Author: felixFKC

Introducing the Ear Rescue Straps

Masks that don’t hurt your ears.  Really.

By Kitty

Last week, I wrote an article that tried to sum up several popular methods for relieving ear pain from face mask elastics.

Every method, from ties to S-hooks to Princess Leia space buns, have their pros and cons.  I discussed these at length, so I won’t go over that again.  Today is all about my current favourite way to save our ears from the menace of mask elastics: the adjustable strap with Velcro closures.

What are Ear Rescue straps?

Ear Rescue straps are basically soft flat fabric bands which can be fastened behind your head at any height that works best for you, depending on the shape of your head and your personal preferences.  The top  of the mask uses these, and the bottom half uses a soft flat underwear-grade elastic designed to go right against skin.  As far as I can tell, no one else seems to be offering this dual system at this time.

The two-strap system: the adjustable upper strap

I chose to use a goodly length of hook-and-loop tape (aka Velcro) to fasten the upper straps, because this means  they 1) are easy to do up, even for people with joint and/or dexterity issues,  2) are size-adjustable, and 3) don’t lose tension and slip like tied knots, even after long wear. 

Upper Fabric & Velcro Straps

These adjustable Velcro-closed top straps do most of the work of holding the mask in place.  Once you fasten them at the right height for you (you may need to experiment to find the sweet spot on yourself), they’re remarkably secure. 

We tested ours for several hours of wear, during which we really gave them a workout (in Kitty’s case, including repeatedly putting on and taking off a high-necked top with the mask still on).   They stayed firmly in place, and more importantly, our ears were still perfectly comfortable at the end of the day. 

The elastic lower strap (and why I didn’t use a second adjustable Velcro strap)

The lower part of the mask has a one-piece elastic strap that can either rest on or under your hair, roughly at the base of your head or nape of your neck.  I specifically chose to use very soft underwear/lingerie-grade elastic which is intended for direct skin contact.

Lower Elastic Strap

Incidentally, I did test a second Velcro-fastened set of straps for the lower part of the mask, but rejected the idea for a couple of reasons.   First, the back of the neck is a high-mobility area on your body, and having a non-stretch strap on it felt pretty restrictive.  This can result in digging-in, neck and shoulder tension, or even headaches. 

Second, Velcro can feel quite scratchy on sensitive skin for people who have short or no hair, or who prefer to have the lower strap under their hair.  It drove me crazy in under ten minutes, so I ditched the idea right there.  I happen to know I have a hide like a rhinoceros, so if it bothers me, it’s going to irritate almost everyone else.

Anyway, you don’t even NEED an tight or adjustable strap to hold the lower part of the mask in place — in fact, you hardly need anything at all.  The customized fit of the upper strap held the mask so securely that in my testing, the lower elastic served as more of a back-up than an actual necessity.

How to get Ear Rescue straps on your mask

You can upgrade your masks to have Ear Rescue straps (instead of the standard elastic ear loops or ties) by selecting the “Ear Rescue” option in the “Strap Style” drop-down box when you order your masks on the website

You should be able to add this option on to the “Put on a good Face,” Ziggurat, and Anteater mask styles. We’re not currently offering it for Accordion masks, because the straight-across-the-top cut of this mask style doesn’t play nicely with the angle at which the upper straps need to be attached.

We use enough Velcro so you can adjust the fit by a couple of inches, which is a lot in terms of head sizes.  But if you feel like you are the proud owner of a very small or very large head, you can always contact us, and we’ll walk you through the custom measurement process.

In conclusion

We truly hope that this new project/product brings some relief to those of you who continue to protect others and the community by wearing your masks.  Learning that some of you stuck it out with face masks even when they caused chafing, bruising, and pain shone a tiny light into my shrivelled misanthropic soul.  Perhaps the human species is worth saving after all…

When Masks Are a Pain in the Arse – or Ears

Saving your ears while saving the world

By Kitty

“But masks hurt my ears!”

