You will need:
Cotton fabric from the outer and lining in a high thread count, high quality cotton, with minimal shrink (less than 5%) or pre-shrunk at 60% before use. 100% cotton twill sateen is ideal for the lining, the kind you line curtains with.
5 - 6mm elastic (6 or 8 cord woven is ideal) - 2 x 20 cm for ear elastics or 1 x 60 cm for head straps
Rouleaux maker or safety pin to thread the elastic
Silcone or other type of toggle
Construction is ever so simple but to help you along I videoed this quick tutorial which talks you through how to use my pattern to make a face covering with / without a filter pocket and with either ear elastics or head straps depending on your preference and length of wearing.
Long term use with ear elastics can cause skin irritation and unless you specifically know you will be wearing for short periods or to go to the hair dresser I would strongly advice the head straps for secure fit and long term comfort!
Good luck and let me know how you get on!
Why not share your face coverings in my Facebook group Kernow Sewcial? We're a lovely supportive and buzzy bunch of sewing enthusiasts.... come and join us! Don't forget to tag me @Starttostitch if you're an insta fan like me :)
Oh and below the tutorial is the small print on face coverings and recommendations for care as well as suppliers for components.
The small print:
A cloth face covering is not PPE. They are not intended for the personal protection of the wearer – they are designed to prevent people who have COVID-19, but might not know it, from spreading it to others. In simple terms, if I wear one I protect you, if you wear one you protect me. Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing or washing your hands regularly – and they need to complement these behaviours.
Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off. Try not to touch your face, or the face covering while you are wearing it. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched. Regular household cleaner works fine. After wearing them store your worn face covering in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash it.
The elastic in this face covering design can be repositioned to make it comfortable for you. You may find that the top elastic sits best over the crown of your head (or hooked above a ponytail if you have one) with the lower elastic sitting around the back of your neck.
To help with fitting on smaller heads, I suggest the use of a toggle which on my face coverings has been attached to the top elastic so that the mask can be tightened securely. I suggest that you remove this before washing to save potential clogging of your washing machine... You can buy theme here
All you need to remove and replace the toggle is a hair pin and a more in depth demo can be found here
Detailed information on the care of cloth face coverings can be found at the American Center for Disease Control here
There are some commissions that come along that I would never have imagined making when I started to sew seriously as a teen and 700 + cloth face coverings with a very tight turnaround during a global pandemic for the iconic Cornish brand, Seasalt is one of those commissions! It has been great to get my teeth into something that is so useful to people, and in such lush fabrics too!
Getting a decent fit is critical on a face covering which is going to be worn all day everyday whilst serving customers and running a store, and we worked hard to create a shape which is comfortable, adjustable and fit for purpose, whilst remaining stylish and true to the brand which it represents.
In order to give the widest possible options for fit across face shapes and head sizes, we decided to use a nifty silicone toggle to take up any elastic slack for smaller faces. It is super easy to attach and remove but must be removed before washing. A hairpin is provided in each pack of face coverings in order to do this.
Watch this video for a quick demo of how to do this.
You can see on these photos of my colleague Adele (right) wearing the face covering how there is slack in the top strap, whilst the same face covering on me (left) is a tight fit with no slack.
Only a week ago we were prototyping and developing the pattern, and now we are about to hand over the first 500. In that time we have also sourced and sampled a series of bits for the construction as well as designing the packaging for them. There have been some long hours put in, but i do love batch making, the process, the rhythm of it and there is something so satisfying about a large quantity of identical items that have all come off my cutting table, packaged up and ready to go!
And all this has been going on while I've been launching the next group of intermediate sewers in the new on-line course format in this Corona virus age.
When researching this project I tried and tested so many patterns but all of the unisex fit face coverings were too big on a female face. So with a little bit of a tweaking I arrived at the one in the photo's above. So, when this commission is complete I will add the pattern to my website so that if you are in need of a cloth face coverings for going to the post office or what-not, you can make your own at home.
I'll share it into Kernow Sewcial which has become such a buzzy social sewing group through all this isolation and has kept us all together and chatting - do pop in and join us if you're not in there already!
DISCLAIMER: Wearing a Face Covering
A cloth face covering is NOT PPE. They are not intended for the personal protection of the wearer – they are designed to prevent people who have COVID-19, but might not know it, from spreading it to others. In simple terms, if I wear one I protect you, if you wear one you protect me.
A cloth face covering can be very simple. The important thing is that it should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably.
Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing or washing your hands regularly – and they need to complement these behaviours. Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off. Try not to touch your face, or the face covering while you are wearing it.
Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched. Regular household cleaner works fine.
After wearing them store your worn face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. You should wash a face covering regularly. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal laundry detergent. It does not need to be a hot wash ( though your mask can be washed up to 60 degrees) , it’s the detergent which destroys the virus. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html)
I have been focussing so much on scrubs just lately that my personal sewing has taken a back seat. After a particularly frenetic and challenging week last week I decided to bust out this pattern which has been floating around on my cutting table un-made for the last month along with a length of super bright acid yellow leopard print chambray that I bought from Guthrie Ghani.
I discovered this pattern when one of my lovely Kernow Sewcial members shared it early on in the groups beginning not long after lockdown began. I knew it was the right pattern for the fabric and so this dress began to take shape.
Having stay stitched the neck line the neck facing was pretty easy to attach as you would any facing ( and strangely similar to scrubs actually ), but I couldn't see any mention in the pattern instructions to under stitch the facing. This is where you fold the facing out again and stitch it around the inside of the neckline to the seam allowance beneath which stops it popping up or poking out annoyingly around your neckline once you are wearing your garment.
Again this is pretty common practise and I was surprised it wasn't noted. Especially since the pattern is listed as a beginners pattern.
I also did a little stitching of the bottom of the facing into the seam allowances down the centre front to hold it in place. I did think about doing away with this seam as it is utterly pointless except as a design feature and I decided that with this fabric the seam could work well to break up the busy-ness of the pattern a bit. I thought I'd flat fell this seam for extra detail but life is very very time short at the moment and I was on borrowed time as it was so just pressed it open. I you do cut your dress on the fold and remove this seam you won't have anywhere to anchor your facing but if you've under stitched that shouldn't matter. I did a quick stitch in the ditch at the shoulder seam too for extra facing security!
Speaking of under stitching the other place I decided to do that was inside the pocket backs having stitched them in - again I wanted to ensure that they lay nice and flat inside the dress and don't wiggle their way out if I'm wearing it and don't have anything in there to weight them down... I found the instructions very ambiguous when it came to the seam allowance of the pocket bags but I followed my instinct a bit and it seemed to work. Again the pockets are very similar in construction to the scrubs pockets, but the under stitching definitely makes for the smooth finish at the pocket opening and is an extra step well worth doing.
Finally, I added some cuffs to the sleeves to give the whole dress a bit more architecture. I cut a folded strip the length of the arm hole plus one cm ( so the circumference of the arm hole plus 2 cm in total ). Folding it in half width ways and right sides together I stitched down the short edge at a 1cm seam allowance. I pressed the seam open and the folded the strip in half along the length to make a cuff that is the same length as the arm hole, and pressed again.
I put the cuff into the arm hole and pinned so the right side of the cuff faced the wrong side of the dress, and stitched around the opening. I then folded the cuff back in half to encase the raw edges, turned under by a cm and then top stitched very very close to the original seam line. I was then able to turn this cuff up to cover the stitch line and to provide the sharper sleeve edge shape that I had envisioned when I made this dress.
And there you have it! I was expecting it to take me 2 hours, it took me well over 3, but I am really pleased with the finished result...
It will be a lovely cool to wear but smart and unusual dress to wear when the weather gets really warm, and if the pubs and bars of Cornwall ever open again, to enjoy a gin and tonic overlooking our local beach on Midsummers day.
I have ordered some sweat-shirting to make a version for winter, but I'm in two minds as I'm not sure the style is as flattering on me as I'd like, and sweat-shirting will make it bulkier, but i certainly love this one for summer sun, and have a while before I have to start thinking about winter clothes thank goodness!
Have you made this dress? If so how did you find the pattern?
Well, I have to say this lockdown has not panned out the way I intended! 6 weeks ago I was loading up the car with DIY materials to get jobs done in the house, looking over my UFO pile and going through my stash to match patterns to make.
But 4 weeks ago, having volunteered to co-ordinate the Cornwall effort for the nationwide For the Love of Scrubs group - an initiative set up by the amazing nurse Ashleigh Lindsell who had a vision for sewists to help her and her colleagues make scrubs for the NHS, I set up a local facebook group called Cornwall Scrubs with Sam Lanyon of CoVisor.
The aim was to attempt (I now see rather ambitiously) a Cornwall wide effort to plug the gap in supply for Scrubs for our NHS and other Health Care Workers in the county who struggle I think more than most due to our widely spread population and low economy and financial support..
