Tie One On!

The face masks I’ve been making over the last several days are finished with fabric ties. For the most part I’ve been following the tutorial of ER nurse Jessica Nandino but I departed from her instructions by pressing my strips of straight-grain fabric in the manner of double-fold bias tape before sewing them onto the mask rather than after. This allows me to insert the raw edges of the mask into the center of the binding strips and stitch once through all the layers. The finished product is very neat looking (as in neat and tidy) but the ties aren’t as flat as I would wish. In addition, the process of pressing three separate folds into those fabric strips is time-consuming and tedious. Oy, is it ever!

I have a bias tape maker on order that converts strips of bias fabric into ⅜”-wide double-fold bias tape but it will be several days before it arrives. In the meantime, I decided to try something different:  I cut ⅞”-wide strips of fabric on the bias, pressed them only once in the middle, then encased the raw edges of the mask in the folded strip, leaving the raw edges of the bias strips in plain view. I chose batik fabric for the bias strips because it’s very tightly woven. My assumption was that when a mask made this way goes through the washer and dryer, the raw edges of the straps won’t fray and the finished product will still look neat and tidy.

Friends, it worked! Granted, the finish isn’t as fine but I think it looks pretty darn good. Here’s my first attempt:

This mask has been through the washer and dryer.

Here’s a close-up, looking at the inside of the mask:

If you look carefully you can see that the raw edges of the binding are just the teensiest bit fuzzy but there is no raveling. That stitching you see on the inside mask fabric is the nose dart. The nose and chin darts in Jessica’s design give the mask its close fit. It’s a feature of her tutorial that I really like. No need to make a casing to insert a pipe cleaner or floral wire to shape the top of the mask, as I’ve seen in some face mask tutorials.

For my second attempt at a raw edge binding finish I used a zigzag stitch:

I think it gives a neater finish and may prove to be more durable than a single line of stitching.

Here’s a photo of the mask after having been laundered:

Again, no raveling of the raw edges, just the slightest bit of fuzziness.

Here is the same mask being modeled by moi:

These masks are not medical grade but they’re certainly better than no protection at all. And you can add an additional layer of protection by inserting a coffee filter in the mask:

I did have to trim the top and bottom of this 12-cup coffee filter to make it fit.

Thus far I’ve been making one mask at a time because of my tinkering with the construction method. Now I’m at the point where I can move to assembly-line production. A very low-key assembly line, to be sure. I’m not a speedy seamstress but my output should increase significantly.

I did figure out a faster way to cut fabric. Jessica’s pattern represents half of the mask. It was designed to be pinned in place with the center of the mask on a folded piece of fabric and cut out one at a time. To speed up the cutting process I made a full-size freezer paper pattern and pressed it to the top layer of fabric. With a sharp blade in my rotary cutter I can easily cut several layers of fabric at a time.

Then I simply peel off the freezer paper pattern and it’s ready to be used over and over again.

When my next batch of masks is done (I’m still sewing for friends and family) I’m going to reward myself by taking a break from maskmaking and sewing something new.




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10 Responses to Tie One On!

  1. Diane says:

    You look so adorable in the photo! Only you could turn face masks into a very cha cha fashion statement. 😉

  2. Reigh says:

    Whoever thought you would making these masks instead of quilts?! You may be saving someone’s life! Love you.

  3. Suzette Shoulders says:

    HI , Dawn! One of my email quilter friends said she thought she would use selvage strips, because they were fast.. I like things to look good, so am making masks all out of batik, with batik strips cut straight of grain for covering the sides with pleats… and then I make the 4 ties, also cut on straight, but narrower. Works, and looks fine. Suzette in Bend

  4. Shirley says:

    Hi Dawn, you are such a loving stepdaughter to make me a mask. Thank you so much and am looking forward to a visit with you and Charlie when this sheltered in is over!!!

  5. anna says:

    Good going, Dawn. I found a pattern on a blog called Sweet Red Poppy. A slightly different style than you are using. My niece in Ohio has been making hundreds of masks similar to yours. She has a pocket in hers to insert extra protection. I like the coffee filter idea. Also, HEPA vac. cleaner filters are supposed to be super protection.
    On a lighter side, my friend in Creswell, OR is making what she calls a “Quarantine Quilt,” using random scraps of quilting pieces she has left over from various projects. She is also making masks for her family. Tough times call for creative solutions.
    We have been self-quarantined since our return from Venice on the 19th. Be safe!

  6. Charlotte says:

    Using a coffee filter! What a good idea!

  7. Lisa says:

    Thank you for doing this, Dawn! So admire your work! So wish I had applied myself more in junior high home ec class!

  8. Colleen C. says:

    Once again I will need to tell my husband he is right, LOL! He has been asking if a coffee filter would add protection to a mask, and honestly I couldn’t imagine that it would add much. Thank you for the info! We are beginning assembly of masks today and I will add that feature. Loving the dart idea too. So many different patterns out there! It’s hard to know which one to make. We have been leaning toward the “Olson Mask Pattern” from a hospital in Ohio (I think). They are more rounded and formed to the face. We thought they might work to keep one on Evie (in the future – she is not going anywhere right now!)

  9. Aiden Powell says:

    Is there any chance that you could simplify the directions for the construction of the mask? I was following her videos and am completely lost after sewing in my pleats and chin dart.

    • Dawn says:

      I will help if I can. Which video are you referring to? The masks I have been making are based on a photo tutorial from ER nurse Jessica Nandino.

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