The Valami: A Better Fitting Face Mask

Cover-Valami Face Mask Patternv1.1Valli Schiller and I have created a better fitting face mask, and it’s called The Valami. It sounds more like a sub sandwich, but it makes more sense when you know that the “VAL” comes from Valli and the “AMI” comes from (wait for it…) Ami. So, Valami. I suppose it could have been The Amlli, or The Avalli, but those just don’t roll off the tongue. Valami. It rhymes with salami, which is probably why you were thinking sub sandwich in the first place.  The name may not be inspired, but the mask certainly is.

We wanted a mask that was adjustable, fit a variety of different faces without gaps, and had a pocket for filtration media. We also wanted different ways to tie it on your head, so in addition to the 4-string model, there is a “headband” style too, which I am modeling here. (Thank you, Marsha McCloskey for that idea!) 01AmiSideFloppedWe have found that the headband style is especially accommodating for sewers who don’t want to sew fabric ties. They are substituting all sorts of things (T-shirt strips, paracord, boot laces, elastic, braided linguini) to keep from having to sew ties. OK, I made up that last one, but never underestimate the creative abilities of our fellow quilters. (And I’m going to show you how to sew those ties in just a minute so you can save your linguine for a nice meat sauce. Just hang with me a little while longer.)

01AmiFrontThe Valami has an optional wire nosepiece to minimize the gaps around your nose. That prevents glasses from fogging up. Our mask also fits over an N95 respirator. Keeping them covered may help to extend their lifespan. The Valami is also yawn proof. Your nose won’t pop out if you yawn. (That is SO embarrassing.)  Plus, the gently curving mask top keeps it from creeping up to your lower eyelids and is still easy to sew. If you were wondering if you can wear a Valami mask and stick out your tongue without anyone being the wiser, the answer is YES! (Look very carefully at my picture. That’s why I’m smiling.) Facial recognition on your phone won’t work while wearing a Valami, so make sure you know your passcode before you suit up and go out into the world.

Let me also state the obvious, wearing a cloth home-made face mask won’t keep you from getting COVID-19. You still have to social distance, stay away from people who might be sick, and wash your hands like crazy. Wearing a mask will, however, help you keep your germs to yourself. It’s a “courtesy mask” and will help others from getting sick. Click here to read an excellent article on why you should wear a mask and how to sort out and make sense of your risks.

I’m sure by now you have clicked all the links, downloaded the pattern four times, and read through every step. Didn’t notice the link? Here it is again:

Valli and I really did try to think of everything:  features, sewing techniques, what to include with the mask when you gift it, and the proper way to don and doff your mask. But it occurred to me, as I keep making masks, that there are still some tips I can share.

1. Unplug your iron. After prepping your fabric, you really don’t need it. You won’t be pressing pleats and you don’t need to burn your fingertips off making the ties. (Still more on ties coming up.)

Hemming Pocket-Lining2. Here’s a sneaky way to hem the Pocket Lining. Wing it. I found it was faster if didn’t mark or press the quarter inch hem. I just folded over what looked like a quarter inch to me, folded again, and sewed it down. See the video here. I realized my 1/4″ hems were a tad chubby so now I cut the width 7-3/4″ instead of 7-1/2″. I have not yet been struck by lightning. (Please don’t tell Valli.)

Template3. Rather than print five patterns, pin them, and cut around the paper patterns for each mask, make a template. Print one copy of the pattern. Glue stick it to a piece of chipboard (thin cardboard), cereal box, plastic template material, etc. Cut out the pattern.

(Here’s an affiliate link for the chipboard and other supplies for mask making on Amazon for which I may earn a little something should you purchase.)

Punch HolesIf you’re lucky enough to have a 1/8″ hole punch, use that to put holes in all the dots.

needle punch holesIt won’t reach to the diamonds in the middle of the pattern, so drop your needle through those. needle punch pushThen push the template up the needle shank as high as it will go. Ta-DA! A hole!

