Thousands of sewing machine owners are dusting off their machines, threading needles, filling bobbins and downloading mask patterns from the Internet. I didn’t have to dust off my machine because I sew and quilt all the time, but I’ve joined the Mask Angels as someone has sweetly christened us and am sewing, sewing, sewing as fast as I can. I’m working with a wonderful group making masks for Emory Hospital in Atlanta and Gigi delivers the fabric and elastic to me in batches of 25. To be frank, it’s not as easy as I had hoped. When I was asked to help, I didn’t hesitate. Make a mask? Sure, it’s only sewing up four sides, inserting elastic into the four corners and making tucks so the mask has a shape. Uh huh … I’ve never been so stressed out as the first afternoon when I broke three needles and had such a major jam in my machine that I had to look up a video on YouTube to help me fix it. I felt like a sewing machine mechanic taking my machine apart and pulling out fabric and thread.
The first few masks were taking me at least 18 minutes to make. But, like anything, the learning curve is steep and now I can make one in 9 minutes, providing my machine cooperates. I’ve been sewing since I was four years old but this is the hardest project I’ve ever worked on. My machine doesn’t like sewing over elastic; I have to be sure to push the elastic out of the way or I sew over it, the tucks are always uneven and then come untucked just as my needle approaches and altogether I’m not having fun. I keep thinking of all the other projects I could be sewing, but then it hits me … there’s a verse in the Old Testament in the story about Esther. Verse 4:13 ends, “… for such a time as this.” Every time I get frustrated, I think that perhaps my mother taught me to sew for such a time as this and I say an extra prayer for the person who will wear the mask I am making.
Kudos to all the mask-makers all over the country – we are making a difference in a small way and that’s all that matters right now.