Raarrr! Masks: a DIY

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Who goes there? Coronavirus Raarr MONSTERS?!! Let’s get our growls out!

I decided I’m going to share this. It’s hard giving up good ideas (remember Merbaby?). I hate it when I’m shopping and I see something I thought up in a box on the shelves but it is what it is and I am in no position to copyright and patent and trademark anything right now. If you want to do it for me you know how to contact me. Also, it’s not like someone else hasn’t thought of this already. If they haven’t, why not!?? If you have kids who like “teef” as I do, you should get busy with your sewing machine and make one of these! It’s very fun and what else are you doing? Watching Tiger King? Just get your sewing machine out already and do it.

I know I say everything is easy but really, this is. Except for step six. I hate step six. I guess I’m just not that experienced as a seamstress. But whatever. Now’s a great time to polish up my skillz. Woot.

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So here is what you’ll need: 

  • a 9×16 inch piece of solid cotton fabric (Prints just don’t do the “teef” justice.) (Smaller if you are making for a child. I’m not going to do the math for you because I suck at math. Just wing it down a third or so, depending on your kid’s face size. What can I say, some kids have BIG faces!)
  • white craft foam (Who knew! Everybody has some stuffed in a craft drawer somewhere. If you don’t, get some already!)
  • the bottom cut off an old t-shirt
  • a sewing machine (Everyone else might as well pass on this whole post.)
  • sharp sewing scissors (You don’t have any? It’s about time you ordered some!! And when you get them put some tape on there that says FABRIC ONLY. It’s time to adult up.)

Okay, let’s, get to it!

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My Aunt Keren was a professional seamstress when I was growing up. She taught me to sew. I used to spend long hours in her sewing room. I got my first Barbie doll (and only Barbie doll until recently.) at age 14 and I used to make clothes for the doll with the scraps leftover from my aunt’s sewing projects. I had a whole drawer in her sewing room that was the Barbie doll’s apartment. Wallpaper on the sides of the drawer, a check box for the bed. It’s hard to believe I was so into that doll at age 14. I guess that’s what happens when your mom won’t let you have Barbies as a young child because she’s worried about body dysmorphic disorder–which I totally got anyway despite her best efforts.

My Aunt Keren taught me how to harmonize. We used to sing hymns together to the sound of her whirring machine and her bird, Jasper, singing in the background and mumbling about what a pretty bird he was… oh memories!  Anyway, one of the many lessons that my aunt taught me was to iron and be tidy when you are sewing. Snip your threads as you go because lose threads later are signs of a mess. So I do that still and I have pride in it. Funny how these lessons stick. Just like I always wash my paintbrushes carefully… teach your kids these lessons, they stick!

Okay, off soapbox.

Step one and two are to sew a 1/4 inch hem on the short ends of your 9×16″ rectangle. This will create the finished edge of your filter pocket. Then fold your rectangle in thirds with the hemmed edges overlapping about an inch. Cut your 1″ inch thick ring of t-shirt fabric and cut it in half.

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Step 3: Take your two lengths of t-shirt string and pin the ends into the corners of your rectangle. These are going to be your straps that you tie the mask on with. Yes, they are way too long but that is good because it leaves plenty of room to customize later. The most important part of this step is to make sure that the straps are out of the way of where your side seams are going to go.

If you are having trouble visualizing where these straps go, just scroll down and take a peek at the finished product. They are kind of like two very long mirrored “Cs” (Coco Chanel style) that are going towards the center with their ends stuck in the corners.

Confused yet? Sorry. I should have just made a movie but my laptop is out of scratch disk space so I got no time for movie editing until I fix that problem. So basically pin everything together and sew a 1/2 inch seam down the short ends of your folded rectangle. AND! Don’t forget to remove your pins before you sew over them and break a needle. Been there, done that a few times. It sucks.

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Step Four: Turn it inside out! Now do those long straps make sense? Then iron everything, like Auntie Keren says.

I should probably mention that I don’t think you should iron craft foam. I think heat can melt it. This does create a sanitation problem (I also don’t recommend washing in hot water or worse putting in the dryer) but we all know this mask is for fashion and not for doing surgery. It will keep you from touching your mouth. It won’t keep you from catching COVID. It just slows the spreading. Capeesh? Okay. Moving on.

