Night Sky Silhouette & Reflection

Adobe recently, and finally, released a new version of Fresco that I can now use on my laptop. Until now, it had only been available on iPad, which was hugely disappointing because it looked like an amazing hybrid tool that allows both pixel and vector based drawing.

Since I’ve gotten it, I’ve been playing around trying to understand all the various tools and brushes and familiarize myself with how it all works, what I can and can’t do. I do love it, though it has a few somewhat ugly limitations (no real blending/smudging tool). It had a lot of the features that I loved in the Adobe Sketch app I have on my tablet, so I played in there as well for comparison.

I was messing around and ended up with the start of something I really liked in Sketch, but I bumped into some of it’s limitations (or even more likely, my own lack of understanding and limitations). I really wanted to add a certain feature I couldn’t in there so, I decided to see how well I could move that piece to another program and do what I knew another program could.

By the time I was done, this had made it from Sketch into Fresco and finished out in Photoshop. It took a bit to figure out how to get it where I needed it, but now that I know, I’m so excited to play more.

For something that just started out as me messing around and attempting to learn, I’m extraordinarily pleased with how this turned out. Even more so when I uploaded it to my Redbubble shop to see if it would work on any of the products and realized that it looks amazing on pretty much everything.

I have a few tweaks I’ll need to make before I can get a couple of those products active, but it is available for most.

Night Sky Drawstring Bag
Night Sky Drawstring Bag

TJ Fox On Redbubble: Photo/Art Prints And Fun Products

One of my most recent and ongoing projects has been setting up a Redbubble store. The goal was to have a place to offer prints of many of the photos I post here, but there are so many other cool things you can get from them as well.

This is ongoing because I still have a ton of photos to get modified and uploaded, but I’ve gotten a small start. You can now find prints and more in the TJ Fox Redbubble Store. I plan to get some art and design style pieces mixed in along with the photos as well (only a couple at the moment), but those are going to take just a bit longer.

So yes, you can get photo prints in all the typical shapes, sizes and formats: art prints, framed prints, canvas, cards, etc. But you can also get other fun stuff as well.

And these are just a tiny sampling. There are SO many more items.

Oh and masks! Did you see the fun masks?!

Funky Flowers On Green Mask
Funky Flowers On Green Mask

Even though I ended up with all the trials and mistakes on the masks I made for everyone else and I already have a good size stash, I know I’m going to still have to get a couple of these. I love the fact that I can wear my personality and my art in such a way.

I think that was part of my issue with Fine Art America when I tried them. While they offered a lot of fun stuff, there weren’t a lot of things I’d actually want myself. I’m not finding that an issue on Redbubble, which is probably unfortunate.

There are even puzzles!! And yes, I’m evil enough to make that repeating pattern from the mask above into a puzzle.

End of an Iris Puzzle
End of an Iris Puzzle

And if there is ever something I’ve posted here on my blog that you’d like to see in the store and isn’t, please feel free to send me a note and I’ll do what I can to get it out there for you. I do currently have a long list of images I intend to upload, but I’ll bump any requests to the top of my to do list.

I’d also be willing to discuss any custom art or art for a specific product if you like the idea of something but aren’t finding a design or image you love.

Please take a few minutes to go browse all the other awesomeness that’s in the shop. Feel free to brag about that awesomeness to others and share the link until someone yells at you for spamming (or not, don’t want you to get into trouble).

All the love that is spread is greatly appreciated!

Reconciling Choices

It is nearly impossible to be a parent of school age children, even those in college, and not be dealing with all the tough choices and situations facing us right now with back to school looming.

I thought that everything was made easier for me when BG’s school district allowed for an online only option for students. I was relieved. I wasn’t being forced into a position where the only option was to send her to an in person classroom environment or to try and figure out an alternative on my own.

Sadly, it really isn’t that easy.

There is a chance, potentially a big chance, that by going the online only route, some of BG’s higher level classes won’t be available to her and she will be forced to take other classes. I seriously doubt there are going to be many options to work her classes in a way that would meet her high school goals if those aren’t available. It was hard enough to make her schedule work in normal years and this is so far from normal.

Then add in the fact that she was supposed to be a part of the mentoring program this year, something that I don’t know if she can still be a part of if she is going the online route. We still haven’t heard anything on that front yet.

