The mask makes the Ninja...
(those of you who've been to this site before may recognize other costume elements... the spy belt and knight party favor bag... I so love seeing party items take on their own afterlife!)
How hard could it be to make a set of ninja masks for a ninja birthday party? No problem! Just rummage through the remnants section of the fabric store for shiny black fabric, measure a piece to fit your kid's head, sew it up, and cut an eye hole, right? An hour or two, tops! Egads. I don't want to admit how long this simple project took. I don't want to tell you that I went to the fabric store THREE times because I was having so much
trouble fun. Let's just say this post is all about trying to help you avoid the same mistakes if you should get a similar nutty idea about making party masks.
Did you see the post by Secret Agent Josephine on making a ninja costume? I saw it on pinterest and loved her diagram so much... it fed my I CAN DO THIS attitude. She drew the tongue sticking out of the little girl cartoon model. Love it! However, she used fleece, which is a fabric that wouldn't work with my highly active (sweaty) boys in a usually very warm Virginia climate. Static, too! I needed something thin and silky. More on that later.
STEP ONE: MAKE THE HOOD PATTERN
In my first attempt, I used Josephine's idea of tracing my kid's head. I guess it wasn't a total failure in that the boys loved me shining a light at them to draw their silhouette. However, it is clearly way too much fuss. The neck was too tight even with the recommended wiggle room. Lesson number one learned: the best pattern is a rounded pillowcase shape. With the silky fabric, you get a draped look anyway. The wide neck makes it easy for the guys to flip the hat on and off in their usual hurry.
STEP TWO: SEW THE PIECES TOGETHER
STEP THREE: CUT OUT THE EYE HOLE
For the eye hole design I again turned to the very encouraging site by Josephine. However, I ruined three (!!!) masks before I figured the essence of ninja mask making. LESSON THREE: start the eye hole as a single slit, and cut out more in small increments as needed. I put the hood on my son (inside out) and marked approximately where the eye slit should be. That was about 13cm (5.25 inches) down from the top and 6 inches (15cm) wide. I enlarged the opening for some fabrics, but for the silkiest one, just the slit was enough because the fabric drooped open on its own. My favorite method was to make the single slit, then roll it over slightly and hem it. However, I ran out of time for the party so most of the masks were just hoods with eye slits cut into them.
The ironic part is that at least one of the ninjas preferred to wear his mask backwards. He didn't need an eye slit at all! The fabric was slightly see-through...
Was all the fuss worth it? You betcha. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. :)