3 August, 2022

Trying out fantastic new materials: Making a Kraftex Paper Ledger Book

2022-09-28T10:24:10-05:00An Artist's Life, Tutorials|2 Comments

Want to listen instead of reading?

A few months ago I ran across an article talking about Kraftex paper. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s like a heavy flexible paper, which feels a little like a cross between paper and leather. It comes in an unwashed version, which is stiffer like watercolor paper, and a washed version which has some flexibility and almost a drape, like fabric. I mentioned in my newsletter that I was super curious about it and a staff member from C&T Publishing reached out and offered to send me some samples to play with. I jumped at the chance!

Because I believe in transparency, I want to say that C&T didn’t ask me to review, post or promote anything in exchange for the samples. This is not a sponsored or paid post.

I’m dedicating some time this summer to both trying new things in my studio and practicing some new-to-me skills, so this morning I pulled out some of the washed Kraftex paper and decided to make a small notebook. I’ve been expanding my art practice to include more paper arts because I have found that it helps make my work more accessible when I am trying to do community projects. Fabric, and the tools needed to work with it, can be cost prohibitive and feel challenging for beginners, but paper is everywhere.

I started by tearing down some sheets of paper to make the pages for my book. This is some lightweight drawing paper and I made strips that were 3×11 inches. Tearing down pages was something I learned in a coptic sketchbook class I took recently from the MN Center for Book Arts. And although that seems like kind of a silly thing to want to practice, getting a consistent edge really does take some practice. I really love the look of a torn edge, so it’s something I want to get better at. It took just one large sheet of paper to tear down into smaller sheets for my notebook.

I cut the cover out of a piece of Kraftex paper with my rotary cutter and a ruler. This is the washed version in a color they call “Natural”. I loved how this one really looks like leather. It is about 1mm thick and very flexible. I really chose the size of my book to maximize the use of a piece of this Kraftex paper. It comes in 8.5 x 11 sheets or rolls, so I cut a strip 3×11 inches for the cover too. I folded each page and the cover in half to make a finished book that’s about 3×5.5 inches. The kraftex took a fold nicely and didn’t crack or warp like thick papers sometimes do. I think the Kraftex is going to make the perfect cover. It’s heavy enough to feel like a cover but not stiff or bulky.

I decided to use a decorative paper punch to create the holes so I could bind the book together. It was relatively easy to punch, but I should have made myself a jig so it was easier to line up the holes in the pages and cover. Something to remember for next time. This kind of a “ledger” binding just needs two holes near the folded edge and then you stitch and tie a sturdy thread through them.

I used a variegated cotton sashiko thread to bind the book together mostly because it was the first thing that caught my eye. Sashiko thread is like a very thin cotton cord and it worked just fine for this.

I thought it would be fun to add a little bit of something to the cover, so I used the same thread to stitch a couple of embroidery stitches. I punched the holes with an awl before I stitched because I didn’t want to crease the paper trying to punch the needle through it.

I have so many ideas for this! For my next project I want to try something with a little origami folding. There’s a technique to fold thicker papers where you get the paper wet before you fold it and I am really curious to see how that works with this and if I can make something interesting and three dimensional. Kraftex is also dyeable, so I am absolutely going to try shibori dyeing a couple of sheets. If you want to play with some, I think the best source for Kraftex is through C&T’s website. They have some great variety packs so you can get a bunch of sheets in different colors and they have dozens of free tutorials if you want to do a specific project.

24 April, 2022

Stanley’s Birthday Party: Fold an Origami Labrador

2022-04-24T11:05:34-05:00Everything Else, Freebies & Patterns, Tutorials|Comments Off on Stanley’s Birthday Party: Fold an Origami Labrador

It’s Stanley’s first birthday today. Make your own origami labrador party favor to celebrate with us. You just need a square of paper. It should be about 6 inches and it’s the most fun if it’s a different color on each side. You can use origami paper, wrapping paper, tissue, scrapbooking paper, or recycled magazine pages.

24 February, 2022

A Pamphlet Book with Spoonflower’s Grasscloth Wallpaper

2022-02-24T15:34:18-06:00An Artist's Life, Spoonflower & Fabric Design, Tutorials|4 Comments

I’m not really a home decorating kind of person, so when Spoonflower introduced a new Grasscloth Wallpaper, I was intrigued to know what it was like, but it was pretty unlikely that I was going to be inspired to wallpaper parts of my house. So I decided to think about another project I could do with wallpaper. I have been very slowly working on a “Book Arts Certificate” from the MN Center for Book Arts here in Minneapolis over the past couple of years. I’ve loved book binding, marbling and paper making and have not really loved the letterpress because of major ink fumes and inaccessibility (I can’t really do it at my house.) But I love working with paper.