Another stressor, at least for me, is dance. It was such a relief to get past recital and feel like we were finally done with it, but we aren’t. Enrollment starts soon and dance isn’t being offered online at this point. It is in person only. This is not a required activity, but it is BG’s only real social interaction and where her group of friends exist rather than at school.

This is problematic on many levels. I’ve already seen the lax attitude towards some safety guidelines, especially surrounding masks. That gets amplified because the studio isn’t just attended by students from a single school or even district. If I had to count the districts and schools I’m already aware of (and I know I don’t know them all), there are at least 4 different districts and possibly upwards of at least 6 individual schools represented just in BG’s main class alone. That doesn’t even begin to account for all the lower level grade schools for the classes she assists.

Deciding how she is going to move forward with both school and dance is such a struggle for me as a parent. There are so many factors involved and things to consider. Seeing experts saying that the virus is airborne but not seeing practices and policies that fit that reality makes it even harder to make those decisions.

I say all of this as a parent, but I cannot imagine being in the position of a teacher at this point. As a parent, I’m only trying to make decisions that protect my children and in turn the rest of our family to the best of my ability. Teachers are being asked to make so many, even more complex decisions.

Go to work and potentially bring home the virus to your own children and family or even take it to work and spread it to your students. Or just as awful an option, do what you may feel is right to protect your own family from the virus and not work, but then not have the money to protect them in other ways.

I saw something written by a teacher (sorry, I don’t have the link for that one) where they said they were not only expected to take a bullet for their students, but were now being asked to bring that bullet home and aim it at their families.

Our teachers are already tasked with so many roles outside of just being an educator, but we continually ask them to take on more and more roles. It seems that each one is just more difficult, even more dangerous, than the last. This situation just shines a neon spotlight on that fact.

As a parent, you have to think about all of those aspects and filter them down into something you can work with to make the right choices for you children, but there isn’t a lot of consistent information to help you filter it down.

And in the middle of trying to filter all of that, I hear how a friend of MC went to a graduation party where someone had later tested positive. Said friend had also had a test done, but only because their boss required it (they work in a restaurant) and even then this person was still going about their day as if nothing had happened, interacting with people all before they even got the results back from their test.

This is followed shortly after by finding out that a coworker of Hubby’s (they are all still on a work from home mandate, thankfully!!) has been in quarantine for almost 2 weeks because his kids’ daycare was shutdown after an outbreak. Let me repeat that. A place specifically for young children was shut down because of an outbreak.

But we are STILL trying to force in person classes. What are parents and teachers supposed to do with all that information when none of it fits together in any kind of rational manner?!

One of the most driving forces in being a parent is to protect our children to the best of our ability. Right now, it feels like we are being forced to do the exact opposite.

I am grateful that BG will be able to do her classes online, at least for her first semester. I hate that she may not be able to get the classes she really wants because of that, but in the balance of things, I’ll take that little loss. I have a lot of thinking to do about dance because that is a very different beast, one that falls squarely in the mental wellness category for her.

I am also being forced to consider asking MC to not come home from college as he wants in an effort to keep everyone safe. How do you tell your child who is leaving to go to college for the first time to not come home when you live 20 minutes away? All because The Powers That BE demanded he live on campus and attend some in person classes.

To say that there is a whole lot of frustration and anger tied up in this is the understatement of the century.

 

 

Surreal Back To School Mode

Things are starting to enter back to school mode around here even though I’m still not certain what exactly that is going to look like yet.

MC will be moving into a dorm in about a month, barring any changes that are still incredibly likely. Because of his dorm set up, there is actually very little he is going to need. It will be almost like packing for vacation instead of him actually moving out. That is also in part because he will only be 20 minutes from home and it is easy enough for him to run by and grab something if he needs it. It really isn’t anything at all like I expected him going off to college would be like.

We found out that over half of his classes will be online and the other half will be a blend of online and in person with the in person portion being limited. Even with that set up, he is still required to live on campus.

It is hard enough to see your kid off to college for the first time, but dumping that together with the current mess with the pandemic and I know I’m going to be a stressed out mess over the next several weeks. I just started breathing easier after the recital stress, so I’m not a complete mess just yet, but that reprieve isn’t going to last long.

There still isn’t a solid plan yet for BG’s school. The one thing that has been decided is that if they opt for in person or blended online and in person classes, students can opt out of in person and do online only. That was such a massive relief to me to know that she wouldn’t be forced to physically go to school.

