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Fabric Mask Challenge: Can Team Silhouette School Make 47,684 Masks Together?

Fabric masks have become the one of the main ways Silhouette crafters have found they can help during the Covid 19 pandemic.


The free fabric mask patterns we have on our sister site So Fontsy and the free sewing pattern in the Silhouette store have been downloaded tens of thousands of times. The start to finish face mask assembly tutorial has been read more than 52,000 times in just two weeks and the Silhouette School Facebook Live videos on making masks and mask clips have been watched a total of more than 650,000 times. Plus - I've seen the masks you're making so I know we've become an army of crafters cutting fabric with our Silhouette CAMEO machines and sewing as fast as we can..and I am so proud of us!

But we need to keep going so now I have a challenge for you! 

With stay at home orders being lifted soon in some states, protective face coverings in public are one of the best ways to prevent spreading the virus and protecting yourself.  That means EVERYONE should have a mask...which means we need A LOT of masks!

Let's see if WE as Silhouette School can cut and sew more masks than the current number of US deaths due (as of 4/23) to this awful virus. In other words - can our little crafting community do everything in our power to help SAVE more lives than those already lost? I know we can!

Today I'm so excited to announce the Silhouette School Fabric Mask Challenge! Our goal is to make 47,684 masks by May 15. Here's how this works...and some tips on you how can make homemade fabric masks as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I have created what's basically a one question survey. All you have to do is enter the number of masks you've made. You can do it from this blog post or click on this link to go directly to the form if it's not working below. Also, you can change or update your response at any time and as many times as you need to.


On May 15 I will tally the total number of masks! I'll also provide an update at the end of April so we know if we're on track!

Are you in for the Silhouette School Fabric Mask Challenge?

Tips to Making Fabric Masks Faster with Silhouette

I'm going to give you some hints to crank out masks as efficiently and fast as possible along with some resources if you're new to cutting fabric with Silhouette or new to sewing. And as a reminder, the full start to finish fabric face mask assembly directions can be found here.

Oh, and even if you don't or can't sew, you can still help so keep reading!

sewing, fabric, fabric mask, rotary blade, mini press

Use a Silhouette CAMEO 4 Rotary Blade for Speed and Ease of Cutting

The good news is Silhouette CAMEO 4 with Rotary Blade Bundles and 15" CAMEO Pro Bundles with Rotary Blades are FINALLY back. At this time, individual Rotary Blades are not available, but you can go to SwingDesign.com and sign up to get in stock notifications and you'll get an email as soon as they are available.  Remember a Rotary Blade can ONLY be used in a CAMEO 4 or CAMEO Plus.

sewing, fabric, fabric mask, rotary blade, orders with rotary blades will move to the front of the shipping and processing line

The Rotary Blade can cut fabric without any type of stabilizer so you can literally just slap a piece of fabric on your cutting mat and cut - no fabric stabilizer required. This helps significantly with the speed and ease of cutting fabric on the Silhouette CAMEO 4 and CAMEO 4 Plus.  If you need a beginner Silhouette rotary blade tutorial to cut fabric, here's a step by step tutorial.

If you press your piece of fabric with a heat press for a few seconds before putting it on your cutting mat, you can quickly get out all the wrinkles.

Press your piece of fabric with a heat press, fabric, fabric mask, rotary blade, slap a piece of fabric on your cutting mat and cut no stabilizer requried

Increase the cutting speed to cut faster on the Silhouette CAMEO 4. The newest CAMEO machine
can cut at a speed of 3x faster than the CAMEO 3 and other older Silhouette machines so take advantage of that. When cutting fabric for masks I've been cutting on a speed of 21 with absolutely no problem so you could go even faster.

cameo 4, cameo 3, fabric mask, rotary blade, increase the cutting speed

An extra small, small, and medium size fabric mask pattern can all fit on a 12x12 cutting mat.

Arrange the fabric pattern pieces like this to maximize space. If you need a refresher on how to scale the fabric mask pattern in Silhouette Studio, this tutorial will show you exactly how. 

scale, fabric, fabric mask, rotary blade, maximize space

Use a 12 x 24" Cutting Mat to Increase Fabric Mask Production

If you have a 12 x 24" Silhouette cutting mat even better. Duplicate your fabric piece arrangement in Silhouette Studio to double your speed.  Cutting on a longer mat means fewer times you'll need to reload your cutting mat with fabric - speeding up cutting even more!

cameo 4, cameo 3, fabric mask, rotary blade, cutting on a longer mat means fewer times you'll need to reload your cutting mat

15" CAMEO 4 Pro for Larger Masks and Faster Speed

A large size fabric mask can fit on a single 15x15" cutting mat and since the 15" Silhouette CAMEO Plus can also use the Rotary blade you can cut large size masks with that.  You can also fit one and a half small and two full extra small masks (plus an extra piece) on a 15x15" cutting mat.

scale, fabric, fabric mask, rotary blade, 15" CAMRO 4 Pro
 
The 15x15" cutting mats come in a high tack option which is even better for fabric.

