Cruising plans crushed

I had been looking forward to a cruise with my favorite quilting sister in law – the One Block Wonder Woman in August to Alaska.   A quilting cruise, with 4 wonderful sea days, and two ports I have never been to, Sitka and Haines Alaska.

We were booked on the Princess Star out of San Francisco for August 21st, in an inside cabin.  We had excursions booked and paid for, our deposits in on the cruise and then the COVID-19 pandemic started hitting the world and the cruise industry.  We were not too worried because we both felt that things would be back to normal by August, even when Princess took a voluntary 60 day halt to their sailings.  I sailed out of San Francisco last summer on a 10 day trip to Alaska, and was quite looking forward to going again.  


My younger sister had 2 cruises cancelled in that 60 day window, including a much anticipated Trans-Atlantic trip to Copenhagen.

Two weeks ago, the chatter on Cruise Critic implied people were getting upgrades for the sailing, and our travel agent/quilting cruise organizer got us a wonderful balcony cabin.  We were feeling so hopeful.  We had picked out excursions in each port, had hotel reservations for the night before the cruise with the group we were traveling with, airport transfers, and much more.  

I ordered t-shirts to do some fun embroidery on for the trip, got them all washed and ready to stitch.  Suddenly, the mask making needs got into full swing, and the stack of freshly washed tshirts took a back seat.  All my fun sewing has pretty much stopped while I try to keep up with the demands for masks.

Another batch ready

Then – last week I saw the article linked below in USA Today, and I  KNEW our voyage for August was in jeopardy.    Go have a read of the article after my blog post and you will understand the sense of dread I was feeling.

As a person with a logistics background, this article left me very concerned. How were cruise lines supposed to schedule with the crazy situation they were faced with? 

Last night I got the dreaded email, first from Princess CEO and then from the travel agent.  The Alaska cruise season for 2020 is not going to happen with my favorite cruise line.  My bright spot at the end of this crazy time has disappeared, leaving me feel so very sad.  Not just for me, and my sister in law, but for all those in the travel and hospitality industries, the people in Alaska that depend on these cruise ships coming and the families of all who depend on the person working in the travel industry.   

For myself, it feels a bit selfish to whine and carry on about a cancelled cruise when people in my state, mostly in long term care facilities, are losing their lives to COVID-19.  I am praying for the “herd immunity” to start working while the researchers and healthcare professionals try to find a  way to fight this pandemic.   I’m praying too that the Health and Human Services department in our little state can figure out why so many elderly people in our care facilities are dying. What is wrong with the workers coming in and why are they not protecting the residents who are most vulnerable?  So while I whine for a minute, I really worry for those who can’t protect themselves against the unseen virus and are being done in by the very people being paid to care for them. 

Think I will go wash my hands and make more masks in the mean time.  When this week is over, I am going to start sewing for fun again. I need some joy back.  Maybe I will go sort out that album of Alaska photos from the trip last year too……


While I do that, I can plan for 2021 I suppose.  What are you doing to muddle thru this crazy time?  




Fabric Face Masks

Yesterday I left off with a discussion of the various tutorials and the benefits /negatives of “home made fabric masks”.   There was a reference at the bottom of the post about the “effectiveness” being around 50%.   Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks

Well…that certainly is better than nothing. …..I can’t buy a mask, and hospitals are running out quickly around the world…So I choose to sew my own, for my family and to donate.

Just today the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in NH has published a request for those “homemade masks” and cites the CDC stating “The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has given guidance that fabric masks are a crisis response option only to be used when other supplies have been exhausted, N95 masks need to be conserved for front line healthcare workers.”  They further indicated that ” Donated fabric masks will be sanitized by DHMC environmental services and will be given to staff, patients and visitors across the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system”. Dartmouth-Hitchcock

 I was fairly “TOLD OFF” by someone today (who is NOT in the medical field) that an “ICU NURSE wouldn’t wear a homemade mask”.   Yeah, the point here is to save the “commercially made mask for the ICU nurse!  And bully for the nurse who goes in without a mask of any sort….I doubt that will happen.

So if you think these masks do nothing…then bully for you. Go without, and see what I care.  And go read someone else’s blog and UNSUBSCRIBE right now from mine.   And stop bullying people who are trying to do SOMETHING to help.  If you are interested in what I am up to, then feel free to read on.

I have continued my research, and will share a few “more” links with you.  I think it is important to consider a FILTER POCKET and an ADJUSTABLE WIRE when making your masks.  These patterns are all for the pleated style masks.  These are large enough to COVER an N95 mask, and the pocket would allow for insertion of some type of filter.


This link has written directions and a link to a video – XOBON Magazine Fabric Face mask 3 layers

and another Ten Minute Face Mask The Sewing Room Channel and

one another –DIY Mask with Slot for Filter

and of course, Jenny Doan Missouri Star Quilt Company Face Mask

In one of these videos you will find a method that you can work with I am sure.

I kind of did a “mash up” of the first video – Easy to Sew; adding t-shirt fabric for the backing and an “envelope style” opening to insert a filter in the pocket. I used the methods on the Easy to Sew video for the pleats and the sides.  I took a lot of photos, but honestly, the video shows better than mine.  Feel free to go look at my album of photos if you like – Projects for 2020

The only elastic at hand was really wider than what I found comfortable. It was 3/8″.

finished protoype

I chose the t-shirt fabric for the inside because of the filtration benefit.