She has some concerns about potentially missing out on important information in her AP or higher level classes if they have in person classes, that a teacher would fail to pass on the same info to the online students as was shared during a physical class. Even with that concern, she is solid in her stance on doing online.

The online option for her means I don’t have to make another dozen or so masks to get her through a school week. I do have to make a bunch for MC as he has left the house maybe 3 or 4 times since March and only has 1.

This is the oddest back to school season. I knew it would be anyway because of MC heading to college and not high school, but… yeah.

It’s doubtful that once we hit the point where they are both in school that my stress levels are going to drop. Having MC going back and forth from school to home could be a problem. Not by increasing his exposure, but by increasing BG’s, Hubby’s, and mine. That and I’m going to be normal-worried-mom times a thousand the second he is dropped off.

I’m not sure how we are going to work all the logistics of this yet. At this point, I’m still certain that something major is going to change between now and then.

The one worry I don’t have at the moment is with Hubby. He is still on an indefinite work from home order that will most likely last until at least the end of this year. I’ll take whatever wins I can get at this point.

 

 

Dance Masks

And… they are frickin’ DONE!

I absolutely love them, but they were a bear and a half. I broke/bent 5 of the 6 needles I had originally thought I’d had. Right before I started sewing yesterday I wanted to have the others on hand but couldn’t remember where I put them and ran across a couple more packages while I was hunting. It relieved a whole lot of stress when I did, but I still panicked when I managed to mangle two of them back to back early on.

Working with the sequins material was a pain because of the needle issue and I had to go so slow over the thicker areas making it take longer. These also produced a lot of fuzz  and dropped a ton of sequins making me stop and clean out the bobbin area a couple of times.

Between the issue with the needles, having to stop to coat the needle to try and prevent that issue and the stops to do a little cleaning, I think I was having to hit pause about every 5 masks.

I had expected a more solid sequins material when I ordered it, but it is really transparent and the cream lining shows through. While I still think it is an amazing look, I’m extremely lucky that it still works with the costumes or I’d have been up a creek.

When I went to bag these up, my heat sealer shorted out and died on me as well. I had to yet again get creative to solve the problem. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to have an iron.

These will be getting handed off this afternoon with the full understanding that there is a very big chance that almost no dancer will actually choose to wear one on stage since it isn’t required. I’m okay with that. If by chance even one chooses to, then I’ve helped. If someone decides it is just really pretty and opts to wear it off stage or anywhere else, then I’ve helped.

It would be stunning if the entire group loved them so much they wanted to wear them on stage (they really would look amazing even if it is SO different), but this is reality and the chances of that are sitting down near zero.

BG really likes it and is strongly considering wearing hers on stage. I’m overjoyed that I’ve been able to give her something to make her feel better about making that decision if she does go that way.

Yes, it was a whole lot of effort and stress for the end result, but every single tiny bit helps and I’m okay with that.

Gerbera Daisy: Last Year

Sharing this one from last year because I’m almost ready to have new pics again this year.

I’m in mask mode today trying to finish up the 58 I have pinned and ready to sew. I have 60 in all, but two of those were tests to make sure they’d work. After the first one, I yet again modified my design to try and make it even better than the original. I will have pics of these because they look amazing and are going to be beautiful with the opening tap costume. At least for those that opt to wear one.

BG is hanging on the edge of that right now, even knowing there is a very real chance she will be the only one on stage wearing a mask. I’m really proud of her for taking this seriously and really thinking about it.

I brought up the fact to her that I completely forgot about her flowers that I do every year because I was so caught up in the mask thing. She said she really didn’t want flowers this year because she didn’t want anyone making an unnecessary trip to the store just for flowers. It makes me sad, but she is adamant that this is something she wants to not do this year. Again, I’m proud of the fact that she is thinking beyond what is right in front of her right now.

I still have so many thoughts and concerns about the whole thing, but it is only days away and I don’t see it not happening at this point, so it is do the best we have with what we’ve got. And why I’m in mask mode again.

Off to sew my fingers to the bone. Please keep all digits crossed and ask the karma gods to be nice to me today so that I don’t break the remaining 6 needles I have for my machine that replacement needles are no longer made for, at least not until I can finish! I really do not want to have to get a new sewing machine today.

Another Day, New Chaos

The last couple of weeks have felt like I’ve been going constantly. Between projects I needed to get done, like the garage, and all the running to get BG to the studio and all the things that are wrapped up in nearing recital time, it seems like I’ve had very little down time. Doesn’t look like that is changing for at least a little while.

