Sunday, July 19, 2020

Constructing a Kimball Mask - the Laundry List


Kimball Mask instructions for first-time mask-makers

There are many different methods for constructing the masks - Carol's instructions work as do the ones below.  It's a very forgiving pattern.

I think this construction method is especially helpful when trying to custom-fit a mask, or for someone who's never made a Kimball mask before. It's less efficient for mass-producing masks, but it allows for the seamster to stop and make adjustments for individual fit.

Note: child (standard/Big Schnozz, full chin/short beard, big beard) indicates which size; thus 1(2, 2.5, 3)" means, 1" for the child, 2" for the standard and so on.  And these amounts might be customized depending on the needs of the wearer. I haven't gotten all the different sizes filled in yet.

Supplies/notions needed:

  • Fabric - A fat quarter will make 2 to 8 masks depending on the size and number of layers desired.
  • Bias tape (about 1 yard or thereabouts per mask, preferably 1" double-fold)
  • Something for ear loops and ties (can be bias tape, twill tape, t-shirt yarn)

Initial preparation (cutting out, nose dart, and chin gathers):

  1. Trace and cut 1 or 2 mask bodies out (depending on the number of layers desired). If doing 2 layers, repeat steps 2-5 for each layer separately.
  2. Sew nose dart, ¼” seam allowance. Press seam allowance open.
  3. Run two rows of basting stitches very near the bottom edge inside seam allowance, from two gather points marked on pattern (the gather points may vary depending on customization needed).
  4. Gather the fabric, bringing the distance between the gather points to about child (standard/Big Schnozz, full chin/short beard, big beard) 3.5 (3.5, 8.5 9.75)".  When length is correct, knot the basting threads to hold the length static until sewing.   (Note: for my husband who has a pointy-chin and relatively short-trimmed beard, Carol had me gather in the chin area to 3").
  5. Distribute gathers evenly between two points. 

Nose Channel* (Cathy's removable nose-wire variation - see the Industrial Tutorial method to install it inside the top binding.

If making a two-layer mask, this will be done on the right side of the BACK-facing (ie, against the skin) fabric.  If making a one-layer mask, it will be done on the wrong side of the fabric.

  1. Cut a piece of bias tape or twill tape to a length that is equal to the width of the mask along the top edge.
  2. Line it up, so the tape extends all the way to the edges on either side, and affix it in place along the top of the mask.
  3. On the left side, turn the tape under by ½” or perhaps a little more (this edge will remain open so the nose wire can be removed or replaced).
  4. Sew all the way across the mask along the bottom edge of the nose-wire channel.  Sew very close to the edge. Don’t worry about the right side, or top edge of the channel. These will be sewn (turned into a pocket) when the edges of the mask are bound.
Note: when binding the top of the mask, depending on how wide your bias tape or twill tape is, it might make the nose channel too narrow. Adjust placement of the nose channel downward/away from top edge as needed)

* This is Cathy's removable nose-wire variation - see the Industrial Tutorial method to install it inside the bias tape binding.  Putting the nose wire inside the bias tape has the advantage of the most adjustability, as the wire is at the very edge of the mask, and is the quickest for producing a lot of masks. Cathy's variation makes the wire removable, but takes longer.

Binding the edges of the mask:

Over the course of the testing, and development of efficiency techniques, whether to bind the top first, and then the bottom/sides changed a few times.

  • If you are mass-producing, then it works better to do the top first (which allows you to catch the lower ear loop attachments in the binding, saving a step.  
  • If you are customizing a mask, you should do bottom/sides first, then the top, which allows you to leave the lower ear-loop attachments free, so that you can find the best spot to attach it for customization purposes.  This is the method I outline below.

  1. If making a 2-layer mask, place masks wrong sides together (if making a single-layer mask, ignore this step).
  2. Attach binding to sides and bottom of the mask (1” double-fold is easiest). Without cutting the bias tape (yet), unfold one side and line up the raw edge of the tape with the top raw edge of the mask against the back side of the mask (side facing the skin). Line up the cut edge of the bias tape with the top corner, run it down the side, across the bottom and up the far side, clipping as you go.  
  3. Sew very close to the edge, removing clips and adjusting bias tape as you go.
  4. Cut bias tape even with top edge of the mask.
  5. Flip the bias tape to the front, and press, trying to match the folded edges as best you can. 
  6. Top stitch the binding on the front of the mask.
  7. Cut the top binding to about 1” longer than the width of the mask along top edge and fold ½” under on both ends. Attach binding the top of the mask in the same manner as above.  
Note: bias tape won't unravel, so you may cut it to the same width as the mask if you prefer. If using twill tape then it should be cut 1" longer and fold under 1/2" on each side.  

