The fun and fine art of making Halloween masks, unmasked

Amanda Riley

From superheroes to cats and fairies, from crows and reptiles (perhaps one well-versed in martial arts?), a mask can really bring a costume together. In fact, I'd go so far to say that with the right mask, the rest of a costume often comes together pretty easily.

Last year my daughter wanted to be a crow for Halloween. And so, after thinking it over for a few, I selected a large piece of thick black felt and got to work making her a feathery cape and a black mask.

I've used the same general template (I sketched a basic mask shape on paperboard and cut it out, including eye openings) for the crow mask, a superhero mask and a fairy-esque one. You can sketch your own, trace an existing mask or download simple templates online as a starting point.

Once you have your general mask shape cut out, I recommend tracing several copies of it onto paperboard. As you make more embellished versions (and therefore end up with more embellished cut-outs), keep extras of those as well. Sandwiching a paperboard template between two pieces of felt creates a stiffer mask that can hold up to bending and wear over time.

There are products you can purchase at a craft supply store that accomplish the same thing. But I say why not give good old (free) paperboard a chance?

These would be easy enough to hand-stitch, but I much prefer finishing them on my sewing machine - a neater (and a bit quicker) option. Follow the photo instructions to give yourself a general idea of how to sketch, cut out and bring to life masks of your own.

Amanda Riley lives in Black Mountain with her husband, young daughter, cat and small flock of chickens. Read more about her suburban homesteading at