Mask It, or Casket
Ok, so maybe this blog title is a little dramatic. But it gets the point home. It's taken me literally months to wrap my head around the new reality and new habits that this pandemic has brought. That's why this post is in July and not back in March when the news broke. Here's what I know for now:
The following statements should not elicit a political response in my readers. If you find yourself disagreeing, this post is not for you.
Ok, with that out of the way, the point of this blog post is to provide a few mask making resources Kate and I have found.
However, Kate wasn't a fan of the somewhat baggy fit in front. After a bit more research, she found another style called the Olson Mask.
Link to the Olson Mask Pattern:
Meanwhile, I had requests from friends to make them masks. No style was specified - they just wanted them as soon as possible. I had happened to watch a YouTube video from a costumer named Angela Clayton on masks she was making for donation.
The masks that Angela are making are called A. B. Masks, made by a nurse named Jessica. Although a link to the pattern on Instructables is provided in the YouTube video description, the originator of this pattern has updated it and made a website with a free pattern download and step-by-step .gif instructions. Jessica's hobby is quilting, and she created this pattern for fellow nurses to use over N95 masks and ventilators.
The first time I tried this pattern I skipped the step of trimming the mask after basting the two pieces together. It was rather large on my face.
Here's the link to follow to go directly to the mask pattern download:
And if you want step-by-step instructions, visit the website: https://www.nursemade.co/
There is a nose dart as well as side pleats to this pattern. It was ok, but definitely fogged up the glasses if you huffed and puffed a lot. After I got through the orders from friends I set out to improve the pattern a bit by sewing the top and bottom ties together around my ears.
Many patterns I've seen have elastic around the ears but I didn't want that. The mask fits just fine without elastic. It just doesn't fit anyone else. ;)
I still had plenty of fabrics to choose from, and with a slight modification to how the nose pleat is sewn I had reversible pattern masks. The fashionista in me was secretly thrilled.
With this new batch for myself, I knew I needed to look into something that would hold its shape over my nose. I wasn't really interested in putting pockets in this pattern, and Kate had told me pipe cleaners didn't really do the job well.
So, I did something I've never done before. I clicked on an Instagram ad. The company was legit, and American. The price was ok ($0.50 per nose piece) so I took a gamble and bought the straight style from DIY Mask USA. They are small steel strips with rounded ends and holes in them for sewing. You bend into shape. So far they're very sturdy and fairly easy to work with after you've bent them over a marker for the rounded top. I stitched over the middle to keep it from riding up. And, they function as a stop for my glasses too.
The large size of this mask lets me open my mouth fully underneath for yawns, and hides my double chin. ;)
Are masks fun? Not at all. I don't like breathing in warm humid air. Even in the dead of winter when I put the covers over my head to stay warm at night I keep my mouth and nose out. But they're necessary for now.
And just like bras, I'll wear one in public for the safety of others and myself, and save the relaxing for home.
I think, like many of you, I lost the entire month of April to COVID-19. Shortly after my second full post about the red renaissance dress project, I got the okay from my boss to work from (not my) home. Once it looked like working from home would last at least a couple more weeks, I knew I needed to make other arrangements. So, I packed up my improvised home office, and temporarily moved in with my (retired) parents. This turned out to be a good thing for all of us. The pandemic has brought on a lot of introspection, and a big life change for me is in the works. But more on that in a later post.
Thankfully, none of us have gotten the "'Rona-virus" yet. However, life has still kept us busy. My dad had the misfortune to take a tumble down some stairs and break his leg in two places, but thankfully is recovering well
The other big thing to happen in our family is the arrival of our much-anticipated niece, "C". Originally she was due the last week of May. But, we got word that doctors would prefer if she made her appearance two weeks early, on May 4.
Fortunately, we just had time for the small, social-distancing approved baby shower - which gave me an excuse to make the cutest little baby romper. The challenge, of course, was that I would need to use what I could find in my Mom's sewing room.
After a quick search online for free baby clothes patterns, I settled on this one, which seemed easy enough
I couldn't tell you what the fabric was originally purchased for, but it was only about a yard or so. I think the purple and white flowers are perfect for a spring baby.
The romper is based off an OshKosh design, and has a self-lined sleeveless yoke on top, that closes in the back, with a baloon-style bottom that snaps at the crotch, leaving the arms and legs bare.
Along with the fabric, I found some rick-rack to add some decoration. The rick-rack came from my Grammie, who absolutely loved the stuff. I think it will make for a special outfit - it will have a touch of C's great grandma on it.
And here it is, all finished! I can't imagine her being tiny enough to wear it. Hopefully, she'll grow quickly enough that she can only wear it once or twice. At any rate, I really enjoyed the excuse to make it.
My sister-in-law was kind enough to send me these pictures of little miss C wearing it a few weeks after the shower, with a matching yellow hair bow. She's so cute in it! Soon after this, my brother told me her head had grown too much to for her to be able put her in it - three cheers for a growing baby :)
Ladies in Red (Part 2)
When I made the first sketch of the red renaissance dresses, I just put a generic gathered-necked chemise underneath - the simplest design to both draw and make. But the more I researched the style of dress I was going for, the more I realized that I would want an actual hemd (German shirt/chemise) with a higher neck and actual collar.
In researching German hemds, I came across the wonderful Cathrin Åhlén's blog, Katafalk. She is a trained tailor and dressmaker who has a passion for historical dress. The walk-through of her hemd seemed straightforward but also detailed enough that I was willing to give it a shot.
Of course, the real show-stopper here is all the smocking, done by hand. Hundreds (and I do mean hundreds!) of tiny, perfectly straight folds, with meticulous embroidery in decorative patterns over them - daunting for sure. But with every new project, I want to learn something new.
The next slide show of pictures took many evening hours after work in front of the TV to complete. Each gathering line stitch meant picking up only two or three threads in the fabric, and they had to be a straight and even as possible. And once the gathering lines are all pulled up, each embroidery stitch has to be as neat as you can make your hand stitching. Thankfully (for once), I have a short neck, so there's only a little embroidery that can fit on the collar.
Once the neck was done, the sleeve cuffs follow suit. After the yards of fabric in the collar, the sleeve cuffs went by in breeze by comparison! I used a different color gathering thread, both for variety, and so I tell in the pictures what I was working on.
As I was nearing the completion of this hemd (I will be making a second one, of course), the pandemic hit. Everything about it feels surreal, but at the same time, I am taking things seriously.
After 4 days of working from home, I could already tell I would need to make an effort to reach out virtually, or my natural introvert/hermit tendencies would leave me miserable. So, I planned a little Facebook Live book review/tea party, and invited friends. It also gave me a deadline to finish the hemd, because I knew I would want to feature it during the tea party.
There is a post-script to this part of the project, and it has very little to do with the actual project. Life feels very uncertain with the onset of the pandemic. No one knows how it will play out, but I do know myself, and I know that being entirely by myself during this shut down is not good for my mental health. Theoretically, working from home will give me more time to work on projects...it just may not be from my own home. Stay tuned!
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!