Whether you are flying a red eye or sharing a cabin by the lake, there are many reasons to shut out the light from the outside world to help catch some quality shuteye. Sewing a travel eye mask is a super quick and easy project. And, as it only takes a little bit of fabric, it is a great stash buster too! Whip up a few for the whole family so you can all get some beauty sleep on your next vacation.
Get your beauty rest with this step-by-step tutorial for a travel eye mask:
Step 1: Gather your tools.
- Get the FREE Eye Mask Pattern here!
- Fabric for the outside layers
- Batting for the lining
- Clear ruler
- Elastic – This will be visible, so choose a color you like with your fabric
- Thread – Note that there is top stitching so choose your thread accordingly
- Point turner
- Water soluble pen (or pencil)
- Seam gauge
Tip: Choose fabrics that are comfortable on your face and also easy to wash, as it will get dirty from mascara and face oils and will require frequent washing.
Step 2: Print the pattern.
When using a PDF downloadable pattern, it’s critical that the size be correct. Print the page with the test pattern first, then check it to see that it is the correct size before printing any additional pages. Set the PDF software to print at 100% and not to scale the pattern to fit the pages. I like to use the Adobe Acrobat software for this step.
Step 3: Cut the pattern.
Once the size is confirmed correct, using your paper scissors, cut out the pattern for the eye mask.
Step 4: Cut the fabric.
You will need two layers of fabric for the mask. Pin the pattern to the fabric of your choice. Note that there is no grainline on the pattern piece, but be sure to keep the top edge perpendicular to the selvage edge so that the crosswise grain is going across the mask. This means that the little bit of crosswise grain stretch will be going around the head to ease in fitting.
Tip: Many people like to use a dark colored fabric on the inside of their eye masks, as it mimics the darkness of night!
Step 5: Cut the batting.
Cut one single layer of the batting of your choice. The batting I picked is a thin cotton and bamboo blend which worked perfectly. Just be sure not to pick anything too thick.
Step 6: Pin the elastic.
Measure down from the top of the mask and pin the elastic in place on the right side of the fabric. Repeat on the other side of the mask.
Tip: The pattern calls for the elastic to be 13 3/8″ in length. Measure your head to make sure that size will fit you correctly. Remember you will loose 3/8″ on either side for the seam allowance. You want it to be fitted, but not too tight.
Step 7: Baste the elastic.
The pattern instructions have you pin the elastic on one side under the layers of the fabric and then sew, but I much prefer to pin and baste each side down in advance of sewing the layers together as it helps it stay in place. Stitch the elastic on either side at a 1/4″ seam allowance. This will keep it inside the project’s 3/8″ seam allowance.
Step 8: Mark the center curve.
Right at the center front above your nose is a tight curve on the pattern. This will be sewn much more accurately if marked in advance. Use your seam gauge and water soluble marking tools to draw in the stitching line above the edge of the fabric at the 3/8″ seam allowance.
Step 9: Pin the layers.
I wanted the batting to be on the inside facing my eyes, so I pinned slightly different from what the pattern calls for. Originally the fabrics would be right sides together, and the batting would be at the very bottom. Use that order if you want the batting hidden inside the mask. Keep the elastic away from the stitch line and inside the mask.
Tip: I like to pin the opening at the top parallel to the fabric’s edge and the rest perpendicular to the fabric’s edge. This tells me that this area is to be left open and the difference in pinning gives me advance warning to stop.
Step 10: Sew the layers.
Using a 3/8″ seam allowance, sew all the way around the mask, leaving a 2″ opening at the top along the flat edge. The pattern instructions call for you to leave the batting longer than the fabric at the nose bridge, as the line you drew in step 8 will help you follow the correct seam allowance since it will be covered by the batting while sewing.
Tip: When sewing curves, turn the stitch length down a little bit to create a smoother line.
Step 11: Trim the seam allowance.
After sewing, trim the seam allowance down to about 1/4-1/8″. Do not trim at the opening along the top, as this will make it much easier to tuck the seam allowance into the mask in step 13.
Step 12: Smooth the curves.
Use the curvy end of a point turner and open up the seams around the entire mask.
Step 13: Tuck in the seam allowance.
At the opening left along the top of the mask, fold the seam allowance into the inside. Take your time to finger press the edges as to create a smooth line.
Step 14: Close the opening.
Pin the opening closed and press with an iron if necessary. Top stitch around the perimeter of the entire mask, closing the opening left in the top at the same time. Use a 1/4-1/8″ seam allowance and a thread color you like on top of your fabric.
Step 15: Final press.
Using an iron, give the mask a final press, and that’s it!