Fifi Eye Mask
Well, I’d never have thought that an eye mask would be my most hacked project to date 😛
I have been using an eye mask for a few years now, and have got to the point that it feels odd if I don’t wear it. Once I’d got past the first few nights of it feeling weird, I found that it significantly improved my quality of sleep by blocking out the light. It feels comforting in some way, a bit like how the rest of the body feels under a duvet, snug and cosy 😴 It’s also very handy for travelling as hotels don’t always have good blackout blinds, or if hubby wants to stay up later. This plus my 3M ear plugs means I can pretty much shut out the world and get some decent sleep.
I had been using freebie ones given on flights but the elastic was starting to go so I decided to make one myself. I came across a blog post by Tilly and the Buttons for the free Fifi Eye Mask and thought it would be a great little project. I used fabric scraps with a Japanese cotton broadcloth for the outer layer, and cotton voile for the inside.
Here’s how I went about it, to be read in conjunction with the original instructions. Imagine my secret little sniggers of joy when I thought about adding a wire for a great fit over the nose 🥰
Step 1 - Download the pattern and cut the pieces
I came across a helpful review by AnitaH who made a good point that in this pattern, the wadding isn’t secured which meant it could fold up or become dislodged when going through the wash, so I decided to cut everything the same size and use bias binding to hold it all together. I therefore cut everything smaller by the 1.5cm seam allowance included.
I cut 2 pieces of wadding to secure the nose wire as seen at the bottom of the photo. You can see on the pattern piece the 1.5cm seam allowance crease created with the Clover double tracing wheel to easily mark the seam allowance evenly as described in this blog post with video.
Step 2 - Sew the elastic headband loop
Having read the above review which mentioned the elastic being tight in the tube, I sewed a narrower 5mm seam allowance which was still tight for my 12mm elastic. This meant a lot of the fabric bunching up tightly once the elastic was inserted and so I shortened the tube of fabric by about 25cm which still left plenty.
The pattern suggests sewing some cord to the end of the tube so you can pull this to turn it inside out. I have seen various other places suggest pulling the bobbin and spool threads before you start sewing so they are slightly longer than the tube you’re making and then sewing, leaving these threads running inside the length of the tube inside the fold making sure you don’t sew over the threads. You can then pull on these from the bottom to turn it inside out. This worked although it was a more delicate solution than using cord, so I was careful when pulling to not break the thread and helped tease the fabric inside out.
Step 3 - Outline where the wire will sit
The mask I had been using also has a nose flap to improve the fit and so I thought about adding this. After a bit of Googling I came across a review of various eye masks and the one that came top had a wire to help shape the mask across the nose. I thought that was a great idea, so I cut out the wire from a facemask (similar to the ties used for sandwich bags, cables etc.) and didn't bother with the nose flap.
On one piece of wadding, I outlined the wire with a Prym Aqua Trick Marker.
I used two pieces of wadding mostly to enclose this wire, but also to help block even more light out and have it feeling really cushy against my face.
Step 4 - Sew wire between the 2 pieces of wadding
Pin or clip the two pieces of wadding together, sew round the marked rectangle along the two short edges and one long edge, then insert the wire and enclose it by sewing along the second long edge.
Step 5 - Stack the layers and sew close to the edge
Pin all the layers together in order of how they will be in the final mask and sew all round the edge to secure it before sewing the binding on in the next step. Sew close to the edge so it will be hidden by the binding.
This meant it was pretty easy to sew up the main mask with no need to turn it the right way out and hand sew.
Step 6 - Attach the elastic headband to the sides of the mask
Sew the elastic to the back by putting the raw edge together with that of the mask on each side and sew close to the edge so that it will be hidden by the binding.
I was so keen to get the main mask completed that I forgot this stage until after I’d finished the main mask! I attached this at the end, trying to follow the topstitching on the binding.
Step 7 - Sew the binding to the back
It was my first time using bias binding, and I’ve seen tutorials directing you to sew it to the front first, particularly if you are stitching in the ditch. This makes sense as it would be neatest on the front, but it meant having to make sure you catch the back of it when stitching and I wasn’t confident I’d be able to do this. So I sewed it to the back first and topstitched the front, so it didn’t matter whether I caught the back as it was already secured. Sew over the elastic to secure it and enclose the raw edges.
The photo below shows the binding mostly sewn in place on the back of the mask. Since I'm not that experienced with binding, I didn't measure the length beforehand as I wasn't sure how much stretch there would be as I'm sewing but I still wanted a neat join between the ends. Instead, I used a technique to get a more accurate idea of length similar to that described in this blog post. The only difference is that in this project I sewed it in place first, and in that blog post I pinned it.
I started sewing a few cm away from the end of the binding, and leaving a few cm at the other end before the two ends would meet:
I then marked where the two ends would overlap, where the joining seam should be:
This photo is with the mask turned around so the joining seam is at the bottom:
I pulled the ends of the binding together so that the marked lines met and then pinned across this line, so the binding is with right sides together. This required the mask to be bent slightly to get them to join in this way:
I then stitched along this line:
Then cut off the excess binding, trim the seam and press it open to give a nice neat join:
Then sew the unattached section of binding to secure it all around the back of the mask.
Step 8 - Sew the binding to the front
The binding was a bit tight and bunched when folding it over to the front, which I think this was because I was pulling on it as I was sewing it to the back and I think this left it a little tight around the side curves. I trimmed the edges of the layers a bit to ensure enough overlap of the binding at the front. Pin the binding in place and then topstitch close to the free edge.
The finished mask:
You can see the back of the topstitching in the photo below of the back, where I wouldn’t have secured the binding if I’d sewn it to the front first.
So the eye mask is finished, and the wire gives it a really great fit against the nose as shown in the photo below. The wire is a little flimsy and I’m guessing it’ll lose some of its stiffness or may snap over time but it does a great job for now. It’ll just give me another excuse to whip up another one of these beauties! It’s a great practical way to use up scraps, and I couldn’t resist using my favourite Japanese fabric. Now I can look stylish while I sleep too 😊
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