By Jordan Barajas
Tina Laudani remembers that she started to sew around age 10, learning from her mom. As she grew into adulthood, so did her love of sewing. Every Christmas she makes household items, like coffee cozies or tortilla warmers, for holiday boutiques. Her son and nephews usually wore homemade Halloween costumes when they were young.
Now, due to COVID-19, her hobby has meant more than ever.
Starting at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays, Laudani, 49, goes to her home office in San Ramon to do her work for PG&E. But when 4 p.m. comes, she moves into her craft room to begin sewing cloth masks for people who need them. Each mask is 100 percent cotton and double-layered, she said, following CDC guidelines.
Laudani keeps an Excel spreadsheet with the name of every person who has asked for masks, along with how many they requested. While her list now includes family and friends, it started with the Doctor’s Hospital of Manteca and the Valley Medical Center Foundation in San Jose. She reached out to workers at those hospitals to see if they needed masks. When they expressed interest, she sent samples. Once they approved, she gathered her materials.
Finding the fabric was easy. She already had tens of yards of it. She used elastic for the straps when possible, and when elastic “became harder to find than toilet paper,” she bought and made bias tape. As she ran out of regular thread, she tapped into her stash of embroidery thread. Utilizing her sewing and Cricut machines, she started mass producing masks.
After five or six hours she calls it a night, leaving her craft room as is, and goes to her bedroom. The next morning, the cycle continues. On weekends, she dedicates most of her day to making masks, usually from 8 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m.
This process, which started on March 20, has led to her donating 335 masks within two months. Of those, 60 went to Valley Medical, 22 to Doctor’s Hospital, 35 to Kaiser in Manteca, and 50 to Moffett Air National Guard Base in Mountain View, where her son David works.
Her creativity shines through when she makes special masks, incorporating images of cartoon characters such as Elmo or the Grinch and logos of Bay Area sports teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland A’s. Years of sewing prepared her for this moment, and she has committed to making masks “as long as people need them.”
Editor’s note: The writer is Tina Laudani’s nephew.