So I decided to make a pamphlet book. I am woefully un-expert at all of the vocabulary of book arts; there is a LOT. But basically a pamphlet book is sheets of folded paper, stitched together to make a binding, with a heavier paper on the outside for a cover. With my sewing background, I love sewn bindings. So I ordered a swatch of grasscloth wallpaper in one of my designs and decided to use that as my cover. When it arrived, it was rolled up and wouldn’t lay flat, so I unrolled it, slipped it under the heavy cutting mat that sits on my desk and let it flatten out for several days.

Grasscloth wallpaper is like a woven fabric backed with paper. It has a warp and weft that is very prominent, making its iconic texture. One set of threads are heavier than the other, which gives it a rib like texture. On the sample you can see at the top, the heavier threads are running parallel to the selvedge (that unprinted edge of the wallpaper sample) or horizontally across my design. This is the sisal or the grass in grasscloth. The threads running the other way are much thinner. As a wallpaper, it has a really rich looking texture. It has a very matte finish and feels like a piece of art paper when you run your fingers across it.

The first experiment I did was to see if I could fold it because I needed to make at least one fold to make the spine of my book. It folds much better parallel to those heaver threads than if you fold across them. They are brittle, so they crack rather than folding. So I decided I needed to keep that in mind when I was cutting my cover. That meant that I needed to rotate 90 degrees so that my fold and the heavier threads were going the same way. It doesn’t really matter on this design, but you’d have to keep that in mind with a more obvious directional print.

One thing I noticed right away when I unrolled my wallpaper sample was that the edges felt a little fragile. It was easy to catch the fibers and peel them up from the backing. If it was glued flat to a wall that wouldn’t be so much a problem, but for a book cover it wasn’t ideal. I decided to bind the edges of the cover like you do with a quilt by wrapping a narrow strip around them. I tried a fabric tape I had and some simple 1/2 inch strips of white tissue paper. I didn’t have any in green, but I think that might have even kind of disappeared into this design. I made a couple of little samples and decided that I liked the way the tissue paper didn’t add any bulk to the cover, so I decided to go with that. For this one, I used gluestick to attach it to the cover. I think next time I would use a brush and some PVA (Elmers) glue because the glue stick was drying so fast, it was a challenge to get everything lined up and stuck in place. I stuck it to the back and then folded over to the front of each edge of the cover. I burnished it down with my bone folder to make sure it really stuck well to all of the bumps in the paper texture. It works great and traps all of those cut ends so nothing is rough or catching.

Finally I used the bone folder to score the cover and carefully fold it in half. I added the pages, which I made from some lightweight drawing paper, and used an awl to punch holes through so I could stitch the binding using some perle cotton thread. It makes a great paperback journal! I’m going to put mine under a heavy book for a couple of days to really set the fold so it doesn’t pop open. If you want to try one like mine, I cut my papers and cover to 9×6 inches and the strips of tissue paper were 1/2 wide and I trimmed them to length after I glued them. Here’s a really simple tutorial on how to make a pamphlet book like this. In the photo with the book cover open you can see the back of the wallpaper, which is a nice plain white paper. It comes without any paste on it, so you don’t have to worry about it getting wet or sticky, which makes it a better choice for a project like this than the Smooth Wallpaper that comes pre-pasted. I will probably be able to make 4 books like this from the 24×12 inch swatch I got. It was really fun to see if this would work and I think it makes a beautiful book.

22 March, 2021

How I take Photos & My Studio Setup

2021-03-22T13:09:33-05:00An Artist's Life, Everything Else, Tutorials|1 Comment

I thought it might be really appropriate to start off with a “How it started; How it’s going” kind of meme to talk about photography. When I first started making my art to sell or to show at gallery exhibitions about 20 years ago, the first and worst stumbling block was getting good photos. I had a camera, but I had no experience in what it took to get great photos of objects and I absolutely couldn’t afford to hire someone to take photos for me. So I needed to learn how to do it myself. This was before Etsy was really around, so there weren’t a bunch of tutorials to help you or recommend photo white boxes that were easy to find. (Wow, I am making myself feel old!) So everything I learned was by trial and error and I mean LOTS of trial and error.

