Way back in The Before Times, in early January, time of resolutions and plans for the new year, I thought I would like to sew more. Thinking about how much I loved it – from the time I learned at 14, taught by my mother’s friend, through years of clothes making (my woolen wedding dress), screen-printed quilts, various Christmas ornaments, pillows, repairs, curtains, up to Sweet B’s cloak last Christmas. My 50-year old Singer, a gift from my husband when first we married, has stitched valiantly through all kinds of fabric.
But I had no idea what 2020 would offer by way of sewing opportunity! Since I began to get better, I’ve been making masks. I began for the Californians – using this Kaiser Permanente pattern and video: (https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/content/dam/internet/kp/comms/import/uploads/2020/03/02_COVID_Mask-Instructions_v9.pdf
I quickly used up all my stash – fabric I never thought would get used – and had to piece the ties from short lengths and mismatched patterns.
But now I have a bonanza! My old neighbor, generous-hearted owner of the Anchorage shops, Cabin Fever and Quilted Raven, sent me a dream stash! It arrived last Thursday – a bulging, large flat rate box delivered to the doorstep by our mailman (wearing one of my first masks, I was tickled to see).
It’s remarkable fabric, tightly woven with patterns whimsical and beautiful – a s’mores and a campfire print, multiple, colorful patterned Batiks suggesting frost, fish, or flowers, an eagle soaring over conifers, and blueberries!
I smiled hugely at the blueberries. On my first foray into the world – nearly four weeks since symptom onset and nine days past fever – I geared up and went to the grocery store! The precautions there are impressive, and most all the employees wore masks (a flowered one on the woman who mans the floral department). The Town & Country Markets network had put out a call for 1800 cloth masks, and I delivered my first 10.
After all that time of sickness and inactivity, and knowing there is so little to be done except for staying home, it feels great to be making. I probably would have been a bandage roller back in the day. This is close. Grocery store workers, delivery people, and mail carriers, come right behind the real front lines – the medical people and hospital custodial staffs. With no job to do at home or children to teach and entertain, I’m available – and it’s rewarding to work hard all day toward a goal.
I’m slow but try to be efficient, working in sets of ten, production line style. I’ve learned that to speed things up, you can sew the pleated side of the masks all in a row, and a pin in the ironing board the width of the tie’s turned-over edges makes that task quicker. Exploring this wonderland of fabric brings pleasure to the undertaking.
Queen Elizabeth’s speech moved me. No matter our useless head of state who tries to make the claim, the Queen has the best words. Encouragement for the future: “We will be with our families again, we will be with our friends again, we will meet again.” And inspiration for now: “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge.”
It’s becoming more clear every day how much safer we privileged people are during this pandemic – time and space and health or health resources. Lady Gaga made me cry announcing her concert for kindness (https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-52199537), her way to support medical workers and those struggling in the face of the virus.
Maybe sewing helps too.