Black Lace & Promises

Salmon Pink, Black, Gray, Red, Royal Blue… additional colors available soon

Per special request: solid colors, lace, something to wear when dressed in your Sunday best. Additional colors already cut in my “sew next” bin are Turquoise Blue, Winter White, and Autumn Orange (just orange… reminds me of pumpkins). The adjustable ear loops can be removed if you prefer straps. Black satin ribbon? Maybe clip on a single crystal earring off to one side for a little sparkle. Of course, if you are handy with a needle, you could adorn yours with glossy little seed beads.

The lace is a bit fragile so gently wash by hand and be careful with the iron. I used a dry iron with heat set on polyester for pressing while sewing. Only two were sewn of some colors, four of some others, and the lady who asked has first choice.

As for promises…. awe, that’s to myself. I need to make art again so when I finish sewing up everything in the “sew next” bin, I’ll be done with masks for awhile. COVID just spun everything around. I had 3 pieces in a show this year without the paintings even leaving the house. They did an excellent online presentation. It’s just not the same as viewing the actual art in person. Only one of mine was accepted by the juror, but all three entries were posted on their website as they had a separate virtual gallery for the rejected pieces. That was cool. I don’t feel so bad about being rejected after seeing fabulous pieces by other artists that were also rejected. It was also easy to see that the juror’s selections had more to do with how the various pieces interact and come together as one cohesive show than one person’s opinion of your art.

So, which piece was selected? Isolation.

Thanks for reading!

Straw Port Mask Flaws

Seriously flawed stitching yet functional “straw port” masks… so flawed, I’m giving these two away… visit my Facebook page for more details (link below).

Yes, I’m experimenting with “Straw Port” masks, thinking up ways to keep the hole always covered, even while in use, so as not to totally defeat the purpose. Of course, we’re not supposed to ever touch our masked face… but reality prevails. If you are going to walk around flea markets or other public spaces on hot summer days, sooner or later, you’ll be unmasking yourself or trying to shove a straw up there somehow just to quench your thirst. So, why not make them with straw ports?

It’s NOT PPE folks… it’s a novelty item that offers minimal protection (like most fabric masks), but if it keeps masks on more faces, the better for all of us, eh?

My first attempt was to hide the port in a fake pleat (straw enters at bottom of pleat, travels up a tunnel and exits near mouth at top of pleat) but, the port was located too high, so care must be exercised to avoid shoving straw up your nose.

My second attempt (shown below) hid the port well under black satin ribbon, but the overall width (nose to chin) was way too much, which put the port a wee too low.

The third attempt (below) added a tab to make finding the port easier. I used the same pattern (and fabric) that I tested in my last post, adding a plush cotton pipe cleaner for a nose wire and plastic beads to make the ear loops adjustable. I love the way it fold up to look like a little purse.

As you can see, I made the port a tad too low but, easy pattern adjustment to move it up a bit (still below mouth level so can slide up to mouth instead of straw aimed to go up nose). This design is a keeper… I’ll be selling these for 8 (2 for 15) after I get a few made.

Thanks for looking! And, BTW… if you think adding straw ports is nuts, wait till you see my masks with zippers. Those fly out faster than I can sew them… mostly to smokers who live in designated non-smoking high rise buildings where stepping out for a smoke, even when social distancing, requires wearing a mask. Some people wanted them just so they could unzip for a drink, which got me thinking that a straw port mask would be better for that use unless they want to dunk cookies… odds are, they’re not sipping milk.

Link to Facebook page: https://facebook.com/Mice4Mars

Another Pattern Try

Of course, I just had to try a new mask pattern that was floating around on Facebook (sorry, should have saved the link to the video to credit the designer). This one is cool because it is quick and easy to sew from four identically cut tapered rectangles (the flaps are folded in half and sandwiched between the other two layers before stitching along the two curves). I like how it lays flat when not worn. If you fold it in half, it kind of looks like a little purse. I didn’t bother to rotate the ear loops to hide the knots (or change from blue to white thread) since I was making it for myself.

Masked Selfie, July 2020

Obviously, if you choose fabric with a one-way design like I did, you’re not supposed to wear it upside down. Did anyone notice? No… most people don’t pay attention to such details.

It feels comfy enough, with plenty of room inside (no lipstick smears), and stayed where it belongs okay without a nose wire.