The felted dragon shown up above was one of the first photos of my art that I found when I went digging through my photo archives. This is the photo straight off my camera. You can barely see the little guy because the image is so dark. I thought a plain background would be best, so I draped some white fabric behind it but it’s really wrinkly and not really professional looking at all.

Things I learned: You always need more light.
LIGHT. Light is the answer to nearly every photo dilemma. This is absolutely the one thing that made the most difference to my photos. My very first photo setup was to put objects on a table in my guestroom and masking tape a piece of white muslin up behind them. I had four utility shop lights that I got from Home Depot and I put the brightest bulbs in them that they were rated for. I clipped them on the back of a folding chair so I could aim them at whatever I was photographing. The photos still looked a little dark, but I could usually fix them in Photoshop to make them a little better. They weren’t amazing photos, but they were pretty good and it worked for me for a long while. It was a struggle to photograph some things, so I started to look for something that would help.

I did a lot of searching around for a light box because that was something people were recommending on Etsy. I found a folding plastic white box called a “Foldio” with a strip of LED lights that were attached to the top edge of it. It ran off of a 9V battery. It was brand new, just off a Kickstarter campaign. The Foldio has gotten much fancier and more powerful than the one I had; some of the new ones look awesome. But that original basic model really gave my photos a serious upgrade. The bracelet above is a beaded silk cuff and these were best sellers in my Etsy shop for a while. That photo is also straight off the camera without any edits.

Things I learned: Ditch the fabric.

One of the things I learned when I had the Foldio is that a sheet of white posterboard or craft foam is 100 times better than a piece of fabric as a background. Paper doesn’t have wrinkles and no matter how many times I would iron that piece of fabric, you still saw wrinkles and folds. Now I have both large sheets of white foam core and a big roll of white paper that I use as the background for everything in my studio. The bonus of using white versus another color as a background is that white reflects light. So effectively it’s like adding more light to your scene and more light is always helpful.

The problem with the white box was that I really couldn’t photograph anything larger than a loaf of bread because it wouldn’t fit into the box. And I started to make larger pieces that needed much more light again. One solution was to take things outside. If I could get a bright overcast day, photographing pieces against a piece of white paper taped up to my house worked great. This bag (made by my friend Pat Grady) was something we needed an image of for a postcard at the art center I worked at. So I took it home, dressed up in this cute ensemble, and my husband helped me take this photo using natural light. You can see we had to do some Photoshopping still to make it work, erasing the seam in the paper and so on.

Things I learned: Use a reflector.

For bigger items it helps a lot to have a big white surface to reflect extra light back on to the scene. For this shot, we had a big sheet of white foam core that we propped up on a chair to help get more light on the bottom of the scene where it was a little shadowy. You don’t see the effect with your eyes very well, but the camera can totally see the difference.

Natural light works amazingly well, but let’s be realistic. I live in MN and there is about one day in every month that has the right combination of bright, overcast, no snow, and not windy to be able to take photos. And especially with an Etsy shop, I can’t be limited to hoping I can take photos once a month. So, we borrowed some lights from a co-worker to get this shot (above). We set it up in the corner of an office, taped up a piece of white paper and had a couple of really bright lights and one big light with an umbrella on it to light up the whole scene. We thought we’d try out his set up and see if maybe we needed to buy some lights like this. You can see there is still some Photoshopping that had to happen, but this turned into a pretty great photo.

What I learned: The larger the item, the more light you need.
Getting a whole person lit up evenly from head to toe takes a lot of light. I realized that if I wanted to continue to photograph my garments, I was going to need to invest in some photo lights. We started looking at the free-standing umbrella style lights that you could buy as a kit on Amazon. We talked about painting a corner of our unfinished basement bright white to use as a giant sized white box.

Here’s the part where we got lucky. A friend of ours who is an artist and photographer decided to downsize his studio and gave us some hand-me down equipment in exchange for us helping him with his website. Best trade ever. Instead of reflector lights, these are strobes inside big fabric boxes which are like a giant camera flash. We have two and you can see them in this photo. The large one is to the left and the smaller one is behind me. On the right hand side you can see sheets of white foam core that we are using to reflect light to that other side. This was a photo that we staged for an event at the art center where I worked where they were giving me an award and needed a photo of me for the invitation. I wanted to show off the skirt without it being a photo of my face and so we came up with the idea of doing a parody on the Magritte “Son of Man” painting. You can see the final photo up at the very top of this post.

