Felt Masks: A Quick Costume Change

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All Images: Sarah Pinault

There are many ways in which people attempt to leave the narrow confines of their world. Some people read, these days most people blog, some like to sit in the woods looking for fairies, to each their own. I find that in my everyday normal life, I often have cause to step out of myself for a moment, and when I do it is handy to have a disguise on hand. Whether it be for a quick costume change to aid a getaway, or an impromptu street performance, I find the face mask to be an ingenious tool of disguise for everyday wear. My children tend to agree, my co-workers less so.

The base of the most flexible yet sturdy face mask is three layers of felt. Much like the perfect omelet, two will suffice but three is so much better. With a piece of elastic, some hot glue, and embellishments you will be ready to take on any situation.

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You will need:

Felt pieces
1/4 inch elastic
A sewing machine and/or hot glue gun

Here are patterns for the masks I find most consistently useful:

Dapper Man
If you are called into afternoon tea unexpectedly, this can be used to cover up any misadventures of the morning.

Pirate—fully ocular
The addition of a patch would make this a 2-for-1 costume change. Be advised that your pet will also need a parrot mask in order to complete your disguise.

Zombie
The placement of brains and scars should be to your preference. I prefer my frontal lobe to be exposed on the left side, but adjust according to taste. With the Zombie mask, I like to attach the hair piece with red thread, this more appropriately resembles the blood seeping from the brain.

Robot
A pattern has been provided for a very symmetrical robot, but this mask may be decorated as you will. Be warned that with the addition of too many controls, you run the risk of your own consciousness being assimilated into the robot hive mind.

DSCI0892There are several methods by which these masks may be constructed. Hand stitching would certainly be an option, but is rather laborious. Unless you are channeling your inner pioneer I would not advise this method. The sewing machine produces the most sturdy masks, ones that can be washed with more urgency—useful when on an undercover zombie killing spree. I find that a sewing machine/glue gun combo works best for me, even after accidentally gluing one of them to the table and burning myself rather badly.

The first step when making any mask is to print out the pattern and test it for size. The mask plans included here work well on a child or an adult, but if you need to space the eye sockets differently, or prefer more facial coverage, then increasing the size at which you print should give you your preferred look.

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DSCI0905For the most part, the base of the mask will always be constructed first and independently of the details, though you can adjust this according to your preference for glue gun or sewing machine. In the construction of the base you will be attaching the elastic strap and defining the eye sockets.

Position the three layers of felt together. Begin to sew as pictured in the instructions, with a starting point three quarters of the way up your right eye (facing out).

When you reach the same position on the left eye, you will insert the elastic about a quarter inch in and continue to sew.
DSCI0893As you approach your starting point, insert the other end of the elastic and sew the mask together, ending your stitched over the elastic.

Sew around the eye sockets.

Trim any excess felt caused by shifting materials. With the Zombie mask be careful not to cut off the sunken eye, in this case excess is the effect you are going for.

Most of the details are best attached after the main mask has been constructed—by hot glue gun or by hand stitching if you have the patience. You can opt to run them through the machine, but the smaller pieces will often get stuck. Again all bets are off with the Zombie mask, as a crumpled up piece of felt with excess thread bunched up might actually be an advantage. For Dapper Man this will never do.

You are now ready for the Zombie apocalypse or afternoon tea, whichever comes first.