Introduction: Best Mask Ever, IMHO (Version 2)
When the pandemic hit, they shut down all the schools, and told us to stay inside. A lot of people started making masks. Up until then I'd made halloween costumes for a kiddo - my kiddo - for several years. I made an amazing quilt once. Never sold anything I'd sewn before.
I'd started experimenting with designs and materials, and got access to some cool polypropylene that was used in autoclaving - sterilization of instruments, and keeping them clean. We figured that it was better than any fabric filter you might find.
I'd been making masks for a whopping 26 days when I made a video about it. You can see that video here.
It's August now, and I kept sewing masks. I develop communities, so I found some other folks who sew and we started selling our masks on a website one gal's husband helped to develop. We got a kiosk started in Shoreline Village in Long Beach, CA. Visit us sometime. The kiosk was originally Fashion Masques, but is now the Maker General Store.. or maybe the Makersville General Store. We're still deciding. Come visit us if you are in Long Beach.
Anything can be improved, and in between sewing masks out of any fabric on which I could lay my hands, I have created some new improvements and want to share those with you. FYI. I'd been planning on publishing the Best Mask Ever IMHO instructions as an instructable, but I was too busy sewing masks and managing the kiosk.
These masks take a bit of time to make, and a bit of skill to be able to sew them. Your first one may not be great, but when you learn how to make these, you can throw away all the $5 masks you have already purchased. Here is a video I made of the improved mask.
Because you are making your own mask, you can make design choices. I will share the options when I share the steps.
I will be putting up supplies on our Fashion Masques ETSY store: One of the supplies are not yet commercially available. It's optional at this point. https://www.etsy.com/shop/FashionMasques I give classes in making this mask at our socially distanced outdoor Makerspace by the Sea in Shoreline Village. If you'd like to come and learn yourself, you can book here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/family-time-learn-to-...
GATHER YOUR SUPPLIES
Halyard H600 polypropylene, about a 10" x 20" cut.
You can purchase it on our ETSY site here.
Halyard H600 Polypropylene is used in autoclaving during sterilization of instruments. It is a gas filtering material and is rated to 99.9%.
During the first days of the pandemic, I started sewing with this material. At the same time we were trying to figure out what it was, we just figured it was good because of how it had been used. I later found this website produced by the University of Florida, Department of Anaesthesia, and some of the info I share with you comes from it. https://anest.ufl.edu/clinical-divisions/mask-alternative/
1/4 yd 100% Cotton Fabric
You can use any fabric you have on hand, or cut up a T Shirt.
If you want to purchase 100% cotton fabric, we have a few colors and patterns for sale.
IF you cut carefully, 1/4 yard can serve for a few masks.
Note: 100% cotton is preferred, but I believe that the H600 is sufficiently filtering that any fabric will work, depending on breathability, of course!
Spool of Thread
I started with just black and white thread. I've graduated to using a matching color. Use whatever color works for you.
Nose Wire (I use 5.5" wires with adhesive on one side)
If you have a nose, your mask should have a nose wire. It stabilizes your mask and keeps it from sliding down off your face. If you wear glasses, your nose wire will help control the flow of air and reduce fogging.
Your nose wire should be sturdy enough and coated in plastic to avoid rusting and reduce the risk of the wire poking through the fabric.
Optional 10" Wire for Stabilizing Mask Center (for step 4)
I have some on demo, and am considering purchasing some of these as a custom job. I expect they will be $1. each Let me know if you want them.
Elastic or Extra Fabric for Ties *Customization decision! *
For the most snug fit, I recommend fabric ties. It has enough friction to sit snugly and not move. Ties are a bit more difficult to put on, but they provide for better comfort when you are wearing the mask for long periods of time. The elastic around the ears causes stress on the ears over time. If you have lacy elastic, you may use it. The best elastic has a soft stretch. You will need 26" of elastic if you are using elastic.
Pattern for the Size of Mask you wish to Make
I use Craft Passion's mask. I use the mask pattern that has the seam allowance included. You can find them here: https://www.craftpassion.com/face-mask-sewing-patt...
You'll need to print them out.
Good Fabric Scissors
A stiff floral wire piece, 8" long, folded in 2
Step 1: Using Your Mask Pattern, Cut Your Polypropylene and Fabric
Cut around the solid lines, then cut the fabric using the pattern. I usually draw a line with a sharpie, then cut the sharpie ink off. It's a lot easier this way.
You may choose to pin your pattern to your polypropylene and fabric before cutting.
Please note tha the pattern for cutting the polypropylene is smaller (lining) than the pattern for cutting the fabric.
Use of the polypropylene as originally described suggests 2 layers for the mask. Some sewists choose to use 1 layer. I started with 2 layers, and if I was going into a hospital, I would use 2 layers. Most of the time, now I sew with 1 layer as I'm not up close and personal with lots of folks I don't know.
What can I say? It's hot here in the summer. The polypropylene does not soak up moisture from my breath like cotton would.
Step 2: Cut Your Tape for Edging Your Mask
Some folks prefer not to use edging. I like the look it gives the mask, and it's the best mask ever, IMHO... Version 2.
The tape should be 1 1/2 - 2 inches wide, and you'll just need one strip, unless you are going to make ties. In that case, you will need 2 or 3 strips.
Step 3: Make Your Tape
I call it tape, because I cut across the width of the fabric. If you care to use bias tape, you certainly may. Using tape will let you control the look of your mask, as ready-made bias tape may not be available in your fabric.
