A young fashion designer is making handmade protective face masks to raise money to buy food for the Foodbank Lifeline Foundation that has been struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sarah Portelli, 22, is handcrafting the masks from carefully selected, secondhand patterned fabric and selling them for €5 each. She has raised over €400 so far.

As with all of my other sartorial creations I only use secondhand clothing and leftover fabrics that would otherwise be thrown away.

“A lot of people have already begun to lose their jobs as a result of the virus. €5 can buy 10 kilograms of pasta, 17 cans of polpa or 13 cans of chickpeas/lentils or beans,” she wrote in a Facebook post. 

Sarah, who graduated in History of Art and Fine Arts last year, decided to put her passion and skill for fashion design and knowledge of fabric to good use, after hearing that the Foodbank Lifeline Foundation has seen supplies dry up and desperately needed food for those who relied on them to eat. The foundation provides emergency food supplies to people facing a crisis situation.

She decided to create something useful – protective masks – that are also beautiful and environmentally friendly. 

“Disposable face masks generate an insane amount of waste which can be easily prevented by co-opting them for reusable options,” the young designer says. Her masks consist of a rectangle of tightly woven cloth that is folded in half and pleated on the sides. 

“As with all of my other sartorial creations I only use secondhand clothing and leftover fabrics that would otherwise be thrown away… These masks are as effective as the rectangular masks one can buy from a pharmacy. That is to say that they’re effective for regular people carrying out their day to day lives, like going to the grocer or commuting to and from work. These are not designed for healthcare workers who are potentially coming into contact with people who have the virus,” says Sarah. 

She only uses tightly woven fabrics and advises anyone who buys a mask to wash it before the first wear and after each and every wear.

People have placed orders of as many as 60 masks and some are donating more than €5 per mask, allowing Sarah to provide free masks to volunteers at the Malta Society for the Protection and Care of Animals, another charity facing the financial repercussions of this pandemic. 

Sarah is also currently finalising an online exhibition Paperbagprincess that will open tomorrow. 60% of money raised during this exhibition will be donated to charity while the remaining money will go towards her inaugural fashion show where she will launch a collection from her sustainable fashion brand Patchwork.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us