How to make a mask

How to make a mask

Melbourne Girls Grammar boarders have always been a special bunch. With a school history of over 127 years, there are never ending tales of the amazing feats of boarders.  

Though the house itself is now more modern, the spirit of the boarders is the same. Our boarders are strong, independent and confident young women. They look to the world beyond their own to educate themselves and find opportunities to give back.  

Georgina in Year 11, or George as she prefers, learnt to sew from her mother and maternal grandmother. She received her first sewing machine and at age 8 was a competent sewer. When our Grammarians learned of the new rules regarding face coverings, George put her sewing skills to good use to make masks for her fellow boarding house residents and staff.  

Thanks to the onsite sewing room in the Boarding House, where Lorna has worked for 44 years mending hems and teaching Grammarians to sew on buttons, George was able to scavenge some recycled material to use. Fellow Boarders Fiona in Year 11 and Nindhi in Year 9 were able to lend a hand cutting fabric, while staff member Erin found a pattern online and another staff member, Alex, jumped in to help with the small operation.  

“I love to sew, and for me it’s extremely therapeutic. Though I had to balance homework and sleep, I had a great time managing the project,” said George. “We did run out of elastic at one point and it was tricky trying to get some more, but we kept going because it was something fun to do, and people needed the masks.” 

Together, they made more than enough masks for everyone around them and distributed them wherever they were needed. Some staff have offered to help pay for more material as George isn’t accepting any money for her efforts. 

“This is just one example of how creative and motivated our boarders are,” said Amanda Haggie Director of Boarding. “Someone proposes an idea, launches it and everyone jumps on board to help and offer their skills and advice. They’re an amazing collaborative group.” 

These are the steps George used to make the Olsen style masks for anyone who’d prefer a fun homemade reusable option. 

Step by Step Guide: 

  1. Acquire material that is compliant with the Department of Health and Human Services requirements for mask material, this includes an outer layer of polyester, middle layer of cotton polyester blend and an inner layer of cotton.  
  2. Fold material in half, place right sides together and cut out one pattern piece. This should result in two pieces per fabric type and six overall. 
  3. Sandwich outer layer (polyester) right sides together with the middle layer (polyester cotton blend) on the outside. This layering should be middle, outer, outer, middle.  
  4. Pin along the curved edge and sew down this seam leaving approximately 3/4cm seam allowance.  
  5. Separately place inner material right sides together and sew this seam the same as previously. You should now have two pieces with a seam on the curved edge.  
  6. Open out both pieces keeping them inside out, place the two face pieces together (outer, middle and inner). Pin along the top and bottom of the mask and sew leaving a 3/4cm seam allowance. NOTE: do not sew the short side seams, if preferred slightly trim down seam allowance to reduce bulk. 
  7. Using these open side seams flip the mask right sides out. 
  8. Fold in the raw edges and sew 1cm away from edge leaving a channel for the elastic.  
  9. Optional step: Top stich along the top and bottom of the mask leaving the channel open. 
  10. Thread your elastic through the channel and measure length needed for each person. If you do not know, use approximately 15cm of elastic per ear.  
  11. Tie elastic to fit face and cut off excess. 
  12. You may want to wash the mask prior to use, if so handwash or place in machine in a delicates bag on a cold gentle cycle. Do not tumble dry. 
  13. Wash in between each wear and enjoy. 

Download the pattern and guide