Sewing for others

I had the opportunity this last week to work on making a few gifts for other people. I also spent some time with my quilt guild neighbor, working on a few masks. She was making those masks to gift to a great grandson.

We sewed wearing masks, which is not a lot of fun. I know people are wearing masks all day at work and it amazes me how they stand it.

Thank goodness for being retired. I’m sure if I had to go to work every day and wear one, I would suck it up and carry on, but honestly, if I have to wear one to go out & have a little fun, I’d rather stay home for now. (And if you have been following me for any bit of 2020, you KNOW how many darn masks in varying styles I have made).

I did recently purchase some mask inserts that were suggested to me that help keep you a bit cooler in the mask, pushing the fabric out away from your nostrils. (Look on Amazon for a “face mask bracket” or “3D mask bracket” and you will find silicone open frames.)

I inserted them into the pocket of the masks on the style I made with pockets. On the most recent style (see my post https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/09/23/trying-out-a-new-mask-design/ ) I slipped the 3D mask bracket inside the layers before I stitched across the end closing it up. Those masked I marked an UP arrow with a sharpie on the inside of the mask, as the bracket definitely has an up and down.

3 d mask frame
3 d mask insert

They do really push the mask out from your nostrils and mouth, but you need to still have a snug fit over the bridge of your nose and under your chin, and that will happen with a good fitting mask like the one in the link I previously wrote about. You can also slip this frame BEHIND a ready made mask without a pocket, but the silicone touches your face, and you should be aware of that if you have an allergy. I did that with an older style mask and it was not uncomfortable. I think that is where you get the most benefit of holding the fabric away from your nostrils. The pack I bought had ten, and so I have played with various options. They even make them in kids sizes.

I can say that the mask frames that are inserted loosely inside my masks go through the washer and dryer without a problem. I just straighten them out when I take the mask out of the mesh bag from the clothes dryer. (REMEMBER your mask should be washed EVERY TIME you wear it, in HOT soapy water, and machine dried to kill any germs. DON’T wear the same mask over and over without washing!!!)

Other fun sewing….I want to go visit my friends, Walt & June at assisted living this week, and promised last time we talked that I would bring her “fall” placemats. I made two this weekend using a block pattern from Carole’s Autumn Jubilee 2017, Stars on Autumn Lane (pattern still available for A block and B block –https://frommycarolinahome.com/2017/10/13/stars-on-autumn-lane-block-a/ https://frommycarolinahome.com/2017/10/20/autumn-lane-block-b/ )

(You know me, I love the patterns from Carole’s blog – FROM MY CAROLINA HOME. Go take a look!)

I added a 3″ border and corner stones, then trimmed them to 2.5″ after the quilting. I used Pellon fusible fleece for the batting. The border fabric is right out of my friend June’s boxes of fabric I have stored. It is very “1980’s” but the colors were perfect, and I hope she recognizes it as “something from home”. I cleared out her sewing room (it took me 3 days with my hubby packing along side me) when she moved to assisted living 3 years ago. I often take her pieces of fabric from her boxes I have stored, to use, but she isn’t sewing too much anymore. When I was able to volunteer there to sew with the ladies as a group, we primarily used June’s fabrics and that made her very happy!

placemats for Walt & June

I decided to “turn” these placemats instead of bind them to get them finished a little faster. It is NOT my favorite method, but they are DONE. ( I can never get a good closure even trimming away the batting at the opening. Anybody got a secret method? )

Another fun project — One of my daughter’s is having a birthday, and we all got together yesterday for a fun party, where she cooked for US, including the best carrot cake in the world for her own birthday cake. (She loves to cook and to entertain.)

I made her a new apron from fabric I bought a few years ago. (So nice to have it in my stash waiting). It is a very durable twill fabric with a delightful print. I am certain it came from Hobby Lobby. The “last” apron I made for her I wrote about here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/a-sense-of-accomplishment/

I wish I had made a note in that blog post of “which” pattern I had made for her. I dug through my file drawer and pulled out my patterns and thought I would try this one. I’ve made it before, but honestly can’t remember which modifications I made. After she wore that apron (2017 edition) she made some comments about fit…which I intended to save and have lost. SIGH………

Apron pattern
vintage pattern

I did like the pockets, but of course, I had to slightly modify them. In the B view of the pattern the pockets bloused out too much, so I made it into 2 pockets by running a stitch down the middle. The inverted pleat gives you extra “room” if you need it.

big pockets on the bottom

There is also a top pocket, and I left it as a single pocket. I tested, and my phone fit right in.