This seems to be the most common complaint we hear against the wearing of the face mask, our humble yet most valiant ally against the community spread of COVID-19. 

And yes, it’s true.  Ear elastics on masks do start to hurt after you’ve worn them for a while.  Some kinds of elastic take longer to start hurting than others, and some people have more sensitive ears.  But wear them long enough, and everyone’s ears get sore eventually.

Sometimes, it’s easiest to start a blog post with a photo or two:

Masks Can Help Save the World (but sore ears aren’t fun)

There’s no guarantee that we’ll have an fully effective coronavirus vaccine anytime soon.  Right now, one of the simplest and most useful things each one of us can do is to wear a face mask every single time we are in the company of other people. 

If everyone wore masks that fit correctly *and* followed all the safe use recommendations (there’s a summary of most of those here), we could stop the pandemic in its tracks, with or without a vaccine. But it’s really, really hard to get us humans to do something that hurts, even if “most everyone” agrees that it’s universally beneficial — otherwise, we would all lift weights and do high-intensity cardio five times a week.

Saving the World vs. Saving Your Ears

It’s easy for me to say we should wear masks whenever we’re in public.  I only need to pop one on for two minutes while I run into the shops for eggs and tea. 

But if your job involves interacting with other humans for an eight-hour shift, your trusty face mask becomes much more of a serious pain in the arse.   Or rather, ears.  Some of you have told  horror stories of bruised, chafed, or bleeding ears, even infected pressure sores.  Eeek.

You might feel tempted to pull it off during your coffee break just for a bit of blessed ear relief, but technically, that means you should put that mask in the “dirty” pile and replace it with a freshly laundered, unworn mask.  Safety guidelines say you should treat all masks as contaminated once they’ve been worn and handled, but are you *really* going to take four or five masks to work every day? 

Quite apart from that, you’ll probably find that a brief respite doesn’t actually help all that much with the sore ears problem.  Your ears will just start hurting again in a minute or two, because it takes longer than a brief break for the pressure spots to recover. 

Worse yet, wearing a mask day after day after day can make those spots progressively more painful over time.  And if you do have active chafing, sores or bruises, it’s a terrible idea to place elastics over that area, since you could introduce infection.

What You Can Do About It (some options that are already out there)

#1 – Ties instead of elastics

When some of you first brought this problem to my attention, we started offering ties that go behind the head instead or elastics that hook on your ears.  This works just fine for lots of people, but has drawbacks for others.

PROS: Ties don’t pull on your ears, and are adjustable to just the tightness you like. 

CONS: The upper ties can chafe the top of the ear area, because they still need to sit at ear level.  Some people find it too fiddly to get the ties done up.  Others have mobility or coordination issues that make it downright impossible to tie a bow at all, never mind behind the head.  Bow knots can slip or lose tension over time.  This one only happens to some people because there’s more than one way to tie a bow knot, but if it does happen to you, you have to re-tie the mask or face a safety hazard if you have touch the mask to push it up your face.  Personally, I can’t seem to do ties without painfully catching my hair in the knots.

#2 – Those plastic mask holder thingies, and improvised alternatives

You know, those little gadgets that hold the elastics behind your head.  You *must* of course remember to sanitize them every single day after removing your mask.  You can even use a plain hair clip, shoelace, S-hook, or ribbon as an improvised mask holder, like these:

PROS: They actually work really well for some people with the right ear shape and angle, particularly for those whose ears sit low on their heads relative to their nose.  If mask holders work for you, hooray!  Your sore ear issues are solved.

CONS:  If your ears join your head at a higher point, mask holders will only help a little bit, or not at all, because the elastic will still be resting/rubbing on the top of your ear where it attaches to your head.  I personally fall into this category.  If the back of your head sticks out significantly more on the top half than on the bottom half, mask holders can cause your mask to creep down your face, because now you only have a single point of pull instead of two.  Your head isn’t symmetrical, so the whole thing slides down toward the smaller half.  Basically,  if using a mask holder doesn’t make your mask stay put over time, it’s not for you. 

