Tweaking the Mask

Do you ever find a recipe that sounds good but you don’t have all the ingredients? And then you look for several more recipes for the same dish and mish-mash them together to get something that works for you? Not that I’m doing much follow-the-recipe cooking these days, but when I did, this was a fairly common procedure for me. I’ve found that I’m doing the same thing with my mask ‘production’.
When Dr. Mike, my doctor nephew, first asked for masks, his preferred style was the fitted type. He sent a link to a pattern, and I did (mostly) follow those directions. There was a brief pause after that batch, and then a couple of weeks ago he let me know that once again they were in need of masks. But this time, he sent a link for the pleated type with a pocket for a filter to be inserted. Inside I was saying “yippee” because they had to be less fiddly than those fitted ones. There were lots of things I liked about that pattern, but after I made a batch, I felt that some improvements could be made. Here are some of my modifications (after watching any number of YouTube videos!):
I cut the fabric longer (called for 9X12, I cut 9X15) so I could form a complete tube. Since I’m generally not using large pieces of fabric, I made a freezer paper template to help me determine if my fabric remnant was big enough and then it helped me figure out how to get the most masks out of each piece. I like a good visual, don’t you? I pressed the freezer paper onto one piece of sturdy fabric and after cutting it out used it (freezer paper and fabric together) as the template.

Once I had my pieces cut, I pressed down a ¼ inch on each 9” end and then stitched it.
Then I brought both ends together and sewed in approximately 1.5 inches from each end.
(Pretend this has that 1/4 inch stitched down. This was my first try and I learned that it really needed to be stitched!)I pressed that open and while I gave topstitching it down a try (ugh – that did not go well!), I eventually just glued the seam open. That will wash out eventually, but it will give it good ‘memory’ on how it’s supposed to go! I positioned the seam (with the filter opening) near the bottom of the mask.
(See – it’s stitched there!)

Next up was the elastic. When I started sewing the first batch of pleated masks I was plum out of elastic. Fortunately I had found a source and had some on order, but I got started on about 25 of them by just leaving an opening where the elastic would go. Then, after I got the pleating done, I just inserted the elastic ends, topstitched vigorously and I was good to go. It worked like a charm. When I started a new batch, once the elastic was in hand, I followed the directions and didn’t like how it went at all! After a couple of tries I compromised by inserting the elastic at the bottom,
but saved inserting the top elastic until the pleating was done. I just left about generous ½” opening, inserted the elastic and did one good topstitch down the side (with lots of reinforcing over the elastic).

So the pleats…. Lots of videos had you measuring and marking, but who wants to mark 40+ pieces of fabric? While I did iron a generous 1” down from the top to get me started, the rest was eyeballing and wonder clips! I just made sure they ended up between 3 and 3.5 inches deep. (Not gonna lie here, having a grid on my ironing surface was very helpful!) Once these masks are on a face, I’m pretty sure the size of the pleats is a moot point!
Of course, I wasn’t making these one at a time. I divided them into groups of 10 (even changed thread color a couple of time! I know, fancy, right?) and did the whole chain piecing thing as much as I could.

I did NOT make a video of this process, because REALLY – who needs ANOTHER mask video! Besides, the one picture that has my hand in it is frightening enough! There is so much good information out there – from making no-sew masks out of socks to creatively using bandannas – a google search will give you LOTS of options!
This is the link for the pleated version that Dr. Mike sent me –
and this is a link to the video that I snagged some techniques from.

And finally – if making masks holds no interest to you whatsoever (thanks for just reading this far), but you’d like some masks, my daughter is custom making them and has them for sale! If you are on Facebook you can find her at Frock On, Baby, or check out her order form which has pictures of the different types and fabric choices!

Stay safe out there friends!

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