Home Sewing Skills: I Make Masks

We begin with a blurry photo of one of the dish clothes my Aunt Carol embroidered for me. I’ve been using them as cloth napkins and they’ve always been too big. Enter a global pandemic and the need for cloth to make masks and I can solve two problems at once.

We now have a decent sized napkin and some excess material for making masks!

The assembly line is in place. I also cut up a shirt I had in the pile of clothing to be donated to use as the other layer.

And we have mask!

I made masks for family members and for myself. It was one of those days it felt good to have sewing skills.

I Draft a Cris-Cross Apron Pattern; Make Two Aprons

I found this tutorial to draft your own pattern for an apron dress, and decided to go for it.

Here’s my current apron situation. As you can see, it’s been well used. I was also looking forward to going for a style that does not tie around the waist.

I followed the instructions for drafting the pattern. They were good. I had a few moments of uncertainty, but it went fairly smoothly.

Making notes to myself on the pattern.

You can see that I used the finest pattern paper available. (It was great the Christmas wrapping paper was printed with grids on the obverse.)

I hit two Goodwill stores first to look for material before going to an official fabric store. I found the blue material at my neighborhood Goodwill. It’s an Ikea duvet cover. I paid $7.99. Old duvet covers are a great source of material for household products. The other pattern is officially fabric and it came from the superstore Goodwill on Grand. I paid $9.99 for several yards.

Buying used (really unused) fabric at thrift stores is a great way to cut costs. This amount of material would have run me probably $50–$60 at at fabric store. In the Portland Goodwill system, they seem to direct all fabric yardage to the superstores, so that’s the place to go. But I’ve made things from tablecloths, sheets and now duvet covers, all of which are available at my neighborhood Goodwill store.

When I turned the duvet cover inside out to cut it apart, I found a fun surprise: a bonus sock.

One of the downsides of drafting your own pattern is that you have to figure the amount of material you need and the amount of notions. I made a mistake with the bias tape and only bought enough for one project. Bias tape, by the way cost me about $10.00, so more than costs for either material.

I decided that I had enough material of the duvet cover to cut two. Then I could sew the two sides wrong sides together and flip them, eliminating the need for bias tape. This also gave me a thicker apron, which I thought would be good.

it turned out that I didn’t have enough material for two complete cutouts, but I cut individual right side/left side pieces for the backing side and sewed them together. Sewing provides many opportunities to #problemsolve.

Mid sewing.

Here you can see where I’ve joined the right and left sides of the backing and that I managed to remember to add in the seam allowance when cutting.

I really liked the technique used here of adding the bias tape to the edge and then folding it over and using a twin needle stitch on the top. (Watch the video for a visual explanation as words are failing me here.) It gave me a completed edge, took less time than if I had used the bias tape as it is usually used, and took much less time than hemming all those seams would have. (I hate turning up edges.)

Sentinel, as he always does with sewing projects, helped.

For the duvet cover, I twin stitched along the top on the front side.

The finished project version one.

I made a mistake in drafting the pattern. The woman who designed the pattern is a small woman. I assumed the three-inch neckline (six inches when doubled) was going to be too small for me, so I switched it to a four-inch neckline (eight inches when doubled.) I was wrong in that thought, so there is a lot of gaping there.

Also, I haven’t pattern drafted enough to understand how gentle curves work, so this apron rides up in the front, though not in a way that keeps me from using it.

The apron takes a little concentration to get put it on (there are a lot of places your arms can go) and I have to manually adjust the back to overlap like it’s supposed to, but I really like the wrapping effect.

For this one, I fixed the riding up in the front situation.

The back isn’t as great here, which might have to do with me not having a photo assistant who is cognizant that one of his jobs is adjusting things I can’t see before he takes the picture.

Overall, I spent about thirty dollars, and maybe six hours (including driving around looking for material) and I got two aprons in fun patterns, plus got to muck about with some low-stakes pattern drafting.

I declare this project a win.

Space filled above TV

This big old space above the TV has been haunting me for months. What will go there?

And now we have our answer: a so-so student project that someone archivally framed and then eventually discarded so we could buy it for $15 from someone on Craigslist.

I’ve had a few months to stare at this since it went up, and I’m quite pleased with it. While the art isn’t stunning, I enjoy tracing the lines and circles with my eyes. Plus, I like how the slight diagonal of the TV makes it a subtle paralleogram floating below the very vertical nature of the art.

Plus, it was fifteen dollars.

In a perfect world I would rent art from the Portland Art Museum and trade it out quarterly. But cost and logistics mean that wasn’t a thing that was going to happen at this point in my life. This is the best solution for now.

The Orange Door Time Zone Clock Display

I’ve had a dream for years of making my own time zone clock display, but instead of New York, Paris, Tokyo, it would feature all the time zones where Matt and I have lived.

The thing that has been thwarting this dream is that Matt doesn’t like ticking clocks. However, I ordered a new clock for work and it does not tick! So I got the go-ahead from Matt and ordered six clocks.

Then they arrived and sat for a couple months until I could find the time to test out arrangements.

Here are the cutouts of the clocks and the labels.

Test #1: Tight above the map.

Test #2: Less tight above the map

Test #3: The least tight above the map.

Test #4: Next to the map

You can see what we went with.

Still to do:

  • Buy batteries, so we can make the clocks run. (Future me can tell you that this took months.)
  • Get name plates made with the name of the cities. Right now we have pieces of paper cut in the size of nameplates and printed with the names.

Still, I’m happy to have gotten this project up to this point. I’ve been dreaming of this display since 2005.

Washcloth completed

Here’s what this washcloth was supposed to look like.

And here’s what it actually looks like.

That bit near the top where I switch to ribbing was because I was a little more involved with the movie I was watching than I was with the knitting I was doing. I also think the variegated yarn doesn’t really allow the pattern to shine.

Oh well, someone will get some good dishcloth use out of it.

Cats head for the catio

When the door is opened, will the cats go outside?

The answer is yes! As usual, Sentinel charts the course, and Antares follows.

Things I’ve learned? Our windows and doors are really good at blocking out a lot of the sound that happens outside. With the front doors open, it’s really loud.

The cats don’t like to go outside during the day. Newness is a factor, plus the volume. Plus they mostly sleep during the day. Early in the morning is a great time for them, as is after dark. I think they are going to like it when we get the cat door in and they can go in and out on their own. Also when we get the shelves, so they can be above things.

It’s going to be a great summer at the Orange Door.