Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Personal Mask

Living in Canada, we've been watching the COVID-19 epidemic slowly spread, until BAM. Less than 2 weeks after Rob and I enjoyed a day in Toronto at the theater, we were plunged into "social distancing", shut downs, panic buying and no more school. We trust our government here, and look to them for direction in these times. One thing expressed repeatedly, early on, was that personal masks were not necessary for the average, healthy person. We were told that only n95 masks were of any use, everything else was a waste of a mask and more likely to make you sick.

As the pandemic progresses, the interesting thing is that countries where mask wearing is part of the normalcy of daily life, infection rates have stayed lower. How is that possible? Everyone wears them perfectly? They're not all wearing n95 masks. Maybe there is some benefit to wearing masks?

Then we started hearing that hospitals, clinics and senior/nursing homes needed donations of masks and were taking home made fabric masks.  Community groups sprung up, patterns and tutorials became abundant, and suddenly it has become acceptable to wear a mask. Not so much to protect others if you are sick, but to protect yourself.

Just how much protection? It's hard to know precisely. More on that in a bit.

Rob came to me saying he wanted a mask, with a flap of plastic/vinyl/rubber flap hanging over the mask. He found an exercise band and held it over his top lip, hanging down. He looked freaky and creepy. But it got me thinking. I have PUL--polyurethane laminated cotton frequently used in diaper making. Surely it has some barrier protection. What pattern though?

The most common pattern I saw was the rectangle, pleated, with elastic loops for the ears or long ties. Rob said it had to be snug at the nose. I saw some people were using wire or pipe cleaners along the top. What other pattern options were out there?

I came across the "HK Mask". I appreciated the science behind it and it seemed well designed. I got the pattern pieces printed--but I had to ask someone to do it for me and I forgot to mention you have to check the scale instructions. So they printed too small and I had to use experience to upsize it.  I had so many mistakes going through the process of making the mask. Everything that I could sew wrong, I pretty much managed to. In the end, it turned out fine. I decided to make a tutorial since the written instructions are pretty bad. They were obviously translated with a translation program instead of a translator who knows sewing lingo. The video helped a lot though. I also adjusted a few things.
Cut out the pattern piece on the solid dark line. Trace it to make the lining piece, but use the dark dashed line where it varies from the outline--across the top flat part and the centre curved seam. Ignore all the other lines. 


Make sure your two pieces are reversed when you put it on the fabric. If you're using a single piece that's folded, you're fine.

If you're trying to use up small pieces of scrap, make sure you flip the pattern piece before cutting. And when you find out you've somehow cut  two the same, definitely make sure you flipped the piece compared to the first two. I ended up with three pieces the same, the last of this PUL. Don't know if those are even worth keeping.

Second attempt, I was able to fold my fabric to eliminate the error of the first attempt. The lining was going to be the flannel print, the lilac PUL was for inside. 

I
Sew the long, curved edge. With the PUL, use clips, or pin just within the seam allowance. The seam allowance is 1cm and backstitch at each end to secure the threads.

I think trimming the seam will help with the curve

Fold down the top edge, 1cm. This is now the longest straight edge. If it's not straight (like in the first one I made), you've sewed something wrong. Make the "notches"---just mark their location, you don't need to make actual notches. For wire, use something easily bendable and will hold it's shape. My wire is a bit thick and might rust with washing. But it works. 

Sew the top edge down, and when you come to the notch marking, pivot and sew to the edge. Sew back to the original stitching and pivot to keep going across the top.

When you get to the second notch marking, lift the foot and slide your wire into the pocket formed by the hem. Push it all the way to where you sewed the first little perpendicular line, pivot and sew the little pocket closed. 



Make sure the wire is out of the way before stitching this little pocket closed! Stitch back to the main line of the hem and stitch to the end of the hem. 

Take the liner piece and hem the top and bottom edges the same way, but with no wire on the nose bridge.

I used some cotton lycra to make the ear bands and ties ("tapes"). I cut them to the lengths given, and just eyeballed a width.

I laid it out and it worked out perfectly across the width of my 60" fabric. Until I accidentally cut the two ear pieces apart in the wrong spot--I was stretching it and cut too quickly before it relaxed. 

Place the ear elastics/bands at the edges, over top of the right side of the outside mask. Position them so they point to the middle seam. Stitch down each side, close to the edge. You might even want to go over the ear straps twice to reinforce. 

Lay the two masks right sides together. Cry when you remember that you had intended for the flannel to be the inside mask. Before I started the actual sewing, I thought it might not be pleasant to have the flannel against my mouth. The plastic side of the PUL is the "wrong" side so that the fabric side is against my mouth. I picked out the top hem, sewed the curve centre seam a bit smaller, and started re-sewing the top hem. Only to realize that it was actually the bottom edge!! I was beyond caring. As long as the inner layer mask is slightly smaller, it should be good. 

