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!

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!

Sourcing Fabrics

Well, tickle me pink… there are small quilt shops selling cottons by odd bits and half yards on eBay AND they ship so much faster than the well known fabric and big box stores.

I got frustrated trying to buy fabric online. I thought I could do curbside pick-up during state shutdown orders, but darn near everything I clicked on was not available at my local fabric store and then, after narrowing choices down by viewing only “ship to home” options, everything I liked required a minimum purchase of two or four yards. So much for being able to select a nice variety. That also makes costs a little steep at 9 to 14 per yard, but they had quilt fabrics marked down to 5 or 6 a yard so I selected a few anyway. Unfortunately, other shoppers were also shopping the same sales so several items were sold out before I could check out and then, after I paid, two of my four purchased fabrics were cancelled via email as an oops, sorry, out of stock… bump hours wasted trying to buy fabrics, so I went looking on eBay. Of course, the stores may have opened by now but I’m high risk (old, disabled) so I’m not going anywhere.

I’m still waiting for all the thread and fabric purchased from Joann to arrive. I’m also waiting on elastic ordered from Walmart, too. In the meanwhile, I’m sewing up the eBay fabrics… which, of course, I washed to pre-shrink the cotton before cutting. Birdies first, because we can use some baby blue birds of happiness.

Yes, I’m making masks for children… plan is to donate a nice assortment to a local organization, then sell off the rest to offset cost. It is a simple mask, just two layers of fabric, no nose wire or anything inside. I’m making 3 sizes: tot (age 3+), child, and adult.

Needless to say, fabric masks are not PPE and tot size is not for babies.

If anyone wants the pattern, drop me a note here or PM on Facebook. I drew it up for my sister and saved it as a PDF because her company had fabric masks made for the guys out in the shop using the pattern posted on the CDC website (two layers of fabric sewn in a flat rectangle gathered by two very short, sewn-in elastic ear loops). This mask is also just two layers of fabric, but it is shaped to be more comfortable to wear.

I used to know how to insert a PDF into a post… if I figure it out again, I’ll update this.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

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!