The new mask mandate from the city means that masks are required for BG’s dance recital. I’m still not 100% how exactly that is going to work, though it should seem very straight forward. I knew that the studio staff was going to be stressing about it, especially the visual of masks on stage.

I’ve offered to make masks for all the girls in opening tap that match their costumes. That is about 55 additional masks. I’d love to do enough for all the staff and assistants for the assistants dance as well, but I just won’t have the time for that many. I’ll be pushing the time frame as it is to get these done.

The teacher was a little stunned by my offer and more the willing to take it. It will give them at least one performance, their big one, where everyone on stage has the same look, something that will be impossible to pull off for every single other performance. Even though they will match the costume for that performance, they will still be basic enough to look really good with all their other costumes as well.

As with the masks I made for the staff earlier, it is kind of a selfish motivation. If I can get as many of these kids wearing masks as I can, it helps to protect my own kid and also helps to make her not feel like she stands out as the only one.

There is apparently still some question, despite the mask mandate, as to whether they are required while the dancers are on stage. The audience and everyone backstage, absolutely. On stage? There is some belief that it isn’t. I’m not sure how that works out as far as justification goes. Because of that, there is a chance that my efforts will be for nothing as the dancers will then be allowed a choice. If the classes I’ve seen over the last couple of weeks are any indication, I doubt there will be anyone on stage with a mask.

I’m still doing it anyway. Just in case. And as an encouragement. Anything at all to try and help.

Besides, everything could change in another week. Or day.

We’ve also got the official word that MC will be staying on campus this fall. They’ve made changes to the housing plans so that he will have his own bedroom and bathroom, but will still be sharing a living space with another student.

He has to follow a plan for a couple of weeks before going to campus to monitor his health and then he has to be tested before being allowed in his room. I have no idea what that means once he is on campus. Will they not be allowing students to leave at all once they are there? I don’t really know how they can control that or ensure that students don’t do something that could expose them and bring it back to campus.

I’m really surprised by it all. This school already has a large online presence, so I’m a little baffled by their push for not only in person classes but the requirement to stay on campus. Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice in the matter as MC’s scholarship has a requirement that he live on campus his freshman year.

I’m really not taking anything as definitive at this point, but I’m trying to think ahead, just in case.

The upside to finding out MC will be on campus is that he has already gotten the name and contact information of his roommate and has already reached out. So far, they don’t have a lot in common other than they both play a particular video game. MC was a little surprised they paired him with a nursing student and not another computer science student, but he doesn’t seem too bothered by it.

As of right now, we’ve gotten no communication from BG’s school with regards to going back in the fall, so that one is still very much an unknown. Even with all of this, I know that tomorrow may change it all, so whatever plans are in place are far from concrete.

I guess the big downside to living in an area that still has really low case numbers is that so many things still want to move forward like nothing is going on. It gives people a false sense of security or feeling of immunity. That doesn’t even take into account the anti-mask crowd and their attitudes.

I have no clue what it is actually going to look like in two weeks when we attempt to have this recital. The social distancing plan for the audience is still very much in place as is the dressing room assignments, though masks are now also required. For that, I’m hugely relieved, though I would not want to be in the position to have to attempt to enforce that rule.

For now, I’m back in mask making mode and thinking ahead to what kinds of things I will need to have in place if MC does actually end up on campus this fall.

 

Black and White Drops and Ruffles

I had such a hard time deciding if I wanted to post this version or the color version because they are both amazing. So…

Peach Iris Coated In Rain
Peach Iris Coated In Rain

Yesterday went well for BG. She feels so much better about everything now that she knows how the new normal looks and runs at dance.

The masks were an absolute hit and cracked me up to no end. BG hadn’t been in the studio with them for 5 minutes when I see the owner walk out with one on. Less than a minute later the teacher for that class also walks out with hers on (all the students were greeted with hand sanitizer outside the doors of the studio before they were allowed in). It was funny and sweet and I’m over the moon thrilled that they are enjoying them.

Another upside was that all the kids going into the studio had their masks. The parents standing around socializing outside weren’t as good about keeping theirs on or keeping their distance, but it could have been so much worse.

The sad thing, and we don’t know yet what it means going forward, was that probably half or less of the class showed up. It is going to be interesting to see how the rest of the week pans out as this was the very first of all the classes back. I’m especially concerned about how many older girls will show and how that will impact routines and recital.

