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Assiut Mask Project: Part 1 – Project Planning

Back in April, I started making cotton masks for my friends and friends here in the Bay Area. At that time, we had no idea how long we would need to wear these trendy fashion accessories.  I wrote a blog post about it and included a link to a pattern and some basic directions. Click on the photo to the right or read the past blog post here

However, as time has passed, it’s become clear that we will be wearing masks for quite some time and perhaps it’s time to glam it up a bit!  So I pulled out two bins of parts and pieces, scraps and off-cuts from past costuming projects.  The result, enough assiut scraps to make quite a few masks!

Making Assiut Masks

I recently shared a photo of a group of masks I made on commission. Several folks in social media noticed this lovely purple assiut mask.

First one, then a couple, and then many people have inquired if I have assiut masks for sale. After much thought, and knowing we will be wearing masks for a long time, I’ve decided to press ahead and take some mask commissions.

Over the next weeks, I’ll be taking you along on the process of planning and organizing a new product.  

Product Ideation

The first step is coming up with the idea. This is the first step for every project I create. This spring, as I watched the unfolding health crisis, I wanted to help in some small way, so I designed and made a mask pattern.  My goal was to made masks for my family and friends. But as I worked, I decided that to share the mask pattern with everyone. If you need to make a mask please give this pattern a try.  You can use as a starting point for creative exploration, to perfect their own cut and fit, and if you are inclined, to use to make your own masks for sale. I released my pattern to the public domain. You can find the pattern and a .pdf with basic directions. They are available for download here.

In a nutshell, here is the process:

  • Identify a Need – In this case, it’s cotton masks for health protection.
  • Design Research – How areother people making this product?
  • Draft a Pattern & make samples to perfect the fit.
  • Make a Test Batch, give to beta testers to get feedback.
  • Refine the Pattern – Use the feedback to perfect your final pattern.

Materials List

Now that I’ve decided to make a large batch of masks for sale, my next step is choosing the materials and supplies for the project. These are not “medical grade” masks, and offer the basic protection that 100% cotton masks can provide.

  • Assiut Cloth – Using Scraps from past costuming and sewing projects
  • Cotton Backing – This layer needs to be 100% cotton in a coordinating color
  • 18 or 20 gauge Wire – This wire will go over the bridge of the nose for a customized fit
  • 1/4″ Elastic – These masks are designed for over the ear wear
  • Coordinating Thread – Check to make sure that all colors are in stock

Inventory & Shopping List

After I figured out what fabric, supplies and notions I need to produce this product, I conduct an inventory.  The mission is to use as many supplies on hand to clear out my studio!  The only things I need are:

  • Cotton Backing – I need to pick up some colors I don’t have on hand and I’m choosing to shop at an independent local store – Eddies Quilting Bee.
  • Thread – I need two colors of thread that I don’t have on hand and I hope Eddies has the colors I need in stock, otherwise, it’s off to Joann’s
  • Wire – I have a lot on hand am not sure if I will go use my stash.  I’m leaving it on the list as a potential need.  If I do need this, I will look for a coupon and pick it up at Michaels.

Other things I need include a box of Thank You cards to use as my primary shipping method.  I can send a mask in a gift card for only 1 first class step with an additional .25 extra ounce stamp.  For the people who wanted to pick up a book at the same time, I already have mailers in my stash.

Calculating Pricing 

Once I have a list of the costs of materials, I work through a sample as a time test.  I use the product log that comes as part of the Studio Log.

I pay attention to how long it takes me to make several masks and I find the average time and mark it down to calculate my labor. Each mask takes me approximately 45 minutes to go from layout and cutting to ready to mail.  I calculated these masks on a $20 an hour rate, making my labor costs $15.

Since I’m using upcycled scraps of assiut, I’m not including that cost in production.  But I am including the cost of all the other basic supplies that I will need to purchase for the studio.

You can see that I’ve included in the “Expenses” section the shipping supplies.  I picked up a pack of 48 Thank You notes to ship individual masks.  And I’ve already got a bunch of stamps but I know I will run out and buy more.  When I am ready to purchase stamps, I’ll be sure to note that in the Product Log.

In the next post, I’ll share the next phases of this project!
Best of luck in all of your design projects,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
July 1, 2020

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