What the Ogden Cami taught me

For the last month, I have been sewing masks like people's lives depend on it. Because I believe they do. I haven't done much for the last four weeks except sew masks, parent, look after my garden, and eat. It started with 10 masks or something like that. Just enough for the family and one friend. And then the friend wanted more because she has loved ones in Brooklyn and masks are a way for to help from her farm in Maine. And then I was up to 50 or 60 masks. And then I received an email from an Instagram Follower from Alaska that had found me via History channel's Alone show (what a weird wonderful world we live in), and this person wanted 100 masks for their community. So I decided that since there is a demand, and I agreed to make 100 masks, why not make 200? I thought I could do it in a week. It took 2 weeks. All I did was make masks and take care of my home/kids (and work a few nights at my side gig cleaning floors). It turns out that I vastly underestimated how long it takes to do each little step in mask making when you have to do each step 200+ times.

  1. Wash, dry, iron fabric (20+ yards of fabric)

  2. Trace pattern twice for each mask (400 pieces)

  3. Cut each pattern piece out (400 times)

  4. Sew down the front seam of each mask piece (400 times)

  5. Snip masks apart (400 times)

  6. Trim seam allowance down to 1/8" of each piece (400 times)

  7. Flip out layer inside out (200 times)

  8. Fit lining over out layer of mask, pin in place (6 pins per mask) (200 masks x 6 pins each = 1,200 pins placed)

  9. Sew down top seam (200 times)

  10. Snip masks apart (200 times)

  11. Sew down bottom seams (200 times)

  12. Snip masks apart (200 times)

  13. Flip masks right side out (200 times)

  14. Iron masks (200 times)

  15. Double fold ribbon channel down and pin in place (200 masks x 2 pins per mask = 400 pins)

  16. Sew down one side of ribbon channel (200 times)

  17. Snip masks apart (200 times)

  18. Sew down second ribbon channel (200 times)

  19. Snip masks apart (200 times)

  20. Cut 200 ribbons 5 feet in length, and 75 ribbons 4 feet in length

  21. Thread ribbon through 200 masks, twice

  22. Package 200 masks

I roped my amazing boyfriend into helping towards the end as I was running out of steam. He used his knowledge and connections from his wreath production company to help me source affordable ribbon, find help with cutting fabric, as well as labeling and packaging. And then he measured and cut 300 mask ribbons for me (if you are making 200, why not make 300 and have extra?!)

All of the current orders I accumulated over the course of those 2 weeks were packaged on Monday and shipped out on Tuesday, and I ended up only have about 30 masks total left over, 2/3 of which are child-sized masks.

I took the day off yesterday to clean our sitting room (now my sewing room) and attempt to make something for myself. I wanted something quick and easy that would give me instant satisfaction. I settled on The Ogden Cami by True Bias. I had a yard of silk satin I was holding onto for just this project. I set about spending the day learning I actually don't know how to sew in a straight line, and that going from weeks sewing thick cotton masks together is VERY different from sewing 2 layers of slippery silk together. Most of the day was spent wrestling with this ridiculous fabric. I was determined not to lose, and maybe I should have just set it down and walked away, but I don't have enough sense for that.

Eventually, about 4 hours later than I thought I would be done, I pressed the final seam and ran upstairs to try it on. Here are my thoughts:

  1. The silk felt amazing against my skin. It was cool and not clingy and a barely felt it on my body.

  2. Except for wear I could feel it, namely under my armpits. Because my fabric was so light, it wanted to unravel at the cut edges every time Iooked at it. I decided to do a French seam to encase the cut edges. The pattern includes a 1/2 inch seam allowance. But I ended up using almost an inch for both side seams. This meant I had made a top that fit close to my skin at my widest point: my bust.

  3. Which brings me to point three. My breasts are saggy. I am almost 40 years old, I nursed 3 babies. Gravity is slowly starting to catch up to me. This is not a problem for me. I just did not realize that my low bust and my high bust were such different numbers when I chose a size of this cami to make.

  4. My final issue with this top is that the inner liner seems too short for my droopy tits. It's a short liner. It stops just below my nipples, which is causing weird lumpy issues in the drape of the fabric.

  5. I have scoliosis. my left shoulder slopes more than my right, causing tank top and bra straps to slide off incessantly. I am sure there is a fix for this problem, but I don't know what it is and my not ready to tackle this problem yet.

I am going to look at this top as a successful muslin. Is it my nice fabric, but I can get more and try again. I learned a lot about my sewing skills, the construction process for a simple top, and the shape of my body. I'll try again, and take my saggy breasts into account next time.

I have officially begun my endeavors to make and have a handmade wardrobe. Close fitting garments made from slippery fabric are not an obvious starting place for a beginner sewist like me, but I want an entire wardrobe. No one is going to be inspecting my knickers and camisoles besides my self. For me its a great starting point, I can make lots of mistakes on small projects that use small cuts of fabric and take a small amount of time. Additionally, I want to have form fitting outer layers, and they will need proper under garments and foundation pieces in order to fit me the way that I envision.

I'm so excited to begin this side-quest in my life, and I am thankful for you, dear reader, for joining me.

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