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 “physically” 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 “quilters resource center” (aka – 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

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.  

IMG_20190824_130351507

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.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2020/04/14/carnival-princess-cancel-cruises-through-june-amid-coronavirus-crisis/2991576001/

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……

IMG_20190824_130527184_PORTRAIT

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

 

 

Keeping busy at home with masks

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.

Beebe Healthcare Mask Pattern

Cutting the shaped mask

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.

Mask with ties in the hoop

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.

MA Hoop Janome 11000 8x12 TAPE

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.

Pocket for wire inside of mask

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.

In the hoop MASKS

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.

Front of mask made in the hoop

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.

Back of mask made in the hoop

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.”

Masks made In the Hoop

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.

Test fitting mask size large ITH

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!