Valli 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!) We 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.)
The 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: https://www.BestDIYFaceMask.org
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.)
2. 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.)
3. 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.)
If you’re lucky enough to have a 1/8″ hole punch, use that to put holes in all the dots.
It won’t reach to the diamonds in the middle of the pattern, so drop your needle through those. Then push the template up the needle shank as high as it will go. Ta-DA! A hole!
Using 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
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 https://www.BestDIYFaceMask.org