Thursday, July 9, 2020

Mask Making

 It seems that wearing a mask in the US during a deadly pandemic is a political statement. I honestly don't understand it. I am a nurse. I have worn a mask for hours at a time during surgery and when caring for patients in isolation. I never felt hypoxic or sick. So folks who claim that O2 levels drop and CO2 levels increase are full of shit.

I started making a three pleated mask in mid-March when a friend of a friend asked me to help make masks to send to her daughter in Michigan who was on the front lines there. I was absolutely appalled that there was not enough PPE. I was angry that they were making doctors and nurses re-use their N95s. I made twenty four masks right away. I had plenty of fabric and our masks were two ply; one cotton, the other flannel. We did not have elastic. I had ordered some from Amazon (don't judge) but it did not arrive for at least two weeks. We used elastic head bands, the narrow ones, for ear loops.

I made more than two hundred masks in the early days of the pandemic. My goal was to supply our town. I was an anxious, crazy, mess. I didn't eat, I didn't drink,  I lost 11 pounds in two weeks. One day my left leg hurt. The next day my left foot hurt and my greater saphenous vein was ropey and hard. That superficial thrombophlebitis halted my sewing for three weeks.  Had I been using my treadle, likely I would have avoided the clot. But I was using an electric machine and my left leg just sat there, hour after hour; day after day. In one position to balance myself, I guess.

So I got really good at that three pleated mask. I also got mask burn out. I started trolling Facebook and Twitter. Don't judge. Oh and I watched Andrew Cuomo every day. Three times a week, I watched Governor Scott and Dr. Mark Levine report on WCAX.  Cuomo is not reporting daily now and Vermont's pressers are twice a week. I watch in horror the reports from the south and west. We will need masks for a VERY LONG TIME. 

Two days ago I saw a post on FB about a new mask pattern. I watched the video and I tried it out. I love it. It is my new favorite pattern.  You can watch the video: Summer Face Mask Video. I think you should. The maker uses a pattern. I tried that. It works. I prefer to mark my fabric for the corners. You'll see.

I use three layers of fabric. One layer is 600 thread count cotton sheet. The other two are chiffon. Supposedly this combo has a good filtration for the very small aerosols that linger in the air indoors. You can read the article here:

The researchers found that a sheet of tightly woven cotton — of 600 threads per inch — plus two sheets of chiffon, made from polyester and spandex, seemed to make the most effective combination, filtering out 80–99% of the particles, depending on their size.

Cut your fabric
Small = 9.5 X 5.5 inches
Medium = 10.5 X 6.5 inches
Large = 11.5 X 7.5 inches. 

I am actually guessing at these sizes because the video posts the sizes in centimeters. You can do your own arithmetic. The conversion is 1 in = 2.54 cm.

Here is a screen shot from the video indicating what size triangle to cut from each corner. The edge of this pattern corresponds to the stitching line on my photo. Please note the copyright.  

I marked the cotton layer because it was easiest to write on. This mask is actually two of cotton and one of chiffon, as it was my prototype.


Stitch on the marking leaving about two inches in the center of one long side so that you can turn the mask right side out. Trim the corners cutting off the small triangle. You don't need to mark it. You can just trim the corner leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press the edges inward along the stitching. I didn't do this at first. It really does help. 

Turn it right side out and press. 
Cut a piece of garden wire just a wee bit shorter than the long edge. 

Than not that. 

Tuck the garden wire into the top edge under the seam allowance that has been folded over. 
Garden wire means that I garden. Dirty finger.

I pinned the garden wire in place and then stitched the top closed. 

And I sewed to the edge at the end of the seam so that the wire would not shift.

Choose which side is your inside. Fold along the long side at the corners and press. 

Do the same for the other long side. It looks like a burrito to me. I don't know why that long edge looks folded over. 

Stabilize the center. You don't have to pin it but I couldn't take a photo and hold it. So I pinned it.

 Fold back the corner to meet the edge. It actually should form a 90 degree triangle. Do this for both corners. Position your pins as shown. 

I used a long tie. You can use elastic or make your own ear loops from a tee shirt as shown in the video. The tie should be at least 45 inches long. 
Place the tie as shown. 
Fold over the end and secure. You want to make sure it is about 3/4 of an inch. Enough to cover your loops or tie. Don't sew the loops or tie to the mask. You want it to be able to move freely in the casing you are creating.

Do this for the other side. If you are using a tie, loop the tie so that it comes around the bottom and the two ends come out of the casing at the top. Ear loops (13 inches) can be tied together to size.

