It’s crazy out there -lots of competing information, mythinformation and just plain craziness -I’m not going to go there. Still, like many of you, I wondered what I could do to help so I started watching mask sewing videos. Very quickly, I realized that the videos are all the same -or rather, that makers had the same constraints. Now that was something I could do something about -I could have more of an impact by analyzing the biggest pain points of mask sewing at home and coming up with solutions that would be complementary to the sewing environments of volunteers doing all the work. So that’s what I did.
My analysis showed that the four pain points needing better solutions are:
Sewing ties and straps.
Cutting ties and straps.
Marking and sewing tucks (pleats).
I then made four videos, and created patterns and documentation to support them. Before I drop those links, I wanted to let you know that I’ve also been testing, auditing, refining and grading face mask patterns. I’ve also created a DIY mask making manual. All of these items will be released and distributed free of charge.
An aside -I don’t want to become a point person for squabbles over mask making but I do have one tiny axe to grind, namely ties versus elastic. Ties are better because they’re easier to adjust and fit, and they’re more comfortable for long term wearing. Elastic bands and elastic ear loops are fine for disposable products but elastic breaks down quickly with heat and bleach -many masks are going to need repair before too long. Also, some elastics have latex and many people are allergic to it. I’m hoping that my solution for solving the time intensive problem of making ties will help you make the switch. Oh, and I think there is a better tie design -the image below takes even less time than the traditional sewn down strap design and it and uses less material. I was proud of myself for coming up with it and then over the next few days, saw that four or five other people had the same insight. Synchronicity! An added benefit of this design is that you can use strips of knit fabric, shoelaces, twill tape, ribbon -or anything else because the ties aren’t sewn to the mask itself and are interchangeable.
Here are four videos in this series, it is best to view them in this order:
Video 1: Sewing Straps and Ties in seconds no ironing -or pinning! This includes how to sew straps and ties to masks (or anything) while sewing the strap itself. One step!
Video 2: Cutting Straps and Ties in one tenth the time. I show you how to sew ONE seam and adjust your overlock (serger) to make one long continuous strip, yards and yards long.
Video 3: Sew tucks & pleats FAST. No pins! No ironing! Three ways to sew tucks and pleats faster, better and more uniformly without pinning and ironing. Separately, here are the instructions and patterns to make the DIY tools.
Video 4: Measuring Elastic and Trims accurately and quickly. I’m almost embarrassed to include this but everyone (I showed it to) thinks it is very necessary in general but is timely for making face masks. Maybe until you made masks, you didn’t realize how much of a problem it is to cut elastic accurately and quickly. In this video I show you how to make a humble tool with 2 drinking straws that will solve all your problems.
And for what it’s worth, the information in these tutorials will be helpful well after this crisis has passed.
Stayed tuned, I’ve got more goodies coming. Oh, and before I forget, if you want to be notified of updates and errata to the patterns and documentation, fill out this google form. Your data won’t be used for any other purpose or shared with anyone.