Here it is! The instructions to make a pieced and quilted plague doctor mask!
Just as a heads up, this pattern is not really recommended for beginners. There is not a whole lot of explanation of the basic techniques, and it requires a fair bit of precision, two types of fusible interfacing, and an assumption that you can keep a consistent seam allowance and do some hand sewing and know when to sew things right sides together and such.
I am not promising anything, different methods will yield different results, I have never made a pattern exactly as it was written and neither should you. If you want something the same as the next person, go to the shops.
Actually, nevermind, this is a quarantine craft, stay home.
There are two ways to do the piecing for this project. The first is a quilting technique called English Paper Piecing, there are plenty of tutorials online, but it is done by hand and I do not have the patience for it. Still, if you have the time but not the machinery, it is probably your best option for a very good finish. Cut the pattern net out of card, glue the bits onto your fabric, sew them up, pull them out and add interfacing after. I sewed three hexies together once and got bored and gave up.
The method I actually used involves my favourite cheat for sewing: you can use an inkjet printer to print on non-woven fusible interfacing! There are ridiculously overpriced pre-cut packs available, but also you can just cut up some midweight to the right size. I just have a boring old Epson printer, and I can get away with just putting some scotch tape along the edge that feeds in for a bit of stability. Alternatively, depending on the brand, you can “fuse” it onto some non-stick baking paper, cut it to size, and then peel it off without losing too much adhesive. (My pictures look a little different because my original A4 version fits on the page differently than the shared version)
Printing onto interfacing means I know my dimensions are perfect, and I have the markings on the pieces so I know what joins to what. If you only have a laser printer, or your inkjet hates you and wont let you print on interfacing, I still recommend using fusible interfacing for structure and precision piecing. You will just need to keep a lot better track of what is what, because the pieces are all slightly different and they only go together one way.
The actual “pattern” for this project is a geometric net. I highly recommend making one in paper or cardstock first, because we all have different sized heads. As with most quilting projects, it will generally get to be a little bit smaller again once it is all sewn together, so keep that in mind.
This is a link to the PDF on Google Drive. It is a 4 page document, for printing on US letter size. There is enough space around the pieces that it can also print onto A4 paper: the one inch square should measure 2.5cm. Similarly, the extra space means it can be scaled up a bit before any gets cut off, if you have a particularly large face.
(Edited to add: if you were going to make this in a single fabric rather than pieced together patchwork pieces, I have uploaded a simplified version of the pattern, which has more curved seams which are easier to match. The technique is otherwise the same, but note that these patterns do not have seam allowances - you will need to add them when you cut your fabric so that the pieces match.)
The body of the mask is made up of two mirrored (four total) pieced together bits, plus some circles to go around the lenses. There are two mirrored top pieces, and two mirrored bottom pieces. The top pieces are numbered 1-14, and are split over two pages and need to be joined together. The bottom pieces are lettered A-H. On one side of the pattern the numbers and letters are circled, so you know which side you are working on. There are also small dashes in the corners of the pieces; single dashes connect to single dashes, double dashes connect to double dashes. At the parts that become the edges of the eye holes, there are little dots at the end of the dashes.
Even if you are printing onto interfacing, you will also need to do a paper printout, as it will be used later as a pattern to cut the batting and the lining. The paper printout can also be used to work out your fabric placement, if you are going for a certain look (again, this one was printed as an all in one A4 sheet, but it works the same).
Cutting the Patchworked Outer
If you have managed to print onto fusible interfacing, all you need to do is cut the pieces. Otherwise, do what you need to trace the pieces onto interfacing, making notes of where they go and which sides align to what.
Once you have your interfacing pieces cut and organized, fuse them to your fabrics with at least enough room between and around them for seam allowances on each side.
I use a 1cm seam allowance, but feel free to use a quarter or half inch if that is what you are used to.
Trim all the pieces to have a consistent seam allowance.
Lay the trimmed pieces out on the paper printouts. This will let you know if there are any pieces missing, or any parts where fabric duplicates might share a seam.
