Sewing Your Own Clothes

I know some of you have been sewing doll clothes since you were a toddler. And others have made their own wedding dresses and prom dresses and more.

I tried sewing a blouse once when I was in my teens. After weeks of agonizing, I emerged with a blouse that looked worse on me than the cheapest thing I could have purchased from a dime store. And I had invested WAY too much time and money.

That was the end of my garment sewing. Why on earth would I spend so much time making something that looks like it came from Target when I could just go to Target and get it? (I don’t remember Target existing at that time, but you get the point. Substitute Zayre or Woolworth’s or Venture if you’re in the Chicagoland area.)

Years went by. Decades went by. And garment sewing changed. And so did the idea of making a trip to Target. Folks like Grainline Studio came onto the scene.

And along the way, I learned that sewing something to wear can be simple. Once I purchased a serger with a coverstitch, I started creating my full pandemic wardrobe–sweats and tees.

I have been purchasing fabric from Hawthorne Supply Co., using only organic interlock cotton. I have found this to be ultra-comfortable, soft, drapey, and easy to sew. It’s ideal for t-shirts and kids’ clothes.

Here’s a little video.

The round neck shirts above are from the Hemlock tee pattern from Grainline. The v-neck tees in the video are my own design. I literally took a tee that was comfortable, laid it on a table and made my own pattern. I changed the neckline to one that I preferred, added a bit of length, changed the sleeves, and boom: my perfect 3/4 sleeve v-neck. Sized for me.

I am enamored with the triple coverstitch.

It forms such a beautiful hemmed finish. And the wrong side is even better because it offers that serger “stretch”‘.

Best investment I ever made.

I have more fabric on its way in fall and winter colors, as this fabric was purchased in February and March of last year.

A Tip for Interlock Cotton Knit

When I purchased my serger, the dealer said the needles were fine on knits and wovens.

She was wrong.

It was a universal needle. Sewing machines all come with universal needles. And I used to tell my students that a universal needle is supposed to be good for everything but it’s really good for nothing.

I stand by that on serger needles as well.

I don’t know why I thought that a serger needle might be different.

In the above photo, you can see what happens when you use a needle that’s too sharp for the fabric. Now, this didn’t happen at first. It took a couple of washings. But that is plainly the needle cutting through the knit fabric and breaking it.

Which is why you should ALWAYS use a ball point needle on knits.

Serging or sewing. A ball point needle is actually dull. It separates the threads of a knit with each penetration and doesn’t break it. Your garment will last a LOT longer. Luckily, I only made that mistake on the first pattern. All the others are done with ball point needles and are fine.

Just to summarize. When you purchase a new sewing machine, take those universal needles and toss them in a drawer for someday when you’re desperate. Replace it with a sharp if you’re working on a woven, like quilt cotton, or with a ball point if you’re sewing on knits.

And if you’re on a serger, you can use those factory-loaded needles on wovens. But no matter how special they tell you the needles are that come with the machine, don’t use them on a nice knit.

Someday I’ll do a blog post on different types of needles (there are plenty.) But now, I need to get back to cutting out fabric. I need a winter wardrobe.

Doors, Doorhangers and Paint, Oh My!

How’s everyone doing out there?

I am not ashamed to say I had a rough summer. Between the pandemic, and a kid who’s still in the school system, I managed to fall while taking pictures. Hard. On my knee, but did a number on the ankle too.

Wound up in the ER, and x-rays were fine, but still healing. On top of that, I have the usual “You know, at your age…” health issues. But hard as I tried, I was not able to avoid going to a doctor until coronavirus is eradicated….as I had hoped. Who am I kidding?

So layer on top of that all the societal and natural disaster issues we’re facing and I made a decision:

TO PAINT MY FRONT DOOR CORAL.

Why? That’s a good question. I was all set to go with teal. And then I randomly saw a pic online of a coral front door. And I couldn’t get it out of my head. You need to know that my front door is a very dark, forest green. It has been that way for 18 years.

