This Week in the Studio

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Housekeeping note: I updated my accounting numbers and found that I need to raise the price on the masks to $6. Postage and credit card fees are running higher than expected. As the website says, I am only trying to break even on these masks.

Last week I promised more information on the 46 steps I use to make a mask. If you've ever made something from a pattern before, you know there are a lot of little things left out. A simple instruction can take a few seconds or turn into an hour-long fight. It's also easy to forget how to do the tricky bits if you've been away from it for awhile. My solution is to break things down into small bits, write them down in a document, and reuse them the next time I make the item.

For mask-making, I wanted to be efficient. That translates to working in batches instead of making one complete mask at a time. I didn't want to get bored, though, so the batches are small. Each batch is five masks in one colorway. The 46 steps are divided into five phases. Phase 1 is cutting out the fabric and shaping it, Phase 2 is prepping the elastic and bias tape for the nose wire casing, Phase 3 is sewing the mask, Phase 4 is finishing and washing, and Phase 5 is packaging and adding the masks to the website. Right now I have finished Phase 1 for a black fabric with gold dots, Phase 2 for a peach floral, Phase 3 for dark green fabrics, Phase 4 for a hand-dyed lilac fabric, and Phase 5 for a light blue print (Summer Waters, now on the website).

Every little task gets its own step. For instance, the bias tape casing has five steps:

  1. Cut a 7" piece of bias tape

  2. Hem one short side

  3. Hem the other short side

  4. Sew top edge to mask

  5. Sew bottom edge to mask

The first three steps are in Phase 2 and the last two in Phase 3. I have two sewing machines set up in my studio - one with white thread for the bias tape hemming and mask liner hemming, the other with the appropriate colored thread for the Phase 3 batch. Changing the thread color is a separate step, of course.

Next week - color families and yes, I'm still weaving!

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