Owned and operated by fiber artist Susan Ball Faeder since 1989

Sewing to help hospitals fight Covid-19 and other ways to stay healthy and sane

Fu Face Mask Pattern

Dear QE Friends and clients,

About a week ago, I started a blog intending to share my upcoming teaching and workshop schedule for 2020, in hopes that I might connect with some of you along the way. But, as you know, things started happening very quickly and continue to do so. Each day I waited, something else shifted. All of my April/May contracts have now been canceled. I remain hopeful for June onward, and  I’ll send the remaining summer & fall events next time.

This is a spring we will never forget. But it will pass. How are you managing? I have been in self-isolation at home for about a week, since I got back from a “fruitful” PA SAQA 4-day quilt retreat, making it home just as the shut-down in my local area kicked in.

SAQA Retreat Quilts @ Susan Ball Faeder

Here are two of the projects I worked on, both using Japanese vintage kimono silks sewn onto muslin foundation. The first is a pineapple log cabin pattern done in greens; each block has 36 pieces! I’ve completed 4 of the 9 (or 12?) blocks. The second is a small 5” block crazy quilt layout in pinks from mostly girls’ kimonos. It still needs a border.

While I am conscious of searching for a steady routine, I am also conscious of not hurrying. I take a walk everyday, do a little yoga, read a book, eat well, and get good sleep. Probably, like you, I am also speaking with friends on the phone, and I am cheered to sense a rising up of kindness and thoughtfulness everywhere amidst the chaos.

As a sewer for over 6 decades (like many of you!) I don’t have to remind myself that I know how to find things to do/make with my hands. We already know how to be “alone” with a project, and let the world slip away for a bit. There is solace in our intent. It’s an inside joke that we all have MORE than enough fabric and MORE than enough thread to last beyond our lifetimes, right?

Just in case you are not committed to a project yet, I would like to suggest two possible ideas:

1) Sew face masks for your hospital

Consider making some cloth masks, maybe for yourself or for a neighbor – or if you have yards and yards of ¼” elastic in your supply box, make some to donate online or to your local hospital. Hospitals worldwide are making pleas for them, and sewers are responding! Each one only takes about 15 minutes. Here is a link my friend sent me this morning with a pattern from Deaconess. The written instructions might be a little blurry, but if you scroll DOWN there is an excellent how-to video. I was inspired to go to my sewing room and root out some elastic. I found several yards of elastic and I’m going to try making some.

Best materials to use in making face masks

If you don’t have elastic, you can make your own ties with what you have. Another pattern and video tutorial for a different shape mask with string ties can be found at FreeSewing (that’s an image of their pattern at the top of this blog post). Here’s an article about best materials to use in making face masks. Finally, here’s an article from Forbes magazine with link after link of important information on how we can all find a way to use our skills to fight this pandemic.

2) Begin a daily sewing practice

If making a mask isn’t your thing, please make anything you want! I encourage you to find a daily practice with your needle and thread- even for 10-15 minutes at a regular time, whether by hand or with machine. I made the first of three pink flannel baby blankets for a friend’s grandbaby girl this week. I started with a simple pattern, and then just started hand stitching. I even stitched ¼” pink ribbon around the entire edge. Why? Because I didn’t have to hurry. Because it felt good to make one stitch at a time. I love handwork.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Insight Timer

I will close by saying say that I hope you are all taking care of yourselves, limiting your outside possible exposure, and finding the help you need to keep things going.  Don’t take risks or be afraid to ask for help. Something which helped me a lot was listening to a 22-minute talk on fear vs. self-love given by Elizabeth Gilbert for Insight Timer, available on their website or by downloading the app. You have to create an email account, but then everything there is free.

I’d be happy to hear from you via email or phone. The crocuses are blooming, the tulips are not far behind.

Best wishes,

Comments · 18

  1. Susan, what an uplifting and inspiring post. Thank you! I saw a plea for face masks a few nights ago and have begun, using the pattern from Deaconess. It’s a sad situation but a good feeling to be able to do something, no matter how small, to support brave hospital staff everywhere.
    I love the red crazy quilt!
    Wishing you continued health and peace.

    1. Mary Ellen, Thanks for adding a note. Glad to hear you are sewing. Wondering, do you have a plan or destination for the masks? I haven’t found an avenue for distribution yet. Thanks.

  2. Thank you, Susan. This slowing down is something we can all do to calm ourselves and make a little
    dent in The Stash!

