Today I am sharing some tips that will help you quickly make face masks from fabric that many of us are in need of during this challenging time in history.
WARNING: THIS POST IS LONG!! I WANTED TO KEEP ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS IN ONE PLACE FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE!!
First, let me say that we are living in some very challenging times right now. Many of us have lost our jobs, our social lives, and even some have lost their very lives during this COVID 19 pandemic. It is an uncertain time, that is for sure.
It is important for us all to help out in whatever way we can. For some of us that means staying at home – well, that is true for all of us. For some like those in the medical and emergency service fields, that means going out into the world and helping others in close contact. And still, for others like employees of the essential businesses that must stay open like grocery stores, gas stations and banks, that means they must go to work as well.
do what you can
We all need to do our part. Red Land Cotton is doing theirs and making it possible for people like me to do my part. They began a campaign of mask making a couple of weeks ago that provides kits for home and professional seamstresses to use to make the fabric face masks that many people will benefit from.
All that a seamstress needs to do is email the company and request the kits. (I include the contact information at the end of the post!) Red Land Cotton sends precut cotton fabric and elastic at no cost to the seamstress. Yes! They are footing the bill! The least I can do is stitch a few face masks, right?
The kit I ordered came with 100 precut pieces of fabric, some are solid white and some are a navy ticking. The kit also came with 200 precut pieces of elastic! This kit will provide 100 face masks to individuals that need them!
Red Land Cotton Video
Here is a video that Red Land Cotton shares about making the masks. It is a very helpful video and I would suggest making your first face mask using the video. It is a good way to get started.
face mask assembly
I made my first face mask with this video that Red Land Cotton provided in their information. Since I have been sewing since I was 9 years old, I have a few tips and tricks to speed up the process. I hope you find them helpful when making yours!
The first tip I have for you is to group the fabric sections into groups of ten. That seems like a manageable number, right?
three cutting methods
Lay out the section by lining up the edges. The fabric that came in my kit had been torn along the grain. I will tell you how to do that in just a minute. For now, layer the fabric with the edges lined up fairly closely. If you have a rotary cutter, mat and quilting ruler you can use them to cut the layers. I cut five layers at a time.
If you do not have the rotary cutting supplies, you can rip the fabric! The fabric will rip on the straight of grain and result in a perfectly sized piece.
First, measure the 8″ x 16″ rectangle and make a little snip with your scissors to mark the measurement. Make a snip in each layer at once if possible.
The next step is scary if you have never done it before. But believe me, after 40+ years of quilting and dressmaking, this is the best way to make a straight line in cotton fabric!
Grab each side of the snipped fabric and pull them apart. I do this fairly quickly. When you are finished, take a good look at the ripped fabric and you will see that it is perfectly on the straight of grain!
Ripping the fabric can leave alot of strings. That is the only bad part about this method.
I encourage you to try this method. If you don’t like it you can always use scissors to cut the 8″ x 16″ section that is needed for the face mask.
For the next steps, I made a video. Sometimes it is just easier to explain the steps by showing you. I have also included step by step directions and pictures if you need the extra help!
groups of ten (or fifteen!)
Remember to work in groups of ten to speed up the process. The first step was to cut all ten pieces. The next step is to iron the top and bottom hem of the 8″ edge. Fold over about 1/2″ and press. Repeat on the other 8″ end.
double fold hem the easy way
After all ten sections are pressed on each 8″ edge, head over to the machine. Start the hem by folding the raw edge of the 8″ edge towards the crease you just pressed. Then fold again creating a double hem. Stitch a few stitches and then backstitch. Stitch a bit more and then put the needle down into the fabric to stabilize it under the presser foot.
See how the needle is in the down postion and the presser foot is still down as well? That will help to hold the fabric still while you double fold the opposite end of the fabric.
Continue to hold the end tightly and then double fold the rest of the seam using your finger to gently tuck the rest of the fabric into the fold. It is easier to watch so be sure to check out the video!!
chain, chain, chain
We are going to chain the sections together and here is how to do that! You might ask why we would chain them together?? This is a quilting trick to save thread and time! No thread tails of 1″-2″ to cut off of each piece!! WooHoo for less cutting and less thread used!!
Hey, it’s the small things in life right??
Just before you come to the end of the first section, double fold the next section and get it ready to go under the presser foot. DO NOT LIFT THE PRESSER FOOT!! Do a few back stitches at the end of the first section, then allow the feed dog to grab the next section and do a few back stitches. Boom! You have started the chain.