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Step Five: Add the TEEF! Maybe this could have been done earlier in step two. Yeah, that would probably be smarter. Hopefully, you read all the instructions before you start and you will do that but if not, Have no fear! It’s still doable at this step. How do I know? Because that’s what I did! :P

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Step 6: Now it’s time for the hard part: sewing pleats. I don’t know why I struggle so hard getting my pleats even but I do. It doesn’t help that the pocket section makes it even thicker in the middle. I think putting aside your perfectionism is the best approach here. Just add three pleats as evenly as you can and sew it. A good tip is to NOT use contrasting thread. It’s gonna be messy if you are a beginner level sewing non-expert like me. Get over it. Maybe someday I will be better at this step.

When you are done with the pleats you are done!

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If you make one of these please send me a picture! I would love to see all the coronavirus monsters out there killin’ it!

 

Wild Space Kitties!

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Calling all Wild Space Kitties! Here’s a costume that is purrrrrfect for you.

(This was supposed to appear as a DIY costume craft on alphamom.com but it turns out that Space Kitty is a beer company and not appropriate for a parenting site but guess what? I can totally post it here! Beer, schemer. Let’s make Wild Space Kitties a thing!)

First off a warning: This costume is ridiculously easy and ridiculously difficult at the same time. If you’ve never sewed with faux fur then this would be a great project to start with because guess what? You CAN do it! It was my first time sewing fur and I did it! Go me! But it’s also ridiculously messy, so check your OCD at the door.

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Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 yards or more of faux fur
  • thread (color doesn’t matter because it does not show up in this wild mess of fur)
  • a sewing machine
  • fabric scissors
  • a wire coat hanger
  • a large dowel or broom handle to wrap your coat hanger wire around (This was Payam’s brilliant idea.)
  • ribbon or long skinny piece of t-shirt fabric (leftover fabric from this craft works great)

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Lay out your fabric fur-side down. You can create a pattern from a paper bag or some paper or you can free-hand it. Your pieces need to roughly look like the drawing below: 2 head pieces, two paws (one piece each) and two tail pieces.

Print

Faux fur is such a mess when you cut it. The loose fur floats all over the place. Just accept that it’s going to make a mess and make the best of it. Think of it as magical dust floating all around you making everything pretty and fuzzy. Sew somewhere that is easy to vacuum later and keep some packing tape on hand. You can even tape down where you are going to cut first and control some of the mess that way. (If you have any OCD tendencies I would definitely recommend using tape to control the fuzz.)

Okay, now that we have that out of the way let’s just get in there and make a mess. It’s worth it.

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Cut your pieces. Then lay them out how you are going to sew them.

Fold the paw pieces in half. Lay the front of the cat head (fur facing in) on top of the back of the cat head (fur to fur). Lay your tail pieces together, fur to fur. Pin. (Or don’t. I lived on the wild side and didn’t pin. My fur slightly crept askew as I sewed but I found it didn’t really matter that much. I just trimmed the uneven parts at the end and it didn’t show anyway. Fur is very forgiving.)

Now get ready to sew! Set machine to a zig zag stitch and get in there!

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Sew the outer edges of the cat head together like you were creating a cat-head pillow while leaving the inside head-hole un-finished. Fur doesn’t need a finishing seam. Win!

Sew your tail together, leaving the butt-end open. This is where you will insert your wire later.

Sew around one side of your paws, leaving the bottom open to insert hands into.

After you are done sewing, cut your threads and trim off any excess fur that might be sticking out. This will make it easier to turn inside-out later. Snip your rounded corners with a small snip, being careful not to snip over your stitches of course.

Then turn everything inside out.

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Remove any lose fur. Shake it out. Do a little dance. Fur everywhere!

Next is a really important step that was thought up by Payam and I failed to photograph it because he did it in the garage for me while I was sewing. Take your coat hanger hanger and un-bend it. (Pliers will help.) Then carefully wrap it around a thick dowel or broom handle to create a long spring-like coil. This is the magical wire that will make your space kitty tail pliable and yet stiff and not pokey and sharp like normal wire would be. Thank you Payam!

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After you’ve turned your tail inside out, insert this coil into your tail. Then close up the end and sew your ribbon or t-shirt string over the closed ending. This tie will make it so you can tie your tail around your waist like so. Wear a big hoodie over top (Because hoodies are a very important Space Kitty wardrobe piece. I will make this a thing, I swear.) and you’ll never know it was just tied on and not actually attached.

Then put on your hat and fur mittens, draw on a kitty nose and whiskers with white eye-liner pencil and you are now a space kitty!  Light-up blinky space boots optional.

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Happy Trick-or-Treating!