Sewing Tips

Origami Mask: Adding Chin Dart

It’s been 5 months since I first posted the tutorial for making the Origami facemask. 1,000 masks later, I’ve learned a few time-saving tricks, but I’ve put off blogging about them….possibly I’m in denial, hoping that the need for masks will be over? But suddenly my family and friends in Australia and New Zealand are scrambling to make masks, so it’s time.

The beauty of the origami mask is the secure fit at the sides, which allows you speak easily without the mask falling down….and the shaping that gives space to breathe and avoids claustrophobia. The addition of a CHIN DART makes the fit even more secure.

This is an easy-to-make mask using a single rectangle piece of fabric :

  • no pattern to download
  • has an insert area for a standard 3.5″ x 7″ disposable surgical mask (9 cm x 18 cm)
  • fits over a size N95 respirator to prolong its life
  • can insert a wire for nose-shaping
  • uses either elastic or ties, which are NOT stitched on so they can be replaced/interchanged if elastic wears out due to repeated washing
  • useful for EITHER medical staff (together with the disposable masks when in short supply) …or alone for auxiliary staff, patients with compromised immune systems, etc

The mask can be made in 4 sizes:

  • Large: finished size 7″ nose to chin (18 cm)
  • Medium: finished size 6 1/4″ nose to chin (16 cm)
  • Small: finished size 5 1/2″ nose to chin (14 cm)
  • Extra Small: finished size 4 3/4″ nose to chin (12 cm)

When in doubt which size to make:

  • Large: fits best over N95 respirators
  • Medium: standard adult size
  • Small: teen or small adult face
  • Extra Small: child size

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TO MAKE THE MASK YOU WILL NEED:

  • one piece of woven cotton (wash and press before cutting out)
  • 4″ (10 cm) piece of wire (I prefer plastic-coated twist-ties…. alternatives are garden wire, 10-gauge aluminum, pipe-cleaners, etc)
  • 1/4″inch (.5 cm) soft knitted (not braided) elastic
  • lightweight interfacing
  • a pencil for marking and pins for holding
  • steam iron
  • sewing machine (overlock/serger is helpful but not required)

CUTTING OUT:
Wash your fabric before cutting. Press, stretching if needed so that fabric is on the straight-grain. Having the fabric on the true grainline makes the folding so much easier! Cut out your fabric according to this chart:

  • Large : cut 12″ x 15″
  • Medium : cut 11″ x 13 1/2″
  • Small: cut 10″ x 12″
  • Extra Small: cut 9″ x 10 1/2″

  • Large: cut 30.5 cm x 38 cm
  • Medium : cut 28 cm x 34 cm
  • Small : cut 25.5 cm x 30 cm
  • Extra Small : cut 23 cm x 26.5 cm

The photos show a size Medium:

Optional: press sheer-weight fusible interfacing down the center. This helps give the mask body and MAY provide more protection. The Pellon company has assured me in writing that their fusibles are NOT toxic:

Keeping the side edges not interfaced alleviates bulk to help with the origami folding process later:

(Please ignore my hands, they are SO dry from all the Covid hand-washing!)

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STITCHING:

Finish the short ends of your fabric piece by overlock or zig-zag stitch:

Plug in your iron, set to hot, fill with water. Fold ends under 1/2″ (1.2 cm), press:

Then top-stitch:

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Here is where the sequence-of-stitching differs from the original post. Instead of stitching partway across the short ends and then turning inside-out, you will form the exact same size tube by pressing the top and bottom towards the center.

Start by folding the fabric in half and finger-pressing the center to temporarily mark the half-way point:

Unfold the fabric, then fold up the bottom edge to meet the center where you finger-pressed a crease:

Fold the top edge down to meet the center:


Press:

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ENERGY TIP: You can now turn off your iron, you won’t need it anymore.

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ADD A CHIN DART TO THE BOTTOM EDGE:

A chin dart helps create a secure fit. UNFOLD the top and bottom flaps and fold the fabric in half length-wise to find the center, then finger-press the center of the bottom crease:

Lightly pencil mark a dart pivoting at the foldline. Measurements for the dart are:

  • Large: 1 1/2″ long x 1/2″ wide (3.5 cm long x 1.2 cm wide)
  • Medium: 1 1/4″ long x 3/8″ wide (3 cm long x 1 cm wide)
  • Small: 1″ long x 5/16″ wide (2.5 cm long x .8 cm wide)
  • Extra Small: 3/4″ long x 1/4″ wide (2 cm long x .6 cm wide)

Stitch the dart closed:

