When Janie Ebert heard her nurse friends in West Hills hospitals had to share face masks, she decided to make masks for them. Using leftover fabric from when she used to sew in her spare time, Ebert has been making and donating face masks to healthcare workers.
“It started when one of my nurse friends said some of the nurses were given masks and some weren’t, and some nurses had to share masks, so that freaked me out,” Ebert said.
As soon as her neighbors heard she was making face masks, they asked for her help.
“Another healthcare worker that lives next door to me said he needed some for his nurse friends, and so we made some for them and then it kind of snowballed out of control,” Ebert said.
Surgical masks are primarily used to protect patients and healthcare workers. Individuals nationwide are repurposing, selling and donating reusable face masks to provide to their communities and essential workers, often using social media to connect.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that medical-grade masks such as N95s should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders, city officials continue to stress the importance of wearing any sort of face covering in public settings, such as grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies, to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Household items such as bandanas, quilting fabric and cotton fabric are currently being used as an alternative.
Ebert’s masks are made of layered cotton fabric, making them breathable.
“On the inside there are four pieces (of fabric) and there’s a pocket on the inside,” Ebert said. “That way you can put a filter or mask inside that mask, and having that extra fabric will let you reuse that mask.”
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, N95 and surgical masks are used to prevent contamination of the face with airborne particles and liquids.
Ebert’s husband had the idea to insert hypoallergenic filters for an added layer of protection.
“It’s a very heavy duty filter and we cut that and put it in the layers and stuck it inside,” Ebert said. “The mask will also have the fabric plus the filters.”
Creatives and clothing designers are sharing their handmade contributions on social media platforms, like Instagram, to ensure the public has access to face masks.
Resident Aileen Reveles started sewing face masks for her coworkers — park service traffic control at Griffith Park.
Reveles started selling the reusable face masks through social media for $5 each, with an option of embroidering names on the masks for an extra $2. Reveles’ masks have two layers, one layer is the fabric, the second is the filter.
“Ever since I recorded myself doing the embroidery a couple of people saw me and said I should sell it,” Reveles said. “That’s how it all started.”
Hello, I am sure you are all aware that the mayor require us to cover our face for our safety. I know at some stores they don’t sell masks… . Lucky for you, I know how to make masks. If you would like to buy washable and reusable masks, please message or text Robert or me. (FRIENDS THAT ROBERT &\; I KNOW FROM SAN FERNANDO VALLEY ONLY). NO REFUND. $5 for each masks without wording. Mask with wording $7… . If you have some face masks at home, please be courteous and let me make masks for the ones in need… . I will be accepting CASH or VENMO… . Please message me for purchase by writing your name, the fabric #, the # of masks you would like and Payment option… . Ex. Aileen Reveles Fabric: 2 # of Masks: 1 Payment: Cash… . If you pick Venmo as your payment option, I will send you a separate email for the barcode… . If you pick Cash, pay me when you pick up and I will send you a message confirmation of payment to avoid fraud… . If you have any questions, feel free to ask me…
A post shared by Aileen Reveles (@aileenr0909) on Apr 10, 2020 at 7:01pm PDT
Reveles emphasized the importance of wearing a mask in public, as she recalled a recent experience at work where a woman standing next to her wearing a mask pulled the mask down to cough, then put it back on.
“Instead of covering herself, she pulled down the mask to cough,” Reveles said. “I have a kid so I don’t want her to get sick.”
Children’s clothing designer Bridget Goldman, @shopmalibumermaid on Instagram, has shifted her focus from clothing to sewing and donating reusable face masks to officers on duty.
Goldman said she would notice police officers on duty without masks. She decided to call some officers she knows to ask if she could provide them with masks.
“They were really happy that people were thinking of them, and that they needed some, even those working inside with each other, like the secretaries and workers behind the scenes that you don’t see,” Goldman said. “So I started donating a couple hundred of black and blue (fabric face masks).”
Goldman said she has tried to donate to hospitals as well, however she said they’re unable to use her fabric masks to deal with serious COVID-19 patients.
According to the CDC, 2-year-olds and those who have difficulties with breathing are advised not to wear cloth face masks. To maintain sanitization, face masks must be washed depending on how frequently it is being used.
People who are not used to wearing face masks are learning how difficult it is to breathe through them, even for a few hours. Goldman said she remembers how nail technicians wore them everyday to protect them from the nail powder.
“Now we kind of get a better understanding of how (nail technicians) feel,” Goldman said.
Goldman said she has enough supplies to make the masks, but she has also been incorporating hair ties and velcro as an alternative to elastic.
Now that she has more spare time, Goldman has also been able to finish projects that she was unable to finish before the pandemic.
“These are the times to be creative,” Goldman said.
Pasadena City College instructor and owner of Selvedge Goods, Monique Cruz, is currently donating a mask with every purchase to hospitals, nursing homes and first responders. Her business sells hand-made fabric products.
Cruz’s machine-washable masks are created with two layers of woven 100% cotton print fabric and one layer of flannel fabric in between.
From cactus patterns to animal print, and her most popular sarape print, Cruz has designs for adults and kids. More information on Selvedge Goods and their masks can be found on selvedgedrygoods.com
Local business In Style Boutique in Sherman Oaks has donated 2,000 face masks to local hospitals and healthcare workers by sharing and connecting with customers on social media.
Now that the safer-at-home order has been extended through May 15, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that protective gear is mandatory while in public. Businesses, such as Costco Wholesale in Northridge and Woodland Hills, are enforcing this order and are denying service to customers without face coverings.
Editor’s Note April 17: Occupation of a source changed based on information brought to The Sundial’s attention.