Everything has been a stressful Crap Fest, especially in the last week, so I’m going to discuss one of the lighter topics going on in my life right now.
I owe a lot to my women’s clinic for providing contraceptives and being up to date on my reproductive health. I try to show my appreciation to them as often as I am able (usually in the form of donuts from my favorite bakery).
Around Easter, they put out a Facebook post asking for homemade face masks to give to their patients.
I have a bad habit of jumping into projects with the enthusiasm and confidence of a four year old dressing themselves in an outfit they picked out. By the time I’m too deep into said project to give up I go, “Why the fuck did I do this?” I do it with cosplay. I do it with gardening. You bet your ass I did it with face masks.
They were asking for fifty face masks. For clarification, they were asking for a total of 50 face masks–not one person to make fifty face masks. That didn’t stop me from going, “I’m gonna make ALL of them!”
Most of my crafting/DIY projects stem from believing I can make something purely based on skills I have. When I picked out a face mask pattern on Cricut and went over it, I went, “I can sew a seam on a sewing machine. I can press fabric with an iron. I know how to make bias tape. I can totally do this.” Logically, I should be able to make a face mask because I have the skills necessary to make one. The problem was I lacked experience in making the item itself. I have never made a face mask in my entire life and here I was confident enough that I could make a batch of fifty. I do the same for other projects. At least with cosplay I have the sense to do some tests before proceeding with cosplay building due to the often experimental nature of cosplay and how often things don’t go as originally planned. With the face masks, everything was already laid out for me and it should have been simple as following the directions. I dove right into my stash of quilting fabrics I had accepted long ago that I was never going to use and started cutting out face mask pieces.
Oh, here’s the real kicker: I thought I could do this in a week despite never having made a face mask in my life and not truly knowing what making 50 of them would be like.
Everything seemed to start off smoothly and everything was progressing quickly, but that progress plateaued and things just dragged on. I realize what I should have done is make one face mask and see how easy constructing it actually was before diving into making a whole batch of them. While making the masks, I realized there had be an easier and simpler way to make them, but I was already well into the project by the time I thought of one and it would have been a huge waste of time to seam rip 50 half-finished masks. It ended up being a stressful project, but I already had promised to make these masks.
This project basically became a great example as to why I never have made a business out of my arts/crafts/costuming like people think I should: It’s one thing to do something for myself (like cosplay or tending the garden) and realize “I can’t do this” and leave it alone until I’m in the right head space to tackle it again. You can’t do that if you promised a product for someone, especially if they are paying you.
I completely underestimated how long this project would take, but I did finally manage to get it done and mailed out the face masks. I thought I was done with face masks forever….until the clinic called a couple days later thanking me and being generally grateful for the package of face masks.
Now I find myself making another batch of masks because that message reminded me why I waded through Crafting Hell to make the damn things and it made me feel like I made some sort of difference, which was the reason why I made them. I didn’t make them because that’s what everyone else is doing or to earn brownie points to some high spiritual power I don’t subscribe to begin, but because I genuinely wanted to help out a place that has helped me out so much unconditionally.
Only now I have more experience in making them along with a better way of making them—yes, I tested it out first—and I’m only sending what I can and not promising a short deadline.