Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mask of Sanity

introIdentity Preserving Balaclava (all the warmth with none of the anonymity!)

It's pretty easy to wear warm clothes on just about every part of your body except for your face. As far as I can tell, the main reason that cold-weather facial attire is somewhat socially taboo is because it generally obscures the identity of the person wearing it. Despite all of the progress our society has made towards accepting and treating all people fairly, we are still yet to escape the notion that a person in a balaclava (or ski mask) is generally up to no good. The "Identity Preserving Balaclava" is my solution to the social stigma associated with the identity concealing effect of the average balaclava.

Here is the method and pattern that I used to make my own "Identity Preserving Balaclava." Hopefully other people will be able to use this to liberate their cold faces from social repression! 

step 1Stuff you will need

Ok, here's a list of all the stuff I used to make this project:

-Digital Camera
-Photo Editing software (pretty much any program that you can crop images with)
-Inkjet printer
-Inkjet Iron-on transfer paper (at least 6 pieces)
-Light-colored sweatshirt material (from a cut up sweatshirt or from a fabric store, 1/2 a yard is more than enough)
-An iron
-A good pair of scissors
-Needle (or a sewing machine if you know what you're doing)
-Straight pins
-A flat surface to iron on and a pillow case to lay on top of it
-A ruler or tape measure

step 2Take pictures of your head

The pattern I came up with uses 6 digital images that are 8 x 10 inches. Each image is taken from a different angle of the head, so that when they are sewn together properly they will make a mask that displays everything that it is covering up. 

Here are the angles that need to be photographed:

1. Face straight on
2. Left profile
3. Right profile
4. Back of the head straight on
5. Top of the head straight on
6. Neck and upper shoulders straight on

step 3Editing your images

Once you have images of all the different angles of your head you will need to edit them so that they will print properly on to iron-on transfer sheets.

Probably the best way to do this step is by trial and error. Take a ruler or tape measure and try to measure the dimensions of your head. 

Crop your images to a ratio of 10 x 8 inches which will fit easily onto the 8.5 x 10 inch Inkjet iron-on transfer sheets. 

Try to match the printed out images to the dimensions of your actual head, keeping in mind that they will probably need to be a little bigger than your head in order to fit over it.

You will probably want to print test images on scratch paper to make sure that the images are the right size before printing on the inkjet iron-on transfer sheets.

Remember to reverse all of your images before printing them onto the inkjet iron-on transfer sheets.

step 4Ironing on the images

Just follow the directions that come with the Inkjet iron-on transfer sheets.

note: it may help to wash the fabric after the iron-ons have been applied, I didn't do it because I was worried they might shrink a little and I had them measured to just the right sizes. You can try it though. I might work better because the iron-ons can be kind of tough to sew through and washing them is supposed to soften them up.

step 5Sewing the pattern together

I made my own pattern for this project, and even though it seems to have worked pretty well, it can only be used as an approximation of what it should look like because everyone's head is different. So you will probably need to adjust this pattern to fit your own head, but here is what I did and here is what it looks like.

Starting with the straight-on image of the face cut out the eye hole and the mouth hole and make sure they line up with your eyes and mouth. To do this cut a cross-shape and sew down the flaps.

Then line up the profile images with the straight-on image of the face. To make sure you get it right, first line up the jaw lines on either side, then use the straight pins to pin them together at the seams.

Stand in front of the mirror and try wrapping the pinned together pieces of fabric to make sure they accurately line up with the features of your face and head.

This process will probably take a lot of trial and error.

Try and line up the images of the face straight-on, the left profile, the right profile, and the back of the head, so that they make a straight line that can been eventually sewn into a tube.

Once those images are lined up and sewn together, cut the fabric with the image of the top of the head into thirds the long way. Then cut the middle third in half, like a hamburger. Line up the four pieces with the strip of images you have already sewn together so that the image of the top of the head is the same length as the rest of the strip. Make sure to line up the image of the hair from the top of the head with the hair from the other angles of the head (see picture).

Finally cut up and sew the image of the neck and shoulders onto the bottom of the images that you have already sewn together. This part will take a little more judgment calls than the rest because the main purpose of this is just to add enough fabric to the bottom of the strip of images so that later you will be able to make an even hem at the bottom of the balaclava

step 6Fitting

At this point it's pretty much all trial and error.

Pin the pattern you have made into a tube and make sure it fits over your head properly. 

Once you have the right fit, sew the seam that you have pinned together.

Go through the same process sewing together the seams of the fabric that cover the top of the head.

Once you have everything sewed up and fitting well enough you should be able to hem the bottom of the balaclava so that it is all even and none of the back side of the fabric is showing.

Finally, you can trim all the left-over fabric from the seams you've stitched together.

step 7Liberate your face!

Now you can go out in public without having to worry about people thinking you might have criminal tendencies just because your face is hidden behind an average balaclava. Tell convenience store clerks not to worry, the police will still be able to identify you if you do decide to commit a robbery. And maybe if you are walking down the street a friend of yours will recognize you and offer to give you a lift, knowing that you are not just some creep walking down the street in a ski mask. Nope, you will not look creepy at all.

But before you go out, don't forget to brush your teeth.

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