Top pocket

No need to divide that top pocket for a pen.

A new apron

I used the Medium size, but am annoyed at how “long waisted” it seems. It doesn’t look it laying on the table, but the minute it was finished and I tried it on, I was annoyed. It’s just FINE for my 5’11” tall husband (I made him one a long time ago from this pattern). My daughter is about 5’5″, so it will fit her better than me! First thing I did after trying it on was to pull it up at the apron ties and insert a little fold. I guess it will have to do. It’s done, and gifted! I pre-washed the fabric, so I can’t hope for much shrinkage. It does have a good “wrap” so your lower half is protected.

I was happy that I left a note in the pattern to not try to “turn” those apron ties. I modified how I made them an did them like “double fold bias binding”, folding down the center and then folding in the edges and pressing and top stitching. Maybe a little narrower than the original design of the pattern, but functional. I did leave a note in the pattern this time about how long waisted it is !

My hubby laughs at my angst, because he said “IT’s an APRON, not a designer dress”.… and I know my daughter will splash and wipe her hands in a hurry like she does with all the other aprons I’ve made over the years. She puts an apron on every time she works in the kitchen at her house and mine, so I know it will get used ! Functional!

My last little project was for one of the grand kids. She is going to dress up like ROSIE THE RIVETER for Halloween.

During dinner last week we chatted about her costume, and I had shared a red bandana I had. Her mommy said I could help with the costume by making a mask that she could wear while she was out in her costume. This is the idea we came up with –

Halloween mask

I used Superior cotton GLOW IN THE DARK white thread when stitching it out on my embroidery machine. It kind of glows green in the dark which she just loved.

GLOWING

Don’t panic about all the holes that machine embroidery does…..the back of the mask is TWO layers, with a filter pocket. Her mom can add a piece of cut away stabilizer in the pocket for a filter. That will keep her safe….

I did the whole mask “in the hoop” on my embroidery machine. I had a pattern for the mask from Smart Needle.com that I used. I did the placement and tack down stitch, then switched over to the wording in another file that I had done up on Embrilliance using the built in block lettering.

Set up to stitch

I adjusted the wording to fit in the mask and loaded that glow in the dark thread. (LOTS of thread breaks with that cotton thread).

Mask making

Once the front was finished, I added the elastic, making sure there were knots at the ends and taped them down. Then I added the two backing pieces on the TOP of the mask, returned to the original “smart needle” pattern in the machine, and ran the placement stitch and the tack down stitch again (twice). I didn’t want a lot of top stitching on the mask, so I removed it from the hoop, tore away the stabilizer and trimmed the mask and turned it . I’m so happy with my machine and all the little tricks I have learned over the course of the year where I can interrupt the machine and easily modify to suit my needs. It took me about an hour to make, including the test mask. The test I did as a child size and it was VERY small. ūüôā

Test run

I have “one more” small project to work on for the same granddaughter . Can you guess what I am doing with this?

Can you guess

I went in search of this fabric on Friday and ended up on a 63 mile round trip ride! Any advice for a rolled hem would be appreciated! I’ll practice on muslin first!

What is happening in YOUR sewing room? Any Halloween costumes? Christmas stitching? Do tell.

A HOT time making masks

A Hot Time making masks – Having a heatwave in Delaware this past week, where outside temps are in the nineties every day. The humidity has been over 80% most days as well. I have a freestanding Haier air conditioner in my sewing room and it isn’t keeping up with the heat. Temps have been over 80 in my studio space all week. We live in a 117 year old house without central air and this morning, my kitchen a/c said it was 80 when I got up. Trying to sleep last night in the bedroom at 80 degrees was miserable. Our pool was 95 last night and I am ever so grateful for the brief downpour we had this morning, to add cool water to the pool, bring up the water level and cool off the surfaces, decking, roof and more. The morning temp dropped from 81 to 77 so that was quite nice. So, time spent in my sewing room studio above the garage is “weather dependent” right now.

