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Masks celebrate Mardi Gras

This Mardi Gras door decoration is a beginning sewing project
This Mardi Gras door decoration is a beginning sewing project
Paula Hrbacek

Masks are a traditional part of the Mardi Gras celebration. The tradition of wearing a mask during Mardi Gras allowed wearers to escape society and class constraints. When wearing a mask, carnival goers were free to be whomever they wanted to be, and mingle with whatever class they desired to mingle with. There are many styles of masks; some cover the entire face, and some cover the eyes.

The pictured decoration is a beginning sewing project. To makeit, you will need:

Satin fabric

Sequins or other trims

Plastic Christmas tree tinsel

Small metal rings

Stiff plastic such as an election sign

Draw a pattern for the mask. Trace the shape onto a piece of stiff plastic, such as an election sign. I used a laminated piece of card stock, and it wasn’t quite stiff enough. Don’t use cardboard, because the fibers will absorb moisture in the air, and cause mildew. Cut out the shapes with a razor knife or jig saw.

Add a three quarters of an inch to the pattern for a seam allowance. Cut two shapes from satin fabric. The nylon fabric used to make flags will also work. Don’t use cotton fabric because it will fade and mildew.

Decorate one of the shapes with eye holes cut from a different color of fabric. Zig Zag around the edges. Add sequins or other trims, making sure that the trim is well away from the seam.

Find the center of the other piece by folding it in half. Tack a small ring to the fabric to make a hanger. A loop of ribbon can be substituted for the ring if desired.

Pin the two fabric pieces together right sides facing. Sew a half inch seam along the bottom edge. Leave the entire top edge open. Clip the curves and turn right side out. Press the seams flat with an iron.

Insert the plastic piece. If the fabric isn’t pulled tight enough, or if you want the mask to be curved, add crumpled plastic grocery sacks or plastic Easter grass for stuffing.

Turn in the cut edges of the fabric, and pin in place. Tuck some tinsel into the seam if desired. Top stitch close to the edge, starting at one corner, and going all the way around the mask.

For more information about Mardi Gras traditions, and to see examples of masks, see

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