Putting a good face on things

I’ve set up a bit of a production line.

I have a nephew who lives in Melbourne, Victoria. Residents of that city are now required to wear a mask in all public places unless they obtain a medical exemption certificate. It’s not optional, not discretionary. My nephew’s been buying single-use surgical masks, using them once and throwing them out. Aside from the cost implication, the waste irks me severely. I have seen photos where a snowdrift of discarded masks has blown about. Those things contain polypropylene, they get into waterways, cause environmental damage… it’s a Bad Thing. So I offered to make him a few cloth ones that he can launder and use again. Quite apart from the cost and environmental issues, these will look a lot better!

Then I told his mother, my sister, who lives in northern New South Wales. So far, her area’s Covid-free, but she’s older, her husband’s health is not great, and the time may soon come when they are asked to wear masks too. She asked if I’d mind making some for her and my brother-in-law too. Well, sure! By this time, I have the process down to an art and can crank one out from scratch in 20 minutes, curved seams, topstitching and all.

I’ve drawn myself a new pattern. The one I had before was a bit too snug across the nose. I think it was designed for dainty Asian noses, rather than my increasingly aquiline honker. This new one also comes higher at the ear so there’s less pressure on the elastic loop around the ear, and further across the cheek. I find it quite comfortable, even after prolonged wear. I’ve also simplified the construction process; the channel for the elastic is now simply the end of the mask folded in by half an inch and stitched down. It’s thicker – but quicker!

Luckily my stash had sufficient quantities of both batik and fat quarters in quiet dark colours for the blokes, and that increasingly rare commodity – elastic! I think my sister will enjoy the patterned ones and the slightly brighter colours for hers. I use good quality quilting cotton on the outside and tightly-woven batik for the lining. I treat the outer surface with a light coating of Scotchgard® Fabric & Upholstery Protector to make it more waterproof. The stuff is safe for use on clothing, and I don’t use it on the inside, next to the skin, so there should be no problem with irritation. You’d probably need to reapply it after a couple of washes, but as they’re now telling us that masks would ideally contain a waterproof fabric on the outside (and most waterproof fabrics aren’t that breathable), this seemed like a good solution. So, 10 masks done, dusted and (almost) delivered. They are now in the tender care of Australia Post…

Now that mask-making duty is over, I can crack on with finally making my F2F blocks. Hurray!