Our setup is a Speedotron kit similar to these. (You can also find them used like we have.) It’s amazing. I photograph nearly everything in my basement studio with these lights. I say nearly everything because for things that I post on social media, that’s still a piece of white posterboard next to a window with the camera on my phone. Because that also works amazingly well. And using this pro equipment is a little bit of a process. I have a checklist taped to the wall downstairs so I turn on everything in the right order. And I never remember the settings on the camera so I have a cheat sheet for that too.

Other than the lights, our studio isn’t fancy. We have an unfinished basement (which I LOVE) and we have about a quarter of the space dedicated to photo equipment, mostly because I use it often enough that it’s nice to not have to get it out and put it away all the time. The backdrop is a roll of white paper that we roll up when it’s not needed. I’ve upgraded to wider paper since this photo was taken so I don’t have to Photoshop out that seam all the time. We have a shelf that holds all of the clips, clamps, dress forms and props that I use for photos and a stack of large sheets of foam core to act as backgrounds and reflectors. This is where we take most of our annual Halloween photos as well. This one took a lot of creativity to get this mood lighting just right.

You’ll notice that I haven’t even mentioned the kind of camera I have. That’s because having an expensive or super fancy camera isn’t necessary for great photos. I take a lot of photos for things like social media and all of the instruction sheets for my Etsy kits with my iPhone because it’s small and convenient and does a great job. When I shoot things in the studio, I have a Canon 60D which we got in about 2010 and it still works super well. We got a couple of upgraded/specialized lenses that are for specific tasks like shots for my Etsy shop (24mm pancake lens).

I’ve also talked a lot about Photoshopping, but really you don’t need to have Photoshop either. I did when I first started out because I couldn’t quite get the photos I wanted. My goal with photos now is to get it right in the camera so I never even have to open it in Photoshop. That saves so much time!  It took me a long time and a lot of learning to get to that point, but I can now do an entire photoshoot of new designs without anything but minor touchups. It’s not hard to learn, but you have to be willing to take a lot of photos and try new things until you get something you like. There’s no one cookbook recipe for how you need to photograph your work; everyone has different items with different challenges. I still get it wrong sometimes and have to go back and move lights around and try things set up in different ways.

I wrote this post because I friend said “You should write something about your photo setup; you always have great photos of your work.” and I wanted to show that there’s a lot of behind the scenes work to make it look that way. Hopefully this will give you an idea of where to start if you want to try learning how to photograph your own work too.

24 August, 2020

Behind the scenes of my setup for Online Teaching

2020-10-10T17:40:11-05:00An Artist's Life, Tutorials, Videos|9 Comments

I posted a couple of “behind the scenes” posts of my online teaching set up on my social media last week and I had LOTS of questions from all of you about how I put it together. So I thought maybe I’d write a post and talk about it. All of my setup are the results of many months worth of experiments, trial and error. I’ve been teaching via video/online since April when a couple of projects I was scheduled to do suddenly needed to pivot to something else. I started with what I had and added to my setup as I discovered I needed something.

My Space

I do all of my filming or video meetings in my studio. For a very long time, I just worked anywhere in the house, but this spring (before all of the work-at-home things happened) I had decided to reclaim a room in our house into a space that would be easier for me to record things because I was intending to start doing more video based classes. We have a 1920s house so my studio is basically a “sun room” or “sitting room” space, but that means it has amazing huge windows on two sides. So I have tons of natural light, which is really helpful. I’d say 80% of the time, I can work with just that natural light. The wall behind my desk is a creamy white about the color of masking tape, so it makes a pretty neutral background and having a light color helps my space look brighter.

My Laptop & Microphone

I use my laptop as my webcamera and I film all of my class videos and screensharing videos with it. I have a Macbook Air. I don’t have an external microphone because so far, I haven’t needed one. The one in my laptop works great for what I need and because I am working in a pretty small room, the space doesn’t sound like it’s echoing. We have wood floors, and I did get a plush throw rug to put under my desk, which helped the sound a lot.

I did get a stand for my laptop to sit on. I realized quickly that leaving my laptop on my desk put the camera at a weird angle that was kind of aimed up my nose. It wasn’t flattering. And when you spend several hours editing video of yourself, you start to notice these things. I was using a couple of boardgame boxes as a way to make my laptop sit at eye level, but they took up a lot of desk space, so I found an adjustable aluminum stand. It gets the laptop up so I have a little more space to work and it’s ventilated so my laptop doesn’t get as hot. Processing video is a lot of work and listening to the cooling fans makes me nuts. So that’s a bonus. This is the one I have and it works great. If I need to type a lot while the laptop is on the stand, I have a bluetooth keyboard I can pair with it so I can type more comfortably. I don’t need it often, but it is helpful when I do. In the photo above, you can also see I put the stand on a thick rubber mat. I use this for my serger because it vibrates a lot, but it’s also perfect when I am doing video to keep the stand stable and I think it cuts down on the wiggle when I bump the table.