I was creating a few masks for my granddaughters last weekend and posted some photos on Facebook. The 3 below are size small, and took me about 3 hours from start to finish. This is my absolute favorite style of mask to make, and although very time intensive is the best style for fit I have made.

small masks for little people

The ones in the photo below I made on “speculation” a few would be purchased. I spent Sunday and Monday making 10 masks in my sewing room where the temperature was nearing 85 degrees.

Medium masks
amazing cats
Laurel Burch fabric
mint with teal green purple

Medium turquoise

My grand kids don’t know yet if they are going back to school ‚Äúphysically‚ÄĚ in the fall, but if they do, they will need to be wearing masks all the time for the foreseeable future. One of the granddaughters liked some of the “speculation” masks I made and I made the elastic adjustment to fit her face properly.

Since I was having the kids for a pool time one day this week, they all came up to the sewing room (85 degrees in the late afternoon) and picked out 5 fabrics each from the ‚Äúquilters resource center‚ÄĚ (aka ‚Äď stash). The are elementary and middle school age and the fabric choices were so interesting.

Masks for a middle school boy
Middle school boy…(middle fabric is more maroon than pink)

The fabric on the far right is official Boy Scout fabric with words.

Masks choices
Artsy middle school girl picked fabric with a vine theme
Second grader masks
Elementary school child choices

The nearly 8 year old elementary child came over yesterday morning and she learned to iron. She loves the OLISO iron with the pop up feet. Close supervision kept her from burning any fingers. She mastered spritzing the fabric with the spray bottle and loved watching the steam roll up off the fabric when she press it. She also learned about proper rotary cutting. Once the pieces were cut for 4 masks, she pressed the pleats using the pleating guide and enjoyed working with all my little binding clips to keep them in place. She also did the stitching on the ear channel (where the elastic goes) on my Janome 8900. She could sit on my stool, and I could sit behind her. It was easier for her to sew with the stop/start button. I made sure the plastic guide was set up, and she learned to chain piece. She really likes my little snips.

I was able to rotate this design on the screen in my machine. The pattern was purchased from Creative Appliques

The pleating template is part of the pattern, and there are multiple sizes in the pattern, so chose carefully based on your own machine hoop limitations. There is a 4×4 hoop option at Creative Appliques, along with other mask styles.

Using my Janome 11000 and the MA hoop(8×12 adjustable), I could get 4 of the small masks in one hooping. I like to conserve stabilizer by maximizing the number in the hoop. Mediums can be stitched 3 in a hoop with careful adjustments to mask placement on the screen and in the machine. I’ve mentioned “windowing stabilizer” on other blog posts. Link to that post – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/windowing-stabilizer-the-twist-and-more/

I also have a video on removing items from the hoop for windowing – https://www.flickr.com/photos/92296158@N02/49789624736/in/album-72157712813350817/

Mediums in the hoop
3 mediums in my MA hoop

When I make this particular style mask, my husband creates nose wires for me from copper electric wire he has. He strips the plastic coating off the wire, pulls out the copper wire and strips it bare, cuts it to my desired length and curls the ends.

Cutting and prepping the fabric for these masks is much more time consuming than the donation masks I made back in March, April and May. They take longer because each mask has 5 pieces of fabric, and every piece is a different size. Each piece is prepared a differently before they are stitched, pleating folding, pressing etc.

Beyond the directions provided by Creative Applique, I add machine stitching on the ear channels so nothing “ravels” in the wash, and I add extra stitches to hold the nose wire “in place”. I also have been cutting into my $14/yard fabric for these masks. So, they are time consuming and rather expensive to make when you consider all the stabilizer, thread, and extra stitching I do. These masks have such a nicer fit than a typical 6×9 rectangular mask. There are 5 different pieces that go into the one mask, all cut to various sizes.

prepped and ready
Taped and stitching

When I am working on these masks, you can’t take your eyes off the machine for a minute, and there is a lot of taping things in place so the foot of the machine doesn’t get caught.

