Assiut/Assuit Costuming DIY General

Assiut Mask Project: Part 3 – Order of Construction

Are you the kind of person who reads directions for a pattern first?   Perhaps you like to dive in and figure it out, only referring to the directions in times of need?   Or are you like me, rarely using commercial patterns so you have to figure out how to sew things together on your own?

Studio Davina - Assiut Masks part 3 - www.davina.usOrder of Construction

When I was in fashion school, back before the turn of the century, I learned to make an Order of Construction list so I could hand off garments for other people to construct.  Later, when I was working in the theater, the skill of creating an order of construction list helped me move up the ladder from simile seamstress to first hand, and up to cutter/draper. As a pattern maker, knowing how to create an effective order of construction list can save lots of time and energy.  Once you have a basic construction order for a particular type of garment or accessory, you could use the same list even if there were changes in dimensions.

There’s more than one way to sew the right way.  This means that the way you put a mask together might be very different from my approach. But that’s just fine because the final result is that you create something beautiful, sturdy, good fitting, and functional.

“Big Picture” list

In my process, I like to start with a generalized overview that includes basic steps that I need to take regardless of my project.  While there are times that I might leave out one of these steps, or even add one in, this list covers most of my bases.

  • Make the Pattern
  • Construct Sample and Fit Test
  • Finalize Pattern
  • Create the Order of Construction list
  • Calculate fabric, notions, and findings
  • Source materials
  • Fabric and Materials Prep
  • Cutting
  • Sewing
  • Finishing

Detailed Oder of Construction

From this overview, I am going to drill down to the “Sewing” portion of the list.  Since I charge by the hour for my design and construction services, knowing how long it takes me for each step of the process will allow me to create accurate estimates for my clients.

However, for this mask project, I’m making quite a few (over 50!) and so I need to know exactly how long it takes.  Having a detailed “Order of Construction” helps me record my time trials and maintain consistent product manufacturing.

  1. Sew center fronts
  2. Turn, trim and press
  3. Put right sides together, sew the top and bottom seams
  4. Turn right side out
  5. Press
  6. Stitch casing line along the top edge for wire
  7. Slip wire into place and crip at center
  8. Press seam allowances in at ends
  9. Pin elastic into place and topstitch
  10. Trim all threads and give a final press

Making Masks

One of the nice things about having a detailed order of construction is that I can then share how I put my patterns together with other folks.  I’ve made some modifications and additions to the construction details I originally published in my Mask Pattern and Guide last April.

Can I Buy a Mask?

Unfortunately, this was a “use it up” project, using scraps and leftover bits and pieces from the build for my book “Cloth of Egypt.”  When the supplies are gone – they are gone, and as of this writing, I have more “wish list” than fabric left.

However, if you love these masks, why not make your own?  My last assiut purchase was from Desirees Treasures on Etsy and you can get some high-quality fabric from her store.  You can look around for some ready-made assiut masks as other designers are making them.  Also, check out the beautiful faux-assiut Festival Masks designed by Melodia.  Photo by my co-author Alisha Westerfeld, visit her Smugmug to see more of her photos.

No matter how you choose to mask – be safe and healthy!
Best of luck on your sewing adventures,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
July 20, 2020

By Davina

Davina ~ Dawn Devine is a belly dance costume designer, dance instructor and author of more than a dozen publications on Middle Eastern dance.