Piecing the Patchworked Outer
First, piece together the nets of the bottom pieces. Put a straight pin straight through at the corners of the interfacings of two neighboring pieces, so they are perfectly aligned. Then angle the pin on the right hand side so it comes back up along where the seam will go, and angle the one on the left so that it is going across.
Sew along the edge of the interfacing, aiming for just alongside of it, not on it.
Finger press the seams open, then repeat until all the pieces are together.
The technique for the top pieces is the same, but at any join which ends at an eyehole (marked on the pattern with a black dot on the ends of the dash), backstitch at the end of the interfacing, so that it won’t pull apart at the edge. The seam allowance at this part will be cut off, so it needs to be secured before that point to prevent it from pulling apart.
Batting and Quilting
Properly press all the pieces, with the seams open.
Using the paper pattern, cut out two mirrored top and bottom pieces from fusible batting.
Iron these onto the inside of the pieced parts, so that their edges line up with the interfacings. In my experience, the best way to iron on fusible batting is from the right side, so I pin them in place and flip them over, iron a little bit so they barely stick, pull out the pins, and fuse properly.
Do some quilting. I just went 5mm to the side of every seam, because the next lot of seams need to be topstitched in the same way, and I like the consistency.
Assembly of the Patchworked Outer
Join together the gap in the top pieces. The batting was aligned to the interfacing, so the technique is the same.
Press the seams apart and topstitch the seams to either side.
Trim off the excess seam allowance around the eye holes to the edge of the batting and interfacing. this was why we needed to backstitch earlier.
The next step joins the top and bottom pieces together. The bottom piece attaches to the more curved edge of the top piece - that last seam that was joined after adding the batting will meet these side seams, angled towards the tip of the beak. Sewing the sides is the trickiest bit to do on the machine, so, while I would normally say basting is for cowards, if you want the points to match perfectly, this is a time when pinning will not really cut it. I just hand sew through each point where the seams join, go back through a couple of threads over, and tie it off.
Then I put pins through the longer seams.
When sewing it with the machine, try to keep the lines as straight as possible, making turns only at the seams where you put a basting stitch.
Once both sides are sewn, press the seams open and topstitch to either side.
Repeat this step for the top centre seam. You can just pin baste this one if you would rather, because the angles match, but it is literally right there in the middle where everyone can see it, so if you are not confident in matching points, baste it.
Press the seams open and topstitch.
The technique is the same for the bottom centre seam, but topstitching all the way to the tip of the beak is not possible, so you will have to do the last bit of top stitching by hand.
It doesn’t matter so much if it is a bit messy, because it is not in a place where it can really be seen, but spitting the seam will help it hold its shape more nicely.
That is the pretty outside bit done.
Making and Attaching the Lining
To make the lining, use the paper pattern to cut two mirrored pieces of the top and bottom pieces, with whatever seam allowance you prefer.
The gap on the top piece will have a maximum possible seam allowance of about a quarter inch, but this is enough for a secure internal seam. The eye holes do not need a seam allowance.
Sew together the gaps in the top pieces, then sew the top seam of the top pieces and the centre seam of the bottom pieces together.
Open up both pieces and sew the sides together. You should have a lining piece that is a floppy, boring version of the outside piece.
I have not included a step for how to make a strap, because everyone has their own preferred methods, and there are plenty of alternative options. If you don’t want to worry about making strapping you can use ribbon or elastic, or put a small loop there to thread something through afterwards. Whatever the choice, pin to the centre of the back edges of pattern pieces #10, facing towards the eye holes.
Put the lining piece, facing right side in, over the pieced outer and the strap pieces and pin around the edges, lining up the four seams of the lining with the seams on the outer.
Sew around the edge.
Turn the piece right side out through one of the lining’s eye holes. You just sort of pull the pieced outer (which is currently inside) back a bit, until the tip of the beak can come through an eye hole, and then try to pull it through as gently as possible so that the raw edge of the eye hole doesn’t get too stretched and frayed.