Mask with pocket

I also added a “wire tie” to give the nose a bit of “shape”.  I did this “post construction” on the prototype and it was a bit “fiddly”.

addition of the wire tie

I tried the mask on for “size” before adding the nose piece and found the loops too long on the elastic.

trying on for size

My hubby tried it on and did NOT like the thick elastic…and he found it too short. One of my friends suggested ties.  I have thin “cording style” elastic on order, which should arrive in a few days.  Meanwhile, I have a few ready to “thread” with elastic on arrival.

Production mode

I started in on another stack today, and got smarter with the wires, inserting them right after I turned the project right side out.

Front with wire tie

The tie is in the “seam” up at the top, and you can see the stitches along the “ends” of the tie.  I held them in place with my little clips while stitching.  This is what the back looks like –

Back with wire tie

I chained pieced about 6 more today when I had a bit of time to sew.  I have “almost” used up 1 entire      t-shirt for the batch I made so far. Using a 6×9 piece of quilters cotton on the front and two 3.5×9 pieces of t-shirt on the back, it doesn’t take a lot of fabric.  The real time is what it takes to pleat them all and add the side channels for the elastic. I may switch to another style once I get my 100 yards of elastic in!  Meanwhile, I will work with the channels so I can continue to sew while I wait.

WHAT to put in the pocket for filtration ?? Another one of those “hot button” topics of discussion, and it was covered in that post yesterday by the air quality company.  Everything I read indicates you want a NON- WOVEN product as a filter.  Of course, I am thinking something you could wash – like cut-away embroidery stabilizer. I have a package of 100 sheets of 8×8, so I think they will work if I just cut them in half.  The cut-away is WASHABLE, fabric like,  and could be removed when the mask is washed.  I think that is what I will give to my family members who want a mask.  I also have tear away stabilizer, but that won’t wash, as it is more of a paper fiber product.  The #1 items is cut up vacuum cleaner bags, and believe it or not, I have some of those hanging around. They are also paper fiber, and would not wash, but are the best filtration.

As of Tuesday we are on a “state mandated” STAY HOME, with allowances for grocery shopping, doctors appointments, pharmacy trips and “exercise”.  I just love that the doctor who is the director of Public Health for Delaware is encouraging people to go out for walks, ride their bikes, use the state parks for exercise, while maintaining the “required” social distances.

So there you go; what I have been doing for the last little bit, trying not to angst over the daily, growing numbers of COVID-19 in Delaware.  I have requests from friends and family members, and they get theirs FIRST. I hope to have a big handful ready to delivery when I go to a doctor’s appointment mid week.

Got fabric? Make Masks COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19 is hitting countries hard. Hospital networks around the world are running low on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) due to supply chain disruption and high world-wide demand.  I have read post after post on Facebook, articles in the news and urgent pleas from hospitals looking for help from the people who sew.  Yesterday, a nurse from our local hospital contacted members of the quilt guild and a “local” plea has been issued.

For the skeptics I give you some news references – YES it is a real supply chain problem.

Face Mask Shortage

Office Supplies for masks

In the USA it is uncommon to see people going about daily life wearing a mask – Why Face Masks are Shunned in the US

There is a wonderful op-ed in the NY Times about masks, shortages and more…remember it is an editorial – Op-ed from NY Times

Yet, the call has come from hospital networks around the country – Michigan hospital asks for masks

I’ve read all the snarky comments on Facebook about how the “homemade masks” won’t do any good, and I think to myself, it’s better than ‘nothing’.  (Especially as I saw the woman checking out my groceries coughing on everything she was scanning and bagging – LAST week!)

Here is what I came up with – Best Materials and research  .  What I like about the Smart Air Filters article is there is some research behind the recommendations.

I’ve watched DOZENS of You-Tube videos and read blog posts with patterns.  This is the one that I have narrowed down as a “favorite”, for 3 reasons. There are pleats, and a pocket for a filter, and a wire over the nose area for better eliminating a gap.  HOW TO MAKE FACE MASK WITH FILTER POCKET AND ADJUSTABLE WIRE

So – if you sew – pick your favorite pattern and fabrics; and get busy.  I am starting today, so no projects finished yet. I read and read and read yesterday trying to figure out what fabrics etc. I am going with quilters cotton on the outside and tshirt fabric for the inside, with TIES as elastic is not available, and sizing the elastic is problematic. Another Edit…I found a source for elastic and have it ordered from Amazon. Thanks to my daughter for her Amazon Prime it is coming much sooner than if I had ordered it.  Thanks for the link my friend on Facebook Easperee Marla Landry!  She is spearheading a drive for masks in the Reno NV area. Now I need to re-evaluate and research lengths of elastic too.  🙂 Stitch on my friends.  

What are you working on?

quick edit -adding a link on the effectiveness on homemade masks – research on masks

AU – Davies, Anna
AU – Thompson, Katy-Anne
AU – Giri, Karthika
AU – Kafatos, George
AU – Walker, James
AU – Bennett, Allan
PY – 2013/08/01
SP – 413
EP – 418
N2 – This study examined homemade masks as an alternative to commercial face masks.
Several household materials were evaluated for the capacity to block bacterial and viral aerosols. Twenty-one healthy volunteers made their own face masks from cotton t-shirts; the masks were then tested for fit. The number of microorganisms isolated from coughs of healthy volunteers wearing their homemade mask, a surgical mask, or no mask was compared using several air-sampling techniques.
The median-fit factor of the homemade masks was one-half that of the surgical masks. Both masks significantly reduced the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers, although the surgical mask was 3 times more effective in blocking transmission than the homemade mask.
Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;0:1-6).
T1 – Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic?
VL – 7
DO – 10.1017/dmp.2013.43
JO – Disaster medicine and public health preparedness
ER –