#3 – Hats or headbands with buttons, or special hairstyles to hold the elastic

Sorry, I’m not making headgear just to get a picture, because I’d like to get this blog posted sometime this week.  Though I’m not ruling out trying them for fun sometime.  And I do not have enough hair to show the hairstyle option.  There are loads of photos on the internet if you want to see what these look like. 

PROS: If your workplace or your personal style allows you to wear headbands/ball caps/surgical head-covers with buttons on them every day, *and* if you get the height and angle of the button placement customized so it’s just right for you,  these can keep the elastic quite clear of your ears.  If you have enough hair to create Princess Leia space buns on the sides of your head (you hook or pin the elastic onto the buns instead of your ears), lucky you — you’re more blessed than many of us. 

CONS: If headbands/hats/head coverings are just not for you, this category is right out.  It’s probably hard to make these work with a suit and tie, say, or if you work at a funeral home.  If you have short, fine or no hair, obviously the space buns option is a no-go.  You still need to sanitize any headgear after every use, so you’d need one for each day of the week you don’t do laundry, in addition to masks — that’s a lot of hats.  If you tend to get hot easily, anything that covers part of your head can build up heat uncomfortably fast.

#4 – Elastics that go behind the head

PROS: This kind of elastic doesn’t pull your ears forward.  There’s a separate point of pull for the top and bottom halves of your head, so masks tend to stay in place better than if you used a mask holder.  It’s relatively easy to customize the tightness by tying a knot or using a slider.

CONS: the upper elastic can still rest on and rub your ears, depending on their shape and placement.  Some people find that this kind of elastic causes even worse chafing than the kind that loops around the ears, because it slides around more with the motion of your head through the day (around-the-head elastics move against your skin when you tilt or turn your head, look up/down, or nod).

So…Velcro (aka my current solution to the ouchy ear problem)

Technically, I should say “hook and loop tape.” But we all know I mean off-brand Velcro.

After a good deal of experimentation, I’m presently voting for a weird combination: the upper part of the mask fastened with flat straps and Velcro, and the lower part with a soft elastic. 

You can close the straps at any height that feels comfortable to you.  The position can vary a lot depending on the shape of your head and the placement of your ears, and whether you want the straps to sit well above your ears or pass over them — just don’t let them rest *on* your ears like ear loops to avoid soreness.

Why Velcro?  Several reasons:

  1. It’s easy to use.  Most people (the butter-fingered, the arthritic, those of the child persuasion, etc) find it relatively manageable.
  2. It’s adjustable.  If we use a generous length of Velcro, you can adjust the fit of the straps by a couple of inches.  This ability to customize the tightness should keep the mask securely in place without you needing to push it up or down, which is an important safety feature.  I sound like a broken record, but you really, really shouldn’t touch your mask while you’re wearing it!
  3. It doesn’t slip.  You’re not going to find your Velcro-locked mask slowly getting looser and sliding down over the course of your day, the way you might with a tied knot.

Why not Velcro and straps on the bottom too?

As for the bottom elastic, it’s more comfortable than Velcro against the sensitive skin on the nape of your neck (especially if you prefer to have it under your hair, or if you have short hair).  Since it’s not resting or exerting any pressure on your ears at this level of the mask, a nice soft elastic definitely feels nicer here. 

Also, non-elastic straps against the back of your neck can actually be restrictive enough to make your muscles tense up reflexively.  This can lead to headaches and shoulder or neck pain.  They can also dig in or chafe, which kind of defeats the point of this whole exercise.

I was somewhat surprised to find that you don’t need Velcro, or a lot of adjustability, at the bottom level of the mask.  The customizable, super-secure fit of the upper strap hold the mask in place pretty well all by itself, even without the lower elastic strap.  The elastic is pretty much just insurance.