But it suddenly became my obsession. A primal scream, I think. I NEED A CORAL FRONT DOOR.

Since then I have discovered, to my surprise, that a front door that faces south should indeed be red or orange according to feng shui principles. Who knew. (Not me.) So, apparently, I did the right thing.

I used some paint called DecoArt. Find it here.

It was not my favorite. It went on kind of gloppy and was a semi-gloss. I’m generally a satin girl. And please note, that while I was doing this I was NEVER sure it was going to work. My only thought was that if I ruined the front door, we needed a new one anyway.

The first coat was pretty hideous. It was a lot of work just to get that far, and needed several hours to dry. I had to keep going back and smooth over places that wanted to drip. At this point, I was really torn. Give up now and paint it black? Or forge ahead and see where I end up. Anyone in their right mind would have hired a professional to salvage what they could.

I went for it.

Two more coats later.

My husband strolled by while I was in the process. “You’re making the front door pink?”

“IT’S NOT PINK, IT’S CORAL!”

He and my teenage son exchanged glances and backed away. They don’t really care.

But at least here’s where I get to the sewing part. Now I needed something to put on the door.

I have some black Kraft-tex, and so anyone who’s read this blog in the past, knows I love my Kraft-tex. I wanted a round doorhanger, but one that I could update seasonally. Or just when I got tired of it.

If you don’t know, cutting a perfect, professional-looking circle is hard. Really hard. So I use a rotary circle cutter from Olfa.

But the tool has a maximum circle size of about 8.5 inches. Not nearly as big as I wanted it.

So I approached my husband with the tool, and I told him what I wanted to do. He has a mill and a 3D printer. I wondered if he could help me find a way to get bigger circles.

He sniffed around the tool for a bit, while I went off to make dinner. An hour later he handed me an extender. Then he attached it.

He simply fitted it to the device, added a screw and bolt to hold it together and, like magic, I can now make circles about twice the size. It was amazing! And it worked perfectly. My new circle was somewhere near 18 ” acorss, almost the entire length of the Kraft-tex paper.

Now I just stitched my embroidery out and attached it with a single stitch to the the circle. I made slots so that I could switch out the seasonal part at any time.

I finished it up with a ribbon and hung it with a flourish.

I have no idea how anyone else is coping. I hope you are doing well.

I highly recommend doing something you’ve been afraid to do. (Let’s not get reckless here, I’m talking about painting a door, or a room, or yikes! a dresser.)

I didn’t know I needed this color in my life. Nor do I know how long I will want it. But it showed up at the right time for me.

Color heals.

I hope.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

June was…I don’t really have the words. I managed to get out and take some pictures. Which, to be honest, is pretty important for my mental health.

So I’m just going to share some of the things that ended up in my folder for June.

Each pic has a story. Like the roses I saw at the gas station with the two bums sitting on the curb. Or the ugly blue spruce stonecrop that faithfully comes up every year. Or just local fields that I appreciate. Wildflowers are so underrated. These things sustain me.

I hope you are finding your joy.

Tips on Scalloped Edges for Your Quilt

Almost two weeks left before the Fourth of July and all I have left is the label. (Have I harped enough about labels? Every quilt needs one.)

At the very last minute, I decided to scallop the edges of this quilt. Don’t ask me why. Because I don’t know. It was lovely without it, but I felt like I wanted a bit more…maybe a touch of femme or softness, or something to make it distinctive.

The pattern comes from a book called French Farmhouse by Marie Claude Picon. The quilts are all designed for rustic simplicity, which is lovely. But I never found a pattern I didn’t adapt at least a little. So same with this one.

The quilting, as you can see on the back, is all stars and stripes, in keeping with the theme. I always quilt on my domestic machine, a Bernina 780 (which was a precursor to the current 790.) I don’t enter my quilts in competitions–for obvious reasons. They are purely for the pleasure of creating. So you can see that I have a lot of fun with quilting, and I’m not hung up on perfection. As the Amish like to say about their quilts, “Only God is perfect.”

I like my quilts to be functional.

About the scallops. Don’t overthink.

