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4. Face Masks and the New Normal Transcript

Hi, folks! I’m Nicole Gilbert, and you’ve joined the stop scrolling and start sewing podcast. Are you new to sewing and want to start quoting, but have no idea where to begin?  Each Wednesday,  join me as I share the ins and outs of that quilt life. If you don’t have a sewing machine, have no idea how much fabric you need or you’re just trying to figure out where the heck to stick that bobbin this is the podcast for you.

Welcome to Episode four of the stop scrolling start sewing podcast. I’m your host, Nicole Gilbert, and on today’s episode, we’re talking all things face masks and the new normal. But first, a quick word from today’s sponsor.  

Today’s episode is brought to you by a little freebie I’ve created for you to take the guesswork out of buying your first sewing machine. Head on over to to get your buyer’s guide today. Okay, guys, let’s get sewing!

On today’s episode we’re talking face masks. So obviously face masks have been quite the trending topic since Covid- 19 had started taking over our lives here in the States. It has created a little bit of a victory garden movement where people all over the country are volunteering their time and their supplies to creating face masks, to send to essential workers and to share with their family members and friends. Um, if you want to hear a little bit more about that little phenomenon and what I think about it head on over to last week’s Facebook Live that I did on the Modern Quilters Circle Facebook page, Um, and you’ll also get to hear a little bit about what it’s currently doing to the sewing machine market. It’s kind of nuts. So I definitely suggest if you have not watched that short little video, you head over there and do that. Because if I do say so myself, pretty interesting. So sew facemasks.

Hospitals are still recording shortages on face masks and really all protective gear, And I’m kind of loving what I’m seeing out there with all sorts of people who are dusting off their machines and volunteering by creating facemasks, Um, and even surgical caps I’ve seen, um, but what I really want to talk about is, as the world begins to reopen how much we all really need face masks. So my husband and I have, my husband is like this weird construction material hoarder. Um, like, if you need a scrap metal or a bolt like I guarantee you, Steve’s got it. But we also have these random boxes of N 95 masks, both construction style and surgical. Why we have them? I don’t know, but we’ve got, ’em so any time that my husband and I have had to run out to go to the grocery store because that’s pretty much the only leaving the house that we’re doing these days we’ve grabbed one of those masks and which is kind of weird, like I mean, you would think I would have sewn masks for us by now, but I really haven’t, um, it’s actually only been in the last week that I’ve started sewing face masks. Because for one I just haven’t had, like, the mental bandwith up until this past week to really get into the face mask thing. Um, I have all three of my kids at home. I’m home schooling my son, my oldest, and it is not as easy as I thought it was going to be so shout out to all the teachers out there. You deserve a way better paycheck than you’re currently getting because I cannot wait to send this kid back. Thankfully, New York has not called school yet, so let’s knock on wood that they go back soon. Um, but I’ve been homeschooling. We’re all working out of the house now. My husband has taken over my craft room as his personal office. It’s just there’s a lot going on, and I’m sure most of you out there could relate that it is just the new Normal is very, very far from being normal. So it’s taken me a little bit to get onto the face mask banquet bandwagon.  

But a family member reached out to me, saying that she really wanted facemasks for her two small children. So I, you know, did a little Googling saw that kids weren’t doing great with elastic bands, that kids were doing much better size wise with the, um, adjustable like crinkle front creased mask. So I went ahead and I created about two of these face masks and I sent them over, and I say I sent them over but I didn’t send them over. I drove them over to her house and we did a front porch exchange. Um, but I did that, and I was like, Well, that was kind of easy. Why haven’t I done that before? And because it really didn’t take me much time. And then, um, another family member reached out. It was like my whole family needs facemasks. I heard you made them for, you know, my other family member. Can you make some for me, too? And so now, with her kids are a little bit older, and she is a little bit more style conscious. Um and so I did some hunting around looking for a good face mask tutorial. And there are a lot of them out there right now. Got to say a lot of them stink. They either. I think I think the big thing is that they are made for people who sew clothing that is the big problem. So a lot of these sewing patterns are legitimately like, print this thing out from your printer, cut them out, and then make your product. And if you have no idea what the heck is going on with a sewing pattern that doesn’t make sense. You’re like, this doesn’t fit with this. Am I supposed to? And then how many And what am I supposed to do? It does. It just doesn’t make sense. And also, how did these patterns are one size fit all and people’s faces are not one size fits all. Oh my gosh, I was making one of these masks and I did like a prototype before I started cranking out the ones that I really wanted and I made this and I had my five year old come in like, Let me just see how this fits on your face. You guys, it looked like I had put one of my nursing bras on this kid’s face I’m serious, and it’s the only thing I could think of to compare it to. The thing is freaking huge. You can’t give that to a kid.

