Once upon a time, I briefly decided that I was going to be the sort of person who Made Shit and Sewed Things; who made her own cloth diapers and Halloween costumes and pillowcases and tote bags. The sort of person who owned a proper sewing machine.
I never, ever became that person, alas. But I do technically own a sewing machine.
I grew up in a house that had an entire dedicated Sewing Room, with a closet full of Butterick and McCall's patterns and an old Singer workhorse machine. I loved sewing doll clothes and tiny dollhouse bedding and pillows and whatever else I could patch together using my mom's fabric scraps. I was not a complete sewing n00b, is my point, so my dreamy dream of handmade domesticity wasn't that out of the realm of possibility.
But when faced with the modern computerized nightmare of my own machine (a Brother CS 6000i), you'd think I'd never touched a sewing machine in my entire life. I could never thread it properly. It constantly beeped error messages at me. On the rare occasion I actually got it to stitch something, I was so thoroughly terrified of it and exhausted by all the setup and trial-and-error that it didn't seem remotely worth the trouble. HAND SEWING 4 LIFE.
It's been sitting untouched on a closet shelf for years, a secret shame I've occasionally thought about selling before stubbornly decided that no, some day, one day, I will stop letting that bitch intimidate me. Some day, one day, I will learn how to thread that stupid machine and I will Sew A Thing.
This weekend, I learned how to thread my sewing machine. And I sewed A Thing.
This was definitely not the first sewing project I had in mind, but here we are.
(I also cut my own hair, because desperate dead-and-split-end times.)
This was more of a hack than a proper sewing project -- I used a cotton headband/headscarf thing that I bought off Etsy many years ago (similar to this or this). It never cooperated with the shape of my skull and the elastic never stayed put and would slide up the back of my head before eventually popping off completely. But the fabric was so pretty and there was enough it that I figured I'd maybe get around to remaking it into something more like this.
(Yeah right, get in LINE, headband project.)
But after I pulled it out of my fabric scraps, I slid it over my face and found that...huh. The elastic holds it perfectly in place at that angle, and there was more than enough to almost completely double it over in the front and I could just tighten up the sides and maybe insert some kind of liner to give it an extra layer and ANYWAY, that's what I did.
(I also made one out of an old nursing cover, and am now making the more common style pattern for Jason out of an Acceptable Man Fabric. The sewing machine is now officially MY bitch and doesn't intimidate me in the slightest, even after that one time I forgot to replace the bobbin cover and everything went BZZZZZZTTTTTKDFHDKJLDLDLFH for a few seconds.)
And on the far-out chance that you! Too! Have a big-ass headband like this, I used my sewing machine Out Of Principle but it could definitely be hand sewn, or made with hem tape and safety pins. I made disposable inner liners for it from a vacuum cleaner bag*. The vacuum bag liner could be swapped for another layer of any tight-weave cotton material; I just liked the idea and had extra bags on hand. (Thank you, Robot Vacuum.) I'm probably going to hand-stitch a pipe cleaner under the top fold and add a non-sewn-in fabric barrier between the bag and my skin when I actually need to wear this.
(I'm the family's designated Essential Chore Runner since it's more likely I'll have unavoidable time out in public during the federal job onboarding process. So I made this basically to have something to wear to the pharmacy in a few days for our medication refills. It's important to have things to look forward to!)
(Oh,and this isn't a HEPA bag, but if you're making masks for frontline health workers that would be ideal. IF YOU ALREADY HAVE HEPA BAGS. DON'T HOARD. OR MAYBE NOT! FABRIC MASKS ARE FINE FOR THE REST OF US. EVERYBODY IS YELLING AT EVERYBODY ELSE ABOUT MASKS AND NOW I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT I'M YELLING ABOUT. AM BLOGGER NOT DOCTOR.)
HOW TO MAKE A DIY FACE MASK OUT OF A BIG-ASS HEADBAND
1) Put the headband on like a mask and fold the top and bottom to cover your face as needed. I made the fold along the bottom bigger to hold the liner in place. Carefully mark the folds with pins.
2) Play with the side pleats/gathers to make sure the front fabric is as tight and snug against your face as possible. Pin to mark any additional adjustments you need.
3) Practice taking the mask off and putting it back on using ONLY THE ELASTIC PART in the back or sides. Touching any part of the front of the mask basically defeats the purpose and you'll need to wash it. So take your time with the pinning steps until you can slide it over your face and have it naturally end up where it needs to be without needing to yank on the front. (And obviously watch out for the pins. Keep the pointy bits on the outside!)
4) Sew the top and bottom folds as close to the edge as possible. Leave any and all extra fabric on the inside of the mask. (Iron-on hem tape would work here as well.)
5) Sew the side pleats/gathers together or tighter as needed. I sewed a straight vertical line over all of them a few inches from the elastic on both sides to make it snug.
6) Trace the final shape on a piece of paper to create a pattern for the vacuum bag liners.
8) Stay the fuck home anyway.
*So after watching a ton of DIY tutorials over the weekend with vacuum bags, I am now aware that there's some debate and confusion about the safety of it, particularly HEPA filter material that may contain fiberglass. WONDERFUL. I am 99.9% sure these *basic non-HEPA) Oreck bags are just fancy paper but I could be wrong! So might just scrap that part and sew in a couple layers of old dishtowel instead. Stay safe and sane, everybody.