In Conclusion

Would I use this strap/elastic combo on my own masks?  Well, it takes a LOT more time and materials to construct this contraption than it does to sew on a couple of lengths of elastic.  So realistically, I probably won’t bother with it for my normal life; as I mentioned, I never really go out except for super-brief nips into the shops once or twice a week.

However, … if I was going to be in any situation where I might need to wear a mask for hours instead of five minutes — such classes, a real job, or Disneyland — I would absolutely go to the trouble of making myself a strap-and-Velcro mask.  Ear elastics start to hurt my ears after twenty minutes or so, and I don’t think I want to find out what they would feel like after eight hours, never mind day after day.

I did test out my sample Anteater mask with Velcro straps by wearing it for several hours.  I lugged bolts of fabric around.  I bent over.  I even repeatedly took off and put on a high-necked T-shirt, which I was in the process of fitting.

And I kind of forgot I was wearing a mask!  Absolutely no ear discomfort whatsoever.  I was actually shocked at how securely the straps held the mask in place.  Normally, *everything* (including every hairpin and headband known to humankind) slides helplessly down my Teflon-coated Asian hair.  Maybe Velcro is magic, or I just have a good skull shape for this.

As per usual, we’re planning to throw the Velcro strap-and-elastic “ear saver” option on our masks website for those of you who have found none of the other alternatives satisfactory.  As with those all options, this will work for some of us and not for others — but each additional person who can wear masks without pain has got to be a win, right?

P.S.: If you want or need to try masks with the “ear saver” straps before we get it loaded onto our website, just contact us directly and we’ll see what we can do.

Another Summer Mask!

Because Kitty hates pressing, and breathing is worth looking like an anteater.

By Kitty

Snouty but Comfy

Yes, I look properly daft, like I’m hiding a snout in there.  But at least I’m comfy and I can breathe!

A couple of weeks ago, in response to an epic heat wave, I came up with a super-breathable 3D face mask concept.   It had a structured dome to keep the mask fabric from touching hot sticky skin and pleats for better lower face coverage.  It’s so much more pleasant to wear in hot weather, and looks more or less respectable:

It’s become the new favourite in the Felix & Kitty household, but to me, it has just one fatal flaw: pleats!

The Problem with Pleats

Don’t get me wrong — pleats are fantastic if you have a long face and/or chin, if you move your jaws a lot when you talk, or if you have a beard, because they open up to provide the extra space you need.  However, they are less fantastic if you aren’t a fan of pressing.

Fabrics, especially those deliciously breathable natural fibres I tend to use for my masks, tend to lose their crisp pressed lines after they go through a machine wash and dry cycle.   Meaning I need to iron those pleats after each laundering. 

As any responsible mask wearer knows, you really must wash your mask after EVERY SINGLE WEAR (if you don’t know this, you should seriously read through this guide for the safe wear and care of masks). That’s a whole lot of pressing pleats.  I’m a slovenly old goat that never presses a single other item in my wardrobe (unlike Mr. Kitty, aka Felix, who loves both his pleated masks and the act of pressing, which he calls “meditative”).  I just can’t be arsed to iron masks every time I go out.

Different Masks for Different Faces

The thing is, if you have a long face and/or chin, or a beard, you may just need to grit your teeth and press those pleats, because you need the extra coverage and lower face mobility that they provide.  I, however, have a short, round face and — thankfully, what with me being a woman and all — no beard, so I don’t actually need the pleats.

I’ve also decided that I don’t like nose wires.  Having a flatter nose bridge, I simply don’t require one, unlike people with those majestic Roman noses or aquiline profiles.  Felix, who is one of those people, pretty much HAS to have a nose wire, or the mask fabric won’t conform to the sharper angles of his nose bridge.  See the gaps when he tries a no-wire mask?

