Sunday, April 19, 2020

Covid 19 week 5 - No, they aren't single cup brassieres

I didn't get into the shop this week. Here in New York State our governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order requiring anyone in a public place where they cannot maintain a 6 ft distance from others to wear a face covering that covers your nose and mouth. I am skeptical as to the usefulness of a cloth covering for personal protection; however, I can believe that something that will cover my coughs or sneezes would help protect other people in case I am an asymptomatic carrier. So instead of time in my shop I spent time in my sewing room.

I'd been doing research over the last few weeks looking for sewing patterns. Three weeks ago I fund one I liked that was a surgical face mask pattern - i.e. it had pleats - however I couldn't find it again. I did however find this pattern at Craft Passion that looked like it would work and perhaps even be easier to make.

I decided to teach myself how to sew this week and making face masks seemed like a reasonable place to start.

My wife helped me dig up some leftover fabric and showed me her sewing kit then left me to set up the sewing machine. Not having instructions I ran thread everywhere it looked like it should go. Oddly enough it didn't work. I ended up with about a mile of thread jamming up the bobbin - the thingy under the needle holding the bottom thread. Seeing me take a screwdriver to her 50 year old Kenmore sewing machine my wife took pity on me and showed me how to properly run the thread.

Then I was off the the races. I'd watched a number of videos to see how to sew these masks and the one by Amanda Todaro was the most helpful to me. I cut out the paper pattern, used it to trace out the requisite pieces of cloth. I ran then through the machine and voila! I had a prototype mask. I don't have elastic but I do have yards and yards of paracord so I thought I'd use that for ties. I used a dowel to feed two lengths of paracord through the loops in the ends left for that purpose.

It worked bu 1/4" paracord really wasn't very comfortable to wear. The other thing I didn't like was the fabric was pretty but I felt it was too thin.

This weekend my wife asked me to make masks for my in laws. I switched in some thicker cloth for the inner liner. It isn't as pretty as the outer fabric but it is a bit heavier so it will hopefully do a better job of filtering droplets.

The cords are the same material as the inner liner just folded over four times (three times?) with a stitch run down the approximate middle. Much more comfortable than the paracord.

I want to try  incorporating a nose wire in my next set. These did okay but I was noticing that when I exhaled I had a breeze going into my eyes that I couldn't get rid of by adjusting the mask. Except when I pinched it to my nose the breeze went away. I have some 16-3 romex that I can strip down for some 6" lengths of wire.

I'm very happy with my face coverings...  Are they good? Most certainly not on the scale of anyone who does any quantity of sewing. Are they done and functional? Yes. Did they survive their first run through the washing machine? Yes.

One of the cool things about sewing is the similarities to wood working. No, there aren't mortise and tenon joints in sewing. You don't have to worry about wood stretching as your are gluing it together. However, The need for precision cutting and fastening is there. Knowing how to make a good joint between two pieces is important too. The need for hand eye coordination is much the same even if the actual motions are different.

If you're reading this and want a mask, let me know. I'll make you one.