Friday, April 10, 2020

Fabric Mask Making during COVID 19

Well, here we are needing to hunker down and stay home to keep from spreading COVID-19.  I told myself that I wasn't going to make masks, with working overtime I wanted to keep what free time I had to my artwork.  After I got off the phone with my dear friend Abigail on Sunday I decided it was time.  She is in Tenessee and they are required to wear masks if they are out in public for anything. 

I imagine Michigan is headed the same direction where we will be required to wear masks so I'm just getting a jump on it and have been testing out a pattern this week.  Joann Fabrics has been sending out a ton of imformative emails with different mask making patterns and suggestions.  I decided I like the more form-fitted ones versus the 6 x 9 rectangles with pleats.  THIS is the pattern I started with.

I printed the PDF for the mask that is provided in the pattern turtorial and made my first mask along with the video.  I already knew that I wanted to use elastic around the ears (so I could still move it away from my face to drink my coffee at work, not worry about it getting tangled in my hair etc.).  I also skipped the interfacing step to keep it simple and easier to wash and not be too stiff.  I also knew I'd probably be altering the pattern and might need less layers in the beginning.

I made my first mask (above) and wore it to work the next day.  I made the straps way too tight which hurt my ears and the mask kept moving down my nose as I talked to customers, trained on the computer programs and moved around the store.  It works great if I'm not talking to anyone though (or minimally).  When I got home that night, I dropped it into Photoshop and added a half inch to the length of the pattern.

My second day at work with the mask was much better, 7 inches for the elastic loops so it keeps the mask in place but not super tight, long enough that I could talk without it moving around and it still cupped my face.  The last issue was it needing to be a little bit tighter over the bridge of my nose.  I added darts on either side of the nose (below/middle of my eyes) and it works perfect.  I've been pulling fabric from my stash and buying some fun stuff to work with too. 

My coworker Russ wanted me to make him a mask first.  I wasn't really planning on making and selling them, but I feel like I'm filling a need for those around me, a little bit of protection for my bubble at least.  When I finished his mask we found his face was longer than mine and he was having the same issue I was with the very first pattern (so I've got a longer version now that I still need him to try but it's an additional half inch longer in the front, the back of the pattern is about the same, I moved some lines).  Another coworker has paid me for a Star Wars mask (he lit up when I told him we had bought some Star Wars fabric), a friend ordered 3 masks, I want to have enough to not having to do laundry all the time.  So I'm making masks.

Elastic!  Everywhere seems to be out of elastic from what I can tell.  Since I keep almost everything, I have been cannibalizing old camis for their elastic straps and edging.  When I noticed this I laced an order with one of my bead suppliers, Fire Mountain Gems, which still has some elastic options in stock.  I'm using what I have right now though, who knows when that elastic will get to me from Oregon.

My studio was getting cleaner until I switched gears, now there's a very narrow path between my loom and an ironing board to my sewing table.  Fabric is piling up, I'm thinking about cutting scraps into mini squares to make a quilt at some point in the distant future.

Bryan and I both are still going to work, I got an "essential" job at Home Depot when Talbots was forced to close it's doors and Bryan is in IT and we need the internet to keep running.  We are making sure to wear masks when we go out, especially to the grocery store and at work.   The key to these fabric masks is that they're machine washable and you need to wash after you wear them out.  I'm washing all of them first and bagging them (with freshly washed hands) for others.  I always suggest to air-dry things, especially since dryer heat and elastic don't mix.  But they are ok to put in the dryer too. 

You can see my weaving under the above picture.  I have been joining my fellow AA's on Zoom meetings in the evenings via my tablet and cutting fabric for the masks as we chat at my loom.  This is my life right now and I'm so thankful that we are happy, healthy, I have my meetings still to keep me in check with learning a new job and coming home and making masks.  I know so many people that are making and donating masks to medical workers, I figure since I can sew, I can at the very least make my own.  As much as sewing can be meditative and a fun little break for me, I hope to get to the point where I have a stock-pile of masks and I can get back to weaving!

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