Sunday, April 26, 2020

My Favorite Photos From April

Once a month, or thereabouts, I look through my folder of photographs, and choose my favorites to share with you. Here are my favorites for April 2020.

If I take any new photos I want to share before the end of the month, I will share them in a different post.

The world is still beautiful and continues to turn.

I haven't sewn at all this week, but since I allow myself time to make up the stitching, I hope to make up the time today so I can maintain my 100%. I'll write a new post to let you know how I did.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Mask Fail

My sewing time has been limited as I trained for my new job.  I passed the tests so I will be able to start working on Monday.  Since I didn't work for a whole week and a half before this, this was my full week of working.  Even though I should be used to it by now since that is usually how it is, it is difficult for me to transition from not working at all to working full time.

I made a new, polka-dotted, mask.  This one combines the two that I had saved for me. The yellow one is almost rectangular shape that uses four straps, and has darts on the top and bottom to add dimension.  The result still goes straight across the face from the nose, resulting in steamed glasses.  The animal fabric is more comfortable, but it has a seam in the middle which may leave holes for virus to get through and has more pieces to sew together. I thought that if I could cut the shape more curved, I might be able to make it without a center seam. I used the pattern for the almost rectangle, and cut out the curves based on the curved pattern.

This red one was a fail because although it looks like it fits well, the nose part falls down and does not secure over my nose, even when the wire is adjusted. Maybe I should have made the nose part a little wider.

I am sure that I could play with it some more and make a more gentle curve, but I have decided I need to stop finding the best design and just make some masks. 

2020:  Week 16 of 15 Minutes to Stitch

For my sewing activities, I packaged up almost of the masks I made and sent them off to my cousin.  I did just a little bit on my quote quilt and made a mask. Some weeks, I have been able to stitch more than 15 minutes a day. This time, I barely managed exactly the right amount.

15 minute days this week -- 7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 110 out of 110 days
Success rate  = 100%

Linked with:
Kate's Life in Pieces 15 Minutes to Stitch

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sewing Week

2020:  Week 15 of 15 Minutes to Stitch

The photo is from earlier in the month.

I only worked one day this week, so I made some masks and worked on the quote quilt.

15 minute days this week -- 7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 103 out of 103 days
Success rate  = 100%

Linked with:
15 Minutes to Stitch

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Masks, Continued

In my last post, I told you about my plans to make masks. 

 My original plan was to try each of these, but since I don't need that many and want to quickly give my cousin the masks she needs. I decided to guess how I would like the other masks based on looking at it instead of actually trying it on.

Since I made the plans, I took a couple additional walks. Only for you to test out the mask. I used the same batik mask I tried earlier.  I guess it is mine now. In the morning walk, I must not have tied the mask properly over my pony tail and it slipped down.  I thought maybe for people who don't wear a pony tail, tying on top of the head might work. When I tied it up higher to fix it, I must have tied it up too high, and the mask touched my eye.  In the evening walk, I tried it without a pony tail, and it was very difficult to keep it on straight. I am going to say it is because my hair is so silky smooth.  Also I have not been turning the edges of the straps under. I just tied them to keep them from unraveling, but this particular braid does a lot of unraveling, particularly when washed.

Today, I want to show you a couple more mask designs I tried.

This one is called A.B. Mask - for a Nurse by a Nurse. It is easy to sew and is similar to the other patterns I made, except that instead of cutting rectangles, you cut the top and bottom at an angle. The original pattern uses single fold binding, and I adapted it to continue using the braid.  I thought this pattern would make the mask angle down away from the eyes. Since I am looking for a mask to fog up my glasses, it doesn't look like it will solve that problem. I have read that if you clean your glasses with shaving cream or alcohol, you can avoid the fog. I haven't tried that so I don't know if that works.

Same mask, different angle. One thing I really like about this mask, besides its relative ease of cutting and sewing, is that it forms a slight duck bill, as described in the video in the last post. I think this would make it easier for people who have to do a lot of talking and maybe people who feel claustrophobic wearing the mask. I didn't have any trouble talking with my trial mask, but I don't have long conversations with Zeus while walking.

As you can see in this photo, the dart makes the mask form a straight line across the nose. This is strange because my batik mask doesn't seem to angle up even though it has darts. I am not sure how well it would work to avoid fog on the glasses.

I also made this one using a a pattern called Masks of Love.  It is similar to the one from Instructables. It requires cutting four pattern pieces, two for each side of the front and two for each side of the back, so there are a couple more seams than the other patterns.