BG was absolutely stunned to find out that her assistant friends from last night had either not practiced AT ALL or only a tiny bit. My girl has been dancing nearly every single day. As soon as a video for one of her routines was posted, she added it to her schedule and started working on it.

It is going to make an already chaotic and different recital even more so.

In some non-dance news, I’m working on making some changes for me. I’m sure it has already been noticed that the book reviews have dwindled down to almost nothing. There are lots of parts to this and I may still work up a post about that, but for now, I’m stepping back from most of that, including writing them for Envie!

This blog has been and always will be a space for me to share the things that bring me joy with the occasional rant or emotional outpouring thrown in. When things start to feel like that isn’t the focus anymore, I’m going to make changes. It seems like now is one of those times. I’m still not 100% sure what all will be changing or how much. It may not even be all that noticeable because the photos will absolutely still be coming.

Life is so full of stress and frustration and uncertainty right now, the last thing I need is for my blog to add to that so I’m going to make sure it isn’t.

Iris, Honeysuckle, & Chaos

Okay, so there isn’t anything really special about this photo, but there is something about the color contrast of the honeysuckle bloom laying on that purple petal that just kind of grabs you. I just thought it was an interesting contrast of colors, especially because it was such an unintentional setup.

Today marks the beginning of the chaos that was originally supposed to start back in April. BG goes back to dance for the first time since early March. With that comes a whole lot of new chaos that wasn’t in the original plans.

Yes, she will still be at the studio 4 times a week. Yes she will still have her extra rehearsal times for her additional performances. Those parts were already in the plans. Now included is the requirement for ALL students, teachers, staff, pretty much anyone that sets foot in the studio to wear a mask.

Even that requirement has been changed once as it was originally just staff and assistants that were required and all other students were optional, but local ordinances changed, so they implemented those changes.

My part of that effort will be going with BG to class tonight. A total of 30 masks, the bulk of which are for the studio staff. The handful of others will go to her fellow assistants in the classes she shares. I would have loved to have made one for every single assistant at the studio, but that number is nearly 100 and doesn’t include the actual staff.

It is going to be extremely interesting to see how everything plays out from here. I cannot imagine being a teacher and trying to enforce the mask rule on kids that are not only dancing, but in each other’s presence for the first time in months. Especially those in the much younger grades.

It is also going to be really interesting to see what kind, if any, push back they get from parents for enforcing that rule.

The other part of the chaos is going to be how I handle her long days at the studio.

Normally, the days she is there for longer than an hour, I go back home. Now, classes have been slightly shortened to allow staff to do any sanitizing between classes and to try and minimize the surge of students passing each other through the lobby between classes. I’m not certain what this means for ballet days where BG already normally has an hour gap between as they have not said anything about those students needing to leave. If she has to leave the studio, it would mean I’d need to stay the entire 2 1/2 hours so she could come sit with me in the car for that gap. The 20 minute drive home makes it impractical to leave and come back.

To make that already confusing for those long days even more so, she has at least 2 where it is even longer because of extra rehearsals. The first one is this Saturday. She is supposed to be at the studio from 3:30 until 9, with 2 different breaks in between. One is that hour long break and the other is a 15 minute break.

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do that day. The idea of sitting in the car for that long really doesn’t appeal and it’s not like I’m going to go hang out at a nearby restaurant or shop right now. I wasn’t doing it before and I’m certainly not doing it now. I still have time to come up with a plan, but I’m struggling.

I still have a whole lot of mixed feelings about all of this moving forward. Especially with recent events creating something of an outbreak bomb waiting to go off in the area. As of right now, all the numbers are still impossibly low, so that helps. I’m just not convinced it will stay that way and that the parents will act responsibly on sending their kids to classes.

The only thing I know for sure is that BG is as ready as is possible for her to be to go back. She still isn’t entirely comfortable with wearing a mask while dancing, but she has gotten used to it enough that I’m not worried it is going to set off an anxiety attack at the studio.

I’m also fully prepared to pack like I’m going on a trip with my camera, my computer and my tablet to ensure I can keep myself entertained. No matter how long I’m having to sit in the parking lot.

Thank goodness tonight will only be about an hour.

 

Mauve and Wine Iris In The Rain

I was so lucky yesterday. It had been doing this light rain, almost a mist, most of the morning, but had tapered off when I first got up. I was able to get out and get some photos of one of my favorite subjects, flowers coated in raindrops, before it started pouring, which it did for the rest of the day.