The head "tapes" confused me. I watched the video and it made sense. I didn't take a picture though. I'm wearing an Aircast on my leg/ankle and it sucks going up and down the stairs.  Take one tie, lay it inside of the two layers, right up to the edge seam joining the layers. Use a clip or pin to make sure it stays right at the edge. Sew a channel, from top edge  to bottom edge (or the other way around), far enough out from the edge so you don't catch the tie in the stitching. You should be able to pull the tie through (but don't pull it all the way out!).  Do this for the other edge too. 

Lastly, sew a small rectangle in the bottom hem, about 1.5" long, centered on the centre seam. Again, you can see this in the video. My rectangle was really wonky but it's just to attach the two layers together at the bottom. This allows you to place a tissue or paper towel or real filter between the layers without it falling out. 


I don't have it properly adjusted here, it's too high on my nose and messing with my glasses. I immediately felt claustrophobic. There's a pretty decent seal--every time I breathed in, it would come right in to my nose. It also got hot very quickly! I think the flannel is too heavy. Most patterns call for one layer flannel and one layer quilter's cotton or two layers quilter's cotton. This is such a happy pattern for spring though. It might be better outside, rather than my warm sunny kitchen. I don't have a lot of PUL left so I will be doing some two layers quilter's cotton. I do have some of the PUL that's not laminated, it's intended to be sewn between layers of other fabric (I wonder if a heat press would be hot enough to laminate it to a fabric). I'm also wondering if just a section of PUL over the nose/mouth area would be cooler but still protective enough.

It's important to know that these masks can not eliminate the risk of getting infected. Neither can a n95 mask if it's not fitted right or you touch it or your eyes with contaminated hands. It's important to remember all the other precautions--wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap, disinfect things you touch, keep your distance from others. Be safe, stay home. 

For more info on the filter abilities of these masks, read through all the info at the website I linked to with the pattern.

Updates: I took apart that flannel and PUL mask and made a cotton and PUL mask. It still was hot and suffocating. I think Rob's worked better because the PUL in his was a woven and a bit stiffer.


If you cut and sew everything correctly, the lining piece will be slightly smaller. This gives a good snug fit on the cheeks. I have also adjusted the pattern so it's a bit lower on the cheeks, but both pieces are cut the same size. 


I"ve been reading about the use of non-woven interfacing as a filter layer. The important thing with a filter is that it fills up the pocket entirely, or else air will chose the easiest route in--around the filter.  made one today and used non-woven interfacing sewn to the wrong side of the liner, after hemming it. I cut the interfacing with the lining pattern piece, then cut 1/2" off the top and bottom because I didn't want to hem it. I realized I should lay it on the liner before I fold over the hems and stitch. Then it's just one trip through the machine.


 For the strap, I cut a 1" wide strip across the 60" width of a piece of cotton lycra. I sewed it in like the ties above, but the top ends were actually a loop, with the two ends coming out the bottom of the mask. The fit was good. I don't even know if the ear elastics are needed.
Sixty inches gave me plenty of extra length on the ties, the pattern I followed said 50"-60" but of a non-stretch cord. I might drop down to 50" but it's kind of nice to just use up the whole width of the fabric.

We've just been advised in Canada that indeed, it is a good idea to wear a mask if in public. I really haven't been out much, but I feel better knowing that if I need to go out, I'm covered. I can also give a couple to my mom, or mother-in-law. Next up is trying the "fabric" used in cheap recyclable bags as the inner layer. It's non-woven, and non-cotton. You know those bags you get at conferences, events, some stores...it's sort of dimply, has kind of a paper feel. It's very similar to the material used in real masks. It still won't offer n95 protection, but it's cheap and can be used as disposible filters.



Thursday, March 26, 2020

New Baggy for New Phone

The last "phone bag" I made was at it's end of life.  It's older than I thought! It was extremely useful, so I wanted an updated one.  I searched and searched but could not find exactly what I wanted: hidden seams, zipper near top but not at the top, and vinyl sandwiched between the layers. I finally just got at it and followed a pattern the best I could, and opted for top stitching the vinyl down after construction.
Something funky happened along one seam I think I didn't have enough fabric between the window and the seam.  When I sewed the vinyl, it feed through fine, but my stitches were a bit loose. Not sure why.

