Stop the Spittle Spread: Why I’m Making Fabric Face Masks to Curb COVID-19

I couldn’t make you a quilt or stitch together a shirt. My sewing talents could be labeled as “Amateur, but can get stuff done if needed.” Well, we hit the “get stuff done if needed” part when COVID-19 made its way to the Sunshine Coast BC.

As a business owner and volunteer, I do deliveries and pick-ups for customers and for a vulnerable part of the population on the Sunshine Coast. I wear gloves but I worry about transmission.

COVID-19 isn’t transferred through the air but rather the spit and spray that naturally occurs in our method of communication. We touch surfaces that have been contaminated and then our faces and, well, transmission complete.

It is why we are asked to stand six feet away from people and to be diligent in washing our hands. Spittle spray is everywhere.

My husband and I have decided to take the stance that we are infected. We aren’t displaying any symptoms and feel fine, but what if we are just carriers? How do we protect the ones we love and the community we have come to adore while picking up groceries or dropping off coffee orders?

That’s when I saw a post from a local sewing shop about fabric face masks. Research shows that 100% cotton 2 layer masks offer up to 60-65% protection.  They stop the spittle and spray effect short term — long enough to get groceries or do a drop at a customer’s house. Perfect.

Did you read the first paragraph? Yeah, still an issue. However, fabric face masks are super easy to make. There are numerous patterns on the Internet (shared links to some of the ones people have shared with me below). However, all you really need is two pieces of fabric 9 inches by 6 inches, needle and thread, and ribbons/elastic or even shoelaces.

I stitched the two fabric pieces together (adding pleats but even this isn’t necessary) and sewed on pieces of ribbon that can be tied around the ears. Voila.

Since the first ones, I have run out of ribbon and elastics. I have started sewing simple straps out of cloth fabric (I am making some for immune-comprised friends, the assessment clinic and front-line workers).

“It won’t stop you from getting it.”

Again, this is a short-term preventative measure. It is to protect those around you and reduce the chance of spittle spread transmission. It isn’t water-proof (unless you use a shower curtain) and not hospital-grade.

It’s about protecting others.

An ounce of prevention, or in this case the use of a fabric face mask, goes a long way to slowing COVID-19.

Plus, we make this look good!


Getting My Craft On: Cards

I love making cards. I make holiday cards, thank you cards, new baby cards and birthday cards for anyone.

It’s a way to flex my creativity while giving a homemade creation to show some love to the recipient.

The first of the year has been a busy one for me. There are several birthdays and the arrival of a new baby to celebrate. And when I say busy, I mean fun.

It all started about five years ago when I was trying to find the perfect one for my younger sister. They were either the “another year older” cards, which doesn’t make sense to send since I’m the older one, or the overly sappy “you are my best friend” cards. Where’s the one that says, “We come from the same gene pool and that may be all we have in common but I love you anyway’ cards? Does Hallmark make those?

No? So I started. Turns out, I like playing with paper, glitter and glue.

Here are just a few of my recent creations:

1) Celebrating the arrival of my nephew!

2) My husband’s birthday

3) My brother-in-law’s birthday:

That’s it for now. I have a few in the hopper for Valentine’s Day and two birthdays in March!

Refashion Your Clothes to Rebuild Body Confidence

Deconstruct Clothes to Build Up Confidence“Eh, it’s clothes.”

“They cover the important bits.”

“They’re comfortable.”

“I have nothing else to wear.”

I pull items out of my closet that I don’t like or makes me feel uncomfortable. I have several items that do anything but flatter my physique. I have items that don’t sit right on my wide shoulders or the cut lays awkwardly in a bunch around the hip area. Worse? I wear these garments once a week.

Anyone in the same boat? Do you find yourself wearing something you don’t feel stellar in? Something that actually erodes your self-esteem?

I always chalked it up to the misconception that I was just awkward. Too tall. Too big in the hips area. I was okay with clothes not fitting well because . . . well, they weren’t made for me. It was a fact of life. It is a problem everyone woman suffers through. We purchase the clothes that come the closest to fitting us.