It is a good fit. The nose wire helps prevent foggy glasses. It is quite comfy. I find that the two layers of chiffon are a bit less breathable than the two layers of cotton and one of chiffon.

I made this one with silk, chiffon and cotton. It is very breathable. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

One Block Wonder

 I have been in therapy with my various sewing machines. It seems that I prefer my 201-1. The others are coming to grips with my favoritism. We all acknowledge that I love them all, but, truly one gets most of my attention.  As machines, this doesn't seem to make much difference in how they respond to me. For that, I am grateful.

This One Block Wonder was pieced on my 201-1. I did stitch the blocks together with the 201-2. I needed both hands to match the points. I sent this off to Canada to a friend who fell in love with the fabric when she visited last spring. Seriously, she walked around the Sewing Space (which may be re-named soon) hugging the fabric. As I was working on the quilt, all I could think of was Margie and how much she loved that fabric.

There was not enough color in this quilt for me. So, I bought another piece of fabric and went at it again with the triangles and hexagons. 
This was the result. The problem with this fabric; the repeat was 12 inches rather than 24.  Still, it's finished and finished is better than perfect. Theo doesn't really care. He's just happy to be outside.
This is the original fabric. There is A LOT of white. 

Compare it to  Margie's quilt. These colors are more subtle and the repeat is much larger. 

Because I wanted more color I bought this piece at Stowe Fabric and Yarn. Lots of color and a 24 inch repeat. After this, I think I will move on to something else. 

Friday, July 12, 2019


I started this scrappy quilt a couple of years ago.  Perhaps even as long ago as 2016. I remember finishing the piecing during my chemotherapy drama. S. would come over and we would sew. I put it on the frame a couple of weeks ago and had intended to practice some swirls.

I just couldn't get the rhythm of that design.

I could draw it.

I simply could not quilt it.

Ten times I tried. I ripped out ten swirls. I was not feeling the joy.

So I gave up and went with feathers.

And pebbles with wavy lines along the seams.

I like it.

I alway ran the Nolting without the stitch regulator. After I finished the ruler work on Ellen's quilt I decided I needed more practice in stitch regulated mode.

 Next up is the UVM quilt. 

This hangs in the atrium at UVM Medical Center. It is a steel sculpture.

I made this for my friend, J., who sent me the photo in February of 2018. I was not yet living in the 802. I found much of the fabric in The Quilt Zoo, next door to my abode of the time. The rest I hunted down on line. Finally I was satisfied with the blend. I wish I knew how to quilt it. 

So. I had occasion to need the walking foot to bind that scrappy quilt. The foot is a Viking and didn't fit on the Necchi. It fits beautifully on the Singer 237. I love the Necchi but it is handy to have a machine that will zig zag and accepts the walking foot. Sigh. I should consider off loading a few machines. 

I suppose I could start with the 15-90. It is a nice treadle but NOISY. True, it is strong, but I think the Necchi is just as strong. I could test them against each other. Maybe make a leather something or other.  Good idea. Be kind. Be just. Just be kind. 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Why I love the 802

All of Vermont has one area code. I imagine Wyoming is like that, too. Oh, North and South Dakota, Montana, and Rhode Island keep company with Vermont and Wyoming. I never knew. Nor did I care. Now that I live in the 802, we Vermonters refer to our state thusly, I am rather proud of it. "It" being one area code for the whole state. There is a twitter hashtag for it, I believe. I only troll on twitter. Off and on. That shit just depresses me.

I love Vermont. "Way up by Canada," Ingrid declares every time I call her.  She seems to think I am in some foreign country. So much so, that she thought I was too far away to manage her affairs, as if geography has anything to do with paying bills on line.  My paternal grandmother was an eighth or ninth generation Vermonter. My father was born in Vermont. My grandfather, from Western Mass, had the typical Vermont sense of humor. "Have you lived here all your life?" someone once asked him. "Not yet." he dead panned. (Is that even a verb, Benjamin Dreyer?) I identify as a Vermonter. So I believe I belong here.

So what does this have to do with sewing machines? Absolutely nothing. I painted the fence all day, after digging up sod around fourteen pickets. The black flies were merciful and I am almost halfway done. Now I am enjoying a Lake Hopper Hard Cider of Citizen Cider fame and 6.2% ABV. I haven't eaten in six hours. So I'm a bit tipsy and talkative.

