How to Make a Mask with Eddie Powers
For as long as he can remember, our US-based bespoke Pattern Maker, Eddie Powers, has been hands-on and a lover of craft and colour and this summer, he will have been with Turnbull for six years. Starting his tailoring career with a chance apprenticeship in London, he developed a strong professional relationship with our Head Pattern Cutter, George Atanasias. After a few years cutting his teeth at our Davies and Bury Street shops, working alongside James Cook and the team, and following a three-month secondment in 2017 assisting on our Bespoke Fall US Trunk Shows, he took up the reins in our New York townhouse.
As the COVID-19 crisis escalated his brother, another James, sent him a link from the New York Times with a CDC recommended guideline to make a mask. From here he ‘leapt on the idea and then took things my way testing cuts and fabrics with all the sold-out T&A Exclusive swatches I've collected over the years.’ Following some test runs, he found that the recommended shield shape worked on his quarantined peers but not his brother; ‘at this point I was only trying to protect my US family and neighbours but my brother's head and ears were tricky business’, so he set about adapting the design to include three pleats allowing the wearer to pull the mask over their features to fit comfortably.
What started as a fun project, turned into something much more earnest. ‘I live in a city that has been hit so terribly by this virus and live in a neighbourhood that I notice an alarmingly large amount of its population attempting their essential errands each day without a decent form of face-covering’ he notes. Since making his project publicly available through Instagram, he’s now produced over 275 masks and sent them across the continental United States as well as orders from Finland, Japan, Singapore, Australia, UK, Italy, and New Zealand.
During the lockdown, Eddie kindly recorded a tutorial for our IGTV from his New York apparent. Below is a truncated version of the tutorial for you to use at home.
How to Make a Mask
1. Shell fabric
2. Lining fabric
4. Rectangular pattern (9.5 x 6.5 inches)
5. Scissors (crimping shears recommended)
6. Steam iron
7. Sewing machine
STEP ONE – CHALK OUT YOUR FABRIC
Take your fabrics and place your cut-out pattern on top. Chalk or mark out your fabric, you can use a pen depending on the fabric you use. We recommend you leave some allowance for the pleats.
STEP TWO – CUT YOUR FABRICS
Once your pattern is marked on your fabrics. Use crimping shears to cut the fabric out. Please note, the crimping shears the fabric fraying or loose threads becoming a nuisance when making the masks. Once you’ve finished you will use the same pattern for the lining fabric. In this case, we’ve gone for denim, it’s a tough fabric, so be careful and pair it with a lighter lining fabric.
STEP THREE – CUT AND ATTACH YOUR STRAPS
Now you need to cut your elastic. The CDC recommendations 6 inches for a unisex fit. Once you do that, you peel back the lining back from the shell and place one end of the elastic in the top corner. To lock it in place, stitch it down, this ensures that it will not come apart once it’s made. Ensure the elastic is flat all the way through, it will pull the fabric apart, but that’s fine, it will all lay flat in the end – do both corners and repeat on the other side.
STEP FOUR – SEW THE TOP OF YOUR MASK
Line the lining up with the shell fabric, pin it, and stitch lengthways. On the first side, you sew down, leaving a gap for the corners. If you’re using fabric pattern like a stripe it always helps to follow the stripe.
STEP FIVE – SEW THE BOTTOM OF YOUR MASK
The top side of your mask should be completely stitched. Pin down the bottom of your mask, ensuring you an inch and a half gap in the centre. Once you have stitched either side of the gap you will use this hole to turn your mask the correct way around.
Your two straps are now stitched in. Make sure that you’ve got the straps pulled down a little bit and pin the remaining un-stitched lining. When stitching the side seams, ensure you don’t accidentally stitch in the straps. Lock your fabric down using the sewing machine’s foot and ensure it lines up making a nice rectangle.
STEP SIX – TURN YOUR MASK THE CORRECT WAY AROUND
Now you’ve stitched the lining to the exterior fabric, you use the gap you left at the bottom to turn the mask inside out. This will be harder depending on how thick your fabric is and you can use a small utensil to help you – a pencil or a chopstick – and push it right through.
STEP SEVEN – PRESS YOUR MASK
Use a hot iron on its cotton setting, if that’s the fabric you’re using, making sure all the seams are neatly pressed underneath the straps. Make sure the hole that you pulled everything though is nicely pressed so you can stitch it down neatly.
STEP EIGHT – SEAL YOUR MASK
Now to finish the bottom of the mask, switch your machine to its zigzag setting and sew along the bottom seam.
STEP NINE – CREATE THE PLEATS
Lay the mask down from the outside facing and begin your first pleat about a third of the way down. Fold the mask and press and fold it back up. Each pleat should measure about five-eighths to half an inch. In this case, it’s a two-pleat mask which I’ve been preferring to make – but you can play with it. The first pleat covers your nose. The second pleat covers the midriff of the face. Then the final pleat covers the chin.
To stitch the pleats down on both sides keeping the foot of the sewing machine in line with the edge of the mask. Then you repeat against the stitch. Be sure to remove the pins. Snip off any excess thread. Finally, fold the mask in half and give it a final press down the centre.
Follow Eddie’s progress on Instagram