Hand Sewing a Mask

Yes, you can sew a mask with no iron, no pins, and no sewing machine. Just a needle and thread, scissors, mask kit, and a lot of time. My trial run (photographed below) took a couple hours, giving me plenty of time to catch up on podcasts. I could probably learn to do it faster, but one was enough for me.

To hand sew, more or less follow the instructions here, but knot your thread every time, and avoid any extra stitching. Remember that screen printing stretches and distorts the fabric a little, so the pieces won’t line up perfectly. The important bit is to get those center seams properly aligned. Don’t worry about the rest being wonky, it will all come out OK. I used a simple running stitch:

Notice that I still sewed a little bit inside the print area. It looks better when it’s turned inside-out, trust me.

When I sewed the two faces together, I started at the center seam, which allowed me to skip the pins. Hand sewing is slow and meditative, and allows you to gradually align the fabric as you go, instead of pinning everything before. But you can still use pins if you prefer.

I also skipped the iron, and just finger-pressed. Of course you can still use an iron if you want.

You can skip the top stitching, although my Momz says that without it, the masks sort of puff up in the laundry and have to be re-ironed. I whip-stitched mine after turning it inside out:

Above, you can see the running-stitched nose wire channel.

The result is a perfectly good, very time-consuming mask, and that surprising sense of satisfaction that comes from making something entirely by hand.

 

 

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Chad Gadya embroidermation progress

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A wee taste of the progress Theo and I are making on our “Chad Gadya” embroidermation project.

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Frames of the animation are stitched in groups of 6, arranged in a circle on matzo covers. We currently have 516 frames on 86 matzo covers, which I painstakingly finished by hand with multiple fabric layers and labels and everything.

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We hired Theo’s daughter, Emma, to help. Here she is ironing away while I adjust a lining.

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Here I am topstitching one of the 86 covers on a treadle sewing machine.

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We have a lot of additional photography, stitchcoding and stitching to do, but we are making progress. When the film is done the matzo covers will be for sale.

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Work in Progress: the $1K Quilt

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This is a TEST of the One Thousand Dollar Quilt, conceived as a more affordable version of my handmade Ten Thousand Dollar Quilt.

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This is a test, it is only a test. We stitched out two versions to see how the quilt plotter would handle it, how the thread density would look, etc. There’s well over half a million stitches here, and it took the plotter about a day to stitch. Then I spent half a day cutting, sewing, and ironing binding, and binding it.

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Rae Spooner of Bent Bean Chocolates (Urbana, IL) enjoys the cozy warmth of One Thousand Dollars.

It’s about 8 feet long. The front is high thread count unbleached cotton muslin, the back is regular thread count same. The batting is a mystery – either polyester or poly-cotton, not sure because it’s left over from another project Theo bought it for, and he doesn’t remember. The quilt is remarkably soft and flexible given all the dense stitching

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Unlike the Ten Thousand Dollar Quilt, which uses reverse applique, this gets its color solely from the thread. The result is lower contrast, but I like all the stitch lines. Also there’s no way I could do a reverse applique version for under a thousand dollars.

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The bright green thread is 30-weight, thicker than the 40-weight dark green and white. What a nice solid effect it gives.

The thread is polyester: the dark green and white are 40 weight, and the lighter green is 30 weight, which is significantly thicker. We may do another test using 30 weight dark green. Heavy thread works beautifully, but it’s very expensive. Then again for a Thousand Dollars we can use expensive thread.

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Registration is off as expected, but could be worse. He have a strategy for improving registration in the next test.

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Medallion background fill will be crosshatched in the next iteration.

The portrait medallion fill will be crosshatched in the next version. I didn’t like these curved shading lines at all, because the machine double-stitched some of them which ruined the gradient effect. The next version will also have fill lines on Cleveland’s face, along with a larger border with more of the swirly fill.

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The back. We had a few thread nests but overall it’s pretty clean.
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Rae helps me hold up the 8-foot comfy currency. Photo by anonymous friendly woman who was trying to buy chocolate at Rae’s shop.
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