I’ve been keeping busy at home for the last month, though I don’t feel like I have much to show for the time. We have had some Spring-like weather some days and some winter-like weather other days. A fickle time of year is early April. I’ve adjusted to my husband’s “late night” schedule a bit, but find myself getting up close to my normal time, so I am NOT getting enough sleep. We have been spending time nearly every evening out in the garage, upstairs in the “hobby” room. He has his end with his model railroad work desk and I have the rest of the space for my work tables, fabric, machines, etc.
It seems now that the recommendation is for “everyone” to wear some kind of covering when they are unable to “stay at home”. Our state has published guidance, but it is not as strongly worded as the CDC. See for yourself – Delaware “Guidance” for Face Coverings . The CDC has changed their “mind” about face coverings “CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html )
I wondered why, early at the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, everyone didn’t opt for a mask, not knowing if they had the virus or not, and not trying to “keep” the spread down? Honestly, you might be carrying germs to other people, so the mask would at least keep your germs to yourself. In Asian cultures, it is common to see people wearing masks. The reasons are often ” social courtesy, by cough-and-cold victims seeking to avoid transmitting their germs to others, rather than healthy people looking to prevent the onset of illness.” (source -https://qz.com/299003/a-quick-history-of-why-asians-wear-surgical-masks-in-public/) When we got the notification that 1 person in our little state tested positive, I started my mask making, long before it be “the thing”. So, here is what’s going on in my sewing room.
Honestly, I got burnt out after making more than 50, and stopped for a week. I have given all of those away to family , friends, and to the healthcare groups that are collecting them. I started up again this week, but on a slower pace. Besides the pattern I shared last time, I made some for Beebe Hospital using their Beebe mask pattern. This is a 3 layer mask, 2 cotton and 1 tshirt layer.
I liked the curved front, no pleats, and no center seam on the Beebe Healthcare mask pattern. It had a “side pocket” for insertion of a filter. The directions are very good, and I broke down for my own brain what kind of strips to cut to speed up the cutting. The curve on the front is done with a “dart”, essentially sewing along the curve edge and trimming away the excess fabric.
The problem with this pattern is I ran out of t shirts. I don’t want to donate something they won’t be able to use, so I moved on to making other types.
I made 10 on Thursday for a “group collection” and had to make a specific style and size for that organization. That group wanted 3 layer cotton fabric 6×9, pleated. It made me remember right away sewing those pleats to switch to a #16/denim needle in the sewing machine and put the walking foot on. They sew up quickly, and using my iron to “press the pleats into submission” does help. They use
I found an In the Hoop embroidery machine pattern for masks that I really like and I made a dozen or so that way. Mine have ties because elastic is scare. I’m using 1/4″ woven cotton twill tape that I found online.
The In the Hoop mask pattern I used comes from Do Dare to be Different embroidery design company. What I liked about this designer is that they created multiple sizes, so there is a mask size to fit everyone. I’ve made the large, the regular and the small, which were the options when I bought the pattern last week. Today I see there are even more sizes offered.
My method to keep the ties in place is scotch tape! I’m also using tape to keep my machine foot from getting hung up in places where the fabric over laps – along the line of pleats . In the picture above I took the tape on the pleats off before this photo. The next step is to lay the two back pieces on.
They also overlap, so in the circle area above, I used some scotch tape on both sides. I must have taken it off before this picture, but you can see that the foot could easily jam there. And you can see at the top of the above photo how the machine will easily stitch thru the tape.
Once I remove the mask from the hoop, I try to remove as much of the stabilizer as I can. This pattern has a small “pocket” for the nose wire to slide in . I slide it in BEFORE I turn the mask right side out.
This photo shows the inside of the mask. I used the pattern with the pleats done “in the hoop” vs “pre-pleating“. I’m going to “try” the pre-pleated method next. Reasoning is the pleats done “in the hoop”have stitches across the face of the mask, and maybe those extra holes from the needle could be a problem. My friend Nancy switched to the “pre-pleated” method for that reason.
I am using tear away stabilizer (medium weight), and in the above photo you can see little bits of it left in the stitch line. That bit of tearaway will be on the “inside of the mask” and will not matter. (Glad I bought that big roll back in January!)