My daughter and I think it is important for the children to be “invested” in the process of making masks. Their labor and efforts will be remembered, and help them to have a better understanding of what actually goes into what “grandma” made. The “big” kids will get their turn, individually, to come over and spend some time making their masks.

I stopped making masks in May because I was burnt out and depressed. I am ONLY making masks for my family now. When asked by friends, I will sell them masks, because it is a lot of work. The idea of “selling to friends or strangers” can be a contentious subject. Believe me, I am not profiteering on COVID-19. If you are new here, understand that I have made and donated nearly 200, and many went to friends when you couldn’t BUY a mask anywhere back in early April. I stopped making donation masks in May because I was burnt out! I have invested a lot of money since the outbreak of COVID-19 in supplies, and charging people now is a way to recover the costs and enable me to continue to move forward and to supply masks to charitable groups. There are still groups asking for mask donations.

I set my price for these masks based on the time it takes me to make a high quality product and to offset the costs of fabric, elastic, stabilizer. You can buy a cheaper mask online and if money is your issue, then buy a box of disposable masks. You will get something made in a factory and it will go in the landfill.

masculine fabric for masks
Medium size masked prepped for stitching

Bits and pieces and more masks

Last week was a struggle to have any fun. I had “two emergency” visits to the dentist and another set for today.¬† Seems an old woman with an old root canal and crown must say goodbye to the tooth instead of getting it repaired. Getting in to the dentist, endodontist and the¬† oral surgeon are all tricky escapades during the global pandemic of Covid-19. The bright side is that once the antibiotics started to work, I could reduce all the pain relief medications; but it did take through the weekend.¬† Slowed me down on having fun.

I was able to do a little stitch out on a couple of dish towels, one for each daughter.

Home in Delaware

The towel above was fun to do. I’ve found that the secret to doing applique on the embroidery machine is using Wonder under or Heat n’ Bond light on the back of the fabric before you place it. Then when you trim after the tack down stitch you get a nicer cut. That said, I should have used some water soluble stabilizer on top of the towel before the applique. It would have made close trimming easier, without fighting with the nap of the towel.¬† I chose this design for my daughter who moved “home” to Delaware recently, after moving around the country and world for the last 12 years with the US Military.¬† (Years ago, while in Texas, she and I were shopping and saw “TEXAS” state towels and discussed how they were made and could be done for every state, and if they would be “marketable” .¬† When I saw this design I scooped it up!)

Heather's towel

This towel, for my youngest daughter, was a LONG stitch out. Over 30,000 stitches, and I forgot to take a photo before I gifted it. My daughter was sweet to send me a picture back for the blog.¬† This towel has more of a woven weave and I had to use a LOT of tear away stabilizer, plus water soluble on top.¬† I have a couple of “oops” moments and can see them in the picture, one being an orange thread dangling above the back wheel, and one being a “skip” of stitches on the front wheel.¬† Why is it you don’t see those things until after it comes out of the hoop??? Snipping the loose thread can be done now, but fixing that front wheel is never going to happen. You can only hope the rider doesn’t feel the bump in the road! (Oh, and don’t get me started on the beak of the bird…..it’s not there….).¬† Anyway, both towels were fun to do and I tried to pick a design that suited each daughter. My youngest daughter loves to ride, and her “cruiser” is orange and white.¬† Both embroidery designs came from¬†Oh My Crafty Supplies

In the midst of my dental emergency, I was committed to pick up kits from the local quilt shop for another batch of masks.  This batch was quilters cotton and batik fabric with ELASTIC !! YAY, no ties. No flannel.  So, I picked them up on Wednesday and was able to hand them off on Sunday afternoon.  My friend Pam offered to deliver this batch to the local hospital.

