Sewing for Good

April Fools has come and gone and the punch line we were all hoping for has yet to drop. So this is our reality for the foreseeable future and individuals as well as businesses are gearing up for the impact of this pandemic. Beyond finding ways to work remotely and innovative solutions to keep businesses busy, it’s also important to find new ways to keep yourself busy while cooped up inside.

For me personally, I know I wanted to find something meaningful to do with my spare time that allows me to be creative but also contributes something positive to people in need right now. A friend of mine let me know that her mom, who is a doctor and a health hero, passed along the insider intel that they’re in desperate need of surgical caps in hospitals right now. I have a sewing machine and have played around with sewing as a hobby… mostly I watch youtube tutorials online and have been self taught so I figured why not put the limited sewing skills that I do have, to the test!

We put together a sewing tutorial video if any of you are keen to make your own surgical caps and share them with your local health heroes!

Follow along with the video here:

And if you need a little more info and tips, follow the steps below:

Step 1 is to create a pattern. I don’t have pattern paper so I generally use wrapping paper for mine. Here is a photo of the pattern pieces I made, with a measuring tape for reference.

Step 2 is to use your pattern pieces to cut out the fabric. A really helpful tip is to pin your pattern pieces to the fabric so they don’t shuffle around while you’re cutting. Don’t forget to make doubles of each pattern piece. I used spare fabric that I upcycled from other projects or clothes I don’t wear anymore, so had to be a bit creative with where I laid the pattern pieces. Most importantly here is to make sure you have washed and dried the fabric before you start to work with it, as lots of fabrics shrink when washed, and you don’t want the caps to be too small after the first use!

Step 3 you’re able to start sewing it together. The first piece you’re going to tackle is the middle part of the cap, the one that looks a bit like a kite. Take the two creases that are cut into the side and sew them right sides together along the edge, this will form the pleat of the cap on the inside and outside piece.

Step 4 you’re going to sew the sides of the cap to one of the centre pieces. I always like to lay my pieces out so i can visualize how they’re going to sit once sewn together, this also helps to avoid sewing any wrong sides together. So place your side pieces right side together with the centre piece and follow along the curved edge.

Step 5 Once both side pieces are sewn on then take the other centre piece and face it right side down so the side pieces are tucked in between the two centre pieces. Follow the same edge you just sewed to put the side pieces on and follow it right down through the bottom of the tail of your centre piece and up around the other side, leaving a hole at the centre (this is at the front where the cap would sit on your forehead).

Step 6 you should be able to flip the cap right side out from that hole you left and you can start adding your bands. The bands should be facing right sides together and you want to sandwich the cap in between the two bands, sewing all the way along the edges down through the tails of the straps, making sure you’re catching the bottom edges of the sides of the cap along the seams. This part will get a little tricky when you’re on your way up from the strap ends, as you’re going to be tucking all of the cap inside the strap as you sew on the inside. Just go as far as you can and whatever is left of that part will be sewn together with the top stitch once you flip it right side out again.

Step 7 Flip it right side out and you should have your band attached all the way along from the front centre down through the tail ends of the straps, with a hole at the front where you were able to flip it right side out from. Now there’s a big hole on the bottom side of the strap at the front of the cap, which is fine! Start on the tail end of the strap and do a top stitch wrapping all the way around the cap, once you get to the other end, keep going along the strap edge and come back the other way on the other side of the strap, this time you’ll be going over the whole you left at the front. So in order to close that hole properly, you’re going to want to tuck the raw edges inside and make sure your top stitch is catching both layers for you.

That’s it! Now you have a surgical cap and you’re able to maybe learn a new skill or attempt a new creative outlet with all the spare time you have. The more you try the easier it will be. My first attempt took me 2 hours and I was able to get it down to a speedy 35 minutes per cap once I got more and more comfortable with the process.

Here’s a pic of my partner and I sporting the caps, pretending to be surgeons!! I want to send a big thank you to the health heroes who continue to work relentlessly for our communities. So grateful for the efforts of all of the frontline workers and everyone who continues to be supportive and positive in this time.

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