Face Masks and Quarantine

Sewing has never been my thing. When I turned 21 yrs old my parents gave me a lovely little Singer sewing machine. And that dear little machine has followed me from Dallas to Connecticut to Maine. It has been used a few times. I don’t recall ever making any clothes, but I did make some weird looking toy things and I’m pretty sure I made a cover for my bird’s cage and used it on occasion for projects I can’t recall. No doubt some things were repaired along the way as well. I have come close to donating it a few times, but somehow I’ve never been able to. It has sentimental value and it sits in a wonderful, old sewing machine cabinet that used to be my Mum’s. The machine folds down inside it for storage…very clever design.

Well, it has finally been put to use. And for someone who doesn’t really enjoy sewing, I’ve been having a grand time doing just that. My motivation was to sew face masks, because of course, they are sold out wherever you look for them. I went online and searched for super easy patterns that promise it takes 15 minutes or less to sew a mask.

On my first day of sewing, I first had to get the machine to work and relearn how to refill a bobbin and thread the needle. When I had mentioned to my friend Cindy that I was going to sew on the old machine she said, “Don’t forget to oil it first.” I’ve never oiled a machine and somehow didn’t even remember that I had oil specifically for the machine. I guess the oil is as old as the machine, and there it was, in the door of the sewing cabinet. I plugged in the machine and pressed on the peddle. The engine made a sound but there were no parts moving, so I oiled it, and voila…moving parts!

I was frantically busy for 6 hours and produced 2 masks. One was actually quite good, but it would be a better fit for a 12 yr old. The other one looked cool because of the African fabric, but it’s a bit messy. No worries though, it is at least useable.

I have cut up high thread count pillow cases, undershirts, Dennis’ pyjamas and a dish towel. And since then have cut up 3 cotton dresses and some napkins. With the amount of fabric and sewing activity that has been going on for the past 3 days, you’d think I would be able to handout face masks to the entire neighborhood. But not the case…I have 4 useable masks and there are some in the garbage can.

From one pattern to the next I shifted until finally settling on one that is pretty simple and has a pocket for slipping in a filter. I think I’m finding a bit of a rhythm but it will be a while before I can actually share them out. There are things that had to be ordered to complete the masks, like wire to go over the nose, elastic, shoe laces, filters…the list is long for such a simple creation. And of course, there will be up to a 3 week wait for things to arrive. So for now I’ll keep making the masks to the point they are almost finished, and then when my supplies arrive I can complete them.

I sort of like this sewing thing, but it does get frustrating. I hate unpicking seams I’ve already sewn, I can’t seem to keep the layers of fabric flat when I’m sewing, and my lines aren’t all that straight. I also broke a needle. But I feel productive and I like the feeling of making useful things I can ship out to people who need them.

A shout out to the dogs who don’t seem to mind some choice words that have floated around the room. 🙂

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