TemplateTracing CuttingUsing a template eliminates a lot of pinning. Click here to watch the video and learn how to use the template, cut the straight sides of the mask with a rotary cutter, snip the mask to make pleating easier, and how to insert a pin that will stay put until you pull it out.

Sew 5 masks to strip4. Chain piecing onto a binding strip, instead of cutting 10″ segments, will speed things along when sewing the bottom (chin) side of the masks. If you leave about 1/2″ between masks, you can fit all five masks on one 1-1/4″ x WOF strip! Click here to watch me show you how. Do sew the chin side first like it says in the pattern, especially if you will be putting in the optional wire nosepiece along the top of the mask, otherwise it’s a little unwieldy. You can also sew four masks along the top edge to one 1-1/4″ x WOF strip. That’s still better than one at a time.

Optional Wire5. Speaking of nosepieces, I happened to find a #3 old style Bernina buttonhole foot that fits beautifully over the 18 gauge copper wire. If you have a machine like I do, adjust the needle position to the far right, and set the zigzagging to 3. Pop the wire into the groove on the right side of the foot and give it a try.  Watch here.

Sewing Ties on Valami mask6. Finally. Here’s how to sew the ties without ironing or pinning. Watch. Fold, tug a little, sweep raw edges in the fold with your index finger.

Valli and I hope you try the Valami Mask pattern. After you do, show off your mask on our facebook group. You’ll feel right at home.

If you received this in your email inbox and find that the links are not clickable, click the title up above (The Valami: A Better Fitting Face Mask) and that will take you to my website where all the links will be clickable.)

The Valami Mask was created by Valli Schiller and Ami Simms. Get the free pattern at


Be safe,

Ami :)   (affiliate link)

25 thoughts on “The Valami: A Better Fitting Face Mask

  1. This looks great, but… Pattern link returns to full instructions. Over and over. Printing the photo of the pattern makes it too big, and it will be a pain to reduce it so the inches match the cutting mat in the photo. Please send link to printable pattern! Thank you! Margaret Avery



    1. Hi Margaret, the pattern link opens a PDF file. The pattern itself is on page 18. What you want to do is print, selecting just page 18. That would be in the printer dropdown menu. Make sure you also select 100% in the size. Let me know if that works.


  2. Happy to find another of your newsletters in my in box.  I’ve missed them.  How is Scooter doing.  I miss hearing about him as well. I’ve made on of your masks with tons of mistakes. But I learned from all of them.  I was out of commission for about a year because of cornea transplants.  So a lot of my problems were trying to remember how to use my machine .  Every one loves it and I already have 5 people who want one.  I’m sure glad it goes together fast because I need to make more for all the health care folks who need them.  You and Valli really did great.

    Cynthia Green


    1. Glad you’re happy to hear from me. Scooter is fine. Did you hear him on the last video? Glad you got a good response to the mask you made.


  3. My bad. I found the pattern. I’d whizzed past it too fast before, I guess. Tomorrow I’ll give it a shot.



  4. Thanks for this pattern and the tips. I made 20 of these this weekend for staff in my son’s office. They really work nicely. Your extra tips are great.


  5. Can you give measurements for a child’s mask. I think kids would wear this as very comfortable. Please?!!


  6. Hi Ami,
    I am so glad to find you again. Years ago, you let me interview you for an article on Quilts and Quilting for the Fllint Journal. What an inspiration! I’ve made quilts for each of the grandchildren as graduation gifts and am now putting finishing touches on a (gasp) King size quilt for my granddaughter and her husband. You are so gifted and have s such an open loving heart. Thanks for your inspiration. I’ll get the pattern and make some masks.
    God bless you in all you do. – Jean Clarkson


    1. Hello Jean! How wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for the kind words. (I was pretty tickled to get interviewed!) So happy you’re quilting up a storm! Glad you’ll be making some Valami Face Masks too!


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