I’m a bit of a finicky sleeper. It has to be silent and it has to be dark. That doesn’t sound so out of the ordinary, until you realize that I’m talking Princess and the Pea territory. When Mr. Gren and I were newlyweds, he really had to sweet talk me into letting him run a fan in the room at night. Yes, a fan — which most people use to block out noise — was too noisy for me. But he accommodated me by putting up cardboard in the window because the smallest pinpoint of light also keeps me awake. Aren’t I fun? Eleven years into our marriage and I can sleep with the fan on and I’ve adapted to intrusive dots of light by sleeping with a pillow over my head (which helps with the noise, too). But that wasn’t going to work on my recent trip back East, flying red-eyes. I had ear plugs to help with the noise, but I was definitely going to need an eye mask to block out the light. There’s always That Guy who won’t turn out his reading light, no matter what hellish time of night it is. And even if I didn’t get seated next to him, there are plenty of other little lights in an airplane. And that’s just getting there! There’s no telling what the hotel curtain situation is going to be!
Lucky for me, I knew where to find an eye mask pattern. A few years ago, my good friend sent me this book.
It’s full of lovely patterns, but I hadn’t used it up til now, although I do have a few other patterns mentally bookmarked. This time, I went straight for the eye mask, which had been on my to-do list for awhile. I liked her recommendation of using silk. That sounded nice and luxurious! Being short on time, I crossed my fingers and headed to Joann’s in the hopes of finding actual silk and not some synthetic imposter. They had a small selection of dupioni. Originally, I wanted a midnight blue, but settled for purple instead since the only blue they had was a bright royal blue and I just wasn’t feeling it. When I checked the end of the bolt for price and fabric content, I noticed this little line: “Fabric may crock; dry clean only.” I didn’t know what crock meant, but I do know that wet washing silk — dupioni in particular — can cause it to change texture. Maybe that is crocking? Tra la la. I bought my fabric and skipped out of the store. Or something.
When I got home, I figured I should be responsible and find out what it actually means for a fabric to crock. Guess what? It’s not about the texture. Crocking is when the dye rubs off the fabric, whether wet or dry, onto another surface — another fabric, a tabletop… skin. So imagine this with me: I wear a dark purple eye mask; the silk crocks; I deplane looking like I just got into a bar fight. That’s probably less than optimal. I was going to have to give this stuff a test run before I wasted my time sewing it up. So I rubbed it across my sewing machine. I rubbed it on fabric scraps. I rubbed it on my arms. Then I got it wet and did it all again.
Verdict: No crocking. Phew!
The eye mask pattern consists of the outer, pretty fabric and an inner mask filled with lavender oil-scented flax seed. I didn’t have any flax seed. I do, however, have lavender buds. A few years ago, my sister-in-law sent me a mug and a paper sack of lavender tea. I found it too perfumey to drink as tea, but hey, it was good lavender; there was no need to throw it out! And I’m glad that I’ve hung onto it all this time. I sewed up the little inner pouch and spooned in some lavender. Amount is determined at the crafter’s discretion. I probably went a little overboard because the mask is puffier than I would have preferred. Part of that is because all the lavender settles into the bottom of the mask. Well, of course it does (it’s not my first experience with gravity). What I should have done was quilted the lavender into the inner mask to help it stay more evenly distributed. I think, now that I’ve had the opportunity to sleep in it a few times, that it is annoying enough to merit me opening up the silk mask and fixing up the inner pouch to make it more comfortable.
This is not a challenging project as far as construction goes. What makes it special is the silk and the suggested appliques on the front. The author’s mask shows a little winter forest scene. That seemed a bit weird to me when summer had only just begun. I decided to make something a little more seasonally universal and went with a simple moon and stars theme. Whether it’s nighttime in July or nighttime in December, there will still be a moon and stars. For the appliques, I chose a shiny silver fabric from my scrap stash, which some of you may recognize as being the same as the wings on Granota’s fairy doll. I machine appliqued my moon and stars because: no patience. I had to fiddle with the tension on the machine quite a bit because the silk wanted to pucker underneath. When it was about as loose as it could go, everything worked better.
Of course, once I finished the mask, Granota came over to admire it and declared that she wanted one, too. That’s the way it goes around here. Labor over an Axl Rose afghan; the kids want one, too. Crochet a summer poncho; the kids want one, too. Sew up an eye mask; well, it’s just par for the course. I didn’t have time to make the kids’ eye masks before my trip so they had to wait until last week. I pulled out a few suitable fabric scraps (cottons for breathability) from my scrap bag and let her choose. She wanted it to be reversible, so I went ahead and chose two fabrics for Rana, too, since she wasn’t there at the time. I had the perfect fabric for Konik: a car print that I had used many moons ago for his little pillow and the curtains that used to hang in his bedroom once upon a time. He was thrilled to death! He was adamant, however, that he did not want his sleep mask to be lavender-scented. Boys. This time I quilted the lavender pouches like I should have done with mine. To make the masks child-sized, I measured the kids from temple to temple and came up with an average of 7 inches. Then I just scaled down the pattern piece until it fit (with extra for seam allowances).
I made all three masks knowing that Granota was likely the only one who would actually use it and that Rana and Konik merely liked the idea of a sleep mask. At the end of this week, we will be taking a road trip to visit my family in Colorado, so I suggested that even if they don’t like wearing the masks at night, it might help in the car if they want to rest. We’ll see. Granota does wear hers every night, though, which has helped her a lot since there is a skylight almost right over her bed. Even with curtains, it still gets pretty bright in the morning. I should have made these eye masks a year ago!