I literally dumped some thread out of a Polish pottery bowl in my sewing room functioning as storage. I turned it upside down and started drawing the scallops. I did not measure. I did not plan. When I got to the last two or three at the end of a row, I just made minor adjustments so it fit. I don’t even know the size of the bowl.

So I assure you that you can enjoy creating scallops as a quilt edging. However, I DO have some tips because when you get to sewing, you just need to be prepared.

Scallop-Edge Quilt Tips

  1. Cut before you sew. I know this sounds crazy, but a lot of books and instructions will tell you to draw the scallops and sew your binding on before you trim the scallops into shape. The argument is that the fabric is less inclined to stretch or distort. It’s stable and you have a straight piece on which to work. Feel free to go ahead and try it that way. Maybe it works for you. But I really need to see my cut edge. I like to work directly on the shape that the quilt will be in the end. It may not be ideal for everyone, but this is about what works for you.
  2. Pin each scallop one at a time before you sew. Not gonna lie. This is a slow process. But you will get better results.
  3. Use bias binding. Yes, you knew that. Of course you did. But, I’m always surprised by the number of quilters who don’t ever use bias binding on their quilts–even those that are meant to be passed down as heirlooms. When a binding is on the straight of grain, all the wear-and-tear is on about two or three threads going longwise over the edge. When the binding is cut on the bias, you have hundreds of threads that support the edge. It will last so much longer. I wrote about this in a previous post.
  4. Don’t stretch. When you work with anything on the bias, it’s easy–really easy–to pull the fabric. It’s easy (and tempting) to stretch it into position. But this will just cause the quilt to curl and not lay flat. Fabric is very compliant and is happy to work with you. But you have to understand the ways it wants to be handled. The puckering that you see in the pinning, is exactly what you want to see. This gives the curve enough “give” to flip around to the back side.

Above, you can see how the binding is pinned in place. When you get to the deepest part of the scallop, you’ll leave the needle down and turn the quilt. Stitch a tiny bit down onto the next scallop and then pin the rest into place. Here’s a book called “Happy Endings” which gives a good illustration of attaching binding to a scallop. It’s not hard, but it’s not something you can just whip right through like a straight binding. It takes a bit of patience and maneuvering.

And I think patience is something we could all use a bit more of these days. I know that quilters sew love into every stitch. It’s what moves us forward.

What Is Mine to Do?

That’s a question I ask myself a lot these days.

It’s a question that appears at the end of every newsletter that I receive from Fr. Richard Rohr at the Center for Action and Contemplation.

Action. And contemplation.

There’s a time for both. The question is: What is mine to do?

I know a lot more about what is probably NOT mine to do. It’s probably not mine to march in the streets. I am getting to the age where pandemics and crowds are a bad mix for me. Younger people are much better at those things.

It’s probably also not mine to tell you what to think. You have your own ears and eyes and soul. It’s your work to worry about what you think.

But what is mine to do?

It is mine to listen. It is mine to raise my son to listen, to have empathy, to use his critical thinking skills. It is mine to contemplate. I have had many, many days of action. And my time of action will come again. But I can support and raise people up. I can stand with those who are oppressed, even if I have to do it from my house. From my perspective of privilege I can appreciate when it might be time to shut my mouth and listen…listen to the voices of those not like me.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. –MLK

Those words were as true then as they are now, maybe even more profoundly right now.

Last year I started working on a red, white and blue quilt. It is a patchwork of many, many pieces of different fabric in every shade of red, white and blue that I could find. I once had a friend ask: Why would someone want to cut up perfectly good fabric? As quilters we know why. One piece of fabric may be strong and singular and dominant.

But a quilt made with many colors, blended together and working in harmony is a much more perfect…union. And the painful thing is that the fabric must be cut, and things get ugly and a lot of hard work must be done before anything even resembling coherence starts to emerge.

But it does emerge when we do the work. And you can follow a pattern or freestyle it. But when it’s all sewn back together as one piece of cloth, it’s special. It’s better than the sum of a bunch of single fabrics. It’s triumphant. And participating in that?

