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Assiut Mask Project: Part 2 – Materials Prep

After I made an estimate of how much assiut I have available, I calculated how many masks I could make with my in-house supply of scraps, parts, and leftover pieces.  I estimated I could make about 50 masks, so I took orders up to that point, and then started a “wish list” just in case I hand enough for a few more.

Once I gathered all of the necessary materials and supplies, it was time to get to work prepping the various bits and pieces to streamline the construction process.  If I’m making one piece, or a few things, I will often just cut, sew, and finish all in one flow.  But because I am making more than 50 masks, I wanted to prep the materials in a batch. Planning an assembly line for these masks will reduce the number of times I have to change the thread color in my machine.

Wire Prep

To help these masks conform to the unique contours of each face, I use a length of wire in a casing that goes over the bridge of the nose. I’ve experimented a bit with the wire I had on hand and decided that 1mm or 18 gauge silver-toned jewelry craft wire works the best. I ordered a large spool via Amazon. I chose solid aluminum that will be easy to handle and resists tarnishing and rust.

After examining my samples, I decided that 6″ was not only a comfortable length, it was easy to cut using a 6″ ruler and a pair of side-cutting pliers. I have large hands, so I have a pair similar to these pliers.  Once all 50 pieces were cut, I used a large pair of round nose pliers or rosary pliers to put a loop on both ends of the wire. This helps the wire move smoothly through the casing and prevents it from poking the wearer.

If you don’t have jewelry tools in your arsenal, I recommend starting out with a simple affordable kit like this one or this one.  A cheap and cheerful set will allow you to experiment and figure out what you really like and need.  I started with an affordable kit from Michaels that I still keep around for when I have friends over.  But I’ve slowly upgraded to more premium quality and larger sized tools over the years.

Elastic Prep

The next mission was to prep the elastic for the ear loops.  For my adult size pattern, I use 5″ elastic for the loops.  I already had a large spool of 1/4″ or 6mm black elastic on hand so I just grabbed out the spool and started cutting. When it’s time to restock I’ll just repurchase this 50-yard spool.  My brother who runs Wicked Mojo Designs uses this same size elastic for his wooden finger cymbals and he prefers to search out deals on eBay.

Cutting Cotton Base Fabric

The next project on the agenda is cutting out the cotton base fabrics that will line the assiut masks.  While I’m going to fussy-cut the assiut to get the maximum amount of silver into each mask, the goal with the base fabric is to maximize the number of masks, minimize the waste and still preserve the appropriate grainline.

The tools I use for cutting include:

  • Pattern – I cut a fresh pattern from a manilla envelope so the edges are nice and smooth for a precise line.
  • Chalk – I prefer to use classic tailor’s chalk to mark my cotton fabric. I keep an assortment of colors available which will come in handy as I move through this project. I recommend investing in a multi-color chalk set like this if you do a lot of sewing.
  • Ruler – Essential for positioning the pattern pieces on the optimal grain line.  Although I’m including an Amazon link for this ruler, I got mine from Joann’s with a coupon!
  • Scissors – I’m using my good Gingher shears to cut the cotton.  For the assiut, I’ll be using the black-handled Kai shears that I’ve dedicated to cutting through the metal stitches in assiut.
  • Pins – My pin box actually holds pins and I prefer to use yellow-headed Dritz quilting pins.  They are long and easy to spot when working on projects.

Not shown is a rotary cutter and self-healing mat that I use to trim and modify the assiut pieces.

Next Step – Next Post

In the next post, I’ll be sharing my order of construction for this project.  I’ll also share some of my strategies for planning the layout of the assiut patterns, piecing, and fussy-cutting to use the materials to the best advantage.  In the meantime, I’ve got a bunch of cotton to cut!

If you’re interested in joining the conversation about sewing, costume, business, and design, follow this link to my Facebook group.  Or catch me on Instagram.

I hope that all of your sewing and costuming
adventures are fun and fruitful!
Best of luck in all things,

Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Friday, July 10, 2020

PS – if you follow and use any of the links I really appreciate it!  These affiliate links help keep the content on this blog free and flowing.  Thank you for your support!  ~ Davina.

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