In the end, it's all fine. My kids hate it. They hate the purse I made from this fabric too. I'm going to make a wallet soon; maybe I should use that fabric? LOL

At first, It felt like it was bigger than my old one. I think it's because I used canvas and a heavier vinyl. I can still use the touch screen through the vinyl. This was great on the cruise; it's wonderful in the summer when you go for a walk and don't have pockets. It's not waterproof but I'm sure the old one helped my phone a few times LOL. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Donation! And Confession!

I saw a post on Freecycle, for a family looking for yarn for a project. I emailed, and the woman said, any amount, any type. For a weaving project. Okay! Downstairs I went to clean out some yarn. I had recently been going through my bins and saw a lot of very small amounts of yarns I knew I couldn't use in the charity blankets, as well as some other yarns that I didn't think I'd ever use.

Two kitchen garbage bags, a total of 2,441gr of yarn! Yay!

But wait! I also bought yarn this week, for the charity blankets! LOL.
A couple of huge balls of Red Heart "Comfort" (2x454gr=908gr) and one ball Bernat "Premium" (198gr).

Yarn In:  1106gr + 2238gr= 3344gr
Yarn Out:  2441gr + 1496gr = 3937gr
Balance:  593gr more OUT than in!
Costs: $27.02 + $15.33=$42.35/ 53 days = $0.80/day

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

It's Slipper Time!

My daughter came home from skating one day rcently and told me about her coach's paint mishap, much like the Yarn Harlot's. A couple weeks later, Megan says I have to make her coach some slippers since they were ruined with the mishap, and had been new. I had asked Megan at Christmas if she wanted me to make slippers for her. Nope. I ask every year. I have this skating fabric, you see...Well, it was about time.

Stitch Upon a Time, Midnight slippers. They used to be free through the Facebook group. I was having trouble finding where my file was so I was going to download a new copy onto my new tablet. I found a post on their blog saying they were now on the Accessories page, and some items were no longer free. Well, they weren't there. I asked in the FB group, and apparently the pattern is being re-worked. No idea if it will be free again.

She loved them and they fit. So, time to make myself some new slippers.

Somehow, I cut two sets of heel pieces from the light pink. And I didn't think about the direction of the print

I also sewed the first slipper, second last step of sewing the three parts together.  I was pushing it, it was late, I was going to stop but no... Then I had a few attempts of sewing the inside toe closed. In the end, I saw the little dog ear on the slipper on the left in the top photo. I left it. At first I thought it was the left slipper, but when I saw the photo, I switched it to the right slipper.  It's so nice to have warm feet again.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Charity Blankets

I decided to make a post with all my blankets for Crochet Blankets for Seniors
 Lionbrand "Homespun", garter stitch, corner to corner rectangle. I did the increases by starting each row K1, YO. For the decreases, it became K1, YO, sl1, k2tog, psso. It created a nice edge, so I didn't crochet a border.
 Collection of worsted weight yarns, and fun fur; corner to corner rectangle in garter stitch, simple single crochet border.
Three panel stockinette, made on bulky knitting machine. Joined on the knitting machine with a heart trim.  Worsted weight yarn. 

Three panels of 1x1 ribbing, made on a bulky knitting machine. It is very stretchy. Mystery coned yarns. 

Corner to corner rectangles in worsted weight yarns and a  single crochet border.

Corner to corner rectangle in worsted weight yarn and a single crochet border.

Zig Zag chevrons in worsted weight yarns. Side borders in garter stitch added after to get a bit more width.


Corner to corner rectangle in Bernat "Masala" on a cone, done in garter stitch.

 Granny stitch rectangle done in Bernat "Denim Style" with additional rows on the ends to get it to the right dimensions.

Corner to corner in garter stitch. Worsted weight yarns and several novelty yarns. Pinks, purples, white and black.

"Pipsqueak", two rows garter stitch alternating with 2 rows white worsted weight yarn. 


Corner 2 Corner crochet rectangle in worsted weight yarn. 

These crochet C2C blankets start out really fast, but once you get into the section with no increases, it really starts to feel like it will take forever. And they eat yarn.

Another C2C worsted weight blanket, in more manly colours. Much of my stash is more girly colours and since most yarn crafters are women, I'm sure I'm not the only one with this issue.


C2C crochet in worsted weight "fox", cream and black. 

The starting section of a C2C crochet blanket. I was having trouble getting into the pattern and you can see my mistakes on the top white row. 

I'm not a fan of knitting/crocheting blocks and sewing them together. I know it's convenient but it's just not my thing. It can get crazy with the stash blankets, carting around a bag of many small balls and a growing blanket. I enjoy these though, especially when I can use yarns from the stash, and supplement with just a ball or two of new yarn.  I think my next one will be a corner to corner crochet blanket again. Time to go stash diving!

For more details on the blankets, go to THIS LINK which will have all the posts about the blankets