29 March 2020

In Which We Join The Army

The other day, my kid said to me "can you help me change my bed? There's a hole in my sheet." So I duly climbed the stairs to help her find the clean sheets and take apart the bed - whereupon I discovered that the hole was, um, big enough for a large grown-up to climb through. This was not some tiny little tear.

But, because I am my mother's daughter, and because there's been this surge of folks sewing up face masks for themselves and local hospitals, I took that dead bottom sheet and threw it in the wash. When it was out, I cut off the elastic edge, harvested the elastic, repurposed the edge into (un)bias tape, and cut up the good parts of the sheet into 6"x9" rectangles.

I then scrounged through the box of t-shirts for projects (remember, I am my mother's daughter), and cut a few of them up into more 6"x9" rectangles.

And I pulled out my sewing machine, which, providentially, I had had overhauled in January because the bobbin winder wasn't winding bobbins.

Some hours and some experimentation later, I'd produced 16 masks - using a simple pattern that's been all over the internet.

I am keeping a couple, sending two to my father and his girlfriend, and sending another two to my sister and her wife. And the rest are going to a local hospital.

Random observations:

  • My sewing machine is a weird prima donna wannabe: it demands fancy thread in the bobbin, but it doesn't care about the top thread. Happily, I have a stash of silk thread from who knows where - it's old but perfect.
  • [Old cotton thread rots; if you can break it easily, throw it out.]
  • No one cares that the lime green polyester top thread doesn't match the pale celadon silk bobbin thread. We're talking life safety here.
  • Making the pleats is a pain in the ass if the t-shirt fabric is too butch.
  • The cut off neck of a turtleneck makes an admirable and oddly comfortable mask - with NO sewing.
  • Proper bias tape is cut on the bias.

I'll make more masks soon.


Julia said...

My 18yo hand-sewed a mask for her father today out of a t-shirt, double-layered with a pocket for a filter. I'd bought a huge bag of rubber bands from the dollar store (many are still open, under the category of hardware!) and we fudged the lack of safety pins to thread through the elastic by taping the elastic to a tapestry needle.

18yo was frustrated by the process but pleased at the challenge to her problem-solving ability. I should probably donate her bottom sheet to the cause, though...

MARY G said...

I inherited silk thread from my grandmother and I still have it and it is still good. I am not about to admit how long ago that was. I had to break down and buy a new sewing machine when my old one succumbed to too many times of making plastic shields for the tractor. The new one is very computerized (what was I thinking!) and I need the book to thread it. I learned on my grandmother's treadle machine. Oh my goodness, I am old.
I have a few turtlenecks that need to die. Thanks for the info.

jo(e) said...

I am beginning to think I'm the only person on the internet who doesn't have mad sewing skills.