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:
- Finding a needle that wasn’t broken – I found ONE lone needle in my decades-old sewing kit!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 DID IT!
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.