Category: Blog

Kitty Makes a Winter Coat

Part 1: The reason why, followed by a bit of design

Kitty’s Perfect Winter Coat

We had our first frost of the year last night! 

When the weather shifts toward winter, a Kitty’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of coats.  Lovely warm insulated coats in fun prints and bright colours, which fit perfectly and lets me move all I want.  So off I went to a shop, all ready to give the nice people money for my fantasy winter coat. 

Then I ran smack into a cartload of reality.  To summarize:

Reality 1: My upper and lower body belong to different people

I am over-abundantly gifted in the breast department, and failed to show up the day they were handing out bums.  If something fits me in the hips, it hasn’t a hope of going around my upper body.  If it fits me at chest level, it’s huge everywhere else.

By all accounts, this happens to loads of other folks, though more often it’s the other way around, since the majority of women have hips that are larger around than their bust.  In any case, I could not find anything that remotely fit — at least not both halves of me at the same time.

Reality 2: I am a statistically normal-sized woman (which is a problem…?!)

More or less normal, anyway.  My measurements (though not my proportions) are pretty darn close to the average North American woman’s, though I’m a couple of inches taller.  To the fashion industry, that apparently means I am a bison-like behemoth who should only wear shapeless sacks, preferably in black.  My selection in ready-to-wear is, to put it kindly, limited.   

I hadn’t tried to buy clothes from a shop in about twelve years until this point, so I had forgotten just how out of touch with reality fashion sizing can be.  For reference, I scale the sizing of all my own designs so the size “Medium” is a STATISTICAL medium.  Meaning that the most common size for my customers tended to be, well, Medium, followed by small and large. 

That does actually make sense, right?  Medium should reflect something like the average size in a given community of humans.  I never could see why people who fell into a Small or X-Small in our size range kept claiming they usually took size XXL or something. 

At least now I have a better understanding, if not a coat I’m willing to buy.

Reality 3: Some parts of me are NOT statistically normal

I have proportionally wide biceps, and the intense weight-lifting regimen I’ve been on during the stay-at-home period hasn’t exactly made them more delicate and sylphlike.  All the extra muscle mass also only adds to the linebacker shoulders I always had (I was a competitive swimmer in my wasted youth). 

Though I’m probably bulkier in the shoulders and back than normal, I’m sure I’m not the only person to find coats or jackets really binding when reaching forward or raising the arms.  Or, for that matter, to feel like every piece of clothing always has sleeves that are just a bit too tight.

Why I’m making a winter coat

I have never bought a winter coat that fit me.  Anything that can close around my bountiful bosoms and wide back ends up being a flapping tent around the waist and hips.  My raggedy old coat is massively baggy everywhere EXCEPT at bust level.  And of course, black, because that’s all there was in that size range when I bought it.  Yes, this is before I started sewing.

That kind of boxy fit makes anyone look huge.  Now, I’m a substantial person and I happen to be just fine with the amount of space I take up in the world.  But that doesn’t mean I want to look like I’m smuggling a troop of badgers under my coat. 

More importantly, all that excess space makes a coat awfully draughty, which is a real problem for someone who likes to go for daily five-mile walks come rain or snow.  If that makes me a madwoman, I’d prefer to be a snuggly warm madwoman.

Funnily, in spite of being way too big, the old coat feels super-restrictive whenever I take it into my head to do something fun, like climb a tree or pelt Felix with snowballs.  Something about the cut of the shoulders and back doesn’t play nicely with my shape, and it’s the same story for every ready-to-wear coat I tried on.  If I want this fixed, I’ll have to do it myself.

What makes a perfect coat?

Perfect for me, anyway.  I imagine you have your own ideas.

My perfect coat needs some kind of shaping that builds in curves over the bust and upper back, either with seam lines or darts.  The alternative is to go right back to huge and boxy, which kind of defeats my purpose. 

The sleeves need to be roomy enough for both my generous biceps and multiple layers of clothing.   The line of the shoulder and upper back has to follow and move with my body well enough so I can do cartwheels if I feel like it.

I also want it to look at least somewhat stylish, since it’s the only thing anyone is likely to see me wearing all winter.  Most importantly, of course, it has to be warm enough for the local winter, which can see -25°C on occasion (I realize that’s not much to a born Canadian, but I plead weakness due to a tropical upbringing).

The design, Mark 1

The sketch at the beginning is my starting point.  I chose princess seams both front and back, because I think this is the easiest way to accommodate my chest and my muscular upper back while keeping things fitted at the waist.  The high closed collar should keep my neck warm, and the storm flaps are 1) cute and 2) extra protection against weather. 