Unsafe Gaps on Either Side of the Nose

But anyway, I’m fine without either pleats or nose wires.  So I got to thinking.  How can I keep that lovely 3D loft of the Ziggurat mask, but with a more streamlined, no-pleats-needed shape? 

Creating a Cup (kind of like a bra cup, but not)

I really hate fabric touching my face, especially when it gets damp due to perspiration or condensing exhaled moisture.  I wanted as much free space between me and the mask as possible, so even if I was breathing hard (like during our multiple weekly hikes), I couldn’t accidentally snort mask fabric.

Coincidentally, one of the many projects I’ve been puttering with during my COVID-induced unemployment is the creation of the perfect bra.  I’ve been experimenting with many, many methods to mold fabric around my vine-ripened F-cup chest fruits.  It occurred to me that, in principle, I could use one of these methods to create a generous dome over my nose and mouth. 

So here’s what I came up with, after only about sixteen iterations or so:

I used a multitude of darts to shape a nice high cup that stays way, way up off my breathing passages.  In fact, for my facial structure at least, this mask only makes contact with my skin at the very outer rim. 

Refining the Shape

The shape itself is pretty simple, especially compared to the Ziggurat mask.  But the several small refinements were worth the time they took.  

For example, scooping out the curve under the eyes makes the top line conform better to my nose, and makes sure the fabric doesn’t stray into my vision.  A lot of designs out there don’t do this one little thing, so you end up having to tug down your mask all the time, which is a HUGE safety no-no.

I angled the side edges sharply to cut them more on the bias, so it has a built-in movement and better ability to follow different jawline shapes (if you’re not familiar with the concept, the bias or diagonal of a woven fabric is more flexible, and has the magical ability to form around curves — think of those slinky bias-cut 1930s dresses). 

Fabric Grain Cut on the Bias

As a bonus, I found a wire nose-piece quite unnecessary for this style, since the angle of the “snout” of the mask keeps the top line nicely glued to the relatively flat bridge of my nose. 

And oh, the vast cathedral roof-like space it makes!  I don’t even care that this mask makes me look like an anteater.  That big “snout” is just so much extra breathing space.

In Conclusion

As per usual, we will be throwing this style up on our mask website with our growing collection of assorted styles.  In summary, this mask is for you if you:

  • Want to have lots and lots and LOTS of air space between you and the mask
  • Don’t mind looking like an insect-munching primitive mammal in return for extra breathability
  • Dislike pressing pleats
  • Have a fairly short or wide face and a low to moderate nose bridge
  • Don’t need to accommodate a big beard or longer chin
  • Find nose wires uncomfortable

If you do have a longer face or chin or a big beard, you’ll probably want to stick with the pleated styles, like the Accordion or Ziggurat masks.   If you have a taller nose, these two styles will also be best for you, since they’re compatible with a wire nose-piece to force the fabric to mold properly around the sharper angles.  If you need a bit more guidance on figuring out the best mask type for you, you can look here (the page has been freshly updated).

For the rest of us, the new mask is a winner!  I already made myself a few of these, and have given them a literal-ish workout (wearing them for a proper HIIT session).  They were not comfortable as such after a maxed-out sprint, but I didn’t choke on fabric either, even while gasping for great gulps of air.  I’ll call that good enough for me, and a point for the Anteater mask.

A Mask for All Seasons

(Or, introducing the most breathable mask style ever.  Especially for this heat.)

By Kitty

As I sit here writing this, the thermometer says it’s 38 Celsius outside.  That’s over 100 Fahrenheit if you only speak American; it’s just plain mythical if you live in England, as I did once upon a time.  And they told me Canada was cold….

Of course, I’m trying very hard to avoid going outside, because fainting from heatstroke often offends.  But tomorrow, we’ll run out of milk, and I’ve promised to bring the neighbours some of our exploding zucchini crop, meaning I will have to don a face mask sooner rather than later.  Zucchini waits for no one!

