Assiut Mask Project: Part 4 – Orders & Shipping

Hello gang!

At the time of this writing, this project is in full swing. I’m using scraps and left-over bits and pieces of assiut, I will run out of fabric very soon! This project is really using scraps, so most of the pieces are smaller than the mask pattern I developed back in April.  Click through to this blog post if you would like to download the pattern in .pdf form.

Adapting the Pattern

Because I’m working with smaller pieces and scraps, I found making a few pattern variations has helped me use up some of the smaller pieces.  This purple assiut fabric was purchased to make assiut hair flowers

Read the “Assiut Hair Flower” blog post here

On this portion of an assiut shawl, the embroidered motifs are quite widely placed and sparse. To maximize the amount of silver on the bra, I created a two-piece pattern that would place the larger motif in part A and a diamond on part B.

Managing The List

This started off as a very low-key project that I didn’t advertise. I didn’t want to do a big build of masks to put them up on Etsy.  I simply wanted to use up scraps, bits, and pieces to make a practical, yet lovely, pieces for my friends in dance.

WHEW – did I underestimate demand?!?

I had over 100 requests for masks within a week of the first pictures showing up in my Facebook Group.  I made a simple hand-written list in my Studio Davina Log Book with names and fabric preferences.  This list got pretty darned long!  So, I broke this list into batches and started working down the list in order.  This week, I’ll be working on batch #3 and possibly cutting and organizing batch #4.

Order Processing Workflow

Here’s my order process:

  1. Make a batch of assorted colored masks
  2. Take photos with large numbers
  3. Reach out via messages to people on the list with 2-4 options
  4. Once they have selected their mask, tag it with their name – Old-school with a scrap of paper and pin
  5. Message them with payment instructions
  6. Check PayPal to confirm payment
  7. Ship

Each order includes a thank you card, directions insert, and the mask they chose.  We are shipping using United States Postal Service with classic stamps. I can simply leave them for pickup by my mailman.  For those folks living in town, they are welcome to stop by my place for a porch pick up.

Back to the Sewing Machine

And so I leave you here, my friends, as I need to head back to the sewing machine to make a whole pile of more masks.  If you would like to read the previous posts in the series, check out the list below. If you are making masks, I wish you great luck and good fortune!

Happy Costuming (and mask making!)
Dawn Devin ~ Davina
August 3, 2020

This is the fourth blog post in the series:

Post 1: Assiut Mask Project: Part 1 – Project Planning
Post 2: Assiut Mask Project: Part 2 – Materials Prep
Post 3: Assiut Mask Project: Part 3 – Order of Construction

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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

Permalink: https://www.davina.us/blog/2020/07/assiut-mask-project-part-3-order-of-construction/

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 Amazon.com 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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