I learned to sew in High School home economics class, where in I learned how to make very simple items. At the time, I never dreamed that these skills, somewhat more developed as I grew up and needed to alter dance dresses and make pillows to decorate my home, would help me get through the worst pandemic in my lifetime. As of late, I’m learning to make face masks for protection while going out into the public during this difficult period.
My first fore into making face masks didn’t go very well. Although I selected what appeared to be a straight forward pattern, complete with a how to video, I still didn’t get the final result correct. The finished product just didn’t look like the example in the video; it was too small. Taking a step back, I realized that my estimating wasn’t working; I was going to have to really measure and be accurate. Ok, so eyeballing it was the way I’d done things most of my life and this simple face mask just seemed too easy. Then again, during this trying time, my brain wasn’t working at full capacity. I guess when one is stressed the mind is so distracted that it’s harder to focus.
As it was time for me to venture out for a weekly grocery run, I decided to take the masks with me. I put the five masks in the zip lock bags in my car and went off to the store. Waves of emotion came over me from embarrassment to suggest that someone take a handmade mask from me to pride that I was trying to help people who didn’t have protective gear. It made sense to me to bypass those customers already wearing masks moving on to those customers not wearing one. I asked one lady if she needed one for a family member and she refused, not even very politely. At this point I felt like she thought I had put the virus in the bag instead of a mask. Didn’t she get I was doing a good deed? Oh well, some people don’t understand the concept of helping others. Ok, keeping at it meant overcoming my own fear of rejection. On to the next person who was a lady not wearing a mask. I called out to her, “Excuse me, but would you like a mask? I’m making them” This time, the woman took it and commented that it looked very nice. Her response and acceptance made me sigh with relief both for her and for me that my efforts were ok. By the end of my grocery run I had given away four of the five masks. I took my groceries and my pride home.
I knew that my attempt to make the masks was not perfect but they actually looked pretty good. The first batch was pink, pretty much limiting my offer to women. In any case, the next day I was in the drug store and a woman actually came in looking to buy masks. I overheard her request and the clerk’s negative response, so I chimed in that I had one to give her. She initially thought that I wanted to sell it for money and I just shook my head and walked her to my car, keeping our distance. I reached into my car grabbing the last mask, handed it to her and was relieved to see her smile when she saw it. Ok, yes, it’s external gratification but sometimes it’s ok.
I’m continuing to make the masks with the material that I have and a bit more that my neighbor gave to me for this purpose. I expect that I can make 6-7 more masks which will not save lives nor make a difference in the overall death count of the country but it will keep me somewhat busy here and there. In addition, it might help a few people have some additional protection than they would have and if no more than comply with the current legal requirements for facemasks in public settings. In the end, it did make me feel like I was helping. Now I know how the women who worked in the factories during World War II felt each day as they came home. Everyone should do their part, even if it’s really small.
As always, comments are welcome.