As far as Ely Gin HQ is concerned, there is no better programme on TV than The Great British Sewing Bee. Every Wednesday evening we disconnect the phone and doorbell, and wait to find out what Patrick and Esme have in store for the contestants this week. Woe betide any child that might want attention during this hour.

It’s not to say we have any talent in this area, but we always fancy having a go ourselves. But what to make? Given the current situation, we decided that a fancy face-mask would be an attainable and useful project. Here’s how it went…


To make our mask, you will need the following:

  1. Some thin cotton fabric. We used an old bed sheet for the inside, and some fancy material for the visible part;
  2. Some elastic (to hold the mask on);
  3. A paperclip;
  4. Some pins;
  5. A ruler;
  6. A cup of coffee;
  7. Your mum’s old sewing machine. You can use your own sewing machine if you want.

An iron can be useful at some points, to get the folds and corners nice and sharp.

1. Cutting the fabric

This mask has two layers of fabric. We cut out two 25cm squares (one of each fabric). Place one piece on top of the other, so that the edges line up. [Photo]

2. Shaping around the nose

The mask needs to be shaped around the bridge of the nose and pinched in fairly tightly, and this is done by sewing a piece of wire into the top edge lining of the mask. Any thin wire will do, but the wire we used was a straightened out paperclip. [Photo, Photo]

3. Pleating

To allow the mask to stretch around the face (it will be wider in the front, narrower at the edges), we need to put in some pleats; we did three. The top of the first pleat ended around 1 cm below the top of the mask, and each pleat was roughly 2cm. [Photo, Photo, Photo]
We then sewed along the edges, to hold the pleats in place.
You will note that the pattern on the fabric lines up through the pleats, because we pay attention to what Patrick and Esme have to say.

4. Around the ears

The mask is held in place using loops of elastic around the ears (we know, this sounded bad to us, too, but it’s not as uncomfortable as it sounds).
The strips of elastic are sewn into loops later; at this stage, we are attaching them to the mask… except that we don’t actually physically attach them, we simply fold of the edges of the mask over to hold the elastic in place. Ideally, the elastic will still be able to move inside the seam.
The length of the elastic required will depend on the width of your face, but yours truly required 22cm for each loop. [Photo, Photo, Photo]

5. Around the nose

Bend the wire that’s sewn into the top edge into a shape that roughly matches your nose. [Photo]

6. Finish the elastic

Finally, the elastic needs to be sewn together so that the mask is held tightly on the face, but not so tight that your ears are pulled off your head. We got the right length by pinning the elastic first, trying on the mask, and then sewing only when the mask felt comfortable. [Photo, Photo]
And that’s it! If you have to leave the house, at the very least
you are making some effort to keep your germs to yourself! Good luck, keep safe and stay strong.

Important Disclaimer:
We make gin for a living, not pharmaceutical products. This guide is intended as a bit of fun, and because we have been told that wearing a mask of any type offers more protection than no mask at all.
Current government guidelines are essentially that you should stay at home, except for exercise or food shopping; wearing this mask does not change that.
Having said all that – we would love to see any masks that you make. Please share!