Batik for masks

I told my hubby that this batik looked like a virus. When I cut these I layered the two fabrics¬† right sides together and made short work of matching pieces together.¬† I thought I was being efficient.¬† After doing the first one, I changed my method a bit.¬† I marked a dot where the elastic was to go on all the pieces, and tack stitched the elastic in place. I did this rather than trying to pin in place and hope it didn’t wiggle out while I was stitching the two pieces of fabric together with the elastic inside. It was taking a lot of time to “pin” the elastic and fabric.¬† So, marking the placement gave me consistent placement of the elastic, and I could just “hold” the elastic in place while I tacked it down on the edges of the mask.

More masks production

Once the elastic was managed it was easy to put the fabric pieces right sides together and just sew around the edges, leaving a gap for turning.
I used my pleating template and clips again and lots of steam to pleat the masks.  The walking foot is the best foot for me when top stitching to secure the pleats.

28 completed masks

Did you know with careful cutting you can get 28 masks out of 2 yards of fabric? (These are cut 6×9″) I was happy the quilt shop was able to provide elastic.

I just got an order in on Monday of some nice soft elastic and used it for masks for my son-in-law. He has to go daily out for his work, all day wearing a mask, and I made him 4 new masks yesterday. I much prefer making the masks on the embroidery machine using the Creative Appliques pattern . I was able to get 4 mask “fronts” and ear flaps from one fat quarter, and using two other batik fat quarters the pieces for the inside. I tried to “mix up” the insides a bit when I assembled so he could distinguish from one to another, though they look similar.

Creative Appliques style mask size large

I have a bunch more mask parts cut out and pre-pleated and ready to stitch out.¬† I took a break though and made some “ear saver mask extenders” using another pattern from Creative Appliques.

Extenders

I used black vinyl on top and black felt on the bottom with medium tear away for stabilizer. The idea here is to keep the elastic off the ears which can be a problem for wearing for long periods of time. I used 9″ elastic and knotted it into a loop.¬† The loop goes into the mask flaps and gets snapped into the extender.¬† The Creative Appliques pattern is a fast stitch out.¬† A couple of weeks ago I tried another pattern and it was way more stitches than necessary, but pretty!¬† The tan ones were the original ones I made and I used buttons and snaps.¬† (Of course I sewed the buttons on using my sewing machine.¬† The tan ones are only about 4″ long, and the black ones from Creative Appliques are 7″. They come in a variety of lengths at C.A., the pattern gives you lots to choose from.

various extenders

Of course, I had to “test drive” the mask with extender.¬†

Creative applique mask

The good thing about a mask is it hides all the wrinkles, and you can blame the mask for COVID-19 bad hair! 

I really like this mask because it fits close on the nose with a wire, and the part I called ear flaps (where the elastic goes through) hold it close to the sides of your face. Because of the shape it is a much nicer fit.¬† Making them on the embroidery machine uses a lot of stabilizer, but I have said before how I manage that with the “windowing technique” I use.¬† If I was more efficient I could probably “mass produce” them like I did the ones for the hospital, but I am only doing this style for “special requests” as they take me longer, but give you a better mask.¬† ¬†Creative Appliques sells this style pattern for the home sewing machine also.Creative Appliques sewing machine mask pattern

I’ve seen masks for sale all over the place from $8 to $15 or more.¬† I don’t think I could “earn a living” making them.¬† I might make some to sell to help recover the expense of all the elastic, twill tape, stabilizer I have used in the last 2 months.¬† Are you selling masks?¬† What style?¬† How much?

FAST Mask With TIES

My Quilt Guild got a 3rd request for 1000 more masks (3000 total) from a local chicken processing plant. In order to keep the workers safe, the company purchased fabric from 2 local quilt shops, who were more than happy to sell it and make kits for people to pick up, cut, stitch and return as soon as possible.

I coordinated a pick up and brought 8 kits home yesterday for local distribution. Friends came by and picked them up in a bin I set up in my carport.

This project has flannel and cotton fabric for 6×9 masks.¬† Two yards were for ties, one yard for the front of the mask in quilters cotton, and one yard of flannel for inside of the mask (4 yards for 28 masks).¬† When I picked up the kits, Nancy, the owner of the quilt shop,¬† Church Street Fabrics, Selbyville DE¬† , and I had a chat about making all those ties and methods that would make them go faster.¬† We also chatted about how she did her mask vs Jenny Doan’s method.¬† Church Street owner, Nancy, said STITCH the pleats down BEFORE you put the ties on.¬† See Mod 1.¬† ¬†Kudo’s to Nancy for that modification!

