Masquerades don’t come up very often, but when they do, it’s a mad scramble to the dollar store/Michael’s for cheap plastic monstrosities. Even though gluing sequins and sparkles all over is fun and you can get creative (once I poked a hole in a mask and threaded a spare nose ring through it, for example), there’s just something about them that I don’t like. Maybe it’s the sweatiness. Dancing + plastic = gross.
Lace masks are much better. And, turns out, really easy to make. Incredibly simple, pretty, and cheap.
Tip: Salvaged lace is awesome. The lace I used for my mask came from a wedding dress that I found at the thrift store. It was stained at the underarms/train and had a couple of tears, so I didn’t feel terribly bad snatching it up. It probably had at least five yards of lace on it (very conservative estimate) and at least five yards of nice, soft tulle. More, counting the veil. I was able to use the headband to make a winter queen crown, the veil as the back of a floofy skirt, and some of the lace on my first refashion Friday skirt as well as an in-progress Princess Peach costume for my sister. I’ve also been using the yards upon yards of white satin and sateen to line things/muslin things. The downside is of course that you’re unlikely to find a color other than white (lace prom dresses, perhaps?), but you can try poly dye. Fantastic resource for cheap; mine was about $20!
- Small amount of scalloped lace (wide scallops, as wide as you can find!) You’ll need less than a yard, unless you’re making more than one. Or you’re a giant. I used 20 inches for mine, and that covers my face from ear to ear.
- Thread in a color that matches your lace
- Hand sewing needle
- Ribbon, elastic, or dowel
- Pins (probably optional)
- Embellishments (optional)
- Interfacing (optional)
- Hand sewing (just basic running stitch)
- Ironing (optional)
Cut a length of lace.
Take your lace and place it on your face, looking in a mirror. Position your eyes between the scallops. If you need, mark the desired width with a pin. Cut two identical widths of lace. Now, overlap so that the highest parts of the scallops are slightly overlapping (you’ll have to turn one of the lengths of lace upside-down, as you’ve no doubt already figured out). Play around with this step until you like how it looks, and pin in place. Just don’t poke yourself in the eye or anything, OK? Please.
It was at this point that, guided by my inherent artistic genius, I decided to gently “age” the raised portions of the lace, adding dimension, texture, and a subtle refinement and grace.
Just kidding. I spilled a cup of coffee all over my desk.
Turns out the raised bits of the lace are cotton, and stain instantly, while the rest is poly and was pretty unscathed. I thought about making a new one, but decided to spill a little more coffee over it for even coverage, rinse with cold water, and let it dry. Turns out I like it.
Yay for serendipitous mistakes; I’ve never tried tea/coffee dying something before, and wasn’t sure I’d like it if I did.
Once your overlapping lace portions are how you want them and pinned in place, take your threaded hand needle and make a bunch of tiny stitches on the overlapping bits. I was surprised how sturdy it was, especially considering that I tried to overlap just the barest amount possible. But if you’re concerned, carefully iron or sew a small strip of interfacing behind. You shouldn’t be able to see it from the front, with the two layers of opaque lace sections.
Tip: When sewing, first take your needle in between the two layers; end between the layers as well. This will hide the knots and result in a more polished-looking inside.
Some shaping options:
Small darts on either side of the nose will bring the lace up, create a space for your nose, and in general make a more human-looking mask. I pinned some out to see, and I actually didn’t like it all, so I didn’t do it. Play around with it, find what looks good to you.
Sew some ribbon on that baby. I chose green because I didn’t have off-white, I wanted to add a little color, and I thought that the kelly green looked neat with the antiqued lace. Or attach it to a stick. Or sew on some elastic. You can fold over the raw edges of the lace, or use bias tape. I just took a lighter and quickly ran over the edges with flame because I liked the slightly ragged effect; this only works on polyester lace. (As a side note: If you can’t find scalloped lace, you could cut eyeholes in wide lace and then run a lighter around the edges for a tattered look.)
Tip: When sewing ribbon, don’t just sew one row of stitching and call it good, or it might pucker or flip the edges inside out; instead, sew around the edges of the ribbon in a square for a secure attachment that distributes the stress more evenly when you pull on the ribbon.
Now you can add stuff! If you want to add something heavy, be warned; the mask as a little flimsy. You may need to add a backing and some interfacing to support heavy rhinestones or the like. I added a small dangly piece from the front panel of the wedding gown, a short string of tiny beads.
Have fun with your mask! I went crazy with the eye makeup, utilizing false lashes and tons of eyeliner and other things I almost never do. The false lashes make a huge difference, as you can see from the three photos.
To close: Since I suspect it’s physically impossible for a girl of a certain age to make a mask without getting that song from the Labyrinth stuck in her head…