Cut Fabric with Multiple Machines Simultaneously 

If you have Silhouette Studio Business Edition you can cut with multiple Silhouette machines at the same time. These can be the same Silhouette CAMEO model or different machines.  So if you have a CAMEO 4 and a rotary blade and a Silhouette CAMEO 3, for example, you can cut fabric on both at the same time increasing production and cutting at essentially double times.

No Rotary Blade? You Can Still Cut Fabric

And YES, you read that right...you can cut fabric on any Silhouette CAMEO or Portrait. That means, if you don't have a Silhouette CAMEO 4, CAMEO Plus, or Rotary Blade it is still possible to cut fabric with your Silhouette machine. It's just not quite as easy or fast because you'll need to stabilize the fabric and keep the speed at a lower speed - but it is possible.

CAMEO 3, fabric, fabric mask, Cameo 2, Portrait

This Silhouette tutorial on how cut fabric without a Silhouette rotary blade will explain everything if you need a refresher.

Use Two Silhouette Cutting Mats in Rotation

While cutting fabric face mask patterns work with two cutting mats. While one mat is being used in the machine load up the second cutting mat with fabric so it's ready as soon as the first mat is finished cutting.

sewing, fabric, fabric mask, rotary blade, silhouette cutting mats

In Silhouette Studio click "Send" again to repeat the cut.

Unload the mat with the cut pieces and immediately reload it with more fabric. Keep repeating that process.

cameo 4, fabric, fabric mask, rotary blade, cutting mat

Keep Your Fabric Pieces Organized 

If you're using the fitted fabric mask (not the pleated pattern) each mask requires four different pattern pieces. The pieces are two different sizes - with the outer pieces being slightly larger than the lining.

Because it's recommended to make the liner and the outer different fabrics to tell which side should always be out (and exposed to germs), that means when fitting four pieces on a cutting mat, you are actually cutting pieces for two masks.

As you pull the fabric pieces off your Silhouette cutting mat, keep the pieces in piles according to size so they're not all mixed up when it's time to start sewing. 

If possible you can starting pairing up a left and right piece as you pull them off the mat. Pair them up with the right (pretty) sides together as this is how you'll sew.

sewing, fabric, fabric mask, rotary blade, organization

In the picture above I have fabric for two masks cut on two 12x12 cutting mats. One will have the mustaches as the liner with the blue outer piece and the other will be opposite.  

Tips for Sewing Fabric Masks Quickly 

We've been talking a lot about sewing around here lately and that's because of the need to make fabric masks. If you need a beginner sewing tutorial I have a step by step video for you to get you going - it's enough to get you sewing masks!

sewing, fabric, fabric mask, sewing 101, beginner sewing

And if you don't have a sewing machine you can still help in the Fabric Mask Challenge! Team up with a sewer to make the masks together - you can cut the fabric pattern pieces on your Silhouette machine and then give them to your partner to sew! 

Sew Masks in Stages

Sew fabric masks in stages as opposed to one mask at a time. For example if you're making 10 masks, sew the seam down the nose on all 10 masks first.


Next clip that seam on all the masks.

Fold in and press the side pieces on all masks after that.

Sewing in stages like this helps save time. You can keep your iron or EasyPress Mini in your hand as you press all 10 masks instead of picking it up and putting down between each one or moving to where your iron is while you make each mask.

Use a Cricut EasyPress Mini

The Cricut EasyPress Mini has been a huge help for me when making masks. It heats up extremely quickly, takes up almost no room on my sewing table, and is the perfect size for these masks which have small seams and folds.

It's Not the Time to Be Perfect

If you're a novice sewer and are worried about sewing a straight line or matching thread- don't. Straight lines done save lives or stop the spread of CoronaVirus...masks do.




Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!


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4 comments

  1. Thank you team for all the effort and hard work put into this venture. I'm from South Africa and am using your template to make masks here. Please let me know what has been suggested to slip in between the inner and outer pieces of fabric to make the masks as effective as possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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  2. I am using non woven cut away embroidery stabilizers. They seem stiff, but once you work with it, it softens up.

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  3. https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/best-materials-make-diy-face-mask-virus/

    that's a link of what is recommended, we used hoover filters with cotton outsides

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