said...

Yes, you do have some snazzy masks. Thanks for tip about lining with t-shirt fabric. I'm going to try it. I've made two styles of masks. First ones were the Olson style which my doctor liked so much so that he asked me to make some for his family. There is a great youtube video by Lorrie Nunemaker on how to put them together assembly-line style. The second style I'm making is the pleated one which I learned when I helped a neighbor with her charity sewing. Since the elastic shortage, I'm using knit fabric for ties. My favorite youtube video for that is by MadeEveryDay. Stay well! said...

I used the same pattern for masks I made for the senior care center my daughter-in-law works at. They were well received. They do take some time to sew. The newest style I tried is by Pretty Handy Girl, https://bit.lyBestFitMask.
T-shirt knit ties work well and are so much faster than making bias ties. Thanks for the tip using knit fabric. I will try that next.

Norma Schlager said...

I love this mask!! Even tho I have made quite a few for my local Hospice that were time consuming and even tho I said I was only going to make simple pleated ones from now on, I am going to make one of these for myself. Just one! Thanks for the inspiration.
You can see the masks that I made on my last week's blog post.

chrisknits said...

I knew you would have a finish to share! Thanks for linking up! I also found that pattern recently and have started using it. I think it's the best contour of all the shaped ones. Thanks for the tip on the nose clip casing, will be adding that on the next one. LOL, I guess it's like getting new clothes and you just have to wear them out for all to see.

Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

Your masks are beautiful. I have used a similar pattern, and it is more comfortable than the rectangular kind. I really like your idea to provide a casing for the pipe cleaner.

colleen said...

I need to make well fitting masks for my self and husband we are old and each with our own health issues
I need the Olson pattern... but I only have an iPhone no computer or printer
I know you are busy I am being a bit selfish as I could leave a note in a neighbor’s mailbox but I don’t want to make fitted masks for bunches of people .... I’ve been making pleated masks for donation
I just need the pattern
Can I please send you a stamped addressed envelope for the pattern ?

Dione Gardner-Stephen said...

Your masks take the whole homemade thing to a whole new level.... I am not surprised they took so long, but they have a lot of upsides to the quick makes. I love your son's mask fabric especially. And thanks for the giggles, you are one clever wordsmith, and I have the phrase "but I am Napoleon, damit" stuck in my head now. haha.

LJ said...

I, too, have been making these masks with the Olson pattern. Instead of the bias tape casing for the pipe cleaner, I deteremined where I should place a buttonhole which I did while the pattern was flat. After putting the mask together, I sewed a casing around those buttonholes and up over the nose. My thought was that the pipe cleaner may need to be replaced and the buttonholes will make that easier. I've done the bias tape, too, so that works well. I do add the holes to add a filter fabric to the mask. I have a daughter who is a nurse and I make filters for her to add to the mask.

Norma Schlager said...

Me again. I made 10 of these masks yesterday. I thought they were so much easier than the previous masks I had made to cover N95 masks for our local Hospice. However, I decided to wash them all after I had made them and put them in the machine with a few other things (no lingerie bag). Almost all of the pipe cleaners came out and the others came partially out. So I am going to tell the recipients to either wash by hand or remove the pipe cleaners if putting in the machine. I also had not put the ties in yet. I found a wonderful soft cotton cording in my stash and it works perfectly.
Thanks for passing on this fabulous mask pattern. I have passed it on to several friends. I also enjoyed your take on being quarantined. So true!

dq said...

I really like your mask tutorial. I have been making several and kind of want to try a different pattern once I use up the bias tape that has been given to me.

Kathleen said...

Great tutorial, especially for those who have sensitivities around some things. I can't stand the one I am using, fogs up my glasses so I need to make another. Thanks for linking up to the party!