There’s a lot going on for everyone right now. We’re all struggling with new rules and parameters on things we can or should do, and things we can’t. Some people seem to look for endless loopholes to justify their personal decisions, and others just shrug and understand that a little sacrifice now helps everyone in the long term.

When Corona and a pending shut down became evident, I started sewing face masks. I wasn’t sure if my husband and his colleagues would need them, or just our friends and neighbors, but I got to work.

I had been a quilter for a while when the kids were small, and have quite a decent sewing machine. I also have a stash of fabrics I bought with dreams of various quilts to be made- some with fabrics where I just loved the colors, and others with themes from the beach or outer space- many of these did not come to be, but the wonderful and gorgeous fabrics stayed safely tucked away in my basement.

When I went down looking for fabrics to use for face masks, I discovered all these old gems- and how much I still loved them all. There’s fabric leftover from the Harry Potter quilt I did make James, and dolphins with sunglasses I got with my niece and nephew in mind. There’s Liberty of London William Morris prints, nautical prints, and lovely blues and greens that make me happy when I see them. Even after all this time, I still love all of these fabrics, but it’s now time to put them into production- not for an art project, or a quilt to keep a baby or family member warm- but to potentially save a lot of people in my community from getting sick with what could be a deadly illness.

So far, I’ve made and donated over 200 masks, and I’m still dewing. 100 went to a local retirement community, 50 to another one, a dozen to the local hospice. Some have gone to friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and others to people in the community who need them most.

My husband recognized early on that this gave me something constructive to do, and a way to try to protect everyone I know and love. I know these masks aren’t really magic, but hopefully the people they get them and wear them will know they were made with love.

Part of me is sad to give up all this beautiful fabric, collected so long ago, but the other part of me is so happy that its magic will be spread out and help even more people than I ever could have imagined buying a fat quarter here and there or a yard or half yard of this or that.

My younger self has provided for my current self in ways I could not have imagined at the time- and what may have looked like a little light hoarding now is more useful that I ever could have imagined. I’ve even donated a couple of bags of fabric and extra elastic I ordered early on to other sewers, so we can multiply the ability to produce masks for everyone who needs one.

So I spend part of my day, usually early in the morning, a bit at lunch and then after work cutting and sewing these memories to be distributed around to help as many people as possible. My son has started to help string the elastic and iron the fabric to help things go faster, so we’re getting to do this together, which is incredible. When people offer to pay, I could not even think of what to charge, so I ask them to pay it forward- help the local food bank or help someone else in turn.

After all, my younger self gave me this gift, and now it’s time to pay it forward.