Raarrr! Masks: a DIY

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Who goes there? Coronavirus Raarr MONSTERS?!! Let’s get our growls out!

I decided I’m going to share this. It’s hard giving up good ideas (remember Merbaby?). I hate it when I’m shopping and I see something I thought up in a box on the shelves but it is what it is and I am in no position to copyright and patent and trademark anything right now. If you want to do it for me you know how to contact me. Also, it’s not like someone else hasn’t thought of this already. If they haven’t, why not!?? If you have kids who like “teef” as I do, you should get busy with your sewing machine and make one of these! It’s very fun and what else are you doing? Watching Tiger King? Just get your sewing machine out already and do it.

I know I say everything is easy but really, this is. Except for step six. I hate step six. I guess I’m just not that experienced as a seamstress. But whatever. Now’s a great time to polish up my skillz. Woot.

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So here is what you’ll need: 

  • a 9×16 inch piece of solid cotton fabric (Prints just don’t do the “teef” justice.) (Smaller if you are making for a child. I’m not going to do the math for you because I suck at math. Just wing it down a third or so, depending on your kid’s face size. What can I say, some kids have BIG faces!)
  • white craft foam (Who knew! Everybody has some stuffed in a craft drawer somewhere. If you don’t, get some already!)
  • the bottom cut off an old t-shirt
  • a sewing machine (Everyone else might as well pass on this whole post.)
  • sharp sewing scissors (You don’t have any? It’s about time you ordered some!! And when you get them put some tape on there that says FABRIC ONLY. It’s time to adult up.)

Okay, let’s, get to it!

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My Aunt Keren was a professional seamstress when I was growing up. She taught me to sew. I used to spend long hours in her sewing room. I got my first Barbie doll (and only Barbie doll until recently.) at age 14 and I used to make clothes for the doll with the scraps leftover from my aunt’s sewing projects. I had a whole drawer in her sewing room that was the Barbie doll’s apartment. Wallpaper on the sides of the drawer, a check box for the bed. It’s hard to believe I was so into that doll at age 14. I guess that’s what happens when your mom won’t let you have Barbies as a young child because she’s worried about body dysmorphic disorder–which I totally got anyway despite her best efforts.

My Aunt Keren taught me how to harmonize. We used to sing hymns together to the sound of her whirring machine and her bird, Jasper, singing in the background and mumbling about what a pretty bird he was… oh memories!  Anyway, one of the many lessons that my aunt taught me was to iron and be tidy when you are sewing. Snip your threads as you go because lose threads later are signs of a mess. So I do that still and I have pride in it. Funny how these lessons stick. Just like I always wash my paintbrushes carefully… teach your kids these lessons, they stick!

Okay, off soapbox.

Step one and two are to sew a 1/4 inch hem on the short ends of your 9×16″ rectangle. This will create the finished edge of your filter pocket. Then fold your rectangle in thirds with the hemmed edges overlapping about an inch. Cut your 1″ inch thick ring of t-shirt fabric and cut it in half.

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Step 3: Take your two lengths of t-shirt string and pin the ends into the corners of your rectangle. These are going to be your straps that you tie the mask on with. Yes, they are way too long but that is good because it leaves plenty of room to customize later. The most important part of this step is to make sure that the straps are out of the way of where your side seams are going to go.

If you are having trouble visualizing where these straps go, just scroll down and take a peek at the finished product. They are kind of like two very long mirrored “Cs” (Coco Chanel style) that are going towards the center with their ends stuck in the corners.

Confused yet? Sorry. I should have just made a movie but my laptop is out of scratch disk space so I got no time for movie editing until I fix that problem. So basically pin everything together and sew a 1/2 inch seam down the short ends of your folded rectangle. AND! Don’t forget to remove your pins before you sew over them and break a needle. Been there, done that a few times. It sucks.

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Step Four: Turn it inside out! Now do those long straps make sense? Then iron everything, like Auntie Keren says.

I should probably mention that I don’t think you should iron craft foam. I think heat can melt it. This does create a sanitation problem (I also don’t recommend washing in hot water or worse putting in the dryer) but we all know this mask is for fashion and not for doing surgery. It will keep you from touching your mouth. It won’t keep you from catching COVID. It just slows the spreading. Capeesh? Okay. Moving on.

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Step Five: Add the TEEF! Maybe this could have been done earlier in step two. Yeah, that would probably be smarter. Hopefully, you read all the instructions before you start and you will do that but if not, Have no fear! It’s still doable at this step. How do I know? Because that’s what I did! :P

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Step 6: Now it’s time for the hard part: sewing pleats. I don’t know why I struggle so hard getting my pleats even but I do. It doesn’t help that the pocket section makes it even thicker in the middle. I think putting aside your perfectionism is the best approach here. Just add three pleats as evenly as you can and sew it. A good tip is to NOT use contrasting thread. It’s gonna be messy if you are a beginner level sewing non-expert like me. Get over it. Maybe someday I will be better at this step.

When you are done with the pleats you are done!

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If you make one of these please send me a picture! I would love to see all the coronavirus monsters out there killin’ it!

 

Quarantine Day 12: Rando Bits

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If it wasn’t for the fact that I have the worst cold I’ve ever had in ten years (!!) (just a stupid fatal-attraction-level sinus infection and NOT covid-19, don’t worry) and the fact that I have anxiety, I would say this quarantine has been good for me. I love staying home and I have more time than ever to be creative. I didn’t think I was an introvert but maybe I am! I’m cooking, I’m cleaning, I’m mom-ing, I’m making things! I even pulled out the sewing machine which I’ve been dreaming of for years! I’m pretty low-level happy. That is until I start worrying about how many people are dying, my parents and whether or not this is the end of the world. You know, just your normal 3 am freak-out stuff.