So I did a ton of hunting around on the Internet until I found what I consider to be the best pattern out there. It’s still not the most user friendly, but it’s actually a really old pattern. I think it was originally put up in 2013. Um and then since obviously Covid, it has gone crazy. They’ve gotten a lot of responses on this pattern. And so the original author has updated it with quite a few resources, um, and adjustments. And I think that if you take the time to really look through the pattern and pull together, the all the different resource is and amendments that that they’ve made, it’s a really, really great robust pattern. So I kind of love it. But anyway, getting back to what I’m I was originally saying about cause I digress. That’s like name of the game here.  

So the world is gonna reopen. We’re all gonna need face mass. And I started cranking out these face masks this week. Um, and I just started thinking like, you know, state down South are starting to reopen, I’m in New York. I think reopening for us is probably going to be a longer road than for most because of how large of a scale the pandemic has been here. But, um, you know, when I go out, I see people with bandanas over their face or their sweatshirt cinched real tight so that they cover their like nose in their mouth, like Kenny style, if you will, um, and I get it for I do get it, like part of me is like, What is that doing? But you know what? Every little bit helps, and I totally get it. If you don’t have an alternative, do something, and that’s what these people are doing. And that’s wonderful. But, um, you know, as our world reopens and we start going out more we’re gonna need better alternatives to that. So it’s not necessarily making these face masks isn’t necessarily any more about, um, you know, helping restock the hospitals and making sure all of our essential workers are safe. But it’s about us being able to go outside and live our everyday lives.  

Um, and there’s a lot of great options out there, especially to make comfortable and reusable masks, and I think that that is so key is the reusability of them as well. The pattern that I found actually has an adjustment so that it leaves the pocket open so that you can buy  N95 filters and slide them inside the mask. So you’re basically using the mask as a cover. And then there’s an N 95 filter that goes inside, and then you just take that 95 filter out, throw the cover in the wash, comes out of the wash, put the filter back in, and you’re good to go. Fresh mask. And so I think that’s amazing. Side note, on that piece. I ordered those N95 filters from Amazon over a week ago, and they still haven’t shipped yet, and I’m not expecting them to get here for about another 2 to 3 weeks. So that’s a bummer. Amazon has trained me to expect things here in two days, and this new cycle of Amazon is kind of killing me. I know it’s the most spoiled first World problem of all time, but it’s who I am. And that’s who Amazon has trained me to be at this point, so a little frustrated about that, Um, but I think that that is an excellent alternative to these reusable PPE facemasks that honestly are impossible to get your hands on. Anyway. At this point, um, so I’m really, really looking forward to being able to hand out those filters.  

