As a designer in 2020, I feel a heavy responsibility to shift my ways of thinking/creating to benefit the planet now and in the future. The fashion design process as a whole can be very wasteful. From start to finish, a completed item of clothing goes through around 3 rounds of sampling - meaning 3 physical garments are cut and sewn and go through fit and fabric approvals before production even starts. While many brands have started to implement virtual 3D sampling to cut back on waste, reduce shipping emissions, and to make processes more efficient, the overhead cost on this technology is extremely high and not reasonable for smaller businesses.
For this week’s Sustainable Saturdays, I wanted to use what I had in the design studio to inspire our community to find creative ways to use clothing we don’t wear anymore (or for me, old design samples I no longer need). With Covid cases on the rise and the overall fear of a second wave, what’s more fitting than a DIY face mask tutorial?
Follow our pattern and directions below to learn how you can make you own!
SUPPLIES YOU'LL NEED:
- Fabric scissors
- Sewing pins
- Pen or pencil
- Pattern piece
- Thread (color of your choice)
- A garment you no longer wear - pre-washed in warm water
- Make sure there is enough cutting room for your intended pattern size. If your garment is not 100% cotton, we recommend using a second fabric for the inside layer that will sit closest to your face
- Other suggestions for materials you can use are scrap fabrics from old projects, bandanas, old pillow cases or blankets, or cotton tote bags from retail shops
- Iron on fusible interfacing
- Optional but recommended to add a 3rd layer of protection
- 1/4" flat sewing elastic
- (2) 7" long pieces for adult mask
- (2) 6" long pieces for child mask
- OR (4) 18" long ties or shoelaces
STEP 1 : PREPARE YOUR MATERIALS
Wash your garment/fabrics in warm water. Place your pattern piece on your fabric and trace with a pen or pencil (if your materials are dark colors, pin your pattern to the fabric and cut around). You will need to cut a total of 3 pieces (1 piece in your main fabric, 1 piece of fusible, 1 piece of inside fabric that will sit closest to your face *make sure this is 100% cotton*).
Once your fabric has been cut, iron on your fusible to the back side of your main fabric. This will add a third layer of protection.
Now it's time to prepare your elastic or ties. For an adult mask, cut (2) 7" long flat elastic pieces; for a child mask, cut (2) 6" long flat elastic pieces. If you don't have elastic, you can use (4) 16-18" long ties or shoe laces.
STEP 2 : SECURE YOUR ELASTIC OR TIES
Take your main rectangle fabric piece and with the “right side” (or the outer-facing side you want to show) facing you, pin down the 2 elastics or 4 fabric ties. If you are using elastic, secure the ends at the corners, forming little hoops. Make sure the elastic lies inside the perimeter of your fabric. If you are using ties, make sure they are gathered in the center of the fabric layer before moving on to the next step.
STEP 3 : COMBINE YOUR LAYERS
Take the second layer of fabric and line it up with the first. The “right sides” (or patterned sides) of the fabric should be facing each other, sandwiching the fabric ties or elastics. Secure the fabric sandwich together with pins.
STEP 4 : START SEWING
Eyeball a midway point. From the middle, sew a straight line across the mask, about ¼” above the bottom edge of the fabric, toward the bottom left-hand corner. Remove any pins as you sew past them to make sure you don't break your needle!
Make sure that the elastic or fabric ties are secured in the corners, sandwiched by your two layers of fabric, as you sew over their ends. Make sure your needle goes through the three pieces: the top layer, the end of the fabric tie, and the bottom layer. Add a couple stitches forward and backward (in both directions) to secure your ties in place and at each corner.
Stitch all around the perimeter of the fabric layers, repeating the forward and backward motion at each corner to secure all the elastic ends or fabric ties. Continue to stitch your way toward the starting point, but stop to allow for a 1 ½” gap.
STEP 5 : TURN YOUR MASK INSIDE OUT
Turn your mask right-side out from the 1 ½” gap you left open. Your fabric ties or elastics should now show. Use a pencil or end of a pen to push out each corner if you are having a hard time getting a clean corner. I like to use my iron at this point to go around each edge to get a crisp seam finish. (Be sure not to apply the heat over your elastic or it may melt!)
STEP 6 : CREATE YOUR PLEATS
Make three, evenly spaced pleats lengthwise on the mask, as if folding a fan. This helps the mask shape to the wearer’s face. Secure each pleat with pins.
STEP 7 : TOPSTITCH
With your pleats held in place by pins, topstitch around the edge of the mask, ¼” away from the edge of the seam. Be careful when stitching over the pleats as the fabric may be quite thick and could break your needle if you stitch too quickly.
Top stitch a second time around, about ¼” in from the first round of stitching and you're done!
STEP 8 : SHOW IT OFF
You did it! Take your new mask for a spin and let your friends know how easy and fun it was to repurpose your old digs.
I hope you feel inspired to think twice before you get rid of garments and old materials you have laying around the house. And even if you don't know how to sew, pass this along to someone who does, and ask them nicely to make one for you!