How to Make Felt Animal Masks
When I was a kid my family had an obsession with Boston Terriers. It all started when my grandfather got a cutie with one black and one white eye named “Baby”. Nobody knew at the time that every single person in the family would at one point or another raise a puppy born from our precious Baby.
One year I told my grandmother that I wanted a Boston terrier mask and she told me they didn’t make them. But luckily she knew how to sew and she would do just about anything for me. Baby and I ran around that yard and jumped and barked and had a good old time. I remember seeing my Poppa watching us perched atop the cellar door and knowing that he adored us.
So with Halloween coming up, I figure there has to be other kids that don’t necessarily want to follow the norm with a costume based off of a super hero or cartoon character and for those kids, I’m going to help you out.
When I was planning out this tutorial I had several thoughts on the type of mask to create but I chose raccoon simply because I had seen this video of a bearded fella’ and his pet raccoon dancing to Aretha Franklin on the back porch just before heading to craft store. What can I say, I’m highly impressionable.
Now I’m sharing the pattern I made for this raccoon mask, but I’m also going to show you pretty quickly at the end how to create a mask of a different animal. THIS WILL MAKE A CHILD SIZED MASK – ENLARGE IF YOU ARE MAKING FOR AN ADULT.
For this project you will need:
- Acrylic felt in, black, beige, pink and 2 pieces of gray
- Embroidery floss that almost matches the felt
- Embroidery needle
- Iron on interfacing
- Spray adhesive or basting spray
- Freezer paper
- Free raccoon pattern or one of your creation using this pretty darn basic template
Take the gray piece of acrylic felt and with the rough side of the interfacing down, press down with a hot iron. Take care because acrylic is plastic so you can melt your fabric if you aren’t careful. The interfacing is going to help the felt be “sturdy” and stand up well as a mask instead of being floppy.
Turn the felt over and apply a healthy spray of adhesive and apply the second piece of gray felt. This is going to make the mask even sturdier.
If you’re lucky you’ll be able to print your freebie pattern directly onto freezer paper. To do that take your paper and cut down to 8.5×11. You want to print on the smooth side, not the waxy one. Trim the pieces out and iron with the waxy side down onto the felt, placing to use as little felt as necessary.
If you can’t print on freezer paper, or if your printer decides that it’s sometimes for and sometimes against direct printing, run on regular paper and trim each piece out. Iron the freezer paper directly to the felt and then using your spray adhesive, attaching the cut out pieces to the freezer paper.
Using a very sharp pair of scissors, trim your pieces out.
Take the black face portion of felt and spray adhesive to the back. Once tacky apply to the front of the big gray piece. Then do the same for the cream stripe above the face, the cream muzzle, the gray nose stripe and last of all the black nose. It doesn’t matter if you use permanent or temporary spray as we’ll be tacking this down with embroidery floss.
Using your floss and needle, backstitch around every single piece in the matching floss. We choose floss that is almost the same color as the felt so that it doesn’t stand out too much, but is still noticeable enough that you can tell from a distance that this is a handmade work of love!
When you get around to the ears, sew them on as you’re backstiching around the bulk of the mask, then turn around and stitch another line to help really tack the ears down. Just make sure that on your second round you’re either not going all of the way through to the front of the mask, or that you’re following your previous stitches closely and sewing over them.
Felt stretches so some things may go kind of wonky as you’re working it and that is totally normal. at the end of stitching trim up anything that isn’t right… any gray that is peeking out below the black, anything keeping the eyes from being nice, uniform openings.
Flip the mask over and attach ribbon to the left and right sides (around the area that the dot appears on the mask pattern). Stitch along the same lines (sewing right over top of the previous stitches) that show through the front with the same color of beige floss.
And that’s all she wrote for this little cutie. Tie in a cute bow to wear. If you have a kid who isn’t fond of bows or ribbon, you can also use elastic. If using elastic be sure to test on your kiddo’s head. I’ve made a mask or two that dug into children’s faces because I didn’t give enough slack in the elastic!
Now I didn’t think of it then, but I wish I would have grabbed some whiskers from the doll making section of the craft store!
This is your basic template that I’ve used for AGES. It isn’t pretty but it gets the job done. This template is for a CHILD SIZE mask. Enlarge if you need something bigger.
You only need to draw half of your animal. Use a Google image search to get lots of help and inspiration.
If you prefer, you can draw the full face and select the side that looks the best.
Run a copy of your half animal face (mirror if your machine is fancy and can swing it – if not flip it over and trace the shape onto the backside for an old school mirror image). Trim the copy close to the edges of your lines and tape onto the other half to make a full face.
Run several copies of your “whole” mask and then cut out pieces until you cut out every piece. Don’t cut up all of your copies, be sure to keep one whole for any problems or to make another pattern if you need to.
Now on areas like the black face and the cream stripe, I make that one continuous piece for two reasons. It’s easier to work with and it’s harder to lose one piece instead of two. You’ll have to imagine the line going through to be complete but it really isn’t all that difficult.
And that’s all there is to that! If you don’t draw often it may take you a few goes to get something you’re happy with. Just remember simpler is better when piecing the felt together so don’t get crazy with lots of detail.
Last of all these masks are a labor of love. If you’re going straight into the raccoon pattern, this is still a several hour project. If starting a pattern from scratch, give yourself about 6-8 hours from start to finish to be safe!