Sunday, April 5, 2020

Coronavirus crafting: Mask day...after day.

So now that the Centers for Disease Control have finally admitted that homemade masks can help stop the spread of COVID-19 (not because they're any good at filtering the air you're breathing, but because they stop your own droplets at the source), mask making is the new DIY craft. And of course I had to get in on it.

Lots of patterns were floating around the internet even before the CDC released its recommendation. As I understand it, the key in homemade mask design is to find the sweet spot between no filtration protection to speak of and not being able to breathe at all. It appears the middle ground consists of two layers of closely-woven fabric like quilting cotton and an inner, stiffer layer. Shop towels are apparently the gold standard for that inner layer, but interfacing also works.

Today, the Washington Post published a pattern for a fabric mask that was developed by an assistant professor at Parsons School of Design. (Go ahead and click -- it's not behind a paywall.) As I looked over the materials list this morning, I realized I had everything here at home. Moreover, I could go the directions one better -- instead of hemming the outside edge and zigzagging all over the place, I could cut out the pieces with my rotary cutter's pinking blade and use some leftover interfacing that's fusible on both sides. Cut out the pieces, fuse them with the iron, stitch the darts and the elastic casings (the designer calls them tunnels), thread the elastic through the casings and tie the ends -- poof, done. Shouldn't take more than a couple of hours.

Oh haha. If I'd made just one mask, it would have only taken a couple of hours. But I decided to make five. Why? Because that's how many I could make with my spiffy interfacing.

I started early this afternoon. It is now almost 11pm and I am not done yet. Oh, the masks are all sewn -- here's photographic proof. (The mask at top left was my prototype. I realized I'd laid out the fabric the wrong way after I cut it out. Whoops.)

Copyright Lynne Cantwell 2020

The problem I'm running into is getting them to stay on. For one thing, I didn't find out 'til I watched the tutorial video that you're supposed to cut the 14" of elastic in half and make loops that go around your ears. So I tried it -- and the elastic loops wouldn't stay put. I think the earpieces of my glasses are getting in the way. Either each piece of elastic is going to have to be longer or I'm going to have to make tie ends that I can tie at the back of my head.

Maybe I'll play with it some more after I'm done posting this.

Things sure have changed, haven't they? As my daughter Amy said the other day, if you'd worn a mask to Target two weeks ago, you'd have been followed around by a cop. Now, other shoppers give you dirty looks if you're not wearing one.

We are living in strange times indeed.

The good news for you guys is that the final version of Beach Magic has been uploaded to Amazon, and we are locked and loaded for release this coming Thursday, April 9th.

Even better news: I've dropped the price to 99 cents. If you already ordered a copy, it's all good -- you'll only be charged 99 cents on Thursday. In fact, every book in the series is now just 99 cents. (And they're all short. So if you buy the first three books now, you should be up to speed by Thursday when the new book comes out.)

And better news yet: The paperback version may go live earlier -- possibly as early as tomorrow. Keep an eye on my Facebook page. I'll announce it there.

These moments of masked blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Keep your social distance! Wear a mask! Wash your hands!

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