That might be mine to do.

The Positive Pleasures of Pursuing Puzzles

No one in our house is allowed to use the phrase “new normal” or “in these uncertain times”.

For obvious reasons.

But for reasons mostly unknown to me, I dug deep into a closet not long after the stay-at-home orders began, and I came across a puzzle we never assembled. It was the only one in our home. 750 pieces. Challenging but not discouraging. It was an illustration of a floral shop during Valentine’s Day, which, of course, had passed at the time we were assembling. But it was loaded with cheer–flowers, cards, knick knacks, doodads and color. Lots of color.

I set it out on our coffee table and worked on it during the news (which was quite a bit at first, if you remember). Then I started doing it during briefings from the task force, from governors, etc.

Then one day our teenage son walked over and started working. He was in the midst of preparing for AP Exams. In case you hadn’t heard, they were canceled in their normal form, and were replaced by a very stressful, time sensitive, online interpretation. A year’s worth of studying and work reduced to 2 questions…and half the battle was the stress of wondering if all your technology would hold up. He sometimes stared at those puzzle pieces with me.

I understand if you’re not a puzzle person.

I guess not everyone is. But if you are visual–as I am–or spatial–as I am, you very likely find them relaxing. I do crosswords from time to time. But I find I just am not that up on pop culture or TV or movie stars or Greek mythology. When I used to play Trivial Pursuit, my default answer was always “Barbra Streisand.”

Neverthless, there’s also something meditative and calming about the images. I am very particular about the images I choose for puzzles. I don’t want a loud abstract spiral of pure color. That just seems frustrating and vague to me. But a homey scene with quilts and puppies and red barns and all the reassurances of a time that was simpler? Yeah, that’s for me.

The puzzle above was probably one of my favorites. If you find it anywhere, and you enjoy doing them, I highly recommend this one. And shout out to artist Chris Bigalow. His outstanding illustration is so full of tiny details, that I found myself studying and appreciating every piece. Inside the windows? All those little scenes are tiny puzzles…puzzles within puzzles. What a fantastic graphic. From the details in the upstairs windows to the coffee mug that says “I heart puzzles”, this is just a gem.

What’s the next one in line? I decided to try having a puzzle made from one of my own images. As much as I enjoy floral photography, I prefer illustrations on my puzzles. But I did have one image that I thought would make a fun puzzle.

So this next one is a photo I took while on vacation. It’s always been one of my favorites and the color, cheeriness and general tchotchkiness (is that a word?) would be fun.

Puzzles calm me. I know that people attribute a lot of good things to puzzle-solving. But for me, when working on a puzzle, I am distanced from the chaos and scary-as-hell reality we live in. I’m wrapped up in a world of shapes and color. I used to shun them because, really, what in the world is productive about jigsaw puzzles? You spend hours and when you’re done, you put it all back in the box and move on.

But that’s become a metaphor for me. A metaphor for life. We scramble, we work, we delude ourselves into thinking we must always be productive, but when it’s all over, it’s over. And has anything that any of us done had true lasting value? Our quilts, maybe. But only if someone truly appreciates them. Otherwise, they are just a way to keep ourselves going.

We all do what we have to do.

Next post I’lll share some sewing.

But for now? We keep a puzzle on the coffee table.

How to Purchase a Sewing Machine in a Pandemic

So I see a lot of people taking a renewed interest in sewing these days. First and foremost to make masks, second as a hobby, and third as a new skill.

But how do we shop right now in this state of retail confusion? I looked over the websites of some of the top sewing machine manufacturers and while they are all taking somewhat different approaches, they are definitely finding ways to sell machines.

