In wake of the sudden coronavirus pandemic, necessary survival supplies are nearly impossible to come by. Hand sanitizer? A strikeout. Toilet paper? Don’t even think about it. And paper face masks? Those are climbing the ladder of value toward precious gems. Though you may still have to forage for garden leaves in the event TP never appears again, local sewing professionals are voraciously working to help the mask shortage. 

Several Portland designers are creating reusable face masks for sale, some even available in fun funky prints. And some predict wearing face masks will become a staple part of everyday life for a long time to come.  “The masks aren’t going to stop when the pandemic is over,” says Sara Donofrio, designer for One Imaginary Girl. “It’s going to become part of our culture. It’s the new iPhone case. This will be something that will become a constant stream of revenue for designers now that the world has totally changed. It’s helping to change the way we look at cleanliness, face masks, and disease.”

Portland designer, Sonia Kasparian of Urchin, has been sewing approximately 30 face masks per day with limited materials. Although many hospitals are facing a shortage of PPE, they are not accepting home-sewn face masks, she donates one face mask for every sold to places that do. 

“It’s a major challenge to make them the way I really feel they should be made,” says Kasparian. “When resources are scarce, we have to invent our own solutions. The nose bridges, for instance, I’m hand cutting out of galvanized sheet metal on hand and filing down.”

After usage of these reusable masks, it's important to properly care for them and wash them frequently according to the CDC. It is important to note the conservation of resources. Most designers are requesting shoppers only order one reusable mask per person. 

Plover Organic is selling civilian face masks on its website this week. For every mask purchased, one mask will be donated to essential workers. $17 with free shipping. 

Sonia Kasparian has several style savvy printed masks for sale, each of them sewn by hand and made-to-order. $38 per mask available through her instagram: @soniakasparian_urchin

Match your face masks with your One Imaginary Girl pajama sets. Each pattern is printed on silk with a comfortable cotton interior to go with their latest collection. Each mask is $20 available on their website. Due to high demand, all purchases have a two-week order time.

Local swimwear brand Mahina Luna is letting you customize your mask by choosing your fabric at order. All masks are $12 and made-to-order. 

Mahina Luna Custom Face Masks

Image: Mahina Luna

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