When we began we all thought, somewhat naively perhaps, that if we made 200 sets of scrubs, we would have done a good thing. But from the moment the group went live, we were overwhelmed in every sense of the word. We spent the first 5 days solidly fielding messages. our phones pinged off the hook. The support and the suggestions came flooding in, everyone wanting to help, or donate, or find out how to get involved... Care-workers requesting, hospitals requesting, GP's, community nurses, the list went on.
W H A T. A. R O L L E R C O A S T E R ! !
Pretty quickly we knew we needed a system to organise all of this. We had a major hiccup on day 3 when the volunteer who had offered to collate all the sewing volunteers for us just ran for the hills in the overwhelm, and I don't blame her because we were ALL wondering what on earth we'd got ourselves in to. It was a difficult 24 hours as so many people got frustrated with us not having a plan set up right there and then but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we ended up with an incredible volunteer building a bespoke database solution which now tracks pipeline against production and helps us match to orders as well as the all important stuff of keeping our volunteers data totally GDPR compliant. Jen - you are completely amazing and we are so grateful.
It also became apparent quite soon that we needed a secure and organised way to log the requests for scrubs. As registering volunteers was a priority at the time Adele stepped up to the task, set up our email inbox and kept a spreadsheet of all the requested items. We started to realise after a week that our initial aim was way off-beam as we had over 800 items requested and it was raising daily... so it was a relief to be able to get the website to be able to take these request automatically - another bit of technical wizardry from Jen that I will never understand!
Speaking of teams - a key part of our pipeline was to put our registered volunteers into teams with allocated co-ordinators so we could start to manage the flow of messages through a cascade system of communication, create little micro groups and get things made to the right spec as quickly as possible. In among that we built in a first round of quality control ( really important for garments being made for a hospital or health care setting ) and a second round of QC takes place when completed items are back at the hub. There was a HUGE amount of work that went into pulling these teams together and managing the roll out of that system and special thanks go to Rosy and Kathy for their incredible work. It was literally days and days and it is, like the other bits, a completely crucial cog in the machinery.
We have had so many request to volunteer that even with the brilliant system of teams in each region we needed to pause on taking new ones. We simply couldn't cope with the relentless demand in messages and questions and we needed to get the pipeline up and working before we could integrate new ones! And along with the teams in the community we built a team of professional sewists with industrial capability. Some have brilliant cutting facilities, others have volunteered their furloughed machinists to use the factory floor, others are wiling to hand cut the odd sizes that won't work on the professional cutting systems and together this strategy is helping us to get to the point where we can cut and manufacture around 400 pieces in an overlapping two week cycle... For only 4 weeks in, to be at a point where we can even imagine this, is rather splendid! There are 27 team leaders working with Rosy and the admin team, and they're all fabulous. Together our community teams and our professionals, are making miracles happen in the land of scrubs.
We dearly wish we could say yes to everyone that has come forward, but there simply isn't enough of the funded materials to go around and keep everyone happy ALL of the time, and so those unable to get on the active list have been beavering away making caps and bags out of donated, self funded and re-purposed materials, and crucially making self-funded scrubs to our very particular spec from the kits being made up by the three Cornish sewing businesses who have been discounting them for us - Truro Fabrics, Sew and Fabric and Threads.
Our group now has over 2000 members with new people joining us every day and a constant stream of messages and questions. We have worked extremely hard to make sure that everything in the group is clearly communicated and easily found but despite that the enquiries have flowed pretty thick and fast. Tammy is our admin in charge of the group, and she has worked many hours a day replying to each and every message and fielding enquiries so that we can get on with our individual responsibilities. Sadly, at times, this has involved some messages that perhaps didn't translate so well in the written word ( to put it nicely ) and this is draining when we are all breaking ourselves to get the job done. It's sad that people feel they have to be unkind to get their point across. Thankfully this is the absolute minority, but a great shame none the less, as we are ALL volunteers giving our time freely to make this happen.
When you set up an initiative like this there is a LOT of stuff to consider, it's not just the comm's and the funding, but it's things like risk assessing and policy, writing things up and tracking where you're at and what you've done. Emma came forward with a huge amount of experience in project management and just flew at all these things that needed to be done, policies and the like. She has been wonderful working late into the night around her other work and her son to get these bits done for us.
And let's not forget the financial processes and just day to day admin of the thing! Karen has been our star player acting as our secretary running errands, sending thank you notes, and just generally picking up the sticks we drop as we frantically try to keep on top of our own workload to keep the wheels on the scrubs machine turning.
