Pittsburgh Mask Maker Spotlight: SASHA | Coronavirus | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh Mask Maker Spotlight: SASHA

click to enlarge Pleated reversible face masks from SASHA - PHOTO: SARA MCCLELLAND
Photo: Sara McClelland
Pleated reversible face masks from SASHA
Since the beginning of the pandemic, designers, artists, and sewing hobbyists have taken to their sewing machines to fill the demand of masks for the public to wear. Pittsburgh City Paper is taking a look behind the scenes and highlighting local mask makers.

Name: Sara McClelland, Founder and Artist of SASHA
Neighborhood: Squirrel Hill

What led you to start making masks?
As a sewing hobbyist, stitching masks just felt instinctual back in March. I wanted to get as many face coverings in people’s hands as possible. Now, my goal is to normalize mask wearing.

Masks will be a product staple in the overall SASHA offering. Each season, we're planning to launch a new collection of masks, so stay tuned for fall.

What considerations did you make when designing and developing masks?
Creating a comfortable mask in under 15 minutes. The first mask I produced was based on a quick pattern, using non-woven neoprene, which was key in turning around the mass orders that occurred with the governor's first mandatory mask mandate in March.

What challenges have you encountered while mask making?
Creating a universal fit! I decided to switch to a pleated style in July to provide additional forgiveness, nose to chin, and provide more of a one-size-fits-most option.

SASHA is known for making fiber-based jewelry. How did your experience in designing elevated accessories translate to making masks?
Textiles are an integral part of the SASHA brand, so offering masks was a no-brainer. However, one challenge was how to take an essentially home-sewn product and make it unique. Color and texture are other key components of the brand and I feel the latest mask collection of colors and patterns fit right in with the evergreen fiber color palette we use for necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.

What fabrics do you use?
Originally, neoprene in order to sew a quick, but opaque mask. I decided to switch to cotton-based woven fabrics that are double-layered: 1.) for breathability and 2.) my two go-to local fabric shops (Firecracker Fabrics in Morningside and The Fabric Place in Mt. Lebanon) are offering some incredible fabrics for summertime. Sourcing materials from local and small businesses is an important part of our mission and I'm really pleased by how easy it's been to order from both businesses. Erin and Tami (the respective shop owners) are the best!

Where can people purchase your masks?
Masks can be purchased in our online shop. And through July 31st, any order $50 or greater qualifies for a free mask of your choice with code MASKUP. I also encourage organizations looking to place a bulk order to contact us!

A portion of all online sales are being donated to national organizations. And at the end of each month, we're matching total proceeds and making a second donation to local organizations. Our summer collections will benefit Color of Change, Black Lives Matter, ACLU, The Bukit Bail Fund, and BLACK OWNED PGH.

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