    1. Hey Mary, Thanks for “stopping by.” let me know what you are working on. I think this “break” is gonna bear fruit with a lot of new quilts. S

  3. Hi Susan, I used to enjoy the letters you included with your JFC fabrics almost as much as the fabrics. Always look forward to your view on things!
    I’ve been busy sewing and still sorting fabrics. Just sent my granddaughter a box of fabric, she is planning a quilt project to teach my 6 and 9 year old great grandsons how to use the sewing machine ?

    1. Dear Glen, Ah… those letters. I miss writing them, so the newsletter is sort of an extension of those, right? I’m glad you are sewing and settled. What a treat to be able to share this thing we love with your grand-daughters- even at a distance. I can’t imagine. As for sorting post sewing center install, I kinda got off track of that. I seem to have “lost” my storage space in the new set up, gotta figure something out. Take care.

  4. Hi Susan. Thanks for your blog and a good post. It’s encouraging to stay in contact with friends. And I DO consider you a friend! I’m making masks for my daughter who is an RN at Dell Children’s in Texas. We can all do our small part and the best choice we can make is choosing faith over fear. Sending you love. Stay well! Darian ?

    1. Thanks for stopping by to say hello, and for sending love. Isn’t it amazing what sewers are doing to help? S

  5. Your quilts are stunning! Are they hand sewn? Silk is hard to machine. Your communique is just right feeling for our self isolation.
    Thanks for sending

    1. Hi Phyllis, I apologize for being late to respond. I do appreciate your feedback. I’m glad if my words could help you, even for a moment. Even though I wrote this a month ago, it feels longer. To answer your questions: the green silks are sewn onto a pre-printed muslin produced by Benartex, still available onthe open market. I used to sell the whole line when I was vending at quilt shows on the road. The red/pink quilt silks are also sewn onto muslin, but in a free-form way, no advance planning, no marking in advance. The thing to remember when using a silk/muslin combo, however, is that you cannot “tear away” (as with paper), so you have to be prepared to deal with an extra layer when it comes to finishing. S

  6. Thank you for posting this – you covered info that many others do not, such as most effective fabric types!

    1. Belatedly: You are welcome. Thanks for taking the time to visit my website and read the blog.

  7. Beautiful, constructive, instructive post.
    Sasuga Susan always showing the way!
    It may take you 15 minutes to make a mask.
    For me it would be 15 hours!
    But your instantaneous reaction to do something to help is inspiring.
    Lead us on, Susan Sensei.
    And keep well!

    1. Amy dear, You are funny: calling ME the sensei! Ha! YOU are my sensei! Don’t have any illusions that a mask takes 15 minutes; they take me almost an hour. And I’ve only made about 40, not 100’s. I hope that I inspired even 1 or 2 people to make masks. In just a few short weeks, quilters around the globe have taken up the gaunlet. There is a movement called a #makeamillionmasks- but I’m sure there are many “millionS” now. Quilters to the rescue. Gowns too. Stay well in Karuizawa.

  8. Hi Susan,
    Greetings from Tokyo Japan! I hope you remember me from your past Quilt Tours in Japan, surprise!! Happy to see that you are well and posting inspiring posts during this hectic time. People in Tokyo are also “kind of” locked down, and my colleagues and I are not allowed in our office. Working from home is a challenge when you are not so used to it but I’m trying to find new hobbies to keep the happy spirit!! These kind of connections you stumble upon online refreshes your mind and it makes my self-quarantine day feel a not-so-lonely 🙂
    I hope all the best for you and your loved ones, and I hope we can see each other in the near future!!

    Yours Truly, Mariko

    1. Hi Mariko, DO I REMEMBER YOU? That’s funny. Of course! You were the BEST and smartest JTB rep I ever worked with in 30 years. I cried to “lose” you. Thank you for visiting my website and staying in touch. I feel very lucky that I managed 30 tours by 2019. I just can’t imagine continuing in this or future atmosphere. Things will have to change, even if Japan is one of the safest and cleanest places to visit. And the crowds of 30,000 people each day at the quilt show? Oh my. I am relieved not to have to make these complicated decisions. So, thank you for asking: I am doing well. My town is rather rural and although we are careful to stay at home, it’s not as dangerous as some places. My son is in NYC… I worry everyday. How will you and I meet again? The answer is easy: you must come to USA. You are always welcome in my home, just call! Yoroshiku!

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Owned and operated by fiber artist Susan Ball Faeder since 1989

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