There are so many considerations when trying to manufacture at this scale, not least of all the need for a robust and fool proof pattern. All of my professional experience has been bespoke and one-off makes for bridal wear and costume mainly. Nearly every pattern I have ever drafted has used a couture technique called draping, perfectly suited to creating bespoke garments for individual clients. My knowledge of the manufacturing industry goes as far as bridal really only, and although I know my way around a pattern and can draft simple shapes using flat cutting techniques, my skills and training as a designer have far outweighed my skills as a flat patterncutter. Professional pattern cutters have an acute eye for detail and truly understand the science of drafting as well as construction and this is where wonderful Helen came in. Helen's professional experience as a cutter has been invaluable in this process as she was able to bring together the mish mash of open source patterns we had found into one slick and multi-size unisex pattern, fixing errors and producing a super step by step guide to help our sewists. Her partner Will helped her with the CAD element and between them they have really helped us ensure that our production is high spec and consistent.
All of this work needs funds, and we are thrilled that in these 4 (how is it only 4!) short weeks we have raised over £20,000 to fund much needed materials, threads and other haberdashery. It is a phenomenal sum and I think a huge part of our success there is thanks to the super duper company who are volunteering their expertise to help raise our profile through social media The Social Giraffe. They have diligently updated our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds and shouted out loud about our donors and volunteers and these outlets have become a real celebration of all things Cornwall Scrubs.
Along the way we have met a number of significant challenges which have delayed our ambitions, and sometimes plunged us into total despair. This whole project has been so much bigger than we ever imagined, on every level, and the man power required to make it happen is off. The. Scale. As a team of admins we have pulled a relentless schedule of very very long hours and the last 4 weeks have gone by in a total blur. I am frequently still replying to messages or calculating yardages and cutting schedules until gone one am and I will admit at times it has all felt way too much. I am writing this at near midnight as its the first chance I have had, and in the middle of scrubs and homeschooling and day to day life, I am still trying to keep both of my businesses alive and kicking. In combination with all the other emotions that we are all feeling during this strange time, it has on occasion really got the better of me... throw a teething toddler into the mix with the late nights and it really is a heady combination and a recipe for some very low moments!
There is one other person though who, for me, is the absolute unsung hero of this. When I have had relentless days of zooms and messages and admin and delivering and haven't laid eyes on my kids from 7 am to the following day, he has held the fort. He has cooked nearly every meal, done nearly every bed time, managed most of the homeschooling. He has built dens. he put up with most of our Easter weekend being consumed by the Scrubs effort, He has made tea. He has poured gin, a LOT of gin. He has changed nappies, put the baby down for naps, and built garden furniture while she does. He has done the laundry, and the cleaning. When I've been sobbing in the kitchen from the enormity of the task ahead of us, he has told me I can do it, and it is needed, and that we all must do our part. He is my absolute rock and the best Daddy ever to our beautiful bonnie and utterly exhausting girls. He has even videoed a 'how to make your scrubs' tutorial for me (you can watch it here) when I'm quite certain he never wants to hear the word scrubs ever again! I can't blame him.
Thank you Christo, thank you.
Cornwall Scrubbers, you are family! It all felt impossible at the start, some times it still does, but we are all in this together.
Let's have a blooming great big party when this whole thing is over! Promise?!
Ok, so I'm about 5 weeks too late to announce my big plans for 2020 but honestly this year has run away with me already! I've been setting a new group of beginners free on their sewing machines, and making some plans for future classes and courses - too many plans! And not enough time!
Earlier this month I was invited to Mylor Yacht Club to talk to the ladies there about sewing, learning to sew, and the fight against fast fashion, and it was a brilliant place to share my personal objectives for my sewing activity this year...
The slide below from my presentation gives you some stat's as to why it is so important to pay attention to our clothes and textiles buying habits...
In the past I have bought things from Primark and the supermarket chains, as a quick pick me up, or in their sales, because I've fancied a bit fo a wardrobe lift. I have never just thrown clothes away, I always send things to charity, but at least two black bags of stuff go to charity from our house every year, and that is with extremely limited buying ( we are a family of four... ) as I we have more important things to spend on most of the time!