I was able to use my large adjustable hoop(MA/8×12) on the Janome 11000 to make 2 regular/medium size in one hooping I went into the edit function on the machine, chose the MA hoop, rotated the design on the screen, the duplicated it, and pulled it all the way to the bottom of the screen, and “dropped it” in place. The original one that I had rotated, I pulled all the way to the “top” of the screen, and it left plenty of room for both to stitch out nicely.
I liked doing them 2 at a time, and it helped to have a stack of fabric cut and ready to stitch. I am using a lot of tape, as there are spots where my machine foot could get caught, pocket overlaps, nose wire holder etc. Once they come out of the hoop and the stabilizer is “torn away, I trim the seam allowance, turn the mask right sides out. I give them a press with the iron, then go to the sewing machine. I top stitch where the wire is located on the top of the mask to keep it from slipping out of place.
And while I have it at the sewing machine, I go ahead and run a top stitch around the 2 sides and across the bottom. I figure it is extra reinforcement for the twill tape ties too.
The back is done as an “envelope” style so you can easily insert a filter of your choice. Without a filter it is still 3 layers of fabric because each back piece is folded in half. I’ve been giving my friends and family 4″x 8″ pieces of “cutaway” stabilizer to use as filters. It is medium weight, non woven product and easy to wash right in the mask. Note that the twill tape ties have been knotted tightly on the ends to stop any fraying. Some of my knots came out when I washed a stack of mask, and I learned to “tie them tighter.”
I like being able to make them in lots of colors and sizes. I made “kid sized” for my grandchildren, medium size for the parents. The kids are not going anywhere, but if there was an emergency, they have them ready to use. You can see in the photo below that the large mask is just too big for me, but it fits my husband fine.
The nice thing about ties is they fit “everyone”.
Remember, once you wear a mask, the front (outside facing the world) is considered contaminated. I asked my friends to keep a bag in the car, and to place their mask in the bag to avoid touching the outside, then dump the mask straight into the washing machine for a HOT soapy water wash. I tell them to remove the filter from the mask before they put the mask in the dryer. If you are washing more than one at a time, the ties can get tangled up, so a lingerie mesh bag is helpful.
DO NOT MICROWAVE YOUR MASKS!!!! It is a terrible fire hazard. Fabric WILL catch on fire, and if you have a metal piece in the nose, it will create sparks. WASH your masks.
Remember, these masks won’t stop COVID-19 , but might SLOW DOWN you exhaling germs on other people, and might slow down you inhaling other peoples exhalations
I keep looking at you-tube videos and finding other styles of masks to make, whether they are in the hoop on the embroidery machine or on the sewing machine. There are many creative people writing patterns, sharing knowledge and more. Find something that you can work with and make a mask for yourself and for loved ones. Just this morning I found another one done in the hoop, but it is shaped and has a different style for the back. If you are interested check out Creative Appliques mask . It has several pieces as well, but I think I like the shape of it a bit better. Each of the links I gave you has a video associated with the mask, so take some time and watch the videos before you commit to purchasing or downloading.
While I am at it, I am going to give you some unsolicited advice. Stay home if you can avoid going out, and you won’t need to wear a mask. If you do have to get groceries, wear a mask, use your wipes to clean the handle of the cart and clean your items when you bring them home. Keep some antibacterial wipes handy in the car to clean your hands after removing the mask and putting it in a bag. Wipe your hands, keys, steering wheel etc. If you sew or have an embroidery machine, maybe you too can make some masks for friends and family. Use up some of that stash. Give the masks, don’t charge people. If someone offers to pay, ask them to pay it forward somewhere else. Try not to get burnt out making masks. You are ONE person, and you need to take care of yourself first, then your family. I’m reading online about quilters sewing non-stop, and I know they are wanting to help others and the demands are HUGE. Practice some self care, and practice saying no, and work on something fun “in between” to recharge your creative spirit. I am following my own advice, so besides making masks, I have started to catch up on some fun things and I will share those with you in another post soon.
Stay well, stay home, and know that this too shall end!