I was so excited when I went through them about the number of shots that actually came out really well. I should have plenty of pretty photos to share for a little while now.

I managed to get all of BG’s masks done yesterday and the remaining 30 some masks half way finished. I basically did all the small piecing and minor hemming that needed to be done and stopped before putting the front and backs together with the elastic and/or ribbon (doing 2 different types for versatility).

Today there is going to be a crap ton of pinning going on before I can get back to sewing. Because I am doing the 2 different types, I might actually have enough materials to get most of these finished today.

I doubt I’ll be able to get them all done as my ribbon hasn’t shown up yet. I have some on hand, but probably not nearly enough to finish. I had originally planned to do them all the same, but rethought that because of all the different people that would be getting one.

The new option was to go with the original mask design and use the elastic loops for the ears. This seems to really only work for adults and, as my Hubby can attest, not all of them. So… two different styles it is.

I had a point yesterday where I panicked a bit because I thought I was actually going to run out of thread. After years of forgetting if I had enough thread while I was at the store getting materials for a project and just getting a new spool to be safe, I actually ran out of 2 spools of white thread. Granted, both were partial spools, but still. I ran out! I went through all of what I had and found a couple more partials and I think I’ll have enough to finish. Maybe.

I REALLY hope I don’t have to make an emergency run to the store just for thread.

 

Dandelion Seeds

The neighbors are kind enough to not maintain their yard. I was finally able to get a nice fluffy dandelion seed head within steps of my yard to photograph without having to crawl around in the middle of their yard to get the shot. I love their lack of motivation from a photography standpoint. Hubby really does not appreciate it at all when looking at it from a yard maintenance perspective, though.

Besides crawling around trying to get some fun shots, I spent the day yesterday making some more masks. I now have all the pieces cut and ready to go for 35 masks. This included getting all the iron on additions along the sides (2 pieces for each mask) done as well. All I have left to do is sew them together.

I plan to get as many of these done today as I can, but I don’t have all the elastic I need to finish them. I have it on order and it should be here in the next day or so. BTW… good luck finding any for a reasonable price right now. Sheesh!

I might consider doing more if there is a demand, but as of today, my hand is killing me from all the cutting. Not just the fabric, but all the tiny little iron ons had to be cut, one of which was on the more detailed side. At least the sewing part of this won’t murder those already abused joints. It will be my back instead after having been bent over all day.

Once these are all done, they are getting gifted. One person has already asked to buy one (before I knew for sure I was going to do these), but I’ve decided that I’m not taking any money for them. It is something I really wanted to do and I like the idea of working on a project like this. The overall amount of money I will have spent when it is all said and done is negligible because close to half of these are done with scrap material I already had on hand. Besides, the group these are going to will be interacting with BG on a regular basis soon, so this just means I’m going a little above and beyond in my effort to keep my kid safe and healthy in addition to all the other people it would help.

Today’s goal is to get all of BG’s finished first. I have 4 that she has designed with fabric and print. I also need to make a final decision on what I’m doing for elastic options on the ones I’m giving away. The way I’ve modified these for BG (oh, the wire cup thingy I spent hours on the other day ended up not working well for her and we are going with the same design I made for Hubby and I, go figure!) may not work as well for everyone. I have to figure out what would be the most versatile for the most people and go from there.

All that to say I’m probably going to be busy for the next several days.

 

Mask Making

A couple of caveats:

  • This post is only for those that find wearing masks to be useful and isn’t intended to debate the merits or efficacy of masks.
  • These instructions are based on my personal trial and error and the design modifications are intended to work for me and my Hubby. They are based on the original design found here.
  • I take no responsibility for any efficacy or lack thereof of this design.

I had needed to make a couple of masks for Hubby a couple of weeks ago and did some digging around on the internet to find a pattern that I thought would work well. There are so many different ones floating around out there it is hard to weed through them all to find one that works best.

After making a couple of these for him, I decided that I needed to have one or two for myself as well as make a couple more for him so I wasn’t scrambling to get his washed and dried when he needed to run an errand.

One of the things that I liked about this pattern is that the design creates a “pocket” in the front that you can put some type of filter in to give you added protection. I’ve seen a variety of things suggested for this purpose including a folded paper towel or even a coffee filter. If you are interested in using this, I recommend doing your own research as to what it is the best practice to use for that. The same recommendation goes for fabric choices.