My Overhead Camera

I use my iPhone as my overhead camera. I got an articulated arm that clamps on to my desk and it has something that looks like a hair clip that holds my phone. With it, I can aim my phone’s camera to capture nearly any part of my desk, so I can do how-to classes with steps where people need to see my hands. I have used it to show fabric samples for lectures about fabric design and to teach a whole series of art making classes. This is basically the one I have; I think they’ve updated it since I bought mine.

I can use an extra camera directly through screenshare when doing something in Zoom and you don’t need to log in as yourself multiple times (which is one tutorial I saw.) The software I use to record my other video also supports a second camera. (I’ll talk about that software a little later in this post.)

I learned that it works best to have my phone plugged directly into my laptop to get the best video. I have a new Macbook which only has USB-C ports (which is one of the more annoying things that Apple has ever done) and I had a multi-port adaptor so I could have a mouse plugged in and a couple of other things, but the camera doesn’t work at all through the adaptor. I got a USB-C to Lightning cable so I could plug it directly into the laptop and that was like magic. I tried using the camera in Zoom using Airplay, which is one of the screenshare options, but it only worked for about a minute before the video would freeze up or lag about 15 seconds behind what I was doing, which was not cool. But plugging it in directly and screensharing that way works beautifully.

The key thing that I learned about using my phone as my extra camera is to keep it simple. It’s really kind of a hack. I tried looking for an app and setting up different video settings, but I realized that I don’t need any of that. I set my phone to the Camera app, set the “Auto-lock” to “never” and just screenshare it.

It looks just like this. Yes, you can see the “camera” controls on the screen, but it turns out no one really even notices that. I don’t switch it to video mode and I don’t actually record anything. I just screenshare what my camera is seeing. I told you it was a hack. But the thing is, it’s super simple so it just works. There isn’t any trouble shooting or updates or weird things not connecting or incompatibility.

For live video like teaching a Zoom class, I just use it exactly like this. When I pre-record something for a video class, I use the same trick and I just crop the camera controls out of the video later, which just takes a few seconds.

The last thing I did was to get a tiny LED ring light. I don’t use it to light myself, but I clip it to my phone and aim it at the table to light up the work surface. This made a HUGE difference in how clear the video is and it has an easier time with focus. I won’t link to the one I have because although the light is decent and I like how it clips to my phone, the battery life is literally about 10 minutes. I have to keep it plugged in all the time. I actually mounted a small powerstrip with USB ports to the bottom of my desk so I can plug the light in (since I can’t plug it into my computer because I don’t have enough ports). There are a zillion different ring lights available and basically anything would work.

You can see the laptop stand, camera arm clip, and ring light in the photo at the top. The last thing I’ll talk about is the surface I am filming. You can see from the photo just below that my studio table is a vintage formica table. It’s awesome. But it makes a super distracting background. So I got a vinyl desk blotter in a pale blue/grey that I roll out on my desk when I am using the overhead camera. It’s soft so it cuts down on noise when I pick up and put down things like scissors and it makes a really nice neutral background so people can easily see my fingers demonstrating an embroidery stitch or whatever. When I’m not filming, I roll it up and it lives on my bookshelf.

More Light

In this view of my desk you can see my hidden light. I realized that when I am doing video in the evening, the light is fading and it was making my video look grainy. So I brought my LED panel up from the basement. I realize that you probably don’t have one of these just sitting around, but I have a photo studio for shooting my work and so I borrowed this panel from the photo setup. In the evening, I put the panel on my desk just behind the laptop stand and point it directly at the ceiling. My ceiling is white and so the bright light just diffuses all over the room. Because it’s behind my laptop stand, I don’t have light glaring in my eyes and it’s not making a harsh light on me. It depends on your room, but an extra bright desk lamp pointed at the ceiling or something similar might work for you if you don’t have a panel like this.

