A Face Mask for the People

Face masks are what we need now for our essential trips outside the house. I made some masks for my family based on the pattern “A.B. Mask – for a Nurse by a Nurse”, by Jessica Nandino. You can find the pattern and instructions at Instructables.com.

My masks have a layer of cotton flannel on the outside (because I liked the pattern) and a layer of recycled cotton tablecloth on the inside. To make these masks you need two layers of close-weave fabric. This project would be a good use of quilter’s cotton, if you have that.

After I made the first one, I found a few tricks to make them more efficiently and to make them look a little neater.

But first I want to mention Angela Clayton. Her video, “Making Masks | why & how I’m making them” shows how she makes a large quantity of this pattern at once. I came to Angela’s video via Bernadette Banner, who I have adored for a long time. Bernadette is a historical clothing maker and expert. Currently holed up in “merry New York, although not so merry right now”, her video “(NON-MEDICAL) Face Masks (on a Victorian sewing machine, of course)” is inspiring, like all her videos are to me. Her video also includes a link to research on the efficacy of different materials.

My adjustments to Jessica Nandino’s instructions are as follows:

  1. When you cut out the strips for the binding, the 5 strips of 20 inch lengths is a bit wasteful. Make one of the strips only about 10 inches long. It’s used to bind the sides of the mask. For the other 4 strips, if your fabric is 40 inches wide, just cut two strips at this length and you won’t have to piece them together.
  2. At the start of the construction, when you stitch the two layers together around the edges, use a quarter inch seam allowance instead of the half inch allowance so that the stitching will be hidden by the binding. You can use a basting stitch here to save time and thread. Do the same when you stitch over the pleats.
  3. Iron the binding strips before you place them. For the short strip that goes on the sides of the mask, turn in a quarter inch along each long side and iron flat. Then use the fold to guide your stitching. For the two long strips, do the same from the center of the strip out for about 6 inches on each side of the centre. This is where the top and the bottom of the mask will be bound. Then fold the remaining lengths of the strip on each side in half lengthwise and iron flat. These ends will be the ties. Now you can fold and sew the ties as you go.

I think when this crisis is over, we in the Western world are going to be more a lot more comfortable with wearing face masks in public whenever we are sick, just as they already do in several Asian countries.