Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Operation Lights Out June 2015

Operation Lights Out June 2015 is complete!

I was asked by my Sister-In-Law if I would make and donate some sleep mask for her youth residents at Casa Q in Northern New Mexico. Casa Q’s mission is to provide safe living options and services for LGBTQ youth who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Casa Q provides a spectrum of services to displaced LGBTQ youth.
To find out more, visit: www.casaq.org

After much trial and error, I finally came up with a pattern for an adjustable sleep mask using Velcro straps instead of the elastic straps. They are lined with black fleece on the back, super comfy and make it completely dark. This here is my picture tutorial to make one sleep mask. Please, if there are any errors, typos, or tips that would make it easier, please let me know!

Things you will need:

A strip of fabric measuring at least 5" X 18".
A strip of black fleece measuring 9" X 5".
Black thread
Black Velcro strip - there are two parts to Velcro - one grippy/hooky hard part (trim to 1") and one soft/fuzzy part (trim to 2.5") 
Straight pins
A pen or such to mark the fabric where you will add the straps
Mask template printed out and cut out - make sure the width of the printout measures 8.75" across the widest part
Freezer paper - optional if making more than one sleep mask- trace mask template onto freezer paper and cut out
Chopstick or purple thing to turn out the corners
A cheater needle - self threading needle - it is a must have if you don't have... A regular needle will also work
Sewing machine
Vacuum - optional
When printing out template, first save the above image save to the computer by right clicking on the image and selecting save image. Open MS Word, insert picture, and use the ruler on the sides of the word program to make sure the widest part (top to bottom) measures 8.75 inches. Then print.

Cutting your pieces:

From the 5" X 18" strip of fabric, cut a piece measuring 8.75" X 5". The rest will be used for the face part of the mask.

Cut the 8.75" strip in half and you are left with two strips measuring 8.75" X 2.5" each. These will be used as the straps for the mask.

Iron the freezer paper, shinny side to the fabric. **In the beginning, I was pinning my paper template printout to the fabric, but I found it easier to iron the freezer paper to the fabric and cut it out. Once it was cut out, I just peeled the freezer paper off and reused the freezer paper for the next mask.** Mark the two lines from the template onto the fabric - this will be where you place your straps. I used a pen that disappears when heat is applied.

Assembling your pieces:

Fold and press each of the strips in half lengthwise, with the right side on the inside of the press.

On each strip, sew a quarter inch seam along the long side and one short side, taking care to back stitch at the start and stop of your sewing, making a tube with one end closed.

Using the chopstick, push the short seam into the tube and push out the corners. 

Invert the tubes completely.

Press the tubes flat with the iron, taking care to make sure the seam is all the way out of the tube. It helped me to work the seam while the fabric was wet, moving it back and forth between my thumb and forefinger. Set straps aside.

Take the fleece and lay it on the table. My fleece had two distinct sides, one long fuzzy side, one short fuzzy side. Whichever side you prefer to be against your face, lay that side face up. Fold the straps and pin them inwards, raw edge pointing outward, to the right side of the mask fabric. Take care to line them up centered with your markings and the straps folded as pictured, so that you only sew over the raw opened end of the strap.

Lay the mask with straps pinned inwards onto the fleece, right side of the mask to the fleece. Pin fleece and mask together, but leaving a gap along the top of the mask. It helped me to pin the nose bridge area, taking care to make sure the straps were not in the way of my sewing area around the nose bridge.

Sew with a quarter inch seam around the mask, leaving a 2" to 2.5" gap a the top of the mask. Make sure you back stitch at the start and stop of your sewing.

Trim excess fleece around the mask. **This was my first time working with fleece and I found it VERY useful to have a small hand vacuum handy after I cut the fleece. I let the vacuum suck along the edges of the fleece to get all of the cut fuz. Just take extra care in holding onto your fleece so that it does NOT get sucked up into the vacuum as well.**

*as a side note, clip your rounded seams - it will lay flat better.

Reach into the gap at the top of the mask and pull the straps out to invert the mask. Use the chopstick to push the seams out. Flatten as well as you are able.

Fold in the raw edges of the fleece and fabric to make a seam, and pin the edges together.

Sew with an eighth inch seam around, leaving enough thread on top and bottom to have a tail. Before you get around to your start spot, pull up the bottom thread to the top of the fabric. End in the same manner by pulling your bottom thread to the top. There is no need to back stitch.

Tie two square knots; one on the start threads and one on the end threads. **I will always remember how to tie a square knot from girls camp, "right over left, left over right."**
Using your cheater needle we will 'hide' the thread ends and square knots. To do so, place your needle in the fabric where the thread came out (the hole closest to the knot), taking care to slide the needle between the fabric and fleece and up through the fabric like pictured. Pop the thread into the needle's V and pull the thread through the fabric. I always hear/feel a pop when the square knot pops down below the fabric. Trim off the excess thread.

Attaching the Velcro:

Lay the mask out on the table with fleece side down, fabric side up. On the TOP of the left strap you will sew around your 1" grippy/hooky hard part of your Velcro, back stitching at the start and stop. Trim excess threads. On the BOTTOM of the right strap you will sew around your 2.5" soft/fuzzy part of your Velcro, back stitching at your start and stop. Trim excess thread.
I added Velcro opposite my directions on red mask. It doesn't really matter which side you add the grippy/hooky hard part to, as long as it is on the face up side and the other soft/fuzzy part is on the bottom side.

Try the mask on for a good measure. Just take care to not walk around while wearing the mask. It will be dark. 

Fuzzy back side...


  1. Excellent directions, Paco! Once I get some black fleece, I will be sure to try the pattern. Thank you for making this!