Miramonte sophomore  crafts homemade masks 

Passion for sewing leads to service for community

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Miramonte sophomore Stella Symonds holds some of the colorful masks she makes.

Vibrantly colored rectangles of fabric lay in a neat pile alongside multiple white strips of elastic. The loud hum of a sewing machine is the only sound to be heard throughout the house. Loose pieces of thread litter the ground. Miramonte sophomore Stella Symonds sits at her desk, guiding the beginnings of a mask through her sewing machine. This blue flower print face covering will soon find a new home with either a health care worker, a resident of a homeless shelter, a friend, or it will get added to Symonds’ personal collection of masks. 

Symonds first started crafting masks in March 2020, right when the pandemic hit California hard. She was inspired to use her passion for sewing to make a difference in her community. 

At the turn of the new year, Symonds has made a total of 350 masks and has donated over 100 of them. She donates them to a variety of places such as Brookdale Hospice, the United Council for Human Services, and healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente. 

Symonds loves giving back to her community because it makes her happy knowing she is brightening someone’s day. “After donating once, I had received a really nice phone call from the administration at the homeless shelter and they were very grateful and appreciative of the donation,” Symonds said. 

“People contact me, usually through texting, about the number of masks they want and their preferences. After a week or so, they come and pick them up from me,” Symonds said. 

A single mask can take Symonds anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes long, including the time to measure and cut the material. “First I cut the fabric and elastic. Then I line up the elastic in between the fabric and sew it together. Next I turn the mask inside out, pin the pleats and lastly sew around the edge,” Symonds said. The elastic that fits around the ears is adjustable, allowing the masks to fit a wide range of people. 

In addition to getting supplies at JOANN Fabrics and Crafts and the Cotton Patch, Symonds receives large shipments of fabrics from her great aunt. Fortunately, Symonds doesn’t need to restock frequently, but will make a special trip to the store in case she runs out of her favorite fabrics. 

“My favorite pattern is dark blue with small light blue and white flowers. It’s the cutest,” Symonds said.

Most of Symonds’ free time is taken up by sewing masks. “I spend a lot of time making masks when I plan to donate another bunch of them. Thanksgiving break and winter break were busy times for me. Apart from donating, I try to make some every other week whether it’s for me, friends, or family,” Symonds said. 

Symonds enjoys giving masks as thoughtful and practical gifts for birthdays or holidays. 

“Stella’s masks are handmade and feature really cool fabric patterns. I’m really proud of her for helping the community by donating masks, especially during this pandemic,” sophomore Jada Hembrador said.

The shinny, silver needle secures the layers of fabric with one neat stitch. Symonds removes colorful, metallic pins from the masks once the thread takes its place. She carefully cuts out more pieces of fabric, trimming the edges to keep them tidy. As the pile of finished masks grows on Symonds’ desk, the number of people touched by her selfless actions grows as well.