Raglan sleeves (the kind that go all the way up to the neckline and doesn’t have a shoulder/sleeve seam) are great for mobility and for making enough arm room without resorting to gathered sleeves.  Mind you, I love me a gathered sleeve, but it’s probably a bit much for a winter coat I’ll most likely wear while shovelling alpaca poo. 

Add some big patch pockets for warming my paws and an ever-so-slightly flared skirt so I can pretend I have hips, and we’re golden.

Closing reflections

For someone who designs and sews clothes for a living, I don’t often make everyday items for myself.  I’ve just been too busy trying to make enough items for sale.  The pandemic changed all that, basically pushing pause on the business.

But in all that chaos, I suddenly found myself with time.  It’s been ten years since I last had any of that to spare.  So for the next few days or weeks, I intend to indulge in some slow sewing, and document the process. 

If you’ve ever wondered how one of my designs go from random idea to finished product, this is pretty much the process — except that this time, I’m only trying to please myself instead of obsessing about what everyone else might want.

At this moment, this project is just that pencil drawing.  Next time, I’ll be turning  the sketch into a pattern and a test garment.  If it works out, I’ll make the final version; otherwise, for all I know, I’ll scrap the design and start over again.  

There are quite a few more steps to go, hopefully before the snow arrives, so I will be back at it again quite soon.  The forecast says it may snow before Halloween.   Eeep.  Pray for me.

Until then, stay safe and toasty!

Following the Instructions – When I Feel Like It (part 1)

by Felix

Following the instructions is generally a good idea. But we humans are adaptable critters, right? We can adapt to new circumstances (and haven’t we seen a lot of those here in 2020!), we can adapt to new ideas, and we can adapt to new things.

In my case, I’m going to adapt a thing to my purposes. Specifically, I want to experiment with making a variety of waist bags (or “bum bag” if you prefer; I’m not calling it a “fanny pack” because I know what that means in many Commonwealth countries :)).

Why not start from scratch? Because I don’t want to reinvent the proverbial wheel. So, I decided to buy a pattern online (“Leather Waist Bag” by Creative Awl) and make some changes in how it’s assembled. I fully expect to look at the final results and think “that’s not my style,” or “wow, did I ever mess up.” And that will be a good thing because I will learn from it.

Getting Started

There’s a good video online showing how to assemble the bag, but there’s one big catch – I don’t intend to hand sew a single stitch! Don’t get me wrong – hand-sewn leather looks great and I love it – but I’m not going to do it. I’m going to use glue and an industrial sewing machine.

First, we cut out the pattern. In my case, I’m transferring it to card stock because that makes it easy to transfer to leather.

Patterns Copied to Cardstock

Next, we transfer that pattern to some veg-tanned leather (4oz., in this case). I should not have used a ball point pen; the ink is seeping into the leather. Whoops! Next time, I’ll use my silver pen.

Patterns Copied to Leather

Cutting out the pattern is a simple process that just involves leather scissors, two sizes of circular punch, a razor-sharp utility knife, a belt punch and a Japanese skiving knife. Simple – for a given value of simple.

Dying the Leather

Now, it’s time to dye the leather. That video that Creative Awl put out showed me a really interesting dye technique that I want to try. I was originally just going to assemble the bag un-dyed, but I thought I’d learn something else along the way.

I ended up using a three-stage dying process. First, I dyed the base in English Bridle (Fiebing’s Pro Dye), then all the outer edges in a generous dollop of Chocolate. Finally, I worked my way in from the edges with dried sponges loaded with Dark Brown.

I’m quite happy with the result. Which is good because next time I pursue the dubious joys of inserting the zipper – with glue!

Until then…

Introducing the Ear Rescue Straps

Masks that don’t hurt your ears.  Really.

By Kitty

Last week, I wrote an article that tried to sum up several popular methods for relieving ear pain from face mask elastics.

Every method, from ties to S-hooks to Princess Leia space buns, have their pros and cons.  I discussed these at length, so I won’t go over that again.  Today is all about my current favourite way to save our ears from the menace of mask elastics: the adjustable strap with Velcro closures.

What are Ear Rescue straps?

Ear Rescue straps are basically soft flat fabric bands which can be fastened behind your head at any height that works best for you, depending on the shape of your head and your personal preferences.  The top  of the mask uses these, and the bottom half uses a soft flat underwear-grade elastic designed to go right against skin.  As far as I can tell, no one else seems to be offering this dual system at this time.