 This mask doesn't use pleats so if you don't like making them, this pattern may be for you.  However, this pattern is more complicated to make. I was planning on making one, not two, of these masks, and didn't read the directions to know I was supposed to cut  mirror images.  Of course I had to make it more difficult by using directional fabric. I even managed to find a small wire that I could use to make it more form fitting over the nose.You have to cut and sew curves, insert a wire, secure the wire inside, preferably without breaking a needle, and string the strap through the opening.  The curves are not like a drunkard's path, where you are trying to fit two different shapes together, so they are fairly easy to sew.  Both of the curves are exactly the same and you are just sewing them to each other.  Pressing the 3-D shapes is probably the most complicated, but I wouldn't know, since I skipped that step!

I like it because it curves down over the cheeks so there is less likely to be air leakage into the glasses. It is also attractive. I also like that the straps can be removed. This way the recipient can choose a tying method she prefers. My straps are slightly too small to feel secure, and I will have add some length to them or replace them.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

More Experiments With Masks

Second batch. The first batch of masks I made (see my last post), protect others from getting my illness.  I protect you, you protect me. Better than nothing.

I want to make a second batch that hopefully provides additional protection for the wearer as well as the people around the wearer.

There are so many mask patterns to choose from, each with their own little touch. I was getting overwhelmed and people kept forwarding me even more.

One of the ones I plan to try is this one from Instructables, , which is a simple mask like the ones I have been making but the corners have been clipped so I think they will avoid as much breathing into the glasses.

Eventually I found this video (embedded below) which is worth the look. In it, a doctor makes different masks, performs tests on them and gives her opinion.

The masks she makes are from material that can only be found in a hospital setting, so I won't be able duplicate them as she would.

I chose to try two of the masks she tried.  The one from Instructables is one that I have seem quite a few bloggers reference and looks like it would help with the problems I identified in my last post.  This one requires some curved cutting and piecing, but it looks relatively simple. The video says this one is the most comfortable but didn't provide enough protection.

This is the Florida one that the video said was the best. It is the most complicated to cut and sew, but I guess if it is the safest one, it would be worth the effort. Since I will be making mine from fabric, I will have to adapt the pattern to be able to hide the seams.

I was going to make these masks today, but I have found another (stay at home) job. My employer found another job for me.

I am going to go ahead and post this and make the masks later. I think the information in this post is important to get out to you now. I also need to find some wire.  I will be back with another post to let you know my results later this week.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Experimenting With Mask Patterns

I've never worn a mask before, and when I looked for mask patterns, there were so many choices that I felt information overload. I decided to just make a few different patterns and decide what pattern makes the most sense to me. Here are my results. Note that the masks were made for speed and sturdiness.  I did not focus on prettiness, although I did try to use coordinating fabric whenever possible.

I decided early on not to include a filter of any kind.  There are several reasons for this. First of all, I don't have any. Second, I don't know what works better than anything else. Third, filters that work may not be comfortable to use, especially as we are going into warmer days. People can just use the mask as is, with three layers without a filter. Comfort has to be balanced with protection.  Fourth, I wouldn't want a mystery filter added to my mask, in case it was something that wasn't good for me. We don't know what filters work and what doesn't, and different people have different preferences.

The photo above is the front and back of the masks using this YouTube pattern:  How to sew an easy, no elastic, Face Mask. Fabric ties. Assembly line friendly. The pattern is easy to understand and explains everything thoroughly. I cut the ties from selvage to selvage instead of 36 inches so I wouldn't have to hem the bottoms. I figure people with bigger heads would have an easier time with longer ties.

What I like about this pattern is that it is  it is made from rectangles, which makes them easy to cut. I also like that there is a pocket in the back so the recipient can insert a filter. Another benefit is that since the front and back are separate fabrics, you can use different fabrics so that it is easy to tell the front from the back.

What I am concerned about these masks is that I used a lower quality fabric. It was a sample, and would be good mostly as a way to prolong the life of  N95 and surgical masks. The comments in the pattern say that it should be a little bigger cut at - 6.5 instead of 6 inches in order to be big enough to insert the N95.

This mask is made with single fold binding method.  This helps when you don't have supplies that can be used as ties, but does add quite a bit of time to the process to fold, press and prepare the ties.

The other thing I worry about this mask is that the pocket is made like a pillow. There is an overlap between the two backing fabrics in which to insert the filter. I wonder if virus particles can find their way out if the backing isn't properly closed. I doubt that would happen because there is a big overlap, but it is a possibility.