Now fold the bottom flap back up:

Edge-stitch the bottom fold:

The stitching helps keep the shape of your mask through washings:

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ADD A NOSE WIRE TO THE TOP EDGE:

A wire or strip of metal can be inserted now, which helps make the mask fit more securely over the nose bridge. The easiest metal to use if you are making large quantities of masks, are plastic-coated-wire twist-ties; you can buy 1,000 pieces for under $10 these days through Amazon sellers. If you only need a few pieces, good alternatives are garden wire, pipe-cleaners (cut 5″ (12 .5 cm) long and curl in the ends)….or even coffee-bag closures:

To encloses the wires, open up the top flap, center the wire:

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Fold the flap down, and pencil-mark where the wire ends (by handfeel):

Stitch across the top 3/8″ (1 cm) from the edge, stopping to turn at the wire ends…. pivot the fabric and stitch to the edge and back to secure the wires from shifting:

When you are finished you should have a stitching line going all the way across the top edge, with 2 areas of stitching to secure the wires:

Your mask should now be taking shape!

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The next step is to tack down the flaps, leaving the center open for inserting a filter. Place pencil-marks in from the ends:

  • Large: 3 1/2″ from ends (9 cm)
  • Medium: 3″ from ends (7.5 cm)
  • Small: 2 1/2″ from ends (6 cm)
  • Extra Small: 2″ from ends (5 cm)

Edge-stitch inwards from the end to the pencil mark:

Stop, turn, stitch back down to the end:

Repeat on the opposite side.

This is a good stopping point. When I am making masks in volume, I stitch them up to this point, and make a stack before going on to the next steps.

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SHAPE THE MASK:

The origami folding is tricky to explain, however once you’ve done it a few times it will become automatic. There’s a 1-minute video on my Instagram page showing how to do these folds. (Right-click to open in new window).

Place your mask on a flat surface with the filter-opening facing UP. From the top corner, measure down along the unfinished side:

  • Large: 2″ (9 cm)
  • Medium: 1 3/4″ (7.5 cm)
  • Small: 1 5/8″ (6 cm)
  • Extra Small: 1 3/8″ (5 cm)

NOTE: Depending on the thickness of the fabric you are using, the corner fold-down measurement could be a bit more or less.

Fold down a triangle of fabric from the corner and finger-press:

Next fold down the entire top edge, using the lower edge of the triangle as your guide:

The following step is to fold half of that back up again. To do this, look at where the diagonal fold-line intersects the horizontal seam-line and fold there:

……then you push the fabric in your fingers over slightly until the fold line is parallel to the raw edge of the fabric:

Pin here to hold the shape in place until you stitch it down:

Repeat with the bottom corner, folding UP the corner triangle:

Using the triangle as a guide, fold UP the bottom edge of the fabric:

Then fold half of it back DOWN, and push the fabric over so that it is parallel to the raw edge side:

Repeat the folding and pinning with the other side, then you are ready to stitch into place.

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STITCHING THE FOLDS:

Stitch just to the left of the folds, removing pins as you go:

These extensions will be turned into casings to hold the ear elastics:

Flip over:

…..and overlock (or zigzag) the ends:

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ELASTIC:

For elastic to loop behind ears: cut 2 pieces of 1/4″ (.6 cm) elastic:

  • Large: 14″ (35 cm)
  • Medium: 13″ (33 cm)
  • Small: 12″ (30 cm)
  • Extra Small: 11″ (28 cm)

Overlap ends and zigzag to secure:

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…..making loops:

Tuck the thread ends of each extension into the triangle pleats:

Place elastic overlap onto fabric extension:

Fold the outside edge inwards (over the elastic) to meet the previous stitching line:

Stitch into place, being careful to not stitch onto the elastic….this way it can be removed and replaced if the stretch wears out:

It should look like this from the outside:

The elastic loops are purposely left long for adjustment:

You can make a loose loop-tie before distributing your masks:

Your mask is now ready for use, either on its own (for non-medical personnel) or with a 3″x7″ disposable surgeon mask inserted:

Stay safe out there! Best, Janet

PS: This mask pattern can also be used with single ties or double ties:

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2 Comments

  • Theresa in Tucson

    I just made up one of these yesterday. Lately, the masks I have made so far are all too flimsy with no air pocket in front of the mouth. I put a non-woven Pellon interfacing in the latest Origami mask and was pleasantly surprised. I have an appointment outside the house this morning and I’m going to give it a good trial run and then a wash when I get home. If it holds up well I will be making more. Thanks for the tutorial.

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