The two-strap system: the adjustable upper strap

I chose to use a goodly length of hook-and-loop tape (aka Velcro) to fasten the upper straps, because this means  they 1) are easy to do up, even for people with joint and/or dexterity issues,  2) are size-adjustable, and 3) don’t lose tension and slip like tied knots, even after long wear. 

Upper Fabric & Velcro Straps

These adjustable Velcro-closed top straps do most of the work of holding the mask in place.  Once you fasten them at the right height for you (you may need to experiment to find the sweet spot on yourself), they’re remarkably secure. 

We tested ours for several hours of wear, during which we really gave them a workout (in Kitty’s case, including repeatedly putting on and taking off a high-necked top with the mask still on).   They stayed firmly in place, and more importantly, our ears were still perfectly comfortable at the end of the day. 

The elastic lower strap (and why I didn’t use a second adjustable Velcro strap)

The lower part of the mask has a one-piece elastic strap that can either rest on or under your hair, roughly at the base of your head or nape of your neck.  I specifically chose to use very soft underwear/lingerie-grade elastic which is intended for direct skin contact.

Lower Elastic Strap

Incidentally, I did test a second Velcro-fastened set of straps for the lower part of the mask, but rejected the idea for a couple of reasons.   First, the back of the neck is a high-mobility area on your body, and having a non-stretch strap on it felt pretty restrictive.  This can result in digging-in, neck and shoulder tension, or even headaches. 

Second, Velcro can feel quite scratchy on sensitive skin for people who have short or no hair, or who prefer to have the lower strap under their hair.  It drove me crazy in under ten minutes, so I ditched the idea right there.  I happen to know I have a hide like a rhinoceros, so if it bothers me, it’s going to irritate almost everyone else.

Anyway, you don’t even NEED an tight or adjustable strap to hold the lower part of the mask in place — in fact, you hardly need anything at all.  The customized fit of the upper strap held the mask so securely that in my testing, the lower elastic served as more of a back-up than an actual necessity.

How to get Ear Rescue straps on your mask

You can upgrade your masks to have Ear Rescue straps (instead of the standard elastic ear loops or ties) by selecting the “Ear Rescue” option in the “Strap Style” drop-down box when you order your masks on the website

You should be able to add this option on to the “Put on a good Face,” Ziggurat, and Anteater mask styles. We’re not currently offering it for Accordion masks, because the straight-across-the-top cut of this mask style doesn’t play nicely with the angle at which the upper straps need to be attached.

We use enough Velcro so you can adjust the fit by a couple of inches, which is a lot in terms of head sizes.  But if you feel like you are the proud owner of a very small or very large head, you can always contact us, and we’ll walk you through the custom measurement process.

In conclusion

We truly hope that this new project/product brings some relief to those of you who continue to protect others and the community by wearing your masks.  Learning that some of you stuck it out with face masks even when they caused chafing, bruising, and pain shone a tiny light into my shrivelled misanthropic soul.  Perhaps the human species is worth saving after all…

When Masks Are a Pain in the Arse – or Ears

Saving your ears while saving the world

By Kitty

“But masks hurt my ears!”

This seems to be the most common complaint we hear against the wearing of the face mask, our humble yet most valiant ally against the community spread of COVID-19. 

And yes, it’s true.  Ear elastics on masks do start to hurt after you’ve worn them for a while.  Some kinds of elastic take longer to start hurting than others, and some people have more sensitive ears.  But wear them long enough, and everyone’s ears get sore eventually.

Sometimes, it’s easiest to start a blog post with a photo or two:

Masks Can Help Save the World (but sore ears aren’t fun)

There’s no guarantee that we’ll have an fully effective coronavirus vaccine anytime soon.  Right now, one of the simplest and most useful things each one of us can do is to wear a face mask every single time we are in the company of other people. 

If everyone wore masks that fit correctly *and* followed all the safe use recommendations (there’s a summary of most of those here), we could stop the pandemic in its tracks, with or without a vaccine. But it’s really, really hard to get us humans to do something that hurts, even if “most everyone” agrees that it’s universally beneficial — otherwise, we would all lift weights and do high-intensity cardio five times a week.

Saving the World vs. Saving Your Ears

It’s easy for me to say we should wear masks whenever we’re in public.  I only need to pop one on for two minutes while I run into the shops for eggs and tea. 

But if your job involves interacting with other humans for an eight-hour shift, your trusty face mask becomes much more of a serious pain in the arse.   Or rather, ears.  Some of you have told  horror stories of bruised, chafed, or bleeding ears, even infected pressure sores.  Eeek.