Bernina

Regardless of your location, or your region’s status with regard to COVID19 (Stay-at-home or not), Bernina is offering nation-wide curbside pick up or local delivery via Fedex or UPS. So if you know of a dealer you can trust, you can call and purchase a machine and receive curbside pick-up. Or, you can ask them to have that machine delivered via Fedex or UPS. Now, when it comes to shipping, I’m not sure who picks up the charges for that…likely the customer. But don’t underestimate your negotiating ability during this time. I’m sure a dealer would rather sell a machine than argue over shipping charges. Bernina does have a limited online sales venue on bernina.com , but at the end of the day, that sale just gets delivered to a local dealer where you would pick it up. Far easier to call a dealer directly. There are a limited number of Bernina and Bernette sewing machines available on Amazon (that look to be sold directly by Bernina–not used.)

Babylock

I found it harder to get information on Babylock because their consumer website does not have any updates with regard to the pandemic. I also left a message on their customer service line, and have not received a return call. However, my local Babylock dealer is taking orders over the phone and doing curbside pick-up. I have to believe that Babylock dealers are left to their own devices with respect to each states’ executive orders, and each dealer is making their own decisions. No Babylock machines appear to be available for purchase on Amazon.

Janome

Janome does not have a statement online about coronavirus or whether they have any business changes. So I imagine that each dealer is handling it in their own way. Janome does, however, have a wide variety and price range of machines available for purchase on Amazon. Is it their top of the line? Perhaps not. But the Memorycraft is available on Amazon and that’s a pretty decent machine.

Pfaff/Husqvarna/Viking/Singer

Curbside pick-up is available for all dealerships that are open. Also, singer.com has a wide range of all these brands available for purchase. HOWEVER, they have a huge warning on their website that their delivery response time has slowed, and they are having some inventory issues, which they are trying to manage. This is not unusual. If you have purchased anything online in the past month or so, you know that delivery times are sporadic at best, and frustratingly non-existent at worst. Your best bet would be to contact a dealer who handles these brands, find out what they have in stock and go from there. Singer appears to be the only brand in this category that has some availability on Amazon. However, a reminder that you get what you pay for. You will have no quarantees that a $150 machine will last or will handle the sewing you require. And if you purchase online, who will service? Just some things to think about.

Brother

Once again (and I hate to be down on them because I know they have decent embroidery machines) but once again, Brother is a black hole of information for consumer sewing machines. I recognize that they are a large corporation with lots of sales and supplies to manage. They do have a generic note on their corporate site that explains that they are doing their best to manage inventory and their supply chain. What that means to consumers is less clear.Their sewing machines are available in a limited capacity on Amazon. Again, buyer beware, as brands sometimes only offer online the cheapest machines around. If you simply must own a Brother, please find a dealer and ask them how they are selling at this time.

In Conclusion

I think it’s safe to conclude that, as always, it is best to contact your local sewing dealership and tell them which machines you are interested in. If it were me, I would put off a very high-end purchase until you are more comfortable going in to test drive the machine. Unless, of course, your local dealer is open, and even then, please try to practice social distancing.

If you are wanting to make masks, some decent machines are available for purchase online, but I would recommend spending at least $500 to get something that will be dependable. The Bernina 215 for $799 is a great machine to purchase online. It is made like a Bernina, with metal parts and sews like a dream. I would call a dealer first to find out if they have one. I bet they would sell it for less than that price, and you could just do a curbside pick-up.

Whatever you decide to do, I am encouraged that so many are interested in sewing again.

Who knew we’d all get back to sewing and growing our food?

Please, please, stay safe, stay healthy, listen to your local officials, and help each other.

On we sew.

The Mask Controversy and Senior Hours

Author’s edit 5.13.20: I want to give an update about the “controversy”. I have listened to scientists and have also spoken to folks in infection control who have all made themselves clear about masks. They now ALL believe that the public wearing them is the best route to limiting this virus. While they would not want hospitals to be forced to wear cloth, the public wearing masks of any kind keeps as many droplets contained as possible.I wear a mask for you, and you wear one to protect me. Every day we learn more and this is no longer controversial. I want to make that clear. It is a minor inconvenience that we all need to endure because, frankly, it’s all of us versus this virus. And the virus is virulent. (Yes, I know it’s alliterative.) Here’s an article for reference. I’m now convinced this simple change in behavior can save a lot of lives.