Now, I would much rather make the masks on the embroidery machine using the pattern from Creative Appliques,¬† but for this request, 6×9 masks, pleated with ties, were requested, using the “Jenny Doan / Missouri Star Quilt Company” style.

Modifications – Creative Appliques had a “PLEATING TEMPLATE” they show you how to use on You Tube.¬† https://youtu.be/jtw8DJktzS0¬†

If you go to the Creative Appliques website, you can download the machine embroidery pattern (free but donation requested) and the Pleating Template is part of the pattern.

Pleating template

I have made over 30 of these masks using the embroidery pattern.

Creative Applique masks

I was VERY familiar with the pleating template by Creative Applique,¬† and decided to use it to pleat the “Jenny Doan style” were were being asked to make.

Chain piecing makes sittching the sides of the mask go quickly.

Ready to chain piece.

 

TIES – phew….I don’t have (or can’t find) the right size bias tape maker and I hate burning my fingers.¬† There are COUNTLESS ways to eat this elephant, but I saw a method on Making ties without an iron video last week and thought “GENIUS”.¬† Great concept except I have to enclose the top and bottom of the mask in the fold of the bias tape.¬† SO….look at my 3rd modification.

So; three modifications from Jenny’s method.

MOD 1 (Credit to Nancy) – Do your pleats BEFORE you put the ties on, that way you don’t have to fight the ties.¬† Use the method in MOD 2 to get PERFECT pleats.

Quick, even pleats

MOD 2 (Credit to that great Pleating Template at Creative Appliques.) – Once you have your front and back sewn together and you take it to the iron, press your seam, turn right side out, press again, then use the LINE C FOLD on the pleating guide to make your pleats; using steam & wonder clips.

Ready to pleat

Using the pleating template

Press while still on the pleating template

Ready to stitch

Again, chain piecing makes this part go very fast!

Set up to chain piece those pleats

MOD 3 – TIES —¬† (Credit to a DIY video from Lemon Mint Studio in link above) –After multiple trials,¬† I altered the card stock to work for me as follows —

  • 2″ ties¬† – cut card stock 2″ x 8 “.¬† ¬†Mark in at 1” down the length of the card stock, score and fold
  • Mark in at 3/8″ down the length of the card stock, score and fold.Bias tape template
  • Lay our 2″ strips right side toward the cardstock, and fold the edges over catching the edge of your strip in the folds of the card stock.

Lay end of strip on top of cardstock template

  • Fold in the top

Fold the top of the cardstock over

  • Fold up the bottom

Fold the bottom of the card stock in toward center

  • Use the tip of the iron to push against the card stock pushing it toward your other hand which is guiding the pieces into the folds of the card stock template.

Press and push with the tip of the iron

  • This can be a little fussy, but you just hold the left hand taught and keep the fabric lined up as you push the cardstock with the iron to the left.

Edges folded toward center of the strip

  • In the time it takes to type this sentence you are nearly to the end. Don’t be afraid to put your iron right on the card stock as you get to the end and have no tail left to hold on to.
  • Turn your finished strip back to the right, and fold that template cardstock in half on the center line and use your iron again.

Fold Strip in half using template

  • You may find that you can’t really “push” the cardstock, as it is a little tight, so give it a slight pull with your left hand, drawing it the length of your strip while you press.

Press and pull the template away from the tip of the iron

  • In less than two minutes, you have your strip done.

Ties are finished

  • Find the center of your tie and pin in the center of the mask, encasing the opening.¬† Use pins or clips.

Find the center and pin or clip in place

Stitch from the end of the tie, and across the top of the mask, removing clips or pins before they get to your needle, and to the other end of the tie.  Repeat for the bottom tie.

Before you know it you will have a big stack done!!

Half way done

What are you working on?  Any secrets to faster sewing?