learning to sew and making fase masks

Learning to sew and making face masks

I’ve been meaning for years to learn how to use a sewing machine. I’ve not used one since 3rd  year textiles at secondary school. We’re talking nearly 30 years ago. My mum was always going to teach me to use hers, but unfortunately she died before we got round to it. I now have her machine but have always been a bit worried to use it – it’s quite a high tech fancy one, so I didn’t want to break it. But now we’ve got a reason for learning to sew using a sewing machine again.

I had to get out my reading glasses to read the manual and work out how to thread the needle (I couldn’t follow the instructions, so manually it was). I was relieved the bobbin was already inserted and full with thread. One less thing to get right.

learning to sew and making fase masks

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Once I got going it was fine. I found some scraps of material and practised, then made a couple of reusable face wash pads so I can use them for removing my make-up. Once I’ve got a big enough stash, I’ll be able to stop using cotton wool. So much better for the environment.  I made them square to make it easier, but want to make some round ones once I’m better at using the machine.

Children learning to sew

Then N decided he wanted to have a go. He wanted to do straight lines, so I let him at a spare piece of material. He did a pretty good job, so he asked to make some pads for me. He’s been learning quite a lot of new things during lockdown, so we may as well add

boy learning to sew with a machine

I was surprised at how fast he got on with the coordination of foot pedal (he refers to it as an accelerator!) and hands moving the material through. All that driving the gator, and learning to drive the digger and tractor must have helped.

He did the straight lines and I sorted out the reversing button and needle down button when needed, turning it for him. But by day 2, he was doing it all himself.

Making face masks

My next step was face masks  

I’d found a couple of tutorials with the pleated masks with a filter pocket and worked out which one made more sense to me.  It also allowed for feeding through the elastic Much better for versatility although I do think I need to superglue the knots just to make sure they stay together.

N left me to it (I don’t think he’s ever seen me use an iron so much) and I got to work. I find the sizing so hard. I’d already order a mask off Etsy for myself and N, but his turned up an adults size instead of child size, and even mine was a bit too big. But my test mask worked out fine sizewise for me.  I reduced N’s by 2cm in size and it worked out well.

They look very professional (if you don’t look too closely – I did manage to catch part of one of the pleats on N’s but it’s still wearable) N is pleased with his, and we’re coordinating in navy. The OH can use the one that was sent incorrectly for N.if he needs one.

homemade pleated face masks and pouches

I then decided to make some pouches to keep them in. There were a mix of tutorials online, and chose one that could be made into a keyring. I didn’t have any of the fixings, so just made the pouch without, but it’s a good idea.

My first attempt I got the folds wrong so it didn’t close correctly. But take 2 worked well – I just forgot to hem the top and bottom before folding. Luckily I used pinking shears so it won’t fray, and it still looks fine.  My second attempt was much neater.

I’m really enjoying making things, and hopefully will find some other items to make – there’s only so many masks we’ll need, although I might ask the inlaws if they need any.  My brother’s already asked me to make him one, so I’ll dig out my material and see what I’ve got for him.

I can’t find half my sewing kit so need to track that down or replace items. I’m sure I had a load of nice bright fat quarters somewhere, but can’t find those either, so I’d bought some online. It’s not the thickest cotton but is fine when double layered and it can have a filter in so that’s another layer if needed. I’m going to look through N’s old clothes and mine to see what scraps I can grab before they go for recycling or passing on.

If I can get ahead over the weeks I’m on leave when we’re not able to get out and about, I might even make some Christmas gifts if I can get tidier with my sewing. 

Nowadays I don’t get much time to craft but it’s nice to get creative and try new things. N told me curtains would be easy ‘just sew round the edges and hang them up’, but I think that’s a bit beyond me at the moment. Maybe once things all open again, I’ll sign up for a sewing course to learn how to sew  things properly.

I’m loving that N has taken to sewing. It might be like crocheting where he does it for a bit, then doesn’t touch it again. But sewing is great because you can achieve something more immediately. I think sewing appeals because the machine is a bit like driving. It’s certainly a great skill to have, although he needs to learn simple things like sewing on buttons too. I’m not too sure about doing buttonholes, but maybe we could make something with a loop and button so he can learn that skill.

Sewing is a handy skill to have, and I’m glad he’s enjoying it as well as me.

If you’re looking for books on how to sew try this affiliate link on how to use a sewing machine.

I used the below tutorials

Are you handy with a sewing machine? What things would you recommend starting with making?

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  1. Good on you for learning to use a sewing machine and N too. It sounds like he’s really taken to it.
    Those masks look great! I would have said they were professional one’s. x

    1. N told me I should sell them but the finishing needs a bit of practice. But at least if friends or family need them I can make some or even do some of the volunteering to make them jn the village if needed.

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