I’ve been asked to share my mask pattern with you and it’s so simple, you won’t believe it.

But first, I want to talk a little about cloth masks.

  1. Don’t wear a cloth mask for more than 2 hours. Change to a fresh one.
  2. If it gets wet for any reason, even from your own breath, you need to change it.
  3. Put them directly into a washing machine and wash in hot water with soap or bleach.

That’s the end of my Public Service Announcement. Knowing that, if you are on this blog, you are likely someone who sews, and anyone who sews can make masks out of their stash. I did not have elastic on hand for some of the patterns I’d seen, and then I ran across this video of German women making masks. They are using what appears to be a layer of muslin, another fabric, and then the ties appear to be cotton.

I made my masks out of white fabric so that anyone using them could bleach them. Please pre-wash your fabric before you start to assemble. I’m sure any color would be fine.

I start by cutting 8 inches along WOF (so 8 x 44). Then I make four cuts of 2 inches WOF.

Trim the 8 inch fabric to 8 x 15. You should end up with 2 pieces of 8 x 15 which will make 2 masks. You’ll use 2 ties (2 x 44 each) for each mask.

Fold the 8 inch fabric in half right sides together and sew with a quarter inch seam. Turn it right side out and press with the seam at the bottom.

Start adding pleats that are approximately 1/2 inch deep. Fold it over and press. You do not have to measure, You do not have to be precise. Just keep them basically even, and you’re good. You’re making 3 pleats.

Press all three pleats down nice and secure. Then I run them under a 1/8 inch seam just to hold them in place.

I use an edgestitch foot for this, (my favorite!) and move the needle as far to the left as I can. Remember, you’re making two masks at a time with these instructions, so you’ll make 4 seams, on the short pleated sides only.

Next we’re making the ties. Take a 2 inch strip and press it with both long sides folded into the center. I usually do one side, and then the other.

Then fold down about half an inch from the top and give it a press.

Then you give the tie one more fold in the middle and press it really well. I usually use steam at this point. Next find the center of the tie…remember, it is approximately 44 inches long, so somewhere around 22 inches. This does not have to be precise. Just fold it in half and find the center. Put the center in the middle of the short side of one of your masks and wrap the tie around it. (See pic.) I use 3 clips for each side–like a binding.

Start at the very end of the tie, and sew across the top of the tie and then down along the side. Again, I use an edgestitch foot. This time with the needle moved all the way to the right. This secures the tie and attaches it to the mask. Do this on both sides and you’re done.

Again, the pieces we just cut will make 2 masks. If you’re like me, you have tons of yardage lying around that was meant for a quilt a long time ago, or that was on sale. I heated up some water for tea and Iiterally had a mask completed and my tea was still warm enough to drink.

Please keep in mind the precautions I set forth in the beginning. We are all truly in uncharted territory.

I am *almost* a senior…not quite. But you might be.

Here’s a good breakdown of hours for grocery stores.

The best advice we can all take right now is this:

  1. Stay home.
  2. Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. If you don’t remember the last time you did it, wash your hands.
  3. Social distance. This is not a joke. Assume everyone is spreading the virus and stay away from them.
  4. Clean commonly used surfaces regularly with disinfectant wipes or bleach water.
  5. Don’t touch your face. Just don’t. (This is hard.)

As of this writing, we’re looking at another month or more of this isolating behavior. This is our new norm and we need to recognize that we are not alone. The entire world is battling this and it is our job to give the scientists, epidemiologists, doctors and nurses time and money and supplies to help us, and find a vaccine or cure. If my biggest hardship is staying at home and sewing, I am truly lucky.

I am also sending food via local restaurants to hospitals for the workers. This has the double effect of sending business to local restaurants and giving a gift to those on the frontlines.

I have no words of wisdom here. But with all my heart I am praying that you and your loved ones, and me and mine, will all be well.

#StayHome #StayHome #StayHome

How’s everybody holding up?

Everyone I speak to is frightened, anxious and agitated about the future. We have no road map for this pandemic. But I think this much is clear.

