Sew Much Love

Last week, the philosophy behind the general public wearing masks was updated. Previously, the CDC had said only those who are sick or those who are caring for someone who is sick needed to wear masks.

Upon hearing about this change, I decided it was time to look into how to make masks. First, I had to find my sewing machine. Did I even still have it? After all, it had been decades since I’d used it.

I checked the garage, and to my relief, I found it wrapped in a large plastic bag, dusty and covered with cobwebs. I brought it inside and opened it. It was so old, it had yellowed. On its spool holder, a lavender spool remained, and I wondered what I had last sewn. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t used the machine since my kids were little.

“Oh my,” I thought. “Do I really want to do this?”

But, knowing how impossible it is to find masks, I felt I had no choice but to proceed. So, I grabbed my anti-bacterial wipes and wiped the machine down. In the process of cleaning, I discovered the light still worked. I saw it as a good sign that pretty much thrilled me. If the light worked after 30 years, there was hope.

Next, I searched YouTube for instructions on how to grease a Kenmore sewing machine. I LOVE YouTube. You can find instructions to do just about anything there. After watching a couple of times, I now had a well-greased machine. I slowly turned the wheel by hand and the needle moved up and down.

The next big step was to try the foot pedal. I was slightly concerned the machine might explode or something. But it sounded just as smooth as it had the last time I used it.

My other steps toward progress included:

  1. Finding a needle that wasn’t broken – I found ONE lone needle in my decades-old sewing kit!
  2. Finding material to use for the masks – I am taking “shelter in place” seriously, so I didn’t want to go out to buy material. Instead, I rummaged through my closet and drawers to find suitable material to use. I found t-shirts that I painted with “kissee lips” and pink and purple polka dots. I found cotton pajamas and a favorite flannel shirt. Fortunately, also in my decades-old sewing kit, I found an unopened package of elastic.
  3. Choosing a pattern – Have you seen how many mask-making patterns there are out there? I chose a video by JoAnn Fabrics that was easy to use with good instructions. (Again, on YouTube!) I set up my iPad and cut out my pattern.
  4. Filling the bobbin and threading the machine- I was a little worried I might have forgotten how to do either. But, I guess there are some things you never forget. 🙂

Next, the biggest, most suspense-filled step. Testing the machine on a piece of material. Would it sew a nice, clean straight line? Or would it bunch up, leaving a snaggle of thread on the material?

IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM! After 30 years, I was ready to do a Kenmore sewing machine commercial.

As I cut apart my pajama pants and one of my favorite flannel shirts, I hoped it would not all be for naught. Of course, making masks for my family and myself would be worth sacrificing a couple of items of clothing, but after decades of not sewing, not following patterns, not using the machine, could I pull off this feat?

To keep from making a long story even longer, let me just begin to end this post with,


I made small ones for the grandkids and large ones for adult loved ones who needed masks. I’ll be the first to admit, they’re certainly not the prettiest masks. (I’ve seen many, many beautiful, colorful, perfectly sewn masks out there!)

But I hope those to whom I gave the masks will find the wabi sabi in them–the beauty in their imperfection. They’re not made with the prettiest material. The seams are crooked, too. The thread didn’t always match, but in the slim pickings from my decades-old sewing kit, it was the color that came closest.

Perfect? Heck no. But they were sewn with material I took from pieces of clothing I wore to make memories. Most of all, they were sewn with love.

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7 Responses to Sew Much Love

  1. Good job, Jan! And good old Sears Kenmore. I pulled my rarely used Kenmore out of the closet and managed to make one mask, watching YouTube, of course. Wore it to Walgreens and was the only one wearing a mask so I felt kinda weird. And it steamed up my glasses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Thanks, Linda. I wore mine to Kroger’s today and also felt odd. I’d say only 5-10% of the customers wore masks, though most wore gloves. I agree, they’re uncomfortable and by the time I got back to my car, I wanted to breathe unrestricted. But, I did feel slightly more protected. Slightly. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Jan,

    This post is one of the best I’ve read in a while. I re-use or repurpose just about everything i can these days and to read as you described the rejuvenation of your Kenmore made me laugh and laugh. Good for you! Your finished products do indeed have wabi sabi and I’d be proud to wear them.

    I gave our pharmacist a box of Bendix peppermint chocolates to thank them for being open in the midst of this pandemic and in turn, they included two masks for us. Your tutorial and links will come in handy.

    Thank you very much,


    Doug MacIlroy (from the old FF days. Good to read you again:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jan Morrill says:

    So good to hear from you, Doug! And thank you for your kind words about my post. I hope you’re doing well–are you still with Friday Fictioneers? I see from your blog that you are still writing–so I’m going to go spend some time there. Hope you are doing well — Jan


    • dmmacilroy says:

      Hi Jan,

      A upheaval in my life led to me moving South by Southwest and not writing for a while. Time and tide have helped and there has been a long season of peace… and now this… You dredging up your Kenmore and making masks, me breaking out the blog and writing what amounts to my last words. Thank yous, thoughts, messages to my son should he ever chance to look for them. Few ever get the chance so I’ve decided not to waste it. Doug’s Raft is worth a look. It speaks with more clarity… In the course of resurfacing I’m seeing other friends floating by on their rafts and tell them what matters to me, things I’ve needed to say, but haven’t because life was happening.

      To you I will say that your presence, personality and persona have always been a light for me. A distant guidestar, as I’ve come to call people like you. You shine and are steady and many who see your light have no inkling of any turmoil in the life that produces it. They know only that the light helps them navigate the rocks and shoals of their lives. You help them. They may not be able to put it in words and thus you will have no knowledge of all of those you’ve aided or why, but you have. Hold tight to that certainty… you have and you do.

      Keep writing and sewing when you need to, and shining.

      Yours from the forest,



  4. Jan Morrill says:

    Good morning, Doug-

    One thing I always remember about your comments is that you’ve always been good at commenting about the good things in people. I thank you for your words–again.

    I’m sorry for the upheaval in your life, but I hope it’s led you to a better place. Some of my worst trials (and yes, there have been some!) have led me to the best places in the end.

    I read Doug’s Raft. In case you don’t see my comment, here’s what I left on your blog:

    Doug, thank you for pointing me in the direction of this post. I hope you will continue to build rafts. Whether or not they eventually break up and drift into Oblivion, to me, is not the focus. It is now, and the fact that your raft–our rafts that we build–give others a place to contemplate and, like here, to share a conversation with friends and strangers. Now. That is the focus. So, thank you for letting me drift along with you on the raft that you built.

    Keep building rafts, Doug. Whether it’s from a beach or a forest. Whether it’s a blog post, a story, or a comment you’ve left for a friend. Now matters. Not so much Oblivion.



  5. How nice to see you dusting off a skill long tucked away AND putting it to such good use. Cheers for your sewing and sharing. Cheers for Mother’s Day. Here’s to a sparkling future.


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