Monday, April 13, 2020

Virus Distractions (Marzec)

Coronavirus came and left me with an empty schedule. The activities that always bring me joy were cancelled. There was no painting workshop, no prayer shawl meeting, and no writing group. And cleaning made me depressed.  Then my Brooklyn daughter took to wearing a red bandana and calling herself a badass. She looked like Jesse James’s sidekick. 

My anxiety level shot up to an all-time high. Sewing was never my forte. I sewed when I had to sew—like when I was a college student and didn’t have much money. To me, sewing was a job, but I learned long ago that there are times when a mom should step in and set a good example. Besides, Brooklyn had become a hot spot for the coronavirus. My daughter needed better protection and a covering that made her less likely to be taken for a bank robber.

I spent an evening looking at instructional videos. I discovered a fondness for the ones featuring soft music playing in the background and no talking. They were soothing and made everything appear easy.

The pattern I chose used twist ties to form a nose piece, which I thought quite clever, but it also involved quarter inch elastic. Now I knew of the great need for face masks. Even hospital workers didn’t have the necessary protective equipment due to the overwhelming influx of coronavirus patients. Nobody planned for a pandemic, but crafters stepped in to fill the gap—and by the time I saw the need to make face masks, quarter inch elastic had vanished from sight. Undaunted, I wandered around Facebook and found what appeared to be a reasonable substitute. Some nameless soul posted a photo of what you can find inside a bungee cord. In the picture, it looked like quarter inch elastic. 

I asked hubby to demolish one of his bungee cords. He got out his trusty X-Acto knife and sliced into the cord, inch by inch. He handed me the guts of the bungee cord. It was elastic, but not braided. The strands came apart into thin shreds, making it useless.

Then I got a tip from another crafty woman. She suggested using hair bands. I braved the local dollar store and found the hair bands. I bought five packages.

Filled with confidence, I set up the sewing machine on the kitchen table. I had not used it in quite a while. I forgot how to set up the zigzag stitch and the straight stitch. It took me a while to figure all that out. 

I played the instructional video for the face mask pattern. I had to cut my fabric first. I stopped the video. I got out my old T-square to measure. Then I cut the fabric. I started the video again. I needed to measure one and a half inches from each side. I did that. I went back to the video and learned I must stitch along the top edge. So, I followed that step. I returned to the video. I needed to press the seam. I went down to the basement and plugged in the iron. It needed water to make steam. I went back upstairs for a cup of water. 

Sewing was exhausting! It took me all day to make one face mask. Over the course of several days, I made more. I sent two to Brooklyn and two to my oldest daughter. I made two for me and hubby.

Fortunately, my youngest daughter sews. She actually likes it. She’s making masks for all her EMS friends. I know she didn’t get the sewing genes from me. She said, “Crafters are going to save the world.”

Penelope Marzec, a genuine Jersey girl and retired teacher, has written in several subgenres of romance. Her latest book is Clear as Ice. She currently writes for Pelican Book Group.


  1. Thanks Penny, I don't like technology, and that zigzag thing always ties my tummy in knots. That's one reason I gave the sewing machine away. I'm proud of you and your efforts.

  2. It took me all day to make my first mask. Today I made two in a few hours today!

  3. Your post about sewing a mask was like you were in my house and describing me--right down to trying to remember how the sewing machine worked to coordinating the ironing. Were you watching me? :-D