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Greenburgh Public Library Blog

Behind the Mask-Making

by Cristina Ramos-Payne on 2020-06-30T12:26:23-04:00 | Comments

I have been back in the library building since June 8th, doing my best to put new items into our collection and helping with pulling holds and curbside pickup. It's nice to have some small sense of normal in our new world of pandemic, but I have needed to make some adjustments. The most noticeable has been wearing a mask. 

I already had some masks made. As my family's designated grocery shopper, I have worn many masks in my quest to find everything on my shopping list. I taught myself how to make masks early on, using my stash of fabric scraps and old t-shirts. (Yes, I saved all of my favorite torn t-shirts because they might be useful some day. Win!) A search online of YouTube videos and Google articles yielded an abundance of designs. I looked for patterns that used simple straight line stitching, because that is the extent of my ability on a sewing machine. My first attempt was a basic rectangular mask with pleating. The funny thing about pleating, my sewing machine can only deal with so many fabric layers before it looks like a one-toothed baby trying to take a bite out of a Dagwood sandwich. I'm sure there was a simple solution to this problem, but mine was to find a different pattern and take pleating out of the equation.

While I failed at pleating, a friend of mine became a mask-making dynamo. She pointed me to a simple pattern that helped me figure out mask making. My first mask with this pattern was so easy! The second time, I forgot to leave openings for the string. By the ninth or tenth I was really getting the hang of it, so of course I ran out of bobbin thread. This is the moment when I point out that I used my daughter's machine and I had never changed the bobbin. Also, I never threaded the machine. Also, she sleeps later than I do. Nothing says, "I love you" like groggily setting up the sewing machine in the early morning so that mom can make face masks.

Here is the pattern I used.

This website has some good videos for making your own face masks. 

Here is a link to Joann's pattern and instructions

 Things I learned from sewing face masks:

  • Try different patterns until you find one that works for you.‚Äč
  • Don't be afraid to alter the pattern for a better fit. I've got my dad's impressive nose. If I didn't give more nasal room, my nose would be pressed flat under the mask.
  • Comfort depends on use. I have a mask that's fine for a quick trip to the grocery store, but if I wear it at work for 3 or more hours, it feels like my face is melting. My larger, roomier masks are better for long durations. Also consider the straps. I use t-shirt yarn for ear loops because elastic starts feeling tighter as the day progresses. You can also skip ear loops and sew on ties that fasten around your head. (Cut your t-shirt into inch long strips following the width of the shirt. Pull the strip so that the edges curl in. Voila. T-shirt yarn.) 



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