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Every year on November 1 and 2, families in Mexico and around the world adorn altars with sugar skulls, candles, and other ornate decorations to welcome back their deceased loved ones. This bright and colorful felt sugar skull mask is a great way to dress up for Halloween or celebrate Dia de los Muertos - the Day of the Dead.
- Downloadable mask pattern
- Scissors (paper pair and fabric pair)
- Various colors of acrylic felt
- Embroidery thread in various colors
- Sewing thread
- Rhinestones (sew-on or glue-on)
- Gem Tac (optional)
- Dimensional craft paint (optional)
- Sewing pins
- Embroidery needles
1. Prepare Your Mask
Download and print this pattern. You may need to adjust the eye holes and overall size to fit your face. Feel free to trace it onto a new piece of paper, make adjustments, and cut out your new pattern.
Using your pen, draw your design onto the pattern piece (or print extra to experiment) so you have a guide for cutting out your felt. Focus on tear drop shapes, hearts, triangles, half circles, and paisley-like designs.
Using a pen, trace your mask shape on white felt. Cut it out with sharp fabric scissors.
2. Cut Out Felt Pieces
The pieces around my mask's eyes are all variations on half circles. Cut out various shapes from multiple colors of felt.
Cut out triangles for the points of the eyes, ovals with the ends chopped off for the tops of the eyes, and a black or dark-brown heart placed upside down for the (absent) nosepiece.
Continue adding shapes and designs. Cut out tear drops for the wings of the mask, triangles along the bottom edge, and paisley shapes for the bottom half of the mask. Position rhinestones along the top.
3. Sew Felt Pieces
Take a photo or sketch out your placement of felt shapes and rhinestones. Everything has to come off while you're sewing. Using an embroidery needle and some thread, whip-stitch the pink scalloped heart and then the dark brown heart into place. Use thread that matches your felt, or contrasting colors for an extra pop.
Sew on the purple pieces next, followed by the green triangles along the bottom and then the blue and green half ovals at the top of the eyes. It's all about placement and layering when working with felt applique.
Finish off your surface designs. To adhere your rhinestones, determine if they're sew-on or glue-on gems. Sew-on gems will have small holes in the top, in which case you can just sew them on. Glue-on gems are smooth on the back and can be fixed to the felt with Gem Tac, dimensional craft paint, or tacky glue. Watch your placement - once you've glued a rhinestone onto felt, it's hard to move it around.
4. Cut Mask Backing
Trace your mask design on to another piece of felt. I've chosen a grey, but you can do whatever you want for the mask's backing. As soon as you prepare the ribbons, you'll be sewing these pieces together.
5. Braid Your Ribbons
For this mask's ribbons, I opted for some friendship bracelet-style braided embroidery floss. Choose three colors and cut two 24 inch pieces of each color.
Gather three of them together, fold in half and tie a knot so there's a small loop at the top.
Braid your pieces so each section has two strands. Knot off at the bottom and repeat with the other three strands of thread.
5. Sew Mask Pieces Together
Pin your braids on either side of the mask. Make sure the ball of the pins are on the outside of the mask (shown here for placement - you don't want to sew the pins on to the mask without being able to take them out).
Sew around the two edges of your mask pieces. I started on the left side with the braid so I could sew the braid's knot and loop in with the mask's edges. Continue around the mask until you've reached your starting point.
6. Cut Out the Eyes
Here's where you have a decision to make: leave the mask as is, and you've got a cute new sleep mask, or cut out the eyes and you can wear it for the holiday.
Using a sharp pair of fabric scissors, cut a slit into the eye holes all the way through the two pieces of felt. Continue carefully cutting out the eye holes without cutting into the designs already sewn. Then, sew up your new edges (whip stitch tends to work best here).
Get Ready to Trick or Treat
Now your mask is ready to go! Add other embellishments like extra ribbons, beads, or glitter. Bust out the bedazzler and make the mask as ornate as a traditional calavera.
We'd love to see photos of your own sugar skull mask. Leave a pic and tell us how you went with the tutorial in the comments section below.
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