When Life Gives You Gym Shorts

Dear Reader,

Along with baking (more here), I seem to have picked up another kind of fun pandemic activity — mask making. I must stress the words “kind of fun,” because, half the time, sewing for me is just finding myself at the wrong end of the needle or undoing mis-strewn threads. Regardless, I am sewing more and more lately, and, dare I say, liking it.

At first, in May when it became mandatory to wear masks in all public spaces in Massachusetts, I was angered by this policy. As someone who (used to) enjoy jogging, the thought of strapping a cloth rag to my perpetually sweat-drenched face and further belaboring my breathing was unbearable. In a silent protest to the policy, I did comply with the mask law and then basically stopped going outside for a period (bye bye jogging). Regardless of my strong emotional reaction to the mask policy, logically, I understood that mask-wearing was a good thing and I did set out to make a few masks of my own (more here).

The first few masks that I sewed were an absolute pain to make. Learning how to do everything for the first time was an exercise in keeping one eye on my work and the other glued to the instructions I was following, which, unsurprisingly and much to my dismay, led to quite a few mistakes. I do not own a sewing machine, which meant that the “30 minute” time estimate printed on the mask pattern was, for me, laughably (or rather tragically) inaccurate. In the course of a few long, singularly-focused days, I managed to produce six masks in total — three for myself and three for my boyfriend. While I had ideally wanted to make us five each, the stress that accompanied each stitch compelled me to lay this pipe dream to rest.

As I started to increase my presence outdoors, however, a few extra masks did seem like a nice convenience to have. So, hesitantly, I collected some more old clothes, traced out a few more patterns and began to sew together more masks. Unlike my first foray into mask making, I decided to abandon my fury when undertaking the next few patterns. Instead of promising to produce multiple over the course of a weekend, now, I integrate sewing the masks into my lifestyle. Now, for example, whenever I find myself in a meeting, I am surreptitiously threading the needle just outside of the view of the camera.

In this new slower rhythm, making masks is both a fun and rewarding endeavor. I have made about ten or so masks now and I am struggling to find suitable materials to cobble together something that looks at least “okay” on the face. Most recently, for ear straps, I have now resorted to chopping up a draw string from a decade’s-old pair of gym shorts.

So, I guess, in a way, instead of turning lemons into lemonade, I am turning gym shorts into masks…which is just as good or, perhaps, better because there is no added sugar 😉

Wishing you a healthy and happy season!



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