Well, How Many Masks Have You Made?

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.

Day 19. I watch three more mask-making tutorials, all of them with different instructions.

Day 20. I take a break to think about the tutorials I saw the day before.

Day 21. I think about them some more.

Day 22. I read that batik material is perfect for masks. I have a lot left from the throw pillows I never finished. Well, never started.

Day 23. I call a local fabric store to order more iron-on lining. The clerk says I shouldn’t be using that for masks. “The glue that adheres the lining to the cloth will affect breathability.” What? You have to breathe through these things?

Day 24. I read that whatever you do, don’t use batik material for masks.

Day 25. The CDC announces everyone should be wearing cloth masks in public. Good thing I have three masks completed. Wait…No. Two. I can go two places.

Day 26. The CDC also says you can make masks out of a freaking tee-shirt. What the hell?

Day 27. I find a video that claims I should have been wiping down my sewing machine with disinfecting wipes and washing my hands before I made the masks. It says nothing about licking the thread so you can get it through the eye of the sewing machine needle, though. So I guess that’s okay.

Day 28. The local news station carries a segment on a woman who says she’s made one-hundred-and-forty masks. Stick to reporting the number of new Covid cases, why don’t you?

Day 29. I see a Facebook fight over how many layers of cloth homemade masks should have.

Day 30. Socks! Now there’s a video that says I can make masks out of socks and a pantiliner!

Day 31. What kind of socks? And regular pantiliners or extra-long?

Writer of humorous children’s fiction. Short work at The Haven, The Millions, Literary Mama, Bending Genres, & The Blue Nib. Tweets at @gail_gauthier

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