You might feel tempted to pull it off during your coffee break just for a bit of blessed ear relief, but technically, that means you should put that mask in the “dirty” pile and replace it with a freshly laundered, unworn mask.  Safety guidelines say you should treat all masks as contaminated once they’ve been worn and handled, but are you *really* going to take four or five masks to work every day? 

Quite apart from that, you’ll probably find that a brief respite doesn’t actually help all that much with the sore ears problem.  Your ears will just start hurting again in a minute or two, because it takes longer than a brief break for the pressure spots to recover. 

Worse yet, wearing a mask day after day after day can make those spots progressively more painful over time.  And if you do have active chafing, sores or bruises, it’s a terrible idea to place elastics over that area, since you could introduce infection.

What You Can Do About It (some options that are already out there)

#1 – Ties instead of elastics

When some of you first brought this problem to my attention, we started offering ties that go behind the head instead or elastics that hook on your ears.  This works just fine for lots of people, but has drawbacks for others.

PROS: Ties don’t pull on your ears, and are adjustable to just the tightness you like. 

CONS: The upper ties can chafe the top of the ear area, because they still need to sit at ear level.  Some people find it too fiddly to get the ties done up.  Others have mobility or coordination issues that make it downright impossible to tie a bow at all, never mind behind the head.  Bow knots can slip or lose tension over time.  This one only happens to some people because there’s more than one way to tie a bow knot, but if it does happen to you, you have to re-tie the mask or face a safety hazard if you have touch the mask to push it up your face.  Personally, I can’t seem to do ties without painfully catching my hair in the knots.

#2 – Those plastic mask holder thingies, and improvised alternatives

You know, those little gadgets that hold the elastics behind your head.  You *must* of course remember to sanitize them every single day after removing your mask.  You can even use a plain hair clip, shoelace, S-hook, or ribbon as an improvised mask holder, like these:

PROS: They actually work really well for some people with the right ear shape and angle, particularly for those whose ears sit low on their heads relative to their nose.  If mask holders work for you, hooray!  Your sore ear issues are solved.

CONS:  If your ears join your head at a higher point, mask holders will only help a little bit, or not at all, because the elastic will still be resting/rubbing on the top of your ear where it attaches to your head.  I personally fall into this category.  If the back of your head sticks out significantly more on the top half than on the bottom half, mask holders can cause your mask to creep down your face, because now you only have a single point of pull instead of two.  Your head isn’t symmetrical, so the whole thing slides down toward the smaller half.  Basically,  if using a mask holder doesn’t make your mask stay put over time, it’s not for you. 

#3 – Hats or headbands with buttons, or special hairstyles to hold the elastic

Sorry, I’m not making headgear just to get a picture, because I’d like to get this blog posted sometime this week.  Though I’m not ruling out trying them for fun sometime.  And I do not have enough hair to show the hairstyle option.  There are loads of photos on the internet if you want to see what these look like. 

PROS: If your workplace or your personal style allows you to wear headbands/ball caps/surgical head-covers with buttons on them every day, *and* if you get the height and angle of the button placement customized so it’s just right for you,  these can keep the elastic quite clear of your ears.  If you have enough hair to create Princess Leia space buns on the sides of your head (you hook or pin the elastic onto the buns instead of your ears), lucky you — you’re more blessed than many of us. 

CONS: If headbands/hats/head coverings are just not for you, this category is right out.  It’s probably hard to make these work with a suit and tie, say, or if you work at a funeral home.  If you have short, fine or no hair, obviously the space buns option is a no-go.  You still need to sanitize any headgear after every use, so you’d need one for each day of the week you don’t do laundry, in addition to masks — that’s a lot of hats.  If you tend to get hot easily, anything that covers part of your head can build up heat uncomfortably fast.

#4 – Elastics that go behind the head

PROS: This kind of elastic doesn’t pull your ears forward.  There’s a separate point of pull for the top and bottom halves of your head, so masks tend to stay in place better than if you used a mask holder.  It’s relatively easy to customize the tightness by tying a knot or using a slider.

CONS: the upper elastic can still rest on and rub your ears, depending on their shape and placement.  Some people find that this kind of elastic causes even worse chafing than the kind that loops around the ears, because it slides around more with the motion of your head through the day (around-the-head elastics move against your skin when you tilt or turn your head, look up/down, or nod).

