Well, How Many Masks Have You Made?

Gail Gauthier
3 min readMay 25, 2020
Photo by G. Gauthier

Day 11. We are less than two weeks into the coronavirus pandemic and already home sewers have created hundreds of thousands of cloth masks to support the medical community. I come up with “hundreds of thousands” after applying a complex model to the numbers of homemade masks on my Facebook wall the last three days. Also, I make a graph.

Day 12. Just as knowing that everyone is buying toilet paper has made me want to buy toilet paper, knowing that everyone is making cloth masks has made me want to make cloth masks. In fact, I feel that I am being called to do this. Why else would my cellar be filled with material from more than fifteen years of failed sewing projects? Clearly, all my life has been leading to this moment.

Day 13. The most important part of sewing is finding a pattern that doesn’t require you to hold an advanced degree in engineering. Do I want to go with a pleated mask? The type with a seam down the front that looks like something a character in a low-budget scifi cable show wears for some unspecified but clearly disturbing reason?

Day 14. Should I put in a lining? What kind of lining? Whatever I find in a box in my cellar?

Day 15. Should I use ties on the mask or elastic? If I use ties, should I make the ties myself out of either matching or contrasting fabric I have on hand? Or should I use purchased bias tape? Sweet Jesus, will the questions never end?

Day 16. Sweet Jesus says, No, they won’t. Because if I choose to use elastic, I must then decide, Quarter-inch wide or elastic cord? And then, Elastic that goes around the ears or around the head?

Day 17. I make my first pleated mask. I use iron-on lining, because an on-line tutorial instructs me to do so. Also, I happen to have some. I mean, like, wow. What are the odds of that happening? The lining sticks to my iron instead of the material. Twenty-five minutes later, I have the iron clean and am ready to try again. Same thing happens. Later, I spend forty minutes marking and pinning pleats. At the end of the day, all I have left to do is sew them in. And then sew around the border. And then clip loose threads. I am a mask-making goddess.

Day 18. I make a seamed, scifi mask. I try it on and scare the cat.

Gail Gauthier

Author of essays, humor, & short stories, as well as 8 middle grade/YA novels. www.gailgauthier.com Tweets at @gail_gauthier