The New Little Black Dress by Mary Ann Scognamiglio

Mary Ann Scognamiglio is a founding member of Straw Dog Writers and is retired. She enjoys sewing, reading, writing. The Pandemic Project has provided an interesting and unique viewpoint for writing and she has enjoyed reading the submissions. Making masks and working on her first murder mystery, be warned: “you might end up in my novel.” (Mary Ann sent out acceptance letters to everyone who had a piece appear for the Pandemic Project)

The New Little Black Dress

Do you have white thread? Anybody have any ¼” elastic? I have coated wire for nose pieces to share. Where did you get your pattern? Who makes their own bias tape?

Mask making is the new little black dress. The depth of threads on the floor attests to the sewing marathon taking place, fabric scraps attach themselves to me and pins lie in wait to stab my toes. Thankfully there are no small children or cats to be endangered. Just my toes.

Every piece of 100% cotton fabric I own has been utilized and a generous quilt shop ships out one-yard lengths in coordinating colors so the masks can be reversible. Sewn, washed, removed from the dryer with gloves, packed into double ziplocked bags, I’m ready for the next drop off. The sewing machine is humming—the valiant trouper that has made countless costumes, two wedding dresses, and zillions of alterations now has a new mission. Sewing for health, as it were. I plan the days for cutting, pinning, sewing and washing. Since cutting annoys me the most, I have developed a method to cut stacks of fabric so I can cut several masks at once, saving my wrists, survivors of double carpal tunnel surgery several years ago. Pinning is tedious, and after 40 years of sewing, I STILL prick my fingers. Trying not to bleed on the masks; yelling and hopping around is an interesting dance.

Mom calls. “Can you send your brother some masks? He can’t breathe with the ones he has.” As a chef in a retirement community, he lives in a mask. I ship three off and get a card back.

“These are great. Can you send me five more?” Groan. He included a visa gift card to sweeten the pot, and a new batch is sent on its way.

I lost count after 200. Does it matter? Nope, there’s no contest going on and no prizes to be won. Ties or elastic? Does it matter? Nope, both can be adjustable. What matters: WEAR IT.