Attach ear loops at the top of the mask, two methods:

Separately sewn ear loops:

  1. Cut two ear loops, 9.75/10.5(11, 11.5, 11.5) Note: for my friend with an extra large noggin (26.5" circumference), I went with 13".
  2. Fold ½” under and sew to top corner, even with top edge. Then skip to the attach ties section below.

Continuous ear loops:

If you prefer to to thread the ear extensions inside the top channel:

  1. Cut a single long ear loop, that = width of the mask along top edge + (tie length x 2). So, if the mask is 9" wide, and if the ear loops are 11", then it would be 9+11+11= 31".
  2. Thread the ear loop through the top channel of the mask and center it so the ear loops extend an equal distance on either side of mask.
This method may achieve a better seal along the top of the mask, by providing a little padding at the top. It cannot be used if the nose wire is permanently sewn into the top edge bias binding.

Attach ties:

  1. Cut 2 ties, 12” long.
  2. Finish one end of each of the ties (if desired, you may omit this step if using bias tape or t-shirt yarn)
  3. Create a loop in the other end and sew. I fold under 1/4" and press, then fold that over by 1" and sew through the 1/4" fold so the raw edge is enclosed. Repeat for second tie.
  4. Thread the loop onto the ends of an ear loop and slide out of the way.  Repeat for the other side.

Attach end of ear loop to side of mask: 

  1. Mark the sides of the mask 2.5" and 3” below top edge.  
  2. Pin the end of the ear loop to the mask, and check fit.  The attachment should be high enough that the ear doesn't drag the mask upward into the eyes, but low enough that the ear loop holds the chin section in place. Use the marks on the pattern to determine where to attach the lower loop. (Most are about 2.5" below the top, with the bigger ones about 3" below). Also check the length of the ear loops.  They should be long enough that when the ties are tied around the back of the head, the ear loops don't touch - they should be about 2-3" apart.
  3. Trim the ear loops if necessary, and Fold under the end of the ear loop and press.
  4. Sew in place at the appropriate attachment point.  Sew the ear loop on bias tape, right next to fabric body. 
  5. Repeat for the other side. 
  6. For extra security, sew again at very edge of mask (optional).

Nose wire:

Make a nose wire at least 6” long (but no longer than the channel), and insert in the nose-wire channel, center, and bend slightly at the center.

Note: so far, I’ve had the best luck with cutting two 6.5” lengths of 16 gauge aluminum craft wire (though I understand floral wire is very good too), bending the ends into loops, and encasing it in a strip of duct tape about ¾” wide (I place the two wires slightly offset so the loops don’t interfere, about ¼” apart, and fold the long edges of the duct tape in to enclose it.) This makes a double-nose-wire strip about 1/4" or so wide. Don't sweat it, if things are a little uneven.

Custom fitting and construction variations:

There will be slight variations in:

  • Base pattern shape and height
  • Chin gather placement and gathering amount
  • Length of ear loops
  • Ear loop lower attachment point 

If you are making multiple patterns for the same person, and  know exactly how long to make the ear loops, and where to attach the lower points, you can construct it with the following variation:

  1. Bind upper edge first, (don’t bother turning under ½” on each side - just cut binding to same width as top edge).
  2. Cut ear loops to the appropriate length
  3. Baste ear loops to mask body on FRONT of mask. One end will be even with the top edge, the other about 2.5-3” below top edge depending on size. Match raw edges of ear loop to raw edge of mask sides. The loops will extend across front of mask. 
  4. Bind sides/bottom (if using a binding other than bias tape, cut the binding so it’s about 1” longer than the length along sides/bottom from top corner to top corner, and fold ends under).  This will bind the mask and attach ear loops at the same time.

Another variation: If using double-fold bias tape for the ear loops, you can create the top binding and ear loops in one step:

  1. Bind sides/bottom of mask as described above.
  2. Cut the bias tape using the continuous method above (width of mask along top edge+ear loop length x 2). 
  3. Fold bias in half along the long dimension, and press.
  4. Match center of bias to center of top edge of mask, and insert the top of the mask into the fold. 
  5. Clip along top of mask. 
  6. Sew the bias tape in one long seam, end-end to end, along the bottom edge. This keeps the bias tape from unfolding, and catches top edge of mask.
  7. Finish bottom of ear loops and ties as described above.

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