Impatient Zucchini

To Mask or Not to Mask

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve now firmly come over to the Mask Side of the Force (if you want to know why, I explain my reasons here).   Sweet are the uses of a well-fitting, properly-worn face mask, as Shakespeare almost said.  But it is getting harder to appreciate its charms as the midsummer heat bakes us all into a sticky, jammy mess.

Look, we all know that it’s a myth that a fabric face mask can significantly increase CO2 inhalation or prevent you from exhaling toxins or any of that rubbish (at least I hope we all know that, because science).  Still, when your face goes all squelchy and your mask sticks to you like clammy clingfilm, it can FEEL as though you can’t breathe, which is almost as bad.

Well, some people solve their problems with drink, and others with a chainsaw.  Your old Aunt Kitty solves all hers with sewing, and only occasionally tiramisu.  So I turned to a little experimental mask-redesigning, and here’s what I came up with:

Problem Solved

It looks simple enough, doesn’t it?  But those looks deceive!  You wouldn’t believe the sheer amount of pattern-making gymnastics I had to go through to reach this end result.

First, note that this style of face mask has a distinctly 3D profile, even just lying there on a flat surface.  Not to bore you with too many details, but that dimensional volume is achieved through a plenitude of darts, tucks, pleats, and weird seaming.  The ziggurat-like sides might look funky on the table, but through some stitch sorcery, they make a nice gap-free fit once the mask is actually on you. 

Hmm.  I think a name just suggested itself.  Dear Kittens, meet my shiny new invention, the Ziggurat mask!  Tantara-ra.

But I digress.  Getting back to the mask and the way it fits:  it feels like it’s making serious contact with the face ONLY at the outside edges of the mask, NOT in the middle bit.  In these photos, you can see how the centre of the whole structure stays up and off the mid-face:

In short, when you wear it, there’s plenty of clear space between it and your nostrils and mouth.  All that soft-sculpting and engineering have created a dome-like structure which keeps the fabric partially lifted up and away from your airways and skin, where it really counts.  It makes the mask feel less hot and sweaty to wear, and infinitely easier to breathe through.  

Comfortable in Hot Weather

It’s so much more comfortable in the summer heat than the standard mask designs we’ve tried.  Both Felix and Kitty liked this new style more than the our previous favourites, which was a surprise to us.  Before this, Felix had strongly preferred the Accordion style mask, which Kitty couldn’t stand, while Kitty had liked the contoured style, which Felix equally loathed. 

Since we have face shapes that are pretty much polar opposites of each other, it’s to be expected that we would prefer different mask styles (see here and here for a discussion of mask styles for assorted face shapes and sizes).  I have no idea why we both love this new one, but it really does seem to fit each of us reasonably well.  Here are some photos of Felix and Kitty in masks made from exactly the same pattern:

Maybe it’s because the whole point of the newly-named Ziggurat mask is that it DOESN’T closely follow the contours of your face, but rather keeps the #$%& off your hot sticky icky skin.  I mean, while we have wildly different facial features, but in the (relatively for a mask) vast airy space under that 3D dome, we might be harbouring anything and you wouldn’t know it.  Pointy or snub noses, flat or round cheeks, pouty or recessed mouth, it really doesn’t matter much in a mask that’s designed expressly to rise (literally, tee hee) above all that.

The top line is curved to give good coverage over the nose bridge without getting in the way of your eyes, and the pleats, which only go over the bottom part of the mask, will open up as needed to accommodate different chins and face lengths.  Or a beard, if you have one.

Oh, and if you wear glasses (or sunglasses, which means pretty much everyone in the glaring summer sun), I find the Ziggurat mask is MUCH less liable to fog up your lenses than the other styles.  Partly it’s because the fit over the nose is contoured and darted within an inch of its life.  But I think it’s mainly because your exhaled breath takes the path of least resistance, which in this case is the big empty place over your airways and not up and over the top edge. 