Downsides? It’s not reversible and it’s kind of boxy shaped, goes closer to my ears than other masks and I want to retrofit it with a nose wire but there is no seam on the top edge to sneak a hair pin wire in.

I’m going to try making a smaller version for the grandchildren. If I make more for myself with this pattern, I’m going to sew a pipe cleaner in during construction. I’ve slacked off on making masks to donate or sell, mainly because there are local mask makers cranking out masks by the hundreds in short time, some with obvious access to wholesale supplies. Even those who can walk into a fabric store are way ahead of me… I haven’t stepped foot into a Walmart or any other high traffic store since before the plaque. As for shopping online, I don’t even want to crank the math to see how deep I’m in the hole.

Still, what do I do? Order ye $40 in fabrics today… a fat quarter of candy corn print for Halloween masks, snowflakes and snowmen on red for Christmas, another red with tiny stars, and a couple yards of black, plus lace and trims, because I have ideas in my head and a few crystals in a jar.

I’ve been sewing other things… a fitted slipcover for a chair and a topper for this stool.

Yes, it is the same gold swirl cotton fabric that I used for masks, one of those online purchases with a min. order of 3 yards. I think it looks alright.

Thanks for reading!

Easy Nose Wire Hack

Who knew? Old lady hair pins with coated tips are ideal for adding a removable nose wire to fabric masks for the exact same reason the idea was rejected. They’re too thin to sew in… you can wiggle it out between the threads of your stitching.

Yes, just wiggle it in between the threads of the edge seam ye a couple inches down from the center of the top, slide it on up where you want it, and bend it as desired. What’s cool is those wiggles on the pin landed ye about where I usually bend and the top stitching works like a little casing to hold it in there until you are ready to wiggle it back out without breaking a thread.

I only tried the “thin” pins… there are usually two bundles of pins per package, with one bundle of pins being thinner than the other. You can find them in most any store that sells hair products. A pack of 100 only costs about a dollar.

This will work great on the lightweight reversible “Casual” and “Summer Masks” that I sewed without nose wires, mainly because both styles are shaped so a nose wire really isn’t needed but, some people still want a nose wire.

The denim/batik mask shown in photos is one I made for myself. Here’s the main photo again because I’m going to share this to my Facebook page and it always shows the last photo… yeah, gotta wiggle around all this tech stuff. Thanks for reading!

EDIT/UPDATE 8/19/2020: blew off paragraphs about opening an online store as turned that into an art store… seems anyone wanting a mask just contacts me directly, so no sense posting masks there. If you want to see what is currently available, visit my masks4sale page here on this blog. Thank you!

Fabulous Batiks (and real pipe cleaners)

I have to show & tell, even though they’re gone… maybe I should show the next batch here before posting on Facebook? Anyways, I had the pleasure of sewing masks from batik fabrics that a friend ordered from Amazon in a stack of fat eighths. Here are a few that were photographed before finishing with strap or ear loops.

The last photo shows how I improved my pattern to create a better casing to slide in elastic ear loops or a shoestring strap (not sewn in, so can switch up later, replace the elastic or whatever). All have a non-woven layer inside (featherweight Pellon) and a pipe cleaner nose wire. A real one… not the cheap kind that melt when ironed.

Hey, it has to feel good, too.

Here’s what I use… shown on top of Autumn Leaves fabric (with unbleached muslin lining) cut to make a pleated flat with a hidden pocket for my sister Jai up in Michigan.

If you want to see what Autumn Leaves looks like finished (or other masks available for purchase), here’s a link to the masks4sale page. Thanks for reading!

NOTE: the “Summer Batiks” currently available are NOT made exactly the same… they’re only 2 layers of fabric, reversible, with soft, sewn-in ear loops and optional (retrofitted) hairpin nose wires. (All of the 3-layer, non-reversible batik masks shown here are gone.)

Buggies

Couldn’t help but smile while sewing a stack of fun buggies… they will be finished to order with the buyer’s choice of ear loops or a shoestring strap.

Yes, I altered the sewing method by not sewing the sides, then added casings after turning and stitching the pleats. Not only is my machine much happier (less layers to try to stitch through), but those casings makes it so ear loops can be replaced, if need be. I love the “new” elastic, too! It looks nicer and feels better, plus ties nicely into square knots that can hidden inside the casing instead of sewn-in, so those knots can be re-tied for a custom fit.

