First off - this is not the forum to a debate about whether mask wearing is a good idea or effective. We made the decision back in early April to decide to wear masks when out of the house since I read this review by one of my health heroes, Dr Zoe Harcombe. I respect her opinion and ability to decipher the science and it seemed logical to me to start wearing masks, I do invite you to read her analysis. As we're leaving the house every day to go to work at the warehouse and dispatch your sewing goodies I've had quite a collection of masks building up to ensure I'm not having to wash them every single day, so I have tried a few patterns up to this point.

I just thought I'd share with you the patterns that I've sewn to this point, and the pros and cons of each.  I am by no means a mask making expert, or a scientist.... this is just a summary of my personal experience and you should conduct your own research, as I have done so you can decide whether wearing a mask is right for you.

We have been getting lots of questions about suitable mask making materials. You can read my review about that here

**UPDATE** Face coverings are now recommended in shops and on public transport and various public health bodies have launched "The Big Community Sew" with Patrick Grant (swoon) so there are two other patterns available here (I've not tried them but I can't see how they wouldn't be great)

MASK MAKING PATTERN REVIEWS

The first mask I tried was the Craft Passion Face Mask

Pros:

  • I chose this one first because I liked the shape of it
  • and it came in 3 different sizes, including child
  • There's a video tutorial
  • There are a number of versions - a filter version, a nose wire version

Cons:

  • I found this took a while to sew, too long for me to think of a big batch sew, but one could argue you could forgo the top stitching etc
  • I found this mask a little small (but perhaps I have a big face!) I wonder if it's drafted for Asian features
  • I had to retrace the pattern to add the seam allowance as I printed off the wrong pattern (there is with and without SA)
  • I found the elastic tube narrow and tricky to thread the elastic through (which could have just been my slap dash sewing!)
  • The pipe cleaner idea just didn't work to keep the mask flush to my face. Stronger wire may help, as a consequence my glasses steamed up.
See the Craft Passion Mask

Because the Craft Passion Face Mask took too long, for me, I went on the hunt for a speedier sew... and I found it.


The next mask I sewed up was the Confessions of a Home Schooler pleated mask.

NB: I have since learnt about this pattern for a pleated mask which comes in different sizes

 

Pros:

  • Quick. Ridiculously quick... These come together in about 10 minutes
  • Super easy - a novice sewer could handle sewing this mask
  • Comfortable
  • Didn't make my glasses steam up

Cons:

  • Not the best fit around my face
  • Very basic mask, there are questions around whether this really matters or not
  • They need ironing, heavier interfacing might help this (I used a woven iron-on for these, before I was better educated!)
See the Confessions of a Home Schooler Mask

I decided I liked the sleeker and more fitted mask and then the Olsen mask crossed my path. I loved the look, I watched the video, it seemed to come together quickly and I love the face that medical professionals in the USA were asking for this mask. 

The Olson Mask Pattern was designed by medical professionals to be used when other surgical and N95 masks are not available. This has been my favourite mask so far.

I added 1 layer of sew-in interfacing Vlieseline / Vilene Interfacing Sew In - Heavy S13/313  or Vlieseline / Vilene Interfacing Sew In - Medium M12312)  cut using the outer mask pattern pieces.

 

Pros:

  • Great shape and well fitted around my face
  • Comfortable
  • Didn't make my glasses steam up, without a nose wire
  • Pretty speedy - I managed to batch sew about 4 an hour
  • Video tutorial available
  • Child size pattern available courtesy of Sew Can She
  • The pocket makes it possible to insert a filter and a nose wire easily

Cons:

  • I don't really have any - this was my favourite mask and the one I will keep making
See the Olsen Face Mask

Then the Happy Zombie Face Mask Pattern crossed my path. When I saw the pattern piece I was drawn to this  immediately. It had the fitted the shape of mask I like, but as the pattern had a nose and chin dart I figured I'd get the shape but with only 2 pattern pieces so it'd be loads quicker... which it was.

Pros:

  • Very quick to sew up
  • 3 different sizes available
  • The masks can be reversible

Cons:

  • I only made 2 x child sizes of these but ended up with very pointy nose and chin pieces! Purely for the aesthetics I prefer the Olsen. To be fair, I didn't sew the darts as I would do in dressmaking so I'm sure this could be improved with more precise sewing!
See the Happy Zombie Face Mask
This list is far from exhaustive and just details the mask patterns I have tried. Do you have one to recommend? Do you have any mask sewing tips you'd like to share - please do!
 
A note on Wet Bags

Wet bags are great for putting dirty masks in to if you have to remove them whilst out of the house. Wet bags can be unzipped and popped straight in the washer and they will be laundered fully, and you don't have to touch your worn mask again.

Check out how to sew one up via Aunty Em's Crafts and find versatile PUL waterproof fabric here