Go slowly while ending one piece and adding the next. Chaining the sections together saves so much time!
stitch, fold, repeat
And then we are back to the beginning of the process again. Remember, the needle is in the down position and so is the presser foot. Fold the opposite end of the section and double fold it.
….hold it firmly in your fingers….
….and use your other finger to gently tuck the raw edge in towards the fold.
Continue to chain all ten masks. When you are finished with one side of hems, stitch the other side of hems in the same way. No need to cut the threads until both sides of the hems are finished!
This is the first side of hems chained together.
time and thread saving
See what I mean about saving time and thread by chaining them together? Trimming the thread tails becomes no more than just a clip. And you don’t have all that extra thread to contend with!
The next step is to add the elastic that will go around the ears. The sides get stitched at the same time. Be sure and refer to the Red Land Cotton video to see the whole process, one mask at a time.
After I folded all ten face masks, right sides together, I lined them up for marking like in the image below so they could be marked quickly. Remember, each little bit of time we save in the process will help us with time in the long run.
Marking is not my favorite task, but sometimes necessary!
I marked about 1 1/4″ away from both raw edges (not the hemmed edges). A pencil marks the spot perfectly!
Then I used the pre-cut sections of elastic that Red Land Cotton provided (another time saver! If you cut your own elastic, cut them all at once!) The elastic will be on the right side of the face mask. In other words, the elastic will be on the inside of the folded fabric. That way the elastic will be on the outside when the face mask is turned inside out.
Be sure that the elastic doesn’t become twisted — this face mask is going to be worn alot by the person who owns it and we want them comfy!
stitch elastic and side hem
We are going to chain stitch the same way we did for the hems. Start stitching at the hemmed edges. We are stitching towards the fold. If you sew from the fold towards the hemmed edges, the hemmed edges probably won’t line up as well.
Stitch a bit and then back stitch. I keep my needle in the down position to help hold the fabric under the presser foot.
Also, be sure to take a few back stitches at each elastic section. This will give extra durability to the face mask. Be sure to not stitch over the pins!!
Back stitch again at the end of the face mask. Chain the next face mask in the same way mentioned earlier!
Clip the face masks apart and turn them inside out when all ten are stitched. Use a soft pointed object to poke out the corners. I used the end of a small artist’s paintbrush.
Do all the turning before going on to the next step.
fold, pleat, iron, repeat
Once they are all turned inside out, give each one a press with a hot iron. While the mask is still on the ironing board….
…. fold it in half and press.
Open the face mask and fold the hemmed edge toward the crease that was just pressed.
Do the same with the folded edge. Bring it towards the crease in the middle of the mask.
Next, pinch about 1/2″ along the creased edge to form a pleat. Fold the pleat away from the hemmed edge.
Here I show the first pleat folded and pressed and I am starting the second pleat.
Do all three pleats this way and iron as you create each pleat.
Give the pleats a good press after prepping them this way! And then move on to the next face mask. Repeat the folding and ironing steps on each face mask before moving to the next face mask.
chain, chain, chain
Do all of the pleat folding and ironing before heading back to the machine. Stitch the pleats down about a presser foot width from the edge. I lined up the face mask edge with the presser foot and used that as my guide.
You can pin the pleats if you need to, but if you did a good press, you will be able to keep the pleats in place until they are stitched. Another time saver!
Chain them together just like we have been doing in the other steps!
I just love all these face masks hanging like this in my sewing room!
Reminds me of a Bible verse – Your banner over me is love 🙂
And yay! We just completed ten face masks! Repeating the same steps over and over will speed up the process so much! I borrowed many of the time-saving techniques from the quilting community.
I am sure that many people will be blessed by the efforts of companys like Red Land Cotton who are making this endeavor possible.
And the efforts from one little seamstress, working away in her sewing room :). I know it blessed her to be making them.
thanks for stopping by!
If you are able to join in the efforts, let me know in the comments! Also, if you have any questions about the techniques I covered here, ask away! I would love to help!
You might have some suggestions too! Share them with all of us who read this post! This is a wonderful nation we live in and I love being a part of this community of DIY’ers!
Are you interested in joining the efforts? Here is a link to the Red Land Cotton page that has all the info to get involved! Let them know Cindy from Reinvented Delaware sent ya’!