My girlfriend and I were planning on attending a masquerade and I needed some masks, fast. I was planning on heading over to Costume Castle and buying a pair of blank masks to paint up, which I was hoping to avoid because they were uncomfortable, never fit right and frankly are more than I would like to pay.
On my way there I stopped by Target to see if they had spray paint for a different project I was working on. Though they had no paint, I did spot some dressed up sleeping masks in the dollar section and was suddenly inspired.
Step 1: What You Need
I was able to get away with a decent mask using only the materials from the sleeping mask itself, but I recommend having some extra ribbons and such to help dress it up.
(optional: Ribbons, Buttons, Lace, Whatever)
Needle & Thread
Two stitches to know:
The Running Stitch
The Buttonhole Stitch
Step 2: The Running Stitch
Threading the needle
To start off, poke the end of your thread through the eye of your needle. Pull a fair length of thread through the eye. Unravel enough thread from the spool so that there are matching lengths of thread trailing from both sides of the eye and cut off.
Tie the two loose ends together with a large knot, essentially tying several knots in the same place. This can be done easily by looping the thread around your index finger and rolling the loop between your thumb and finger, twisting it several times. Pull the loose end through the twisted loop and tighten into a knot. Now when you pull the thread through your fabric it should stop at the knot instead of pulling completely through.
The Running Stitch
When you are stitching you should have a line you're following, whether it is visibly drawn on your fabric or simply imagined. To perform a running stitch, start at one end of this line and poke your needle in through the fabric and out the other side and pull tight. Now find a spot further down the line and poke the needle back through it from the underside. Pull the thread all the way through and you should have one complete stitch. Continue down the line, trying to keep the spacing even.
If your fabric is thin enough to manage an even stitch you may find it easier and quicker to pierce the needle through both points on the line at the same time. If your are confident you could even hit several points along the line at once.
Ending a stitch
When you reach the end of a seam or start running out of thread you can anchor off the loose end of a seam by doubling back on the last stitch you made. Poke your needle back through the second to last point on the line you pierced. Bring the needle back out on the last point. This should create a loop with your thread. Bring the needle through that loop and tighten to form a knot. You may choose to do this twice to make sure it does not come untied at any time. Cut off the remaining thread and needle.
Step 3: The Buttonhole Stitch
This stitch is also known as the Blanket Stitch. It is used to finish unhemmed edges edges, usually on thicker materials.
Since we are using a thinner fabric, start by folding in the edge you want to finish. To start the stitch, prick the needle all the way through both layers a short distance down from the fold and pull the thread all the way through. For this first stitch, bring the needle around the fold and send it back through, where you started, moving in the same direction. This should form a loop of thread around the folded edge. This time, feed the needle through this thread loop before you pull it taut.
Start your next stitch a little further down the fold, trying to stay level with the first stitch. Start the needle on the same side as the last stitch and push the needle all the way through. As the needle comes out the other side, feed it through the loop trailing from the last stitch to the current stitch before pulling it taut.
If you repeat this pattern you should end up with thread laying across the top of the fold, running its length, as well as several, evenly spaced threads perpendicular to the edge.
Step 4: Planning
Start by tracing the outline of your mask onto a sheet of paper. Use this to play with different eye shapes and placements. I found it helpful to draw and cut out one eye and fold it in half to trace the other eye. This way they are mirror images and evenly spaced. The stencil can also tell you how your mask will fit before you start.
When you are happy with your design, use the stencil you made to trace the eyes onto your mask.
Step 5: Salvaging
Rather than going out and trying to buy three square inches of fabric that match the mask completely I just cut the layer of fabric off the back of the mask, where no one will see. Be careful to only cut through the one layer when you do this part. This could make your mask a little bit itchy at first, but you will soon get used to it.
Step 6: I Can See!
Cut out the eye holes along the line you traced earlier.
Step 7: I'm Blind!
Use the same stencil you made earlier and trace the eyes onto the fabric you pulled off the back of the mask. This time when you cut, cut around two centimeters outside of the line you traced. The outer edge you leave will be the border of your eye hole.
Pin these oversized patches over the eye holes and use a running stitch to secure it on around the eye. Be careful not to make your stitch too tight, or you could fray the edges.
Step 8: I Can See Again!
Now it's time to open up the eyes again. If we cut around the inside of the eye we will be left with a messy raw edge around our eyes. Instead, cut straight lines out from the center to the inner edge of the eye holes. This will leave you with several tabs that you can fold in around the edge of the eye holes. Pin them down and stitch in place with a buttonhole stitch.
Step 9: Decorate and Party!
Here I felt like the mask needed a little something extra. I got some extra buttons and tulle that was lying around and added a little flair. Now we were ready for a night out in our snazzy new $1 party masks.