This morning I put on my painting pants and my Bernie 2016 tee shirt. OK. I slept in the shirt. (No, I am not a Bernie fan this time around. It is time for a female president) The Weather Channel predicted rain, high of 74. I don't think that the WC understands mountain weather. It was down right chilly when I set out to prep the fence for painting. I changed into a merino wool shirt, underneath a flannel shirt with a bright, red fleece on top. By 11 I had peeled off the fleece and flannel (damn, I am alliterative today, yes?) and changed into my Insect-o-shield tee. The sun was out and I was ready to PAINT.
This fence has 38 sections of fourteen pickets each. We built it last year. Pressure treated lumber needs a year to dry out. It was hot and dry enough last year that I could have painted it (actually we are using a solid stain) last fall. I didn't

Want to get back to sewing machines? OK. I finally set up the Nolting 20 CLX in March. I put a practice sandwich on the frame and discovered that I could still quilt. I finished two UFOS and I even quilted a full sized quilt for a complete stranger. Mom was not supportive. She thought it was a bad idea. I agree. I doubt I could quilt for a money. I think it would take the love out of it.

I met J. in the late summer of 2017 on one of my trips while Steven and I  were in transition between NY and the 802.  In February of 2018 she had occasion to visit UVM Medical Center. There she saw this steel sculpture entitled "The Fabric of Life."  She texted me the photo and I set out to find fabrics to make a quilt.
  It took me until this past February to find the perfect collection. Now, I dd not search that whole time. It's just that the fabrics all came together this year.

I found the backing fabric (on hanger, upper right corner of photo) in my stash. I'm pleased as punch.

Friday, February 8, 2019


The temperatures have been sub-zero in Vermont this winter. Our house in New York was one hundred years old. The windows were original, double hung, single pane with leaded glass on the top. I loved them. They were elegant and drafty.
I made roman shades for them with Warm Window insulating fabric. We left the shades behind when we moved. That was likely a mistake. I never saw that the new owners hung them back up after we moved out. Too bad. I could have used that fabric.

Window technology changed between 1920 and 1990.  True, the casement windows in our Vermont house are double pane but the seal is gone. The weatherstripping has failed as well. So I did here what I did in New York. I made roman shades for the windows.

I made three long narrow ones for the atrium door that leads to our deck.
I've got a clouds and bird theme going on. This fabric reminded me a bit of fall. So I decided the next curtain would be winter.  Today I almost finished it. Blue sky with cardinals on snowy tree branches

I can tell that I will have to press out the top seam. It pulls a bit. Must be that the bottom tension was a bit tight.

This curtain/shade is 74 inches wide by 70 inches high. Since it will draw up as a shade, I used the Super Nova Necchi zig zag setting to stitch 63 carbone rings onto the back side of the shade. It took all afternoon.

 I used the Necchi BU (as a treadle)  to put the curtain together.  It is strong and quiet. I think it is as strong as the Singer 15-90. It certainly is much quieter. That 15-90 clanks and clatters. Fun I have not when I sew with it. Can I pass it along? I don't know. I don't think so. I think that I will put some high shelves up and display my machines. That would make me happy. I could display the 15-90, 15-91, 201-1, 201-2,  one of the 301s, the 221, a Kenmore or two, the hand crank, the 319. Good idea.

The fabric slid under the presser foot of the BU as I was sewing this line of rings. In this picture it looks as if I am sewing with both machines.  Not so.

For some reason, Theo was desperate to get either behind me or underneath the machine this afternoon. I don't know why.  No, I don't think it was because I was mourning my sister and worried about my mother. Though maybe. He got over it pretty quickly when I offered him a cookie. More than likely he was upset by Steven stomping around upstairs.

Alice died April 7, 2018.  I was supposed to go out to help with her SCT right after I retired. The last few weeks of work I was channeling my inner urbanite so that, somehow, I could tolerate the city. I had it all planned out. We would spend the spring and summer together in the windy city as she recovered. Then, after the requisite 100 days, we would come here and I would continue to help her get well. We would laugh and play with the pups. We would ride our bikes on the rail trail, take walks in the woods, paddle on the reservoir, and, maybe, even hike in the mountains a bit. We would go see Mom.

Instead, I packed up all her stuff, sold her dwelling and brought her dog home. I won't ever get over it. Some days I feel as if she just died. The grief is sudden, deep, and awful. Then other days, like today, I could almost claim contentment.  The promise of spring, and sewing help. Steven helps. The grandbabies and their parents help. The dogs help. My friends help. Looking at the mountains helps.   It wasn't supposed to be this way. But now it is. 

Friday, January 12, 2018