It’s been cool having the kids home all day long. I can be my old helicopter parent self and not feel guilty about not letting them go out ever. They don’t seem to mind. Their faces are permanently glued to their computers, playing Minecraft or doing school work. I hardly hear a peep out of them unless they need food. And since I miss them so much, I’m happy to play short-order cook. My kids are spoiled rotten. But you knew that already.

We do insist they sit down to dinner with us and even though they roll their eyes I think they like it too. Some lively discussions go down.

Bug and I have taken a few walks together which is nice. I’m loving the corona-swerve since I never really like interacting with other people when I’m walking the dogs anyway because Whiskey is the super-hyper-attack-everyone terrier that he is. I told you the quarantine is sitting well with me. Weird, right? Though I do miss a good coffee date.

There is a new Starbucks around the corner from us and it opened up this week. I spied it while I was out walking the dogs early this morning and the minute I got home Bug and I rushed off to visit it like a long lost friend. I never thought I’d be so happy to see a drive-thru.

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One of you asked how Bug and I are I’m dealing with our anxiety. Bug has decided that “anxiety” doesn’t exist. I think her dad is rubbing off on her and she’s in the I-can-fix-myself-just-fine, you-wusses stage. It’s a blessing because I don’t think I could deal with her going through what she went through in second grade all over again. The endless questions, the dry-heaving, the worry circles. You all remember what we went through. The doctor said that she will always have anxiety but that it will come and go. So I think it’s just on the go side which is great. And I’m sure she has matured a lot and uses a lot of her coping mechanisms.

Me, on the other hand. Well, I’m medicated so that helps. Like a TON. Whenever I feel myself starting to freak-out I just remind myself of my upcoming doctor’s appointment and store whatever worry I’m obsessing about in a mental box to talk to my doctor about. I LOVE my doctor. She is so nice and she always makes me feel like I’m normal.

Am I worried that I won’t be able to see her during this quarantine? Yes, of course. But I know she will do her best because she’s always worried that her patients are going to commit suicide if she isn’t there for them. I don’t need her that bad but she always tells me to call her immediately if I ever get worse. I never have called her so I feel pretty good. But then I worry that the government is going to fail and I won’t be able to have insurance anymore and we’ll all live in poverty and I’ll have to go cold turkey on my meds and live in a cardboard box in an alley somewhere getting gangrene… but then I remind myself that my brain likes to tell me lies so I shut that up and think about something happy instead.

Like postcards! I haven’t made any kind of formal quarantine journal but little things like blog posts, Instagrams and postcards tell the story. I doubt anthropologists will ever thank me for all the documenting I do but I like to imagine they do. What a gold mine of information I would be if there weren’t all the other social media megastars that there already are.

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In other bits: gardening! Spring is here and I am pottering around happily with my plants in the house and my pots and planters outside. I’m growing mung bean sprouts for my cat who likes to eat the house plants and throw up. They aren’t growing fast enough and she keeps eating Bug’s spider plant.

Bug is so funny, she’s named the plants in her room in zones: Her rubber plant and pathos are “The Tropics.”  Her fern and ivy are “The Northern Coastal” and her spider plant is “The Grasslands.” Apparently, Kady likes to visit The Grasslands frequently.

I don’t know why I put that photo of brown sugar up there. Maybe because I love a good circle shot and I wanted to share that I put a teaspoon of brown sugar in my coffee every day with my magic spice mix. It’s delicious. Do you know what is funny? I am still losing weight even with that teaspoon of sugar every day. I do eat a slice of peanut butter toast for breakfast and I usually have a glass of wine every night but cutting out carbs and not going to restaurants seems to be the magic cure to my weight problem. Who knew! Everyone else is complaining that quarantine is making them gain weight. Not me!

Next up is my sanitation station. I love the sound of that. I’m thinking I should make it into a shrine or ofrenda of some sort. I mean, if it is going to live there by the front door it might as well look cute, right? Right now it looks pretty pathetic. I’m thinking maybe there is a saint who is in charge of cleaning? A portrait of Zita, the patron saint of house-cleaning?

Masks! They are for fashion! I know, I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying that but since I can’t mass-produce masks (I can only make about two a day after I get done with my day job) I’m mostly just making them for friends and family. And if I’m making them for friends and family I might as well make them cute, right? So far I’ve only dug around my fabric stash but I have day-dreams of creating masks that have facial expressions on them and maybe a baby shark for the little boy who loves baby shark so much. Wouldn’t that be cute?

You might know that I am a HUGE fan of Project Runway. It’s my favorite show. And yes, I watch all the spin-offs and project-runway-wannabe shows too. I think I missed my calling when I passed up going to FIDM right out of high school. Can you imagine me as a fashion designer? I know I’m not the most fashionable person but I dream about it all the time. So when Christian Siriano started making plain white masks (and not designer masks that would become collector’s items) I swooned. What a hero!

Next is a pathetic picture of Whiskey. You’d think he’s a poor neglected puppy the way he mopes around. Not the dog who gets peanut butter twice a day with his allergy medicine and the dog who gets walked regularly, patted and crooned to all day long. He’s just playing on your emotions folks, nothing to see here.

Speaking of short-order cook, I can make a mean sandwich! Just ask Bug. Payam would agree too but we aren’t allowed to have bread anymore so we just wist from afar. I’d also like to note my sliced-up hand from making soap. It is a beeyotch. So not helpful when obsessively hand-washing.

Lastly, I give you a shot of my African violet being all pretty in my kitchen window. It’s the little things that keep me sane.

How are you coping?