Now that I actually LIKE making pleated masks, I shall sew more… maybe next time, I’ll add pockets. Do people actually use them, or do they just like the idea of having a pocket?

NOTE: fabric was cut into 7 x 9 inch rectangles (or 5 x 7 for child size) and finished ye a half inch wider with the casings. The nose wire is a 6 inch plush cotton pipe cleaner (a real one, not the decorative kind for kiddie crafts) so it will not melt if you iron over it. More photos of the Buggies are on the masks4sale page, if you want to see what each looks like with the pleats opened. Hopefully, they will have you smiling, too!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Gold Swirl Mask

Elegant evening masks in gold swirled cotton wasn’t even on the back burner while sewing dozens of masks in children’s sizes as “going out” is not on my “to do” list. Batiks are my chili pot on simmer. I ordered lining fabric that will, hopefully, match the tropical colors.

Am I the only one who gets excited to see a FedEx or UPS truck pull up?

I’ve ordered so much stuff it’s like getting mystery packages. What will it be today? Elastic? White thread? A llama? Oh, it feels like fabric! I rip the bag open like a kid on Christmas to unwrap a pair of velvety leopard print pants. (Hey, I just discovered Jeggings. My kid gifted me a pair so comfortable that I hit online clearance racks to buy more.) The leopard print is black velvet spots on black, suitable for wintry holidays.

I made the gold swirl masks because a friend who had seen the fabric was tired of waiting… he wanted two “by tomorrow” so okay, I’m out of white thread anyway, may as well switch to black and sew a few while waiting.

The photo here shows the flat, pleated style. I also made the fitted style and they’re both “Strap-able” which is why the elastic for ear loops is not sewn in. You can also re-tie the knot to adjust the length for a custom fit, then hide the knot inside the casing. Personally, I prefer a strap… just one long strap, so it only has to be tied once. There is a photo of the fitted mask with a strap on the new “mask4sale” page (link on top).

Oh, mail’s here… two more packages! YES! Spool of nice elastic and a light bulb. I’m replacing a burnt out incandescent with one of those new LED types bulbs so I’m crossing fingers, hope it fits. Eh, drats… so much for that. It fits okay, same size socket, but it does NOT work in my old sewing machine. Anyone local need a light bulb? This one is a llama. Thanks for reading!

Of Mice and Masks

Preview in the works… I joined the ranks of mask makers, mostly for family and friends here in Youngstown, Ohio. Then requests started rolling in from their family and friends… how much for a mask? Can you drop it off? Will you mail it? Can I see your designs? Got any photos?

Well, no, not yet… just got a bin of bagged up masks.

So, photographing masks is on my “to do” list. Then I’ll I need a place to post them, somewhere to tell people to go look, so it may as well be here. I’m seriously thinking of upgrading this blog to something “ad-free” soon, too.

Should I give fair notice for people who don’t know me?

Straight up, I’m a disabled non-driver, blind in one eye, dim in the other, and sew slow as molasses. What I post as available is what is available (already sewed & bagged). If you are looking for perfection, custom orders, or mass production, I am not the one to ask. I also smoke like a chimney and live with two cats. Thus said, follow along if you want to see my creations.

I only make two styles now, the Strap-Able and Casual Compliance.

Strap-Able Masks are the only masks I like to wear because it doesn’t ride too close to my eyes, the nose wire helps to keep my glasses from steaming up, and I can talk without fabric touching my lips. They’re also made with a non-woven layer inside (no pocket) so you don’t have to stuff it with anything.

The best feature of the Strap-Able Mask is the elastic is NOT sewn in… you can replace the elastic with a strap. And, if you like elastic ear loops, you can adjust the length for a custom fit. How cool is that?

Here’s a photo showing how to wear a Strap-Able Mask with just one strap.

The girl with the gorgeous eyes is my 11 year old granddaughter. In the next photo, she’s wearing a “Casual Compliance” mask (which was gifted to her).

Casual Compliance Masks meet the bare min. requirements for fabric face masks… no nose wire, no pocket, just two layers of fabric but in a shaped design that is more comfy for people who can’t stand fabric touching their lips or eyes.

Experimental Masks are other styles and variations sewn while trying out different patterns and methods of mask making. You’ll see those when I start posting photos.

Well, guess I should get busy… thanks for reading!