MASKED MARVELS---Folks having to venture out during the virus crisis can now do so in style. La Conner’s Laura Hill and her niece, Brandi Ray, have put in 12-hour days crafting over 100 stylish handmade facial masks made from quilting fabric. They are donating the masks to whoever needs them. They spent all weekend washing, pressing, and cutting fabric to make more, and on Monday received some elastic for ties. Their initial masks all sport cloth ties. – Photo courtesy of Laura Hill
Laura Hill fashions colorful quilts that have kept family and friends warm on many a winter’s night.
Now her latest project is one that is warming hearts in the La Conner area and beyond.
An avid sewer and crafter, Hill has literally taken the campaign to stem spread of the coronavirus into her own hands.
Using the quality cotton and flannel fabric that graces her quilts, Hill and two family members have sewn and donated masks that encourage social distancing, help wearers not touch their faces and minimize any airborne particles they might otherwise spread from a sneeze or cough.
Working from Laura’s and husband Lewis Hill’s Best Road home northeast of La Conner, the trio began by making nearly two dozen masks for an area nursing home.
Word of mouth – especially from those covered by the stylish masks – has led to more requests for the homemade face coverings.
“We’re donating our masks to anyone who needs them,” Hill told the Weekly News last week. “We’re trying to fill requests as they come in, with essential workers who are exposed to the public first, then everyone else.
“We’re trying to stay local,” she said, “but the need is large and wide. We have shipped to many states. We have donated to nursing homes, medical staff and their families, pharmacists, retail workers and many individual families.”
And they do so free of charge.
“We’re not charging for these masks,” said Hill, “but some people have wanted to help us keeping this going so we set up an account for small donations that will help us buy needles, thread, blades for our cutter and postage costs as well as fabrics that we may need to purchase.”
She felt called to do something to combat the spread of COVID-19 soon after its outbreak began making headlines.
“I was listening to the news and hearing the need for masks,” Hill said, “and began thinking that I could make some. I contacted a family member who works at the hospital and asked her to find out if they would use them if I made them.”
That outreach fell through, but Hill wasn’t deterred.
“I talked with another family member who knew someone who was collecting masks for a local nursing home,” she said. “I started making masks with the help of my niece, Brandi Ray, and great-niece, Lindsay Ray, who stepped up to help me make the 21 masks we donated to that group.”
Turns out, it was just a start.
“I felt so good,” Hill said, “to know that with this small contribution I was helping others. My niece and I then thought we could do more, so here we go.”
The masks are made on a sewing machine with the same material Hill uses for her quilts. Nikkie Ray, Hill’s sister, has made a large contribution of fabric that assures the project can go forward.
“We will continue to make masks as long as we have supplies and there is a need,” Hill said, noting that due to a national shortage of elastic the masks will sport cloth ties. Requests for masks can be made by calling Hill at 360-466-3298.
“If you’re a local,” she said, “a porch pickup is preferred or other arrangements can be made.”
Hill is quick to stress that the masks themselves won’t prevent penetration of the coronavirus.
“The major functions of these homemade masks,” she said, “is to remind the wearer to not touch his or her face, to remind people to stay away, and to minimize – but not eliminate – any airborne particles from a sneeze or cough by the wearer from traveling quite so far.”
Despite her extensive quilting and sewing background, Hill said she did her homework before coming up with what by all accounts is a classy product.
“I watched a lot of tutorials,” she told Jeanie Hertz of La Conner Hair Design, “and took the best tips from all to come up with what I feel is a good pattern.”