Monday, April 13, 2020

Mask Tutorial- A Speedy Seamtress' Method

 Like a lot of sewers/crafters Mandy and I have been making masks for our local hospitals and family/friends. We have been asked to make THIS mask. And while they have a nice video and directions posted, I thought the process could be made a little more intuitive and streamlined. This post is mainly for others who are sewing the same "Mask Alternative". But maybe you will glean a few tips for your mask sewing too!
(Pictures illustrating the steps are show below the written directions.) Speed Sewing
To speed up the sewing  process and not waste thread, sew quilter style by not cutting between ties. Once you have finished sewing the particular step you are on, lift your pressure foot and pull the tie or mask back about ½” -1” and place the next tie or mask under the foot, then keep sewing! (The length of the thread you will need to pull depends on what you are sewing. For ties, the thread between doesn’t even need to be as long as ½”. For the small darts on the mask you need more thread length between so you can maneuver better.)

Step 1: Cutting Masks
Do not use pins. Instead trace around your mask pattern. When you cut the masks out, cut to the inside of the pen line. This way you will leave no pen mark on the finished mask.
 Place masks as close together as possible to maximize fabric. We averaged about 50 masks per 54” x 54” cloth or 30 masks and 30 ties per cloth.

While tracing the mask pattern, also mark the placement for the ties and place a dot where the channel for the nose wire starts and ends. (This dot will be about ¾” from the mask edge.)

Step 2: Cutting Ties
Cut ties 18” x 1”. (Because 54” is divisible by 18”!) A rotary cutter is very useful for this.We like to loosely tie 4 ties together for ease of counting. (Remember, ties are only one layer of fabric! You will need 2 blue and 2 white per mask.) Also cut lengths of yarn 36” long. (Twice the length of the ties as the yarn will be folded in half before sewing in.) Yarn can be a bit tricky to cut as it has so much stretch. We have found stretching slightly, but not too taunt is usually good. The yarn does get stretched a bit while sewing.

Step 3: Sewing Ties
Place a folded length of yarn in the center of a tie and fold tie over lengthwise. To make the process more streamlined we have found it helpful to clip one end of the tie and yarn folded together with a clothespin (any clipping device will also work, even paperclips!). Clip as many ties and yarn together as you have clothespins and then you are ready to sew!

We found sewing a zig-zag down the center of the tie made it go faster. The zig-zag catches the yarn securely and you don’t have to worry about sewing along an edge. Use a fairly large stitch width and length (A 4 for both length and width was perfect on our machine.)

To also speed up the process and not waste thread, sew quilter style by not cutting between ties. Once you have finished sewing a tie, lift your pressure foot and place the next tie under the foot, then keep sewing!

Step 4: Sewing the Wire Channel
The first step of the mask is sewing the wire channel (This just seemed to make more sense to me!) Place the mask under the pressure foot starting at the edge of the mask going into the middle. This should be about half an inch away from the tie mark. Sew a straight stitch from the edge to the dot.

Lift your foot and turn to sew down to the other dot.
Lift your foot again and sew toward the edge of the mask.   
 Finished channel.  

If you aren’t confident of sewing a semi straight line for the channel, place a piece of tape on your sewing machine 3/4” from your needle. Then use the edge of the tape as your guide.
You can speed sew the channels like you sewed the ties. Simply lift your presser foot when done sewing, pull the thread about an inch and start the next mask.

Step 5: Sewing the Small Darts
The small darts on either side should have been cut out when cutting the mask. Gently hold the edges of the dart together. Starting at the tip of the dart, sew down to the edge tapering out to ¼” at the edge. (The seam allowance is marked on the pattern to help you visualize.)

I don’t get too hung up on the shape or how far from the point I start. No one will notice if they aren’t even! I do try and start no more than ¼” from the tip. On my machine I try and start sewing with the edge of the foot opening on the tip of the dart.

Sew one dart per mask at a time so you can speed sew! (Just like you did the wire channels.) Though you will need to pull extra thread between the masks to maneuver.
Once the darts have been sewn, clip the threads and trim seam allowance to ⅛”. Repeat for the other side dart.

Step 6: Attaching Ties and Topstitching
In this step there is a lot going on, but the masks are almost done!
Start topstitching ¼” away from the edge of the mask at the bottom left hand corner, topstitching over the small dart (it doesn’t matter which direction the dart seam lays. I just try and sew it the same way on both sides.)

About an inch from the first tie placement mark, stop and place a tie between the fabric layers.

Continue topstitching until just over the tie, back stitch to the opposite edge of the tie and continue topstitching. You will have stitched over the tie three times.

Topstitch to about an inch from the next tie mark, insert tie between fabric layers, topstitch, backstitch and topstitch tie like the first.

You will now be at the wire channel, continue topstitching along the edge until about 2” from the end of the wire channel.

Make sure your needle is down, raise your presser foot and insert wire into channel. We have found the easiest way to get the wire in, is to push the wire into the channel as far as it will go, then hold the opposite end of the wire (that is already in the channel) and push it toward the edge of the mask. This swings the free end into the correct place.

Once the wire is situated, continue topstitching, sewing the ties in between the fabric layers and backstitching like you did previously until you reach the right hand corner of the mask. 

Step 7: Sewing Front Seam
You are now on the last step! Fold the mask in half matching the center fronts. You will  have to bend the nose wire to be able to do this.

Starting at one end, back stitch and then stitch the seam curving the seam line slightly as you go around the corner.  End the seam by back stitching.

Trim seam allowance to 1/8" and clip threads.

And you’re done!

And here is a printer friendly version of all the steps! No pictures included for faster printing.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like a step clarified.
Happy Sewing! And stay healthy and safe!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing and all your wonderful tips. Take care and stay safe.