When Summer is Gone?

Will we go back to my previously beloved mask styles when the weathers cools off?  Kitty probably will, at least when I feel like pretending to be somewhat fashionable.  The sleek face-skimming line of the “Put on a Good Face” mask is definitely more appealing (to me, anyway) than the slightly Plague Doctor aesthetic of the Ziggurat mask.  However, when it’s time for our winter hikes and comfort counts for more than style, I think I’ll make myself a few Ziggurats in cozy flannel or polar fleece.

On the other hand, Felix is never going back, being completely won over by the improved breathability of the new style over the Accordion mask.  Let’s face it, no one really wears an Accordion mask for its looks anyway (my bias may be showing here), just its practicality.  Whereas the Ziggurat mask has a certain Darth Vader-ish vibe, especially done in straight black, which is kind of fabulous if you can pull it off.  Felix, being a six-foot-tall man with a Roman nose and sculpted bone structure, can totally manage it.  Kitty, being round-faced and pug-nosed with apple cheeks, will not even try.

In Conclusion

The new Ziggurat mask will land on our website ( very shortly after this goes to print.  If you have any questions or special requests in the meantime, you can always email us.

Self-Improvement Through My Wardrobe

Or… Is it weird that a piece of clothing changed my life?

By Kitty

I don’t mean “changed my life” like getting a degree or moving continents changed my life.  More like “made my daily life a heck of a lot easier than I imagined a mere item of clothing ever could.”

If you read my last entry, you might remember I was trying to come up with an apron/dress/carry-all-type-thing I could wear both for mess protection and to look halfway decent if I should be seen in public.

So Practical

Since then, I’ve made myself a few more of them (four in one week!), because I love, LOVE,  LOOOOOVE these things.  I have been wearing them every every hour of every day, except to sleep.  I really do pull them on the moment I roll out of bed in the morning, and I don’t know how I ever got by without them.

If that seems like a somewhat excessive reaction to a piece of glorified workwear, it probably is. 

But for some context: with the pandemic keeping me home (even more than normally for a recluse like me, I mean), we at the Felix and Kitty homestead have been doing a lot of what can only be described as “puttering.”  On any given day, I’m hauling produce, reorganizing literal tons of fabric rolls, fermenting assorted drinkies, sewing face masks for the homeless shelter, weeding, pruning, planting, making jerky and freeze-drying everything from the garden against the day civilization comes to a screeching halt. 

All this has taught me something important about myself which I have always suspected:  I have the attention span of a kitten with ADHD.  I need some outside assistance to keep me on track to make sure that half of the eighteen or so things I’m juggling do not come crashing down around my ears.  Weirdly, it turns out that my new design was exactly what I needed.

Introducing Hana

To be more specific, the Hana cross-back apron dress.  I have no idea what else to call it, because it doesn’t fall neatly into any category of clothing.

This thing is just too good to keep to myself!  I fast-tracked it through pattern-making, size-grading and all that jazz so everybody else could try it as soon as possible,

In addition to being very, very practical, with super-deep, wide pockets that will absorb everything you can throw at them, the Hana is pretty darn cute.  Throwing one over a simple T-shirt and leggings or jeans makes it look like I actually made some kind of effort, and even an actual fashion statement when I pair it with a matching face mask (which I’m now doing every time I go out in public, for reasons I explained here).

In actuality, I’ll probably have been using it as a kitchen cover-up, then dashed straight out for groceries without bothering to change.  I don’t even need to lug a purse, since I can keep all my essentials in those capacious pockets.

The Hana apron dress has an open, lapped back that makes it both super-comfortable and a breeze to fit.  The overlap is generous enough to give you the coverage of a dress.  The crossed straps never slide off the shoulders, even very narrow or sloping shoulders.  The weight of your pocket contents are distributed nicely, so there’s no dig-in anywhere!