Then push the lining back into the pieced outer body of the mask.
Pin around the edge, so that the lining is all tucked neatly inside.
Top stitch over the edge.
Eye hole time!
Pin the outer and lining together in the eye holes, and top stitch about 4mm (1/6th of an inch) from the edges. Trim any fraying bits.
Hand stitch 1 inch wide bias binding to the inner edge of the eye hole, just over the top stitch.
Flip the bias binding through the eye hole to the outer, fold the raw edge of the bias binding under itself, and hand stitch it down to the outside. Repeat for the other eye.
This next step is the worst bit, and if you have another method, go for it. Theoretically you could use something thicker that wouldn’t fray, like a felt or leather, so that you didn’t have to worry about lining the eye holes, but it depends on the look you are going for.
Cut out four circles from fabric, two of the biggest size, two of the medium size. Draw the smallest size circle in the middle of the back of the medium sized circle, and stack it on top of the centre of the big one, right sides together. From the fusible batting, cut two donut shapes of the medium size with the smallest circle cut out of the centre.
Using very small stitches, sew around the small circle drawn on the medium sized circles. Fuse the donut of batting to the back of the large circle, with the inside of the donut matching the sewn line. Cut an even smaller hole out of the middle, so that the seam allowance that remains is a slightly smaller width than the batting. Clip this into at least 12 pieces.
Press the smaller circle towards the centre, so that it can be turned in though the hole.
This will take a lot of careful ironing and pinning. Let it sit for a bit, so that it learns to be there.
Then unpin it, but hopefully the little clipped bits will stay there. Fold the bigger circle down over them – you will need a lot of little tiny pleats – making the outer edge as round as possible.
Then press that smaller circle back down over the pleats, so that it is level with the folded outer edge. If it sticks over in any places, trim it back, but only just.
Pin this donut shape over the eye piece. The inside edge of the donut should be level with the inside of the bias binding, the raw edge up against the outer fabric.
Hand sew around the outer edge of the donut to the pieced fabric. Make sure that the raw edge from the smaller circle is under the donut, but do not let it flip out through the middle. On the machine, top stitch about a quarter inch from the outer edge.
This should catch the raw edge inside, and leave a ridge between the outer eye donut and the bias bound eye hole. From the inside, it should be possible to pop in a round lens from a pair of sunglasses, or an improvised lens such as a circle of clear plastic cut from the lid of an old takeaway container, or some transparent holographic vinyl, such as this stuff on amazon. Repeat for the other eye hole.
Hooray! You are all done!
I am really not sure on the efficacy of this as an actual viable mask. On the one hand, there are a lot of seams through which germs could pass, but on the other hand, the fact that the lining is a bit loose and baggy inside the beak might cancel that out.
Depending on your materials, it should be machine washable, although it will almost certainly look a lot less crisp.
I had a lot of issues with my lenses fogging up after a couple of minutes of me wearing it, but who knows, maybe I am just a very wet breather.
I am not going to charge anything for this pattern, nor am I going to place restrictions on what you do with the items you make. I do not control your right to profit from your work. All art is derivative, and you making your own version transforms this pattern. Don’t let assertions of intellectual property rights be another way you are alienated from your labour. If you decide to sell your work, demand fair remuneration for your time and skills. Someone offering to pay for the materials is not enough. If you have decided to take an activity you love and turn it into work, make it worthwhile.
On the flip side, please don’t try to sell this bit of writing or the PDF of the pattern net or these photographs. They are free for you and for everyone else. Resist society’s message that you should try to profit from your every action, and especially resist the notion that true success is achieved by profiting from anyone else’s labour.
If you want to discuss this stuff further, I would love that! I am researching the commodification of creative knowledge for my PhD, focusing on quilt patterns and designs. Message me @mctreeleth on tumblr and instagram or @sarasewsstuff on twitter for my uni email.
Edit: I have added in a link to a simplified version if you are going to make this with a single fabric rather than patchwork piecing.
33K notes · View notes