For each of your fabric lenths, fold along the length so that the edges meet in the center. Iron as you fold.
In the photograph, I show a 3D Printed bias tape maker, which helps if you need help stabilizing the fabric. Some thinks it goes faster this way. I sometimes use it.
Step 4: Optional Sleeve for Additional Mask Structure
I had a customer who was wearing his mask while riding his bike. He was breathing through his mouth and the strength of his breath caused the mask to get too close to his mouth. This step solves that problem.
Cut about 1 1/2" piece of the fabric tape and cut off one of the shorter ends. Fold into 3 and stitch to the right (puffy) side of the polypropylene liner, about 1/2 way down the curve. Stitch along the top and bottom of the tape so that the longer, 10" wire will go in horizontally.
Step 5: Sew Center Seam
Put the right sides of the polypropylene lining together, and place on top of the fabric (aligning the curve). The right sides of the fabric should also be together.
Sew along the center seam. (back and forth a couple of times at the beginning and end goes a long way in preventing fraying. There is a 1/4" allowance in the pattern. If you want to adjust the pattern up or down a tiny bit, you can do so now by adjusting the seam allowance. If you are unsure what this means, just go ahead and sew 1/4" from the edge.
Please avoid sewing over the sleeve you added in the last step.
Trim close to the seam. For most cotton fabrics, this will be fine and the cotton won't fray. If you are sewing something with a loose weave, that's another instructable.
Step 6: Open Mask Seams
Open the mask so that it looks like a cup shape. You will have the two right sides of the mask on one, and the two right sides of the polypropylene liner on the other.
Note that the last step is how I do my center seam, so that you don't have a raw seam showing.
If you use a double filter, you might find that it shows too much on the outside when sewn this way. It's your choice.
Step 7: Sew Top and Bottom Tape
Place tape along the top edge of the mask and sew the two fabric pieces together, sewing through the polypropylene liner.
Be sure to align the polypropylene to the fabric, as you sew (or pin into place before sewing)
Place tape along the bottom edge of the mask, and sew the two fabric pieces together, sewing through the polypropylene liner.
Step 8: Prepare and Sew Your Nose Piece Onto Your Mask
In the first version of Best Mask Ever, IMHO, I used the full double wire. That is a little tricky to sew, and ended up with a lot of broken needles and sometimes the tape didn't fit all the way around. I have since adjusted it to use just one 1/2 of the wire.
It's still valid to start with the double wire encased in plastic, because I sew along the plastic.
Your design choice here is to use either the single or double wire.
I will describe this step the way I do it now.
Mark the center of the wire, so you can align it to the center seam of the mask. A pen or sharpie will do nicely.
Cut along the center of the plastic holding the nose wire in place. You will now have 2 nose wires.
Place the cut edge along the outside of the top seam that holds the tape to the mask body. - Place it on the tape side. If you are using the sticky back nose wire, you can just stick it on.
Cut a 3/4" piece of the fabric tape and cut it in half along the center, so each piece has a fold.
Place the fabric piece under the left side of the nose wire, and stitch along the fabric, continue onto the nose wire and as you sew, place the other fabric piece under the right side of the nose wire and continue stitching.
Trim the excess fabric away. I usually cut to just over 1/8" from the seam line.
Step 9: Finish the Tape Edges
Fold the tape over the sewn-on nose wire, and around the back of the mask.
Sew along the outside of the mask, on the tape edge. Be sure to feel the back of the tape, so you can feel if it is holding its shape. You don't want to miss the edge and end up with a little opening.
If you do end up with a little opening, just go over it again.
Step 10: Sew the Pleats at the Sides
Pleats at the sides provide for a much better fit.
Fold the side down and sew with the machine.
If you don't mind the stitch showing a bit on the outside of the mask, you can sew just on the edge of the polypropylene, so everything is held in place. It makes it a bit easier to sew.
If you prefer the stitch not show, you should stitch just off the polypropylene. This will hold the fabric in place.
Do the other side, matching the fold you have already sewn.
After both sides are done, cut the curved edge so that it is almost straight. Don't cut off too much or your mask will be too small.
Step 11: Sew Mask Sides and Horizontal Shaper
If you are using the 10" wire, insert it into the sleeve you have sewn. Fold one end into the pleat and fold the side seam over twice and sew. This gives a nice straight edge that won't fray.
When you sew this together, you will go over the two wires in the shaper. I go back and forth a couple of times so that it stays in place.
Finish the other side. The shaper piece will be a little long, and you should cut to fit into the fold.
You will need to fold the mask in half along the curved edge (gently) to make sure you have even distances from the curve to the sides.
Sew the other side.
Step 12: Finishing the Mask
I made a threading tool out of floral wire. Simply cut an 8" length, fold over in 1/2 and voila! Threading tool.
If you are sewing elastic ear loops, you will be threading the elastic through the side sleeves.
Cut 13" of elastic for each ear and use threading tool to insert into each sleeve.
Tie a knot on each ear. If you are making the mask for yourself, you can fit it before you tie the knot. Else the person wearing the mask will re-tie it.
Rotate the knot so it is inside the sleeve.
If you are using ties, thread the ties through the sleeve, leaving the open ends at the top of the mask.
See Making ties option next.
Step 13: Optional Step: Making Ties
If you are planning on using ties instead of elastic...
Open the ends of two pieces of tape (you want to have 72" length or just short of it when you finish this step.)
Stitch them together, at right angles.
Trim and fold in 1/2 along tape center line.
Stitch together along length of the tape.