So…Velcro (aka my current solution to the ouchy ear problem)

Technically, I should say “hook and loop tape.” But we all know I mean off-brand Velcro.

After a good deal of experimentation, I’m presently voting for a weird combination: the upper part of the mask fastened with flat straps and Velcro, and the lower part with a soft elastic. 

You can close the straps at any height that feels comfortable to you.  The position can vary a lot depending on the shape of your head and the placement of your ears, and whether you want the straps to sit well above your ears or pass over them — just don’t let them rest *on* your ears like ear loops to avoid soreness.

Why Velcro?  Several reasons:

  1. It’s easy to use.  Most people (the butter-fingered, the arthritic, those of the child persuasion, etc) find it relatively manageable.
  2. It’s adjustable.  If we use a generous length of Velcro, you can adjust the fit of the straps by a couple of inches.  This ability to customize the tightness should keep the mask securely in place without you needing to push it up or down, which is an important safety feature.  I sound like a broken record, but you really, really shouldn’t touch your mask while you’re wearing it!
  3. It doesn’t slip.  You’re not going to find your Velcro-locked mask slowly getting looser and sliding down over the course of your day, the way you might with a tied knot.

Why not Velcro and straps on the bottom too?

As for the bottom elastic, it’s more comfortable than Velcro against the sensitive skin on the nape of your neck (especially if you prefer to have it under your hair, or if you have short hair).  Since it’s not resting or exerting any pressure on your ears at this level of the mask, a nice soft elastic definitely feels nicer here. 

Also, non-elastic straps against the back of your neck can actually be restrictive enough to make your muscles tense up reflexively.  This can lead to headaches and shoulder or neck pain.  They can also dig in or chafe, which kind of defeats the point of this whole exercise.

I was somewhat surprised to find that you don’t need Velcro, or a lot of adjustability, at the bottom level of the mask.  The customizable, super-secure fit of the upper strap hold the mask in place pretty well all by itself, even without the lower elastic strap.  The elastic is pretty much just insurance.

In Conclusion

Would I use this strap/elastic combo on my own masks?  Well, it takes a LOT more time and materials to construct this contraption than it does to sew on a couple of lengths of elastic.  So realistically, I probably won’t bother with it for my normal life; as I mentioned, I never really go out except for super-brief nips into the shops once or twice a week.

However, … if I was going to be in any situation where I might need to wear a mask for hours instead of five minutes — such classes, a real job, or Disneyland — I would absolutely go to the trouble of making myself a strap-and-Velcro mask.  Ear elastics start to hurt my ears after twenty minutes or so, and I don’t think I want to find out what they would feel like after eight hours, never mind day after day.

I did test out my sample Anteater mask with Velcro straps by wearing it for several hours.  I lugged bolts of fabric around.  I bent over.  I even repeatedly took off and put on a high-necked T-shirt, which I was in the process of fitting.

And I kind of forgot I was wearing a mask!  Absolutely no ear discomfort whatsoever.  I was actually shocked at how securely the straps held the mask in place.  Normally, *everything* (including every hairpin and headband known to humankind) slides helplessly down my Teflon-coated Asian hair.  Maybe Velcro is magic, or I just have a good skull shape for this.

As per usual, we’re planning to throw the Velcro strap-and-elastic “ear saver” option on our masks website for those of you who have found none of the other alternatives satisfactory.  As with those all options, this will work for some of us and not for others — but each additional person who can wear masks without pain has got to be a win, right?

P.S.: If you want or need to try masks with the “ear saver” straps before we get it loaded onto our website, just contact us directly and we’ll see what we can do.

Another Summer Mask!

Because Kitty hates pressing, and breathing is worth looking like an anteater.

By Kitty

Snouty but Comfy

Yes, I look properly daft, like I’m hiding a snout in there.  But at least I’m comfy and I can breathe!

A couple of weeks ago, in response to an epic heat wave, I came up with a super-breathable 3D face mask concept.   It had a structured dome to keep the mask fabric from touching hot sticky skin and pleats for better lower face coverage.  It’s so much more pleasant to wear in hot weather, and looks more or less respectable:

It’s become the new favourite in the Felix & Kitty household, but to me, it has just one fatal flaw: pleats!

The Problem with Pleats

Don’t get me wrong — pleats are fantastic if you have a long face and/or chin, if you move your jaws a lot when you talk, or if you have a beard, because they open up to provide the extra space you need.  However, they are less fantastic if you aren’t a fan of pressing.