These masks are adaptations of the pattern. I increased the width so that they could hold a bigger filter.  They were made almost exactly the same way, except that I added a wire to help position the mask on the nose. My nose is wide enough that it isn't necessary, but some people recommend using a wire. I also made the pleated sides finish at 4 inches instead of 3 inches. I kept doing that throughout the rest of these masks, but now I think I would suggest 3 instead of 4 inches.

The drawback of the wire is that the mask cannot be microwaved to quickly disinfecting them. I also used bread ties, and I am not sure if they would be wide enough to work. The good thing about masks with filter pockets is that the recipient can add a wire after the fact if they want them, although I suppose they could also be added to masks without pockets.

I found a roll of braided tape that my mother had given me. I am so happy not to have to make my own ties.  The label does not say what the ties are made from, so these also cannot be microwaved.

This mask uses a different pattern: It is made with two layers of batik fabric with no pocket.  The darts might help position the mask on the nose, and maybe give some space for the recipient to be able to talk. It is also lightweight and maybe would help from being too hot to use for long periods of time.

I switched to quilting fabric for the rest of these masks. The benefit of this mask is that I used batik fabric, which is tightly woven fabric. I don't have a lot of batik fabric and batik fabric is expensive, but it is a sacrifice worth making to protect health workers and people with preexisting health issues.

The drawback of this pattern is that it uses the same fabric for the front and the back. While there are subtle differences (the pleat for example), using two different fabrics would probably be preferable. This pattern has you layer the ties between the fabric inside, sew around, and then turn right side out. This was a little cumbersome to make sure that you don't sew the ties where you don't want them sewn. It wasn't too bad though, since I used a clip to keep them together, and I could just feel the area I was about to sew before sewing.

In this experiment, I decided to try to add a pocket for a filter. I used a high quality cotton fabric for the filter. I figured using a different fabric for the filter pocket would help make the front and back distinguishable.   I made a mistake and wound up with the pocket on the inside. I could have ripped out the seams to fix it, but I decided to make this mask as a three layer mask instead of a two layer one.

These two masks are made with two layers of quality quilting fabric sewn together with a third layer as a filter pocket. What I like about this mask is that the two layers of fabric that are next to each other. This feels like there is less chance for a virus getting through.  The pocket opening is at the top of the mask, which means that the filter isn't as protected as the pillow pocket shown in the first photo. Also since the pocket opening at the top, the ties can be pulled in that direction so that there is less risk of sewing them where they shouldn't be sewn.

In this experiment, I made the pocket above, but tried to cut the ties longer and make a casing instead of  having four individual ties. Make the casing, then pull tighter and sew them down to maintain the pleats. I didn't increase the size of the fabric before I did this, so this mask will work for a child and not an adult. I didn't like this method as much, maybe because my ties are pretty thick.

This is the same photo you saw before. It's the mask made with two layers. I wore this mask on my walk today. I don't meet any people on my walk so it is more of an experiment for comfort.   The mask was easy to put on. It stayed on securely throughout the walk, and I did not feel the need to touch my face to make adjustments.  There was a slight breeze and I could feel some air on my neck, but I think if there was a virus in that air, the mask and the contours of my face would keep it from getting to my nose and mouth. 

The drawback of this mask, and probably all of the masks, based on this experiment is that there was some condensation on my glasses especially when I was looking down. 

There are other mask patterns I can try to see if they help.

Other ideas I have gotten since making these masks, is that you can make a cardboard template to make the pleats and you can press the pleats before sewing. I think both of these things will mask look prettier and might make them a little bit easier to sew.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Weekly Stitching Post

I've continued working on the quote quilt this week. I stole this idea of "She withstood the storm" from a Facebook post. The umbrella fabric is used in the drunkard's path quilt and the dress fabric is used in the yo-yos. I will embroider the words and work more on her hair and the boat.

This design is from the book I recently reviewed on my High Road Reader blog.

I made this bird a while ago, but don't think I have shown it yet. It is more subtle than most of the motifs so hopefully will provide a nice surprise to someone who discovers it.

This is a helping-hand, hand-on-heart, pledge-of-allegiance-hand, and not a talk-to-the-hand, keep-your-distance hand. I like that it looks like it has mehndi on it.

2020:  Week 14 of 15 Minutes to Stitch

I didn't have any employment this week, so I worked on the quote quilt.

15 minute days this week -- 7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 96 out of 96 days
Success rate  = 100%

Linked with:
15 Minutes to Stitch