Mask Fashion

Well. Who knew a year ago that I’d be writing a post discussing mask fashion? But here we are.

We recently got a detailed email from our school board about the plan for September, along with a request to let them know whether or not we are going to send our kids next year. We have a week to decide. We are leaning towards saying yes, especially for our oldest and youngest, who both had a lot of trouble with online learning.

If you are leaning towards a different choice, please know you have my full support. It’s a crazy time and no one knows what the hell is going on and we are all just trying to do our best as parents and our kids will have to sort it all out in therapy a few decades from now. I’m trying to just accept that and move on.

Anyway, it occurred to me that our youngest, who is in grade 8, is supposed to go back a full five days a week, but has to wear a mask every day. And that means she will need a lot more masks. The older two will go two or three days a week and that means more masks for them too. I’d like them to have at least one clean one per day and I only do laundry once a week (THURSDAYS, of course) so they all need several more.

Right now I have a couple of masks I use for shopping, but the kids and Sir Monkeypants only have one each that I made for them a couple of weeks ago. I have a big bin of scrap fabric here, mostly from my mom, leftovers from when she made pajamas for various people in the family. So now everyone has a mask that matches someone’s PJs somewhere, which is cool? I guess?

In any case, I didn’t see the point in investing in store-bought masks, even though you can get them fairly easily and they don’t cost much, because I could make them at home with scraps I had on hand for an investment of no more than a half hour of my time. And up until now, masks have felt like a very temporary measure, so I didn’t see the need to have a big bin of them in fancy designs.

But now I am thinking:

  • mask wearing could go on for a few years (at least that’s what I’m hearing now)
  • my teens might actually care about having masks in neutral colours, or colours of their own choosing, that don’t have cute animals on them or are in pastels or match the PJs of their six-year-old cousin
  • my youngest, in particular, is a bit of a fashionista and may want masks that match her outfits? Is that going to be a thing?

I just spent all morning cutting out more masks from all the scraps I have here, and I dug out the most neutral ones I could find for my kids, while I personally care very little for fashion and so I am getting a very wide variety with crazy patterns and cartoon characters and bright colours for myself.

Now I am sewing the masks up, but at the same time wondering how much use they are going to get, and wondering if we should be shopping online for prettier masks, and trendier masks, and more fashionable masks.

It does not help that I absolutely hate my sewing machine. It was gifted to me by my mother-in-law about 20 years ago, and it was at least 30 years old at that time. I was appreciative, don’t get me wrong, but it is a very temperamental beast, and I break the needle just about every mask because it cannot go through more than two layers of fabric without exploding, and it does seem to make the whole enterprise not at all worthwhile.

So I am thinking two things: I should put “new sewing machine” on my wish list, and I should just break down and buy some goddamn masks already.

7 thoughts on “Mask Fashion

  1. Yes, a newer sewing machine is in order. And ask the kids what their preference is regarding home-made vs store bought. I’m not sure whether you have girls, boys or a mix. Most guys, I would assume, might want something more neutral while the girls will want cute/match my outfit kind of masks. For this girls, this will be a fashion issue, I’m sure. I have found some plain masks in different colors on Target’s website (I think for about $4 for two or three masks). Old Navy is also selling some. I haven’t really looked anywhere else.

    I did make some masks at the beginning but my sewing skills are subpar at best – so the ones I made tied. Since then, it has become crystal clear to me that trying to tie a mask on top of this mop of hair is next to impossible – so I put my machine away and just bought them.

  2. MyFriendJen

    I’ve been thinking a lot of the same things. The kids will need lots of masks as the world begins to reopen. Even if they’re only going to school part-time, they’ll need a clean one every day, and a couple of spares in the bottom of their backpack “just in case.”
    I’ve tried making them as well, with some success. I need your pattern though! All the patterns I’ve tried take me at least a couple of hours per mask.
    I really like the looks of the ones Old Navy sells, and at 5 for $30, that’s not a bad price, although it means I have to go into the store or order them and pay $10 shipping (plus wait 2 weeks to get them). I could buy a few packs, to spread out the $10, but I don’t like buying something in bulk unless I’ve actually tried it out first. I don’t want to buy several dozen and find out they don’t fit our faces quite right. We’re going to be spending a lot of time with these masks!!

    1. The masks I make are from this YouTube video, via the blog

      You can download her pattern from the description of the video. I found the full 100% size to be a little big on me – I use the full 100% size for Sir Monkeypants but I printed it out at 85% for me and the kids. The kids and I like a 6-inch piece of elastic on each ear, while Sir Monkeypants prefers a 7-inch.

      This pattern calls for wire in the nose but I haven’t been putting that in as I assumed it would be uncomfortable with my glasses – but maybe I should reconsider as I hear online that the nose piece is key to preventing glasses from fogging up. This pattern also does not have a “filter pocket” which is fine with me, because I have no idea what goes inside a “filter pocket” anyway. So all that put together makes it very easy.

      I did hear from my friend Amy on the weekend that she has a set of the Old Navy masks and finds them very comfortable. I am thinking of ordering a set although I see we are looking at at least a month-long delivery time right now from their website – sigh.

      1. Oh, I know! I know the answer to that one! The filter pocket is for a coffee filter. I’m not a big coffee drinker, though, so I’ve been leaving them out. I think if I had a filter pocket, I’d fill it with Smarties Or Skittles. Better not to have one then, I guess. 😛
        I just went to Old Navy (I had to pick my kids up at Bayshore). They were SOLD OUT of masks!! Call before you subject yourself to that parking lot and to those crowds. :/
        Thank you for the mask pattern. I will give that one a whirl – at 85%. I use 2 – 3 inches of pipe cleaner for the nose wire. Works okay. Hey, what kind of elastic do you use?

  3. Peggy

    Great post Lynn! A while back I ordered some from Old Navy and I do like the way that they fit. Kids like them too.

  4. bibliomama2

    I know you’re not asking for recommendations, but Eve’s favourite masks came from Sendus Masks in Toronto. They have the ear ties that are not loops but ties so they’re adjustable, and they’re black. Other than that, we’ve ordered some cute ones from Etsy and a friend made us some. I figure we might as well go from “ew, we have to wear masks” to “ooh, what cute patterns can we buy masks in?”. She’s going to school and I am presumably going to be in the library at least one day a week this fall. We also have disposable masks in each vehicle for the rare times we leave the house without one – almost never happens, but it’s really annoying when it does.

  5. I also considered getting a new sewing machine during COVID (a second one to keep on the island) … and found they were a bit like flour and toilet paper. At least the ones under $1,000 were – all sold out. Mind you, that was a couple of months ago, so maybe they’re back in stock?

    A friend gave me her unused-for-twenty-years sewing machine – originally from the 70s complete with an instruction manual that says, “Congratulations on owning your very own zig-zag machine!” My son thinks it’s incredibly vintagely cool but, sadly, I have found it’s missing a vital part and doesn’t sew well and I don’t have the heart to tell my generous friend. But I might start looking at sewing machines again …

    So far I’ve made all our masks – mostly from scraps – but I did get my older child (who is going to university!) to go online to Fabricville with me and pick two patterns of quilting fabric he liked so now he has masks that are homemade, but in patterns he really likes. I make my masks with ties which are cut from old t-shirts (finally a use for old t-shirts!) and they’re really soft and fully adjustable.

    And, yes, masks forever, I think. Or, for a long, long time. Because, TBH, now that I’m used to them, even if there’s a COVID vaccine, I’m not sure I want to go back to getting colds and flus from strangers at Loblaws …

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