We are permanently changed–physically, psychologically, financially, mentally.

Perhaps the way we were “doing” everything before was not ideal.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I am changing my daily life. First of all, I stay close to home. I don’t run around unnecessarily, I don’t shop at 5 different grocery stores to get a little bit of everything for each person in my household.

Second, I’m not spending any money now on things that are throw-away. I’m not purchasing that cute top that I know will only last a season. I’m not buying earrings that go in and out of fashion like the wind. I’m using the fabric that I already own to make things other people need, instead of catering to my own whim and fancy.

Third, we are wasting less. Do we really need to use that many paper towels? Do we know when we will be able to get more? What about that food? Time to make something with what’s currently in the pantry or the fridge because going out for something else is not much of an option. We are eating home-cooking more.

Fourth, I am caring deeply, anxiously, and actively about others. My mind is constantly on healthcare workers, grocery clerks, truck drivers, mail delivery people, folks who keep the lights on and the water flowing and even the Internet bubbling and Netflix churning.

Of course, I am worried about all those who now have no income. Can they move their business online? Can the local plant shop or chocolate shop or quilt shop be nimble enough to move online and are we all willing to purchase online to keep our friends and neighbors employed?

What about restaurants? I don’t have the answer here, but I certainly think we should be able to order takeout. Have the days of crowded, chattering, noisy restaurants passed us by? Maybe not for everyone, but for those of us getting up in years or with health problems or compromised immune systems, the answer is yes.

What will the future look like? I think that’s the question that torments me the most. It almost certainly will not look like the past. As I said, we are permanently changed. And if we are not, then we will learn lessons the hardest way possible.

How about this paper device created by Chinese company Meituan? You can order takeout to eat at your desk, but every meal comes with this paper shield that protects your food from any droplets that might be shed by a passing stranger. I don’t know how I feel about that, but at least it’s the way China is starting to think and create, as they begin to reopen their economy VERY slowly.

The doctors are thinking that even after this first wave, the virus will head to the Southern hemisphere and then be back for round two next fall. That may or may not give us enough of a reprieve to prepare with equipment, masks, gowns gloves, respirators etc.

But for now, I am still creating masks for local nursing homes, assisted living centers and anyone who wants them at the moment. For the first time in my life, I ordered groceries for delivery. My area of the country has been identified as a growing hotspot for the virus. I have a husband who still must go in to work three days a week.

May we learn how to live a little better together on this planet. May we learn to care for one another. May we learn how absolutely interdependent we are on one another.

And may we all be well.

Love in the Time of COVID19

These are frightening times.

No matter how prepared we are, we know that something is coming that is just not what we’ve experienced any time in our lives.

Talking to my 86 year-old father, I asked him if he ever remembers anything like this.

“No!” he says with wide eyes. “This is the whole world.”

The whole world.

I watch images from Italy of people on their balconies, singing to and with each other. I see Chef Jose Andres from World Food Kitchen shaving his beard in order to serve others food while wearing a mask.I read about the elderly couple waiting anxiously in their car to ask someone who looks kind to take their money and go purchase groceries for them, because they are terrified to go into the store–they both have existing conditions that put them at risk.

I see air pollution drastically cut as factories are shut down. I see the fossil fuel industry being reduced in a way none of us could EVER have corrected on our own.

I think this virus has reminded us that we in the whole world are dependent on one another like never before. It has reminded us that we cannot control our entire ecosystem, but that we are simply a part of it. We don’t write the rules. Even when we think it’s all under our control…it’s really not.

It’s humbling. It’s humbling if we are wise enough to recognize these things.

As I write this, I am suffering from a sinus infection from a head cold I had two weeks ago (which I get every year at this time). Should I go to the doctor? Will I end up with something worse than a sinus headache?

I don’t have any answers.

Wait. Yes, I do.

We have the only answer that has ever really existed. (At the risk of returning to my sorry seventies self.)

Love is the answer.

Please take care of yourself, stay healthy, love one another, and support your local quilt shop.