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

Windowing stabilizer, The Twist and more

I’ve been doing masks on my embroidery machine and was going through large amounts of tear away stabilizer. I realized I had gone thru about 20 yards of my 12″ stabilizer and I had a stack of 100 sheets of 8×8 tear away in my bin.  After doing about 20 hoopings, I had a light bulb moment!  My storage retrieval system (aka quarantine brain) suddenly remembered a video I had seen through a blog post LAST year!  Lisa Capen Quilts shared a video about windowing stabilizer when doing the same pattern over and over. Some call it “framing” the stabilizer and others called it “windowing”.  Lisa’s video was exactly what I needed to use!

I’ve been using my reposition-able hoop for the Janome 11000, called the MA hoop. It is essentially an 8″ x 12″ hoop so I can do two masks at a time.

So, now I hoop a piece of tear-away stabilizer and do the first stitch out.

Cutting table

The trick is to remove the mask “gently” from the hoop without tearing the surrounding stabilizer.  Then I replace the torn away piece with a “square of 8×8” over the top.  I use the Elmers glue stick to anchor it to the “frame” of the stabilizer remaining in the hoop.

windowing stabilizer

They don’t have to overlap, but I was too lazy to cut it perfectly and I vary the overlap. The glue stick takes a few minutes to dry, and I use the heat of my iron in the frame to speed it up. My big iron fits perfectly in the frame with room to move it around.  In my small 5×7 hoop I use my mini-iron to dry the glue.

This is what it looks like on the back of the hoop.  You can see the very first ones were rectangles, then I switched to a different pattern about the same size.  The stabilizer was starting to wear  on the left edge of the frame, so I glued on a patch!

back of the hoop

I did at least 7 set ups using this method before I ran out of Elmers Glue Stick!.  I tried liquid white glue and I had to let it dry overnight.  (Not expedient!)  I over applied and it wasn’t drying with the iron so I gave up for the night.

Creative Applique masks

The masks in the above photo are from Creative Appliques pattern https://creativeappliques.com/

I took a break for a few days from “in the hoop masks“, while I worked on the Community Mask Project for the local chicken processing plant. Got my 28 done for that request using the sewing machine and the information I shared about the pleating and ties – Fast Masks with Ties

28 masks completed

Can I tell you how I got excited with the things in the photo below?

PROJECTS

On the left are the directions for the mask project, and peaking out was Step 5 for the Scrap Dance Twist, which had to wait until my 28 masks were done. On the right, in the basket are two treasures!  My order of elastic arrived!  And I found another glue stick in the kitchen drawer!  (I’ve used 2 up so far windowing stabilizer, so I am pretty excited to find this one!).

I got busy with my Scrap Dance Twist Step 5 chain piecing the units for a king size quilt!  This is my FUN sewing time!

Chain piecing Step 5

The directions on Carole’s blog post From My Carolina Home – Scrap Dance Twist remind you to “try to make the units as scrappy as possible”.

Step 5 Scrap Dance Twist completed

This step went together quickly. If you haven’t started, it’s not too late. Go check out Carole’s blog and look for the Scrap Dance Twist button on the right side of her blog.

I’ve got everything back in the container, with the directions and the units, waiting for the next clue which comes out on May 1st.  If you are sewing along, be sure to go back to the blog and check for some corrections to units for a couple of the sizes.

Next up on my sewing schedule is working on the “senior quilt” for my church.  This is a group project that we started in February, and since the quarantine, it’s been a bit of a “round robin”. The group made most of the blocks in February –

Senior Quilt blocks

I finished up what didn’t get done during our group sewing and got it laid out on the design wall.

Senior Quilt on the design wall

One of the group members lives nearby and offered to assemble the quilt top.  I took pictures of the layout while it was on the design wall, and numbered the blocks /rows for her.  Once she got a break from “mask making” she assembled the top and delivered back to me. Now, it is time for me to “clear my cutting table” and do some measuring for the borders and get them sewn on.   One step at a time, but nice to be able to work on something fun.

Making masks has eaten up a lot of sewing time for many quilters, and taking a break to work on a couple of quilt projects has been fun. My sewing room is a full blown disaster (as evidenced in many of these pictures!) and some “clean up” time is also in order.

Stay well, keep stitching!