Or so I thought.

Tackling My Fears of Cutting ClothesIt wasn’t until a friend of mine taught me a few clothes deconstruction basics that I was able to start rebuilding my body confidence.

I recently took a class at the Arts Building in Lower Gibsons (Sunshine Coast) taught by Sandy Buck, a creative and wildly talented woman with over a decade of experience making costumes out of nothing for film and theatre. Her class centered around the idea that we can make stuff that we WANT TO WEAR with just a few snips here and a bit of stitching there. We can change our closets to better suit us, our lifestyles . . . wait for it . . . and our bodies.

Hmmm. Sounds easy.

20160211_180856I have to admit that I packed a healthy dose of clothing deconstruction fears along with my sewing basket for the three hour class. Destroying a perfectly good top or pair of pants bothered me. (Read: FREAKED ME OUT!) Perhaps it was the thought that I couldn’t make something out of the cut scraps. That I ruined something perfectly good for nothing.

It wasn’t until I stood scissors in one hand and a shimmery orange shirt in the other that I realized my fear of deconstructing clothes was a bit ridiculous. The garment wasn’t “perfectly good.” In fact, it drained confidence out of my step when I caught a glance at my reflected image in a window or mirror. I liked the shimmer. I hated how it made me feel.

20160211_190104The first snip felt like I had just done something bad. The feeling you get when you raid the cookie jar 27 minutes before dinner. You know you shouldn’t but, deep down, you are so happy you did.

With every snip, I felt like I was taking something back. Something that was mine to own. I was empowering myself. I was going to win the battle of the closet. My clothes were not going to drain my confidence. Self worth. Not anymore.

Within a few moments, I had deconstructed the shirt. And it felt amazing.

Over the next couple of hours, I created a few custom additions for a shirt. The white and orange top tended to gather around the hips area. Plus, it had a habit of displaying my biceps in a not-so-flattering way.

Thus, I added a bit of silk fabric courtesy of an ill-fitting slip for the arms. To tackle the hip area, I added that orange shimmer from the other top to add flair. My own adult tu-tu.

The best three hour class ever.

The lesson learned here is that if something isn’t working, it is within your power to change it. A few snips here. A few stitches here. You have the choice to empower yourself . . .


Check out the Arts for other creative classes on the Sunshine Coast!

Nailed It: Vintage Milk Painted Signs & My Own Personal Symphony

Most of us have heard the odd, awkward notes of a child learning to play an instrument. The result of blowing too hard or hitting the wrong key isn’t exactly music to our ears. In fact the one thing the instrument is made to do, make music, couldn’t be further from what you eardrums are picking up.

During this learning period, the best way to cope with the high and low pitches coming from the other room is to remind yourself that they are learning a new skill. Eventually the daily practice sessions start paying off when the notes give way to what is almost recognizable as “Happy Birthday.”

There are times when I get discouraged with my crafty side. The side that wants to milk paint home furniture or write a mystery book. In my head, I can see the finished product in all its glory. What is in front of me is anything but glorious. I admit. I get disheartened about the creative process.

That was until I saw myself as learning the scales for my personal symphony.

As I have shared before, my attempts at using transfer gel to add lettering and designs to my milk painting furniture has . . . failed. It would be easy to shelf the gel and perfect the fine art of just painting furniture. But I decided to treat the process like I would learning to play the sax — start with the basics and keep practicing.

Milk Painting Transfer GelMy second attempt resulted in a slightly better version. I created signs to accompany a dandelion wall decal in the living room of a vacation rental I am preparing. The lettering stayed on and you can actually read it. However, I felt like I had to leave a great amount of paper pulp on the finished product just so the font would stand out. (See below)

SignsMy third attempt, a sign with my last name, was created slightly different. I used the transfer gel to put the lettering on and then I sanded it off. The result was a very faint stencil of the words I wished to add to the sign. Using the milk paint, I painted my last name on the distressed piece of upcycled wood.

DIY Homemade Last Name SignWhile its not Beethoven’s “5th”, I think I have “Happy Birthday” down in my own personal symphony.