Software

If I am pre-recording video for one of my online classes or to post on Facebook etc, I use video editing software called Screenflow. It costs about $130 and it only works on the Mac. The reason I chose it is because in addition to just basic video editing, it is designed to do screen capture and picture-in-picture video. Since I teach a lot of technology related things that means I can show full screen video of my screen showing you how to do something in Photoshop and I can have a tiny video of me talking in the corner of the screen. Or I can fill my screen with the overhead camera shot and you can also see me talking (shown at left). It can capture these simultaneously, so everything is synched up and so so easy to put together. I can also add closed captions, which is something I didn’t even think about previously, but when a partner I was teaching with asked me if I could do it, it took me only minutes to figure out. Like any software, there is a learning curve, but it’s not too difficult.

Edited to add: Get an external hard drive. A big one if you can. I did not appreciate quite how enormous video files are. I had filled up my laptop’s hard drive after a week of filming. Now I get done with a video, compress and upload it to my class site and then I move it to the external hard drive and delete it from my laptop. I have the laptop and external drive set to do two backups every night (yes I am completely paranoid about this) so I don’t panic about deleting anything. But my computer works a LOT better when the drive isn’t full of video files.

My Backdrop

One of the “treats” I got myself for my new studio space is a background curtain so I can have a pretty background if I want to. It is 2 yards of Spoonflower’s Longleaf Sateen Grande, which is 116″ wide. That is bigger than my room is. I stitched buttonholes into the top edge and put up a shower curtain rod and curtain rings. I can pull it back if I want my neutral cream colored wall or I can pull it out and have a sea of kelp. It’s one of my fabric designs and so it always gives me something to show people and it often makes sense with what I am teaching. The extra-wide fabric is only available to Spoonflower Pro members, but there are several 60″ fabrics that might also work in your space.

I did have a green-screen curtain behind me for a while and while that was fun to experiment with, it turns out that I don’t have enough light in this space to really make it work well. My hair, which has far more white in it than I am really delighted with right now, either ended up looking green from the curtain or the video filter that removed the green-screen would just edit it out, so I would lose the top of my head. I’m trying to be an “embrace the grey” kind of girl, but it’s challenging when it comes to video.

I hope this has given you some ideas for how you might make video work better in your space. My set up works really well for me and I like that I’ve managed to put it together with some pretty simple extras that have made big improvements. Do you have any video meeting/teaching tricks or tips you’ve discovered? Share!

20 April, 2020

Making masks. My version with some sewing tips.

2020-04-20T15:50:22-05:00Everything Else, Freebies & Patterns, Sewing & Design, Tutorials, Videos|3 Comments

I posted a tutorial for working with a bias tape maker today on my social media channels (I will post that again below) and got a bunch of questions about how I was making masks and what pattern to use. So here is what I have been making. This is a version that is based on one that was posted by Fairview Health (associated with the University of MN). I have simplified the sewing instructions they provided because I saw a simpler and cleaner way to construct them. I am not going to provide a step-by-step tutorial here, but I will give you the basics.

Cut two rectangles that are 9 inches by 7 inches. They recommended using 2 different fabrics so you can easily tell the inside and outside of the mask if you need to take it off and put it back on.

Place the rectangles right sides together and stitch just the short sides, using about a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Turn right side out and press flat.

Make three tuck pleats about 1/2 inch each along each short edge of the rectangle. You can pin these. (I have a lot of practice at this kind of thing, so I just eyeballed them.) I used a wide zig-zag stitch to then stitch over the pleats about 1/4 from the edge. This is thick, so don’t force your machine or you will break needles at this step. Do this on each short edge. It doesn’t matter which way you pleat, as long as the pleats go the same way on each end.

Cut two strips of fabric to make ties. I use the full width of a piece of 45″ super soft muslin, cut 2 inches high. (I fold the fabric in half, matching the selvedge edges and cut it all the way across.) A 45″ fabric is a great length to make ties.

Use a 1 inch bias tape maker to press the long edges of your strips (see video below). Fold the strips in half (the short way) to find the center and pin that to the center of one long edge of the mask. Starting at the end of the tie strip, fold in half the long way (matching the folded edges) and stitch close to the fold. When you get to the mask (pinned to the center of the strip), slide the mask raw edge inside the folded strip and keep stitching all the way to the end of the tie. Repeat for the other long edge of the mask. You don’t need to worry about finishing the short ends of the ties, because they are the fabric selvedge, they won’t fray. These are reversible (top to bottom and inside outside)

If you’d like a wire/pipecleaner to help fit it to the top of the nose, that would be very easy to insert at the center as you are stitching the tie strips.

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