I have been sewing masks since the end of March. I made a tutorial showing how to sew face masks to help all of you who want to make your own. The pattern I am using is by Craft Passion – the sizes I chose to make are the Man (for all adults), 7-12-year-olds, and 3-6-year-olds. Use this comfortable face mask pattern and you will love it. Elastic has been my choice of tying material. However, today I will show you 4 easy ways to tie your face mask in case you can’t find elastic or would like to try something new.
[Edited: July 21, 2020].
With only two exceptions (the mask I use to go to the hairdresser, and a custom order for a lady who did not want anything over her hair, yet wanted the masks I was selling), all the masks I made have the elastic going around the head and not over the ears. This is, by far, the most comfortable mask, and those who purchased the masks from my Etsy store (PiecedBrain) have loved them and returned to buy more.
I chose this model because the ones with elastic behind the ears are a bit difficult to wear for many hours. I flew to California in March, and again this month, and wore a mask for many hours – I was glad the elastic was away from my ears. My husband wears it all the time, too.
Here are the 4 easy ways to tie your face mask: with elastic, with paracord, with a T-shirt yarn, or with a combination of elastic/headband.
Option 1: Elastic
I use both the 3/8″ and 1/4″ elastic for the masks, white or black. It depends on which one I have on hand. For masks with elastic over the ear, I highly recommend the 1/4″ elastic as the wider one will keep sliding off.
The elastic lasts through many washings. I wear a face mask once for the day’s errands, take it off by holding the elastic and not touching its front, and throw it in the washing machine. I do a load of color clothes every day so I can wash the mask (s). I have four masks and always keep one in my bag in case I decide to stop at a store on an unplanned errand. After washing and drying, the elastic is in perfect condition.
One note about the elastic: I was wondering how I could prevent it from twisting after the washing, and how to hide the ends I had stitched together. I solved both problems by sewing a few stitches on one of the casings. It secures the stitched ends inside that casing (no unsightly ends around the head…) and, although the elastic sometimes twists, it is easy to straighten it because one end is secure. Phew.
Option 2: T-shirt yarn
The short video above shows how to make T-shirt yarn. You can knit and crochet with it, but it is great when you cannot find elastic, or if you want a more casual look when wearing a face mask.
How to make T-shirt yarn:
Take an old T-shirt, a ruler, and a rotary cutter (scissors will work, too). Cut off at the armpits and begin cutting 1″ rounds (strips) from there. Cut each one to make a long strip and, beginning at one end, stretch the strip until it coils. It is super fast!
With the inside of the mask facing you, thread it through the right side casing using a safety pin. Then, thread it through the left side, adjust the length of the yarn, knot the ends, and you are ready to tie it behind your neck – the top part will go over your head.
Option 3: Paracord
Instead of threading the elastic or the T-shirt yarn through the mask casing, you will thread a length of Paracord (this is an affiliate link) which is then tied using a cord stopper. The paracord is sturdy, comes in many colors, and in two widths. The paracord width I suggest is 550.
When you cut the length you need (I think I used 42″), the ends of the paracord fray, making it difficult to insert it into the cord stopper. Also, the ends will be soft and bendy. To prevent fraying, you must melt its ends. This short video shows you how to prepare the ends of the paracord prior to inserting them into the cord stopper.
How to melt the ends of the paracord:
You will need a lighter. Hold the cut end of the Paracord in one hand, and the lighter on the other. Touch the flame to the Paracord until it begins to melt – a couple of seconds – then, quickly set the lighter on the table and twist the Paracord end between your thumb and index fingers. You may need to repeat this another time to ensure the end is melted and it is smooth.
As for the cord stopper, you need one that can accommodate both ends at once. Thus, the hole must be oval and not round.
Option 4: Combination elastic/headband
Out of the 4 easy ways to tie your face mask, this is the only one that applies to masks with elastic behind the ears. As I said before, if you have worn these masks for a long stretch of time, you know what a toll it takes on your ears.
You will need a store-bought headband, or you can crochet/knit your favorite one. Measure 4″ below the top of the headband and down both sides, and stitch a large-enough button on the left and on the right. The button needs to be large and well stitched down because the elastic, instead of going behind the ear, will go around the button.
This option works very well if you are comfortable wearing headbands. Match the color of the button to the headband and it will be inconspicuous. Here, I am showing a button of contrasting color to ensure you see its size and where it is located.
Whether you make a face mask that goes around your head or over your ears, choose the tie you like the most or vary them just for fun. Kids and teenagers may like the T-shirt yarn, too.
I hope this was helpful. Ask any questions on the comments below and I will get back to you very shortly. Until then, keep sewing!