But the great thing is, and actually one of my family members whose a nurse shared this with me. And I was so excited when she told me because she knows that I’m you know, I’m a quilt geek, and I’m a sewing machine geek, and I love all the things. So she sent me a, um, infographic about the breakdown of fabrics for protective facial coverings that they’re kind of circulating out there within her community and quilting cotton when you put two layers, it protects something like 80% of bacterial and viral transmission. So is it as good as an N95? No, but the only things better on the market are N95. So even without the filter, you’re doing pretty darn okay with this face covering, especially when you make these masks that are well shaped to your face. Um, so I really want you to do that. I am going to put links to this sewing machine, This sewing machine pattern, this facemask pattern on the show notes of this episode, it really is excellent. I will say, Like I said before, there’s a lot of amendments. You do have to read the whole thing and there’s also a video and honestly, like I am pretty darn good with sewing machine patterns. I had to read this a couple times and watch the video before it. Like clicked. Um, simply because the original is like you’ll click all over. There’s, like little links like prints out the appropriate sewing pattern. So you click the link and it just takes you to the print out. And you’re like, OK, but what am I supposed to do with these two horns? Because that’s what it looks like. You printed out these two horns, and they’re not even the same shape you like. But I thought I was gonna have a liner, and it’s like a whole thing. But once you watch the video, you’ll understand exactly what they mean. Um, and there’s a lot of great modifications. So with the same pattern, you could make ones with elastic tie, with shoestring tie, with pockets for the N95 filters, with wires for the nose guard. Um, you could make toddler sized, kid sized, teen and woman sized and adult male size all from this patterns, there’s four different sizes, which is huge, because I just cannot. My kids are 18 months, three and five, and not that we’re going out gallivanting because those poor kids have not seen anything outside of our backyard in God knows how long. But I want to know that I could make something that’s comfortable and works for them when I need it. And now I can, thanks to this pattern, So I’m kind of obsessed with it. I’ve been cranking them out. I actually have a set going out to my cousin this afternoon.  

And I think I’m going to start, you know, telling people in my local community that I can get make them for them as well. I want everybody to be safe. I want everybody to be comfortable, and that is my little bit of contribution. I do wish I had started earlier, but it is what it is. I was just trying to make sure that me and my family were as healthy, safe and sane as possible. And now that we’re kind of at a new equilibrium, I can now assist others, which is pretty exciting. I love I love helping.  

So another reason why I want you to start making these face masks again. This is all about my selfish need to make everybody into a sewer and quilter because I just want more of my peeps out there. But it’s gonna help you hone so many new skills. So if you listened to my last episode, Nicole Unplugged, it was Episode three. You can catch up at  If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s just me rambling about myself, and you can kind of learn a little bit more about me. But, um, one of the questions that I was asked was, What is something that you’re not really into? And while I did talk about mainly about paper piecing in that, I also said, You know, appliqué is not my jam. I don’t like appliqué. I don’t like the look of appliqué. Okay, I don’t particularly like doing appliqué. It’s just not it’s not my thing, but because I don’t do appliqué. I also very rarely work with curves with my sewing and this sewing machine pattern, This facemask pattern for for the sewing machine, it’s not a crinkle front. It is a form fitted. It’s very nice, honestly, seems so odd the things that we say now that we never thought we would say. It’s a really nicely designed face mask, Um, but it does have curves so that it allows for it, for to sit neatly across the bridge of your nose and across your cheeks. But in order to make those curves and have it sit nicely when you turn it inside out, you have to know how to work curves. And I had to brush up on that a little bit. Not because it’s some incredibly difficult thing. It’s not. It’s legitimately just like cutting notches in specific parts of the curves. But because I don’t do it, it’s like not second nature to me, So I had to. I had to google it and see what I was doing. And I was like, Oh, hey, I got to do that. And then I found myself Googling something else. I found myself Googling, um, how to use mixed media because I’m using these elastic straps and I want to sew the elastic straps in. But for comfort’s sake, elastic straps that go around your ears are usually only about an 1/8″ thick. The 1/4″ ones actually rub and are really uncomfortable. So I have eight of an inch thick elastic to make for the loops for the ears. But sewing something that that’s that narrow onto the and that’s not stiff. It’s real. It’s real flexible. Um, it’s difficult. It’s I mean, it’s not difficult. It’s not the hardest thing I ever did or anything. But it is not easy. It very easily get sucked down into your feed dogs or into your bobbin case. And it’s a mess. And I know it’s a mess, because on my poor brother in law’s mask, I sucked his mask into my bobbin and feed like three times doing these dang elastics. It really ticked me off. Oh, so I had to google it, and I was like, Oh, that’s right. So a lot of it is just like honing new skills, and that’s something that I love about sewing. I know a lot of people who are sewers. I know a lot of people are hobby sewers. I know people who are like etsy market sewers. I know people who are just like holiday gift sewers, but everybody has a different wheelhouse. Some people make the things they make bags, they make potholders. They make things. You know, there’s the people that make quilts like me. There’s the people who make clothes, which Oh, my gosh, I want to be one of you one day. But just the idea of cutting up silk and trying to sew it together just makes my head hurt. Um, and using patterns and on that scale just makes my head hurt. But everybody’s got a different set of skills. And so, with making these face masks, I was kind of reconnecting with all new skills. Like How cool is that?

