Little Happy Stuff to Sew: Sleep Mask Edition

Hi guys, here’s a quick, fun, palate-cleanser of a sewing project.  I made sleep masks at the request of my favorite couple – my daughter and son-in-law.  But…. couldn’t stop with just two. So, the third one in the picture is a bonus sleep mask.


Mask 1 is made with scraps of blue chambray with a “roadmap” print cotton as the back, and appliqued with wraparound sunglasses; heh.  Mask 2 is made with cotton on both sides, a “teacup” print and a polka dot; mask 3 is made with navy silk velvet and silvery silk charmeuse, a combo that is utterly luxurious.  All masks have a black cotton layer for light blockage, and a fusible fleece for soft comfort.

For the wrapround  sunnies applique, I used scraps of a navy linen, a strip of silvery grey silk and a flat metallic thread, Sulky Sliver.  .

Here’s what I discovered while using the Sliver Metallic Thread this small project:

  • The thread MUST feed with minimum twists; my regular Bernina 1230 has a vertical spool pin and that fed the thread. If your machine has a horizontal pin, there are thread feeding gizmos in the market for preventing excessive thread twisting.
  • Loosen the upper tension. I brought mine down to 3.
  • Use a needle made for metallic thread because it has a larger eye – a smaller eyed needle will tend to shred the Sliver, or any metallic thread.  According to Christopher Nejman’s video (links below), a size 14 or 16 topstitch needle will work.
  • Slow down, people. Reduce the machine speed.  Be patient.

Now, I’m fired up to try a Sulky Sliver embroidery thread project on the actual embroidery machine. I’ve used regular embroidery thread for motifs, but never the Sliver (not to be confused with “silver”). By the way, watch this video, and this one,  by Christopher Nejman for tips on embroidering with this particular thread.

The pattern:


I drew the pattern freehand; the image above has the approximate size at the widest and longest part. You can also freehand the applique, or find a sunglasses motif somewhere. You have the option of embroidering anything you want on one of the pieces – once embroidered, it becomes the front piece.

Assembling the sleep masks is a study in quick sewing:

  • there are 4 layers in each mask, plus the foldover elastic (originally meant for clothing).  My elastic measures 14.5 inches, but you can customize your elastic length by pinning the elastic in the middle of each short end and trying on.
  • Embellish one mask piece, which then becomes the top; do not embellish the other piece — no sense in letting the embroidery scratch your eyelids (that was supposed to be a lame joke).  Pin the foldover elastic to the sides of the front on the right side.  Fold the excess elastic loop in the center of the mask piece and pin to keep it from getting caught in the stitching.  Sorry, no photo for the elastic step.
  • Stack front and back pieces, right sides together (with elastic snuggled inside), stack the black cotton fused with fleece on top. Pin around the edges.
  • Sew all around with a 3/8” seam leaving a 3 inch opening on top.  Clip seam at the deep curve in the bottom center. Turn inside out through the opening at top.  Hand sew the opening closed. Press!
  • Now, start on your next one. In one day, you can make many masks; it takes more time to make decisions on the fabric combination and embellishment than the actual construction.

These would make lovely gifts for people who work the night shift and have to catch up on sleep during the day.

I hope you’re sewing up a storm during this hurricane season. I want to request that you keep those Houstonians in your thoughts who are still dealing with rebuilding their homes and lives exactly one year after hurricane Harvey hit us. I was one of the lucky ones, and was spared.



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