Dining Room as Sweatshop! Mask Makers, Part 1

Ever since quarantine started and a need for masks became apparent, one of my daughters (shout out to Hannah) and I have spent weekends sewing. With two sewing machines, piles of fabric, elastic, notions, and scraps littering the floor, our dining room has been turned into a sweatshop! We’re working with a group called The Mask Makers for NJ Workers, and we’ve been sewing and donating to local medical workers, restaurants and businesses.

This has been a huge learning experience because, hon, sewing straight lines was the extent of our sewing machine knowledge! Hannah and I have broken many needles, ripped out dozens of seams, made tons of mistake, and required boxes of Bandaids. We’ve spent a lot of time cursing the thread which seems to have a mind of its own.

At first, the group agreed to sew masks with elastic that goes around ears. Then, we switched to four, adjustable straps. And now, we’re working on a cinched version with straps that adjust with toggles. All in the name of comfort. But, since Hannah and I aren’t seamstresses, every time we switch to a new pattern, we need a whole day to get it right. Some days everything hums along nicely, and some days it doesn’t!

Once Hannah started posting our finished products on social media, we received requests to purchase. We bought separate fabric and notions, and only use our own machine (as opposed to the borrowed one) for any sales. Click here to learn about the masks we’re selling. They’re lightweight, breathable, comfy, and washable.

I joined several mask maker Facebook groups, but there’s a proliferation of posts like, “Woohoo, just completed 1,ooo masks!” or “Yay me, I’ve reached my goal of 500 masks!” Those posts put our efforts to shame, so I’m unfollowing them asap because Hannah and I can’t compete and, well, we don’t have to.  She works full-time, and I’m working on my long-term writing goals. Last week, one of The Max Challenge trainers said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I love this quote! Just thinking about the energy and emotion I waste feeling bad comparing myself to others, especially when it comes to my writing journey, is enough to make me weep.

Who knows how long this situation will last, and who knows what it will look like when it’s done?! In the meantime, we’ll continue stitching–ripping out–pleating–pricking fingers–ironing–burning fabric–sewing–dropping pins–and donating and, overall, enjoying the process!

Want to know what patterns we’re using? Check it out in Part 2.

One thought on “Dining Room as Sweatshop! Mask Makers, Part 1

  1. Pingback: Dining Room as Sweatshop! Mask Makers, Part 2 – Bmore energy

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