Fabrics, especially those deliciously breathable natural fibres I tend to use for my masks, tend to lose their crisp pressed lines after they go through a machine wash and dry cycle.   Meaning I need to iron those pleats after each laundering. 

As any responsible mask wearer knows, you really must wash your mask after EVERY SINGLE WEAR (if you don’t know this, you should seriously read through this guide for the safe wear and care of masks). That’s a whole lot of pressing pleats.  I’m a slovenly old goat that never presses a single other item in my wardrobe (unlike Mr. Kitty, aka Felix, who loves both his pleated masks and the act of pressing, which he calls “meditative”).  I just can’t be arsed to iron masks every time I go out.

Different Masks for Different Faces

The thing is, if you have a long face and/or chin, or a beard, you may just need to grit your teeth and press those pleats, because you need the extra coverage and lower face mobility that they provide.  I, however, have a short, round face and — thankfully, what with me being a woman and all — no beard, so I don’t actually need the pleats.

I’ve also decided that I don’t like nose wires.  Having a flatter nose bridge, I simply don’t require one, unlike people with those majestic Roman noses or aquiline profiles.  Felix, who is one of those people, pretty much HAS to have a nose wire, or the mask fabric won’t conform to the sharper angles of his nose bridge.  See the gaps when he tries a no-wire mask?

Unsafe Gaps on Either Side of the Nose

But anyway, I’m fine without either pleats or nose wires.  So I got to thinking.  How can I keep that lovely 3D loft of the Ziggurat mask, but with a more streamlined, no-pleats-needed shape? 

Creating a Cup (kind of like a bra cup, but not)

I really hate fabric touching my face, especially when it gets damp due to perspiration or condensing exhaled moisture.  I wanted as much free space between me and the mask as possible, so even if I was breathing hard (like during our multiple weekly hikes), I couldn’t accidentally snort mask fabric.

Coincidentally, one of the many projects I’ve been puttering with during my COVID-induced unemployment is the creation of the perfect bra.  I’ve been experimenting with many, many methods to mold fabric around my vine-ripened F-cup chest fruits.  It occurred to me that, in principle, I could use one of these methods to create a generous dome over my nose and mouth. 

So here’s what I came up with, after only about sixteen iterations or so:

I used a multitude of darts to shape a nice high cup that stays way, way up off my breathing passages.  In fact, for my facial structure at least, this mask only makes contact with my skin at the very outer rim. 

Refining the Shape

The shape itself is pretty simple, especially compared to the Ziggurat mask.  But the several small refinements were worth the time they took.  

For example, scooping out the curve under the eyes makes the top line conform better to my nose, and makes sure the fabric doesn’t stray into my vision.  A lot of designs out there don’t do this one little thing, so you end up having to tug down your mask all the time, which is a HUGE safety no-no.

I angled the side edges sharply to cut them more on the bias, so it has a built-in movement and better ability to follow different jawline shapes (if you’re not familiar with the concept, the bias or diagonal of a woven fabric is more flexible, and has the magical ability to form around curves — think of those slinky bias-cut 1930s dresses). 

Fabric Grain Cut on the Bias

As a bonus, I found a wire nose-piece quite unnecessary for this style, since the angle of the “snout” of the mask keeps the top line nicely glued to the relatively flat bridge of my nose. 

And oh, the vast cathedral roof-like space it makes!  I don’t even care that this mask makes me look like an anteater.  That big “snout” is just so much extra breathing space.

In Conclusion

As per usual, we will be throwing this style up on our mask website with our growing collection of assorted styles.  In summary, this mask is for you if you:

  • Want to have lots and lots and LOTS of air space between you and the mask
  • Don’t mind looking like an insect-munching primitive mammal in return for extra breathability
  • Dislike pressing pleats
  • Have a fairly short or wide face and a low to moderate nose bridge
  • Don’t need to accommodate a big beard or longer chin
  • Find nose wires uncomfortable

If you do have a longer face or chin or a big beard, you’ll probably want to stick with the pleated styles, like the Accordion or Ziggurat masks.   If you have a taller nose, these two styles will also be best for you, since they’re compatible with a wire nose-piece to force the fabric to mold properly around the sharper angles.  If you need a bit more guidance on figuring out the best mask type for you, you can look here (the page has been freshly updated).

For the rest of us, the new mask is a winner!  I already made myself a few of these, and have given them a literal-ish workout (wearing them for a proper HIIT session).  They were not comfortable as such after a maxed-out sprint, but I didn’t choke on fabric either, even while gasping for great gulps of air.  I’ll call that good enough for me, and a point for the Anteater mask.