I really got thinking about this towards the end of last year ... Where I live in Cornwall in the UK we are culturally extremely aware of environmental impact, surrounded as we are by sea on three sides, incredible natural landscapes and all living very outdoors lifestyles. We see on a daily basis the impact of plastics and other waste on our beaches. I am so proud to live in a place where every business is making sustained and concerted efforts to improve their environmental foot print, and cluster of villages where I live is home to environmental campaigners and leaders of textile sustainability Surfers Against Sewage and FinisterreUK. I can't escape it!
With a background in fashion design I have always loved clothes, and their ability to shape my mood for a day, but my budget in recent years hasn't allowed me to be much more than vaguely functional in my dress sense, and I really wanted to change that this year, now that the baby producing days are over, and I can start to remember who I was before the girls arrived in my life!
So for me 2020 will be the year of of the memade wardrobe.
I have set myself a rule:
What I have found already is having this rule is really really making me consider what I make - my time is so limited, and so if I'm going to spend time making something, I really have to either want it or NEED it, which in turn is ensuring that I am creating items which will surely have longevity in my wardrobe...
In addition I want to be more environmental in my fabric purchasing - I'm a huge van of viscose, a fabric made as a by product of the wood industry. Its production does use up a lot of water, but it is made from otherwise wasted materials as far as I know. Bamboo is the most sustainable and wonderful fabric ever, but it is expensive!
I'll do a blog post later in the year on more sustainable and environmental fabrics, but for now, I'll stick with using up my stash, buying viscose when I can - and keeping my eyes peeled for bamboo that is an affordable price point for me!
Teaching sewing is such a brilliant job to have, and I nearly always come home from every class totally buzzing from another spent in great company teaching the thing that I love. But the reality of my sewing life at home is snatched moments here and there and WAY too many ideas than I have time to sew!
The Start to Stitch classes have been filling well from word of mouth and social media likes and shares but a website felt like a natural progression. A significant reason for this was my desire to have a place to share my sewing projects in more detail than Instagram or Facebook allows, and to share some of my hopes and aspirations for my sewing projects to come. And so the Cutting Table Diaries should become an online journal of my stitching adventures, my hand made wardrobe and my brilliant sewing finds. I hope it becomes a place of interest and inspiration to many sewists in Cornwall where I live, and beyond.
This is my cosy corner of my garden sewing studio where many things happen on my trusty old Bernina. Once day I'll write a blog post in honour of this loyal machine!
I have big dreams for 2020, and a rather ambitious project in the offing, so watch this space to find out more!
I love a free sewing pattern, and this is no exception!
It's a departure from my usual style, I love the look of swing cropped peplum tops like these but I worry that with breastfeeding boobs, and a mummy tummy it's just entirely the wrong thing for me to attempt wearing.
But, when I found this gorgeous teal double gauze from My Fabrics, I just knew it would become a top like this so I stepped outside of my comfort zone, searched for and found the perfect pattern in the form of the Peppermint Peplum Top and spent a wonderful couple of hours in my studio while Mr S2S took the girls out for a swim so I could sew in peace.
I LOVE this pattern, Its very simple, easy enough for a beginner and a satisfying and quick make. The only thing I did differently from the instructions was stay stitch the curves first as the weave of the muslin I used was so loose, and I think with hindsight I would probably add an inch or two to the length of the main bodice so it is slightly less cropped for this 'approaching 40' mumsy-mum.
The muslin is divine and the colour is gorgeous - but one word of warning, the gold spots melt off with an iron so press on the reverse or through a pressing cloth. This didn't matter for the bias facing but I did lose a fair amount along the way as it was all too much to fiddle with pressing cloths in the time I had available to get it finished before 2020...
I am thrilled with this and really glad I have a length in coral as well to be able to make one for next summers Cornish beach going and hopefully a holiday too.
Have you made this top? How was it for you?
I have a LOT of trouble keeping track of what patterns I want to make, and which fabrics I have in my stash to make them up with.
I am in the habit of downloading all the free patterns I can find and storing them in a folder on my computer desk top, and my paper pattern storage in the studio is pretty organised ( more on that another day ) but I have fabric hidden in every corner of the studio and house, and much of it bought with a specific pattern in mind. The problem is, sometimes i forget the pattern between the buying and the opportunity to sew, and that's where this brilliant journal from Patterntrace comes in!
I have made a little vid so you can see the inside of it but I am absolutely certain that this is going to revolutionise my making habits and help me HUGELY with my upcoming 2020 project...
How do you organise your thoughts? Have you a tried and tested system for keeping track of all the ideas, and all the fabric? I'd love to know!
Sewing. pattern cutting, teaching, tea and Jelly Babies!