This is what it looked like on my trusty mannequin Amelia with a cotton peasant top underneath, and the pockets filled with “only” keys, wallet, phone, an extra face mask, some sunscreen, a couple of tea towels, some sunglasses, a packet of tissues, and a few other small sundries.  This would be a lovely hostess outfit for a summer barbecue, maybe with a casual skirt or skinny jeans.

A note: we actually had to add extra stuff in the pockets so some items would show up in the photo, because everything kept being swallowed up in their depths.  Hence the tea towels, which were used to fill up some of the volume.

Pockets Have Superpowers

Yes, they do.  Bigger pockets have more superpowers, within reason. 

For example, pockets can magically make more time exist, at least if you’re a scatter-brained flibbertigibbet like me, because you are not running back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth) between the edge of a quarter-acre garden and the house at the top of the hill.  I swear I’ve had at least two extra hours a day by loading up everything I could possibly need in one go before I set foot outside.

I’ve stuffed those pockets with ALL of the following at once: pens and plant labels, a trowel, six packets of seeds, a wad of tissues, a roll of paper towel, scissors, a knife, a pair of gloves, a roll of garden wire, wire cutters, my sunglasses case, keys, a notebook, and (I kid thee not) a full-size wine bottle, just to see if I could.

I did not get a photo of all that because Felix was in his shop building giant wood compost bins, and one doesn’t lightly interrupt a man who is tearing into a hunk of wood with power tools.  But here’s Amelia with that bottle and a dozen or so other things in-pocket, most of which you can’t actually see:

The Pockets Hold More Than You Think

Pockets Fix Brainlessness

I also found a cure for my distractability (is that a word?) in the giant pockets of my Hana apron dress. 

For example, I no longer burn our weekly bread, because I can take my trusty (but bulky) kitchen timer with me into the garden, where I usually get lost somewhere between the pea picking and the squash pruning.  I no longer burn myself because my pocket beeps an alarm at me to reapply my sunscreen every two hours. 

I don’t stare blankly into space because I forgot what was next on the to-do list, because I now keep a notebook and pencil in my pocket at all times.  If I think of something that needs to get added to the shopping list, I can do it on the spot.

On the subject of brain maintenance, I’m returning myself to semi-fluency in Spanish and Korean by listening to lectures on my iPad while weeding the lawn (yes, the iPad fits into my Hana’s pockets).  Who knew pockets could lead to multilingualism?

Aprons Are a Safety Feature (in the kitchen, and in the pandemic)

I really do use my Hana as a kitchen apron.  I never realized before just how much safer this makes me when I’m cooking, since I’ve never been able to tolerate the usual halter-style aprons that hang from behind your neck; I’d rather risk hot spatters than the tension headaches they gave me.

Now that I’m living in my apron dress, I don’t end up with mini burn spots on my cleavage.  Or glue or chemical solvents, for that matter, when I’m in the workshop. 

It’s also led to a strange safety feature that’s unique to the time of COVID-19.  After being out in public, the contents of your purse, if you carry one, are inevitably contaminated, mainly by your own hands after you touch the world.  Your wallet, your keys, the plastic packet that encloses your tissues, your used face mask — all of these things are potentially carrying pathogens. 

Luckily, they’re fairly easy to sanitize, but how many of us launder our purses after each outing?  In theory, don’t the outside AND inside of our bags constitute contaminated surfaces too?

I never liked carrying a purse anyway, so now I just deal with it by carrying everything in my pockets and throwing the whole apron dress in the laundry when I come in from the outside.  It can’t hurt, and I don’t have to worry about it.

In Conclusion….

The Hana apron dress is now available.   Try one, and you may (like me) end up living in them forever. 

In the spirit of these strange times, we’re including a free matching face mask in the style of your choice for every Hana you order (and donating another mask to a shelter) until the last day of summer.  That’s September 22, I believe; someone correct me if I’m mistaken.

Until next time, stay safe, sane, and saucy, and wear your masks!