Speaking of patterns, reading those dang patterns, I’m used to patterns that are written out there like three pages long. There’s a bunch of weird abbreviations that most people wouldn’t understand them, you know, innately, I now get because I’ve just memorized them. And if you quilt, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t quilt, don’t worry, you could learn. I would love to teach you, but that’s the kind of pattern I’m used to. This kind of pattern is more inline with or a kin to a clothing pattern. So you’re gonna print something out, You’re going to cut it out. You’re gonna trace it onto your fabric, You’re gonna cut that out and all of the directions are printed right inside that little piece of paper that you just cut out. And so it doesn’t feel like enough directions, and it’s because you know where they have dashed lines. You’re supposed to know a dashed line is a seam or a dash line is a fold. You see, I still not 100% certain. Probably gonna have to google it next time I do. It’s just like you do three in a row, and now you know how to do it. Um, but there’s all sorts of those things. Like, this is the seam allowance line. This is the fold line. This is a crease line, you know, and there’s all those types of things that you just you have to pick up and memorize and learn. So I loved making these face masks because it was slightly outside of my wheelhouse. I was top stitching everything. I love top stitching. It looks so pretty. Oh, my gosh. I love that finished look. I never really have to top stitch in quilting, I mean, sometimes I use a quilt pattern like the actual quilting portion of the sewing. I do in, like, a quarter inch to each side of the ditch and and I get kind of his top stitch feel. But man top stitching a project really, really satisfied. So I did that, Um, and I just wanted to kind of share that because I love learning new things. That’s that’s my jam.  

And I’m a bit of a nerd, as you probably all could already tell. And I am so excited right now that, like three years ago, hell, like three months ago, I mentioned quilting to some of my family members, and they’re like, What? Why? And they’re like, You know, there’s the side granny comment and, you know, I’ve, you know, been made fun of at Thanksgiving because I’m sitting on a couch with, like, knitting needles like That’s just who I am. Like, I guess I gravitate towards these things that some of my peers think are more elderly. Um, but I love it.  

And so I’m getting really excited seeing all of these people doing all of this sewing and I want you to know that I am here. And I’m always here to answer questions. And I’m always here to help. And if you don’t want to do this yourself like, please send me an email at Or you can even head on over to Um, and you will see a link. If you want to ask if you could order face mask for me, I would love to make them for you. Like legit. I would love to make them for you. Um, so please just reach out to me. Let’s make this circle feel a little bit smaller. Um and yeah, I’m just super stoked that you’re here.  

So yet another episode of me rambling about what I’m just obsessed with these days. But if you wish you had a few more skills around a sewing machine, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. If you head on over to, you can get a sneak peek of what I’m working on. I think and hope that you’re going to love it.

And there you have it, folks, You’ve just finished another episode of the stop scrolling, start sewing podcast. Thanks for hanging out with me. Make sure you never miss an episode by hitting Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. And don’t forget folks. It’s time to stop scrolling and start sewing.

Quilt Love

Noelani T.

I worked with Nicole in a one on one environment on a large quilt. I have limited sewing experience and...

Noelani T.

The Modern Quilters Circle

Noelani T.

I worked with Nicole in a one on one environment on a large quilt. I have limited sewing experience and Nicole’s expertise was invaluable for this large project. Nicole is very patient and explained the different steps and their purposes clearly. She improved my original idea to better accomplish my overall goal. I highly recommend Nicole as an instructor and would personally have another session in a heartbeat!

Michelle L.

I seriously didn’t even know the names of parts of my sewing machine before I worked with Nicole. She walked...

Michelle L.

The Modern Quilters Circle

Michelle L.

I seriously didn’t even know the names of parts of my sewing machine before I worked with Nicole. She walked me through everything step by step. And it was amazing. She taught me the ins and outs of my machine and how to add each basic concept together. It was invaluable, because now I can figure things out and get creative without fearing the dreaded unravel!
The Modern Quilters Circle