June 10, 2020 • Contributor: Cricut Blog Team
“I designed custom face masks with a window for a pregnant couple in our community,” said Karen Franks. “They communicate through lipreading and I wanted to help them find a way to do that while wearing face masks in the delivery room.”
Karen first showed us her project in a Cricut community group on Facebook. As a unique solution to supporting the deaf and hard of hearing communities, Karen, along with others, made DIY face masks when available options just didn’t work. This heartfelt notion inspired us.
Cricut members have cut over 1.5 million face masks, to date, through Millions of Masks. As part of those efforts, Cricut wanted to develop a new face mask with window pattern to help the deaf and hard of hearing by working with experts and individuals from those communities. Skip to the face mask with window tutorial.
Before the face mask with window could be launched, we wanted to focus on solving specific design and affordability challenges. Audiologist Dr. Kelsey Goldberg explained that her team in Los Angeles at Southwest SELPA found many current mask solutions to be too expensive to acquire for their patients.
These clear face masks are essential for our patients to have access to many of the crucial cues they rely on, and a DIY solution allows for more affordability and accessibility.
Dr. Kelsey Goldberg, Audiologist
There are many ways a DIY face mask with window better supports the deaf and hard of hearing communities. Karen developed a homemade face mask with window for a close friend so he could communicate with his wife in the delivery room. She is deaf and wasn’t able to read his lips when he wore a typical face mask for protection because it covered his mouth. Additionally, Dr. Goldberg informed us that facial expressions are an important guiding principle when it comes to communicating in sign language.
Cricut created and tested multiple designs before deciding on the current solution. The ultimate challenge was adapting homemade face masks that followed CDC guidelines to include a clear window, an essential modification while using materials that were affordable. The final pattern can be made with materials that cost less than $10 per mask.
A clear 6 to 12 gauge vinyl provided the best protection and visibility for homemade masks. It was also the easiest to sew together with common cotton fabrics. However, as a nonporous material, the vinyl created some fogging issues.
Without a clear view of the mouth through the window, the face mask became ineffective. Cricut found it helpful to apply dish soap to the inside part of the mask. Find directions below.
Support the Hearing Loss Association of America
Approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Additionally, “there are about 6 million people with severe to profound hearing loss who typically speechread and would benefit from having a face mask with window,” says Lise Hamlin, Director of Public Policy at HLAA.
Eager to help? Cricut is working with the HLAA to create awareness for these face mask with window patterns. Not only is there a need for deaf or hard of hearing individuals, but also the frontline, essential workers, and anyone who interacts with these communities.
Make the Cricut face mask with window
This step-by-step tutorial will cover how to cut and assemble the face mask with window.
- Step 1: Preparation
- Step 2: Cutting the fabric pattern
- Step 3: Assembling your face mask with window
- Step 4: A few care instructions
- Video tutorial: How to make a face mask with window
If you do not have a cutting machine, here are links to the free printable PDF patterns.
You’ll need the following items below to make a face mask with window.
*For use when creating a template and cutting the pattern on a Cricut Explore machine or using scissors
- LightGrip Machine Mat – 12″ x 12″ (when using Cricut Explore machines)
- FabricGrip Machine Mat – 12″ x 12″ (when using Cricut Maker)
- Rotary cutter (if using a template)
- Self-Healing Cutting Mat (if using a template)
- Fabric scissors (if using a template)
- Cricut EasyPress Mini™ or household iron
- Sewing machine
- Jersey/spandex strips (for ties)
- Double fold bias tape (for ties)
- 1/4″ (6 mm) braided elastic (for ties)
- Ribbon (for ties)
- Coated floral wire (for nose bridge)
- Adhesive metal strips (for nose bridge)
- Double sided tape
- Liquid dish Soap or anti-fogging spray
Step 1: Preparation
We recommend reading all of the project steps before beginning.
If you are using the template option, you will only need one template per piece of the mask. Hide the additional shapes as desired.
Before cutting, be sure to pre-shrink fabric by washing it first, and allowing it to dry.
Step 2: Cutting the fabric pattern
When directly cutting fabric on a machine, position the fabric pattern side down on the FabricGrip Mat with the grain running the length of the mat.
When using a Cricut machine to cut a template for this project, follow the prompts in Design Space. We recommend using the LightGrip Mat with cardstock. If you are not using a machine, print the PDF pattern above and cut out with scissors to use as a template.
- Prepare to cut the materials needed by first laying it out with the outside exposed and keeping the right sides together.
- Stage the material on your self healing mat or other flat surface, pressing out wrinkles if needed.
- Begin cutting with the fabric material by placing the template on the laid out fabric and tracing the template. Alternatively, you can also cut out both layers of the fabric directly using a rotary blade or scissors. Repeat the process with the vinyl liner pieces.
After your materials have been cut, gather all of the fabric pieces and press to smooth out any wrinkles if necessary.
Step 3: Assembling your face mask with window
Match together the pieces, right sides together, and sew the curved portion with a 1/4″ (6 mm) seam allowance. Snip along the curve taking care not to cut through the stitching.
Press the curved seams to the right. Then, carefully press the raw edges along the “window” to the inside. Repeat with the outer piece of fabric.
Align the outer and liner pieces, right sides together, and stitch along the top and bottom with a 1/4″ (6 mm) seam. Backstitch to reinforce seams where necessary. Leave the sides and window portion open.
If you do not wish to add floral wire, simply skip the following step.
To add a floral wire for the bridge of the nose, fold the edges of a 6″ (15.2 cm) wire on each side, and using a zigzag stitch, sew the wire onto the seam allowance located at the top of the mask.
For those adding the adhesive metal strips, simply adhere this piece at the very end when your mask is finished.
Turn the mask right sides out and press. Top stitch across the top of the mask to encase the floral wire, if desired.
Slide the plastic vinyl between the two layers of fabric through the window area. Make sure there are no open areas that may allow for exposure. Try to place the plastic so it tends to curve slightly outward (away from the mouth). Use double sided tape to help keep the plastic in place when stitching.
Slowly top stitch 1/8″ (3 mm) away from the folded fabric edge, all the way around the window. Make sure both the outer and liner folds are securely tucked underneath itself. Take your time and leave your needle in the down position to turn or make adjustments as needed.
With the mask right sides out and pressed, avoiding the plastic, fold the raw edges on each side inwards about 1/4″ (6 mm) and press.
Tuck the ties into the sides, close to the seams, pin if necessary.
Stitch the sides closed, backstitching over the ends of the ties as necessary.
The length of your ties will depend on the material. Use the chart below for reference.
Step 4: A few care instructions
Use liquid dish soap on the inside of the plastic window to prevent fogging as necessary. Simply, add a dot of the dish soap to the center of the vinyl, rub it around with your finger to coat the material, and wipe the excess off with a paper towel. Depending on how long you wear the mask, you may need to reapply dish soap. Other anti-fogging agents may also be effective.
Hand wash and air dry the mask to clean.
Video tutorial: Face mask with window
Caution: This mask is NOT rated for disease control. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided the following information regarding homemade face masks: The role of face masks is for patient source control, to reduce contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes. Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear a face mask until they are isolated in a hospital or at home. Most face masks do not effectively filter small particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales.* When professional face masks are not available, healthcare personnel might use homemade masks for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, caution should be exercised when considering this option since their capability to protect healthcare personnel is unknown.