I Mask, I Mask, I Mask

Threading Bobbin

We are in a pandemic! Everyone panic or just relax, exercise, drink vitamins, and boost your immune system. There is a need to recognize that not all people have the luxury to just relax and be positive (known today as toxic positivity, but it’s mostly just toxic), they have to toil every day to make ends meet and to feed themselves and their family. This pandemic has greatly affected our lives emotionally, mentally, and physically. It has been difficult to live in times of Uncertainty x Uncertainty = Immense Unquantifiable Uncertainty. Plus, it helps that the government comes up with nada plan.

Keeping it sane!

A must-have now at this COVID-19 era is to wear a mask to protect yourself and the people around you. It’s really more about preventing yourself from wreaking havoc on another person’s health, if you happen to carry the virus.

As soon as the news broke that the masks helps mitigate the spreading of virus, the only next practical thing to do is make one. I started looking into it, especially I have stashed away fabrics for a long time, from unused bedsheets, dresses that no longer fit me nor anyone in my family, to printed fabrics that I bought out of “Aww, this will good look as blouse” moments. But I have never touched or snipped even a centimeter of any of it because of the fear that I might not do those fabrics justice. But this is a monumental moment to be brave and cut the fabrics to create something useful.

I let go of the fear of “ruining” my fabrics and just went crazy with making masks. Chill crazy.

Masks evolution

How did I do my masks?

One thing I’ve learned from my brief stint in fashion school and course in pattern making is that your model can be from what you already have. Tadah! A very industrious ingenious idea.

A bit of a side story: Before all this hullabaloo, there is a country in Southeast Asia that seems to be ahead of their time when it comes to masks (and this is only based on my experience and might not be a fact) and might have been ready even before this pandemic: Vietnam. They have already made masks accessible and fashionable. You’ll see cute masks being peddled on the side streets.

A mask I bought in Vietnam on December 2012 was my first model for pattern. I got a recycled paper with a clean backside and laid the folded mask. After making sure that the masks would not move, I began to trace the pattern on the clean paper. Then added a ¼ cm seam allowance. It was a success.

Mask bought from Vietnam as a souvenir. The outer fabric has print of nuts and woods

Mask from Vietnam: my first pattern model

But I did not immediately go into laying my pattern on fabrics. I needed to consult other references in creating a masks to see what’s effective. University of Youtube naturally was the first place to visit. Luckily, my favorite channel, madebyaya, released a DIY mask refashion video using old clothes and scrap fabrics. Once I saw how nice the fit of her mask is, I completely abandoned my self-made pattern.

Watch here if ever you want to create your own mask.

I immediately started creating the mask. As for all sewing projects, you should first start with a pattern. I got a scratch paper for my pattern made sure I got the measurement right and draw straight lines. But with my drawing skills, nothing is ever straight even with the aid of a ruler.

Red paper cut on the sides to create pattern for face mask

Here is my pattern and you’ll probably see that its uhmmm not straight. Hahahaha!

After 30 mins of figuring out the pattern, I moved on to rummaging my boxes of fabrics to find the right one. To be honest not all of my fabrics were from old blouses and bedsheets. I used some of my new-old fabrics now more than 5-10 years old. (OMG! The fear of using new fabrics is real!)

After so much debating inside my head on what fabrics I would “sacrifice,” I continued with pinning my pattern to the fabrics. I cried a little when the scissors started snipping. I had to move on as soon as possible. In the wise words of Dr. Manhattan:

Creation only happens after destruction.

Wait, this might not be verbatim.

two fabrics with different size

Ooops, something is wrong with my cut fabrics

Assembled fabrics ready for sewing

Ready for sewing!

two fabrics with different size

Almost there and adding the finishing touches.

I got over cutting my pretty fabrics and started assembling them. The first two masks I made was for me and Ohio. I followed the instruction to the letter, and what I got was a great result. Although, I did not have any leather straps. I decided to use thin ribbons first for my mask, and used garter for Ohio’s mask. This is how they came out.

Finished face mask made from jeans or chambray fabric with inner lining of African Textile

Face mask finish product: inside view with tissue paper as filter

Face mask made of jeans or chambray fabric with ribbons that goes over your ears

Top view of face mask

My fans (read: family) liked them. They all requested that I make one for them, too. I gladly obliged because I was pleased with result of my first masks. My sister’s request is that her mask to have the strings to be tied on the back, which is the better choice because the gartered ones become painful to the ears after wearing them for some time.

Face mask with cat print

Gab 1st face mask

Face mask with orange burst print

Gab 2nd face mask with me modelling

I did not consult any references on how to sew masks with the strings. I experimented on the two masks that I was going to give my sister. Her feedback would help me construct a better mask, which my mother also requested.

Feedback from user experience was, the mask with cat print did not fit the face well. It did not hold firmly against the side of the face, part of the cheeks. I consulted other videos with tiebacks to understand better construction. I came across this video which I referred to for adding the ties. The construction made sense, and I applied it to the masks that I was going to give my mother. I made her two masks with bright orange pattern and a solid denim fabric with floral ties.

I decided to redo the first prototypes I made for me and Ohio, to ties from garterized ones.

We sent the masks to Dumaguete where my mother is, and she went about using my DIY face masks. Some friends complimented her on how pretty the ones she is using. So, she asked me to create more pieces that she could sell there. To which I obliged, of course! I don’t know what I was thinking. But it must because I had a good time creating the first batch. And it was like a welcome challenge.

I did another eight masks; three of which has a different structure. Another improvement I made was, instead of the ties going over the body of the masks, I inserted them between the right sides of the fabrics. This technique I got from another video by Mister Domestic which I did not get on the first try. I needed to rip all sides just to correct it. Getting it right = the best feeling. So many days have passed, I finally finished the eight additional face masks. It took that long because I sew only during my free/break time.

Here are the results of my face mask making-spree, and they are currently on their way to Dumaguete.

All the face masks I made

Stash of face masks bound for Dumaguete

Face mask with orange burst print

Different pattern used for this orange burst face mask

Face mask with cat print on yellow fabric

Cat print face mask

Face mask with floral print on light blue fabric

Floral fabric face mask

Solid color dark blue jeans fabric

Jeans fabric face mask

Preparing all the face mask which is bound for Dumaguete

Quality assurance and quality control

Face masks inside a box

Packing all the face masks

Parting thoughts

They say face masks at this time can save you or another person from this pandemic. It does not hurt to wear a mask, because you know prevention is better than cure. At this point, it should feel like second skin now.

If your are interested to make your own, it’s free to click on the links above. If you don’t have the tools nor the time to make, write us an email and I can make one for you, for a small reasonable fee, of course..

Face mask with orange burst print

I offer you face mask. Keep safe!


Go back to Index