“Sewing Nana” Challenges

In the eyes of the world, and especially those of your children, if you can sew, you can sew ANYTHING! So asking for a set of baby earmuffs to muffle the sound in a small airplane is pretty much the same as asking for an embroidered tee shirt. I guess that’s how my darling son thought of it.

He and his wife were flying to their North Carolina log cabin in his Piper Comanche twin engine plane. Headsets are worn by the pilot and the passengers to drown out the very loud engine sounds as well as to allow conversation between passengers and pilot. Laurel was just 3 months old so the adult headsets would fit her about as well as Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat. And yet, it seemed  she should have something to muffle the noise.

No problem! Her Nana can sew! Knowing that I would want to protect Laurel’s hearing and keep her as comfortable as possible, my son asked me to whip up some soundproofing earmuffs for her.

Now that was a challenge, equal to the cataract Halloween costume my friend, an opthamologist’s wife, asked me to make for her. But that’s another story.

For the earmuffs, I began with iced tea jar lids. They were just about the right size and, when stuffed with some soundproofing material I was able to lay hands on, did significantly reduce the sound of my kitchen radio turned to highest volume. Now what?

Killington flannel, no longer available but one of my all-time favorite fabrics, is a heavy but very soft cotton fabric. I cut a circle large enough to cover the ice tea lids and embroidered an airplane in the center of each.  The plane tail numbers were included as a special touch.   It was sewn to a gingham circle and turned like a pillow, with the soundproofing material trapped inside.   1/4″ elastic was threaded through a gingham casing that ran from earmuff to earmuff, made adjustable by tying a ribbon around the excess, like little BamBam Flintstone’s hair style. Gingham ties under the chin held the earmuffs in place. Laurel was ready to board the plane!

When she was born, my son was working as a certified flight instructor, teaching both fixed wing (that’s an airplane, I learned) and rotary something (that’s a helicopter), as well as doing charter flights. He wanted to show off his newborn daughter to his friends at the FBO (Flight Based Operations, which is not the airport but usually located at the airport). I thought she should be appropriately dressed, so this is what she wore.

Ryan was so pleased–not surprised, but lovingly appreciative that I had come through for him with the earmuffs and onesie. After a few moments of being admired, or at least acknowledged, by the other pilots, Laurel seemed completely unimpressed. In fact, she seemed disappointed in their lack of admiration. She’s all girl, from day 1.

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