I just used scrap fabric that I already had on hand, which this project was ideal for using up some of those scraps. All are basic cottons often used in quilting. If you feel that the fabric you have or want to use is too thin, you can very easily just add another layer of the “Face” piece if needed.

Face Mask Project - Lining Layout
Face Mask Project – Lining Layout

You really only need the 3 pattern pieces if you layout your fabric in two layers, alternating right and wrong sides. You can use the same fabric for the front and inside or different ones. For these, I used different ones, but I’ve done some for Hubby in the same fabric.

Face Mask Project - Outside Layout
Face Mask Project – Outside Layout

Using Hubby’s original finished masks as a base, I had to cut this down a bit because it ended up covering my ears instead of resting on the side of my face in front of my ears. I cut off about a inch and a half from the ends of the original “Face” and “Cheek” pieces and slightly changed the top angle so that it narrowed to about the same width as the original.

I sewed the seams at what I consider “foot width” in that you line up the edge of your fabric with the point of the sewing foot. That works out to be about a 1/4″ seam. At this point, I’m following all the instructions on the original design up to the point where you are attaching the face piece to the mouth and cheek pieces. This is where I made a more drastic modification.

When I made the original ones for Hubby, we discovered has “floppy” ears that just folded over when he tried to get any elastic over them in the back like the original design calls for (and many other options and designs are similar) making it impossible for the mask to stay on. To fix the issue, I made 2 straps of elastic that ran across the back of the head and neck instead of the loops that go over the ears. To get it to fit him, the top piece was 10 1/4 inches and the bottom was 8. Putting together mine, I ended up with about a 1/4 of a inch more for both since the sides of my mask were shorter.

Face Mask Project - Attaching Elastic
Face Mask Project – Attaching Elastic

Unless you are really experienced in sewing, this may be the difficult or confusing place as the right sides of all pieces have to be pinned together in the correct order or your pocket doesn’t work the way it is supposed to. Once it is turned right side out, you want the central mouth piece to be the top layer on the inside (shown below when finished), but you need to pin the elastic in place first. You can either rely on pins, or you can run a seam along the elastic to hold it in place (as seen above).

Face Mask Project - Inside Pocket: Finished
Face Mask Project – Inside Pocket: Finished

I just pinned the outer edges of the face and cheek pieces with the elastic in between first, then gently folded them back so I could put the mouth piece in place, pinning the center seams before going and pinning the overlap (and I JUST realized that the below image is incorrect as this is the one I goofed on. That mouth piece should be pinned underneath the cheek pieces. See, I said it could get confusing!)

Face Mask Project - Pinning Front To Back With Elastic
Face Mask Project – Pinning Front To Back With Elastic

This part was a bit of a pain to get right because those elastic lengths are shorter than the face piece, so it wants to bunch up the fabric when you go to pin the pieces together. I had to be careful to make sure the pieces laid smoothly so I could pin the front seams together and then line up the sides in an overlap to create the pocket. You have to be careful as you sew to ensure that there is no bunching at the point you are sewing. There was a lot of shifting where it was trying to bunch so I could work in a smooth area.

Face Mask Project - Double Seam Elastic
Face Mask Project – Double Seam Elastic

Once I sewed the entire piece together, I went back and added a secondary line on each end to ensure the elastic was double secure since this is where the most stress is going to be put on the mask as it is worn. I then clipped any corners that were too large and would bulk up when turning.

The last thing is turning this right side out, which that lovely pocket makes incredibly easy as you have nothing to close up after you turn it. If you have any corners that didn’t fully turn, you can the eraser end of a pencil (anything narrow and not sharp) to push the corners the rest of the way out. You might need to finesse your seams a bit to get it to lay correctly, or if you prefer, iron it so the seams are crisp.

Face Mask Project - Finished
Face Mask Project – Finished

These aren’t completely perfect as I wasn’t going for any seamstress awards (even had to pull out at least one seam and redo it), but they are functional. As I said earlier, it is a great project to use up some scraps if you are already a sewer. If not, you can reuse old tea towels or articles of old clothing that would end up in the trash because of stains or holes in odd places if the fabric is the right type.

Face Mask Project - Final Result (My Masks))
Face Mask Project – Final Result (My Masks)

*I apologize for the crummy photos. I took them with my phone in less than ideal lighting down in my studio. Hopefully it is enough along with the original design and instructions for you to do your own if you are interested.