SAN FRANCISCO—According to a news release on June 1 from the San Francisco Classical Voice, the San Francisco Opera’s (SFO) costume shop has manufactured and delivered over 6,000 masks to healthcare workers and other personnel. After the onset of COVID-19 and the shortage of medical supplies, the opera’s production department came together to determine how they could help. Making and distributing masks was one of the ideas they came up with.

Each mask is three-ply, which means that it is made out of three layers. The outside layers are cotton and the inside is pellon. Pellon is used for interfacing, which means that it provides added strength or rigidity to fabrics that it is sewn to.

According to the press release, the SFO costume shop has used its own fabric stocks to make many of the masks. The amount of fabric and other supplies required to produce 1,000 masks in a week is “368 yards of fabric, 138 yards of the filter fabric, and 160 yards of wire.” They are made by individuals with sewing equipment at their homes. 

Masks have been distributed to various organizations including, “SF General, UCSF, SF Department of Health, SJFD Fire Stations 26 and 34, HealthRIGHT 360, Navajo Nation, and several senior facilities in the Bay Area.”

According to Matthew Shilvock, the SFO General Director, and Jai Alltizer, the costume shop manager, the masks are made using instructions from Make Me PPE. According to their website, Make Me PPE is a group of people, located in the bay area, who make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for “healthcare professionals, essential workers, and vulnerable community members.” There are a variety of ways to volunteer with them, sewing skills are not necessary. Visit their website for additional information. 

The San Francisco Opera continues to produce masks even though some of the costume shop employees have returned to their normal work. The company has been in business since 1923 and is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue. For information about the Opera and its programs, visit their website.