Elastic and Tie Solutions for your Fabric Face Masks
If your fabric face mask pattern doesn’t have an elastic or tie option that works for you – or you can’t find the right kind of elastic, don’t worry. As you can tell from the myriad of patterns and tutorials available, you can use the supplies you have on hand to make something that works for you.
Ready Made Adjustable Ties
We have even more ear loop choices since I first wrote this post, including ready-made adjustable elastic pieces. I recently drafted new mask pattern that uses comfortable adjustable ear loops. See my new free pattern here!
Elastic Hair Ties
The Olson Mask Pattern uses elastic hair ties that are sewn in at the same time that you make the casings.
This option is great for medium sized users who will not wear the mask all of the time.
I only wear my mask when leaving the house to go to the grocery store (or take my kids to the eye doctor – don’t ask!). The hair elastics create the perfect fit on me (a 5’4’’ tall woman) and since I don’t wear the mask all day long, the elastics do not start to bother the skin behind my ears.
You can also use a single piece of elastic, elastic cording, or fold over elastic, a fabric tie, or a piece of ribbon.
How to use one piece of elastic
If you would like to use a length of elastic instead:
1. Cut a 25’’ (for an average sized person) piece of elastic.
2. Use a bodkin or safety pin to run the elastic through both casings on the mask.
3. Tie the elastic loosely. The user can adjust the fit of the elastic by tying and re-tying it to fit.
The user would slip the mask over their head,
and then move the upper elastic to the back and top of the head to find the best fit.
Tie the elastic more tightly as needed.
In the photos above I used 5/8’’ fold over elastic (FOE) because that is my family’s preference. It is soft and flexible and still available in lots of stores!
Regular woven elastic and elastic cording would be cut to the same length and inserted the same way.
How to Sew a 1/4’’ Fabric Tie
You will need:
a strip of fabric 1’’ x 44’’ long (1’’ x the width of the fabric)
a 1/2’’ bias tape tool (optional but helpful)
1. Use a pin to help you feed the strip of fabric through the large end of the bias tape tool so that when it comes out the small end, the sides are folded to the center.
2. Move the strip through the tool, pressing it as it comes out to set the folds.
Tip: If you don’t have a bias tape tool, you can fold the strip in half lengthwise and press. Open it and carefully press the long edges to the center one at a time.
3. Fold the strip in half again so it is approximately 1/4’’ wide and press.
4. Sew down the length of the tie to secure it.
Tip: If possible (depending on your sewing machine), move your needle all the way to one side so that the tie is over one of the feed dogs. This will help it move smoothly through the machine.
Using a bodkin or safety pin, thread the tie downward through the first casing and then upward through the second casing.
The user will put the loop over their head
and then tie the ties near the back and top of the head, adjusting them to fit.
If you have ribbon that you’d like to use, cut a 44’’ (or as needed) piece and thread it through the face mask’s casings the same was as a fabric tie.
Tee Shirt Ties
UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, lots of you commented to let me know about easy to make and comfortable ties cut from a tee shirt. No sewing needed. All you need to do is cut a 3/4’’ to 1’’ strip from the body of a t-shirt, and cut the loop open to make an easy tie.
This YouTube video shows how, starting at about 4:42 in the video.
I hope that one of these options will work for you!
Here are some other posts you may find helpful:
I found actual face mask material you can buy and reviewed it here.
Thank you for all your help sewing masks to keep our communities safe!
Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂
Another great and very easy option for ties is to use knit fabric. Cut the fabric 1 inch wide then stetch and it will form a cord. Old t-shirts work well for this.
Diane – I have a large piece of polyester fabric handed down by my mother who used to make all her clothes and loved polyester dresses. Would I be able to make a stretchy strap to use? I am trying to find a solution that would let me make two stretchy fasteners that go around the head, one from the bottom of the mask and one from the top part. I wear a hearing aid, and the ear loos do not work at all because they pull the hearing aids right out of my ears, and ties tend to slip down the back of my head. Any help would be very much appreciated! Thank you!
I have a ton of old tights/panty hose. I cut the legs into quartered strips and these work great – soft, stretchy, strong.
Has anyone made a style of ties where there are two instead of one– one will go through each side of the mask, and it will have two ties (one at the back of the neck, and one at the back of the head)? How long might I make each of those, to allow for both ties?
The style shown (with one continuous piece that makes a loop at the back of the neck) looks easiest to use, but not necessarily the easiest to remove, especially for people who may be worried about removing the mask carefully in case the outside is contaminated; it would require more handling (to pull the bottom loop long enough to get back over the head, and over any hair it might fall under, like I would need to poke a long braid through) than just grabbing the end of a tie and pulling it and the mask falls away. (Also, I’m wondering if two ties might make the fit more customizable for someone with a head that is awkwardly shaped or sized.)
Actually, I thought that too until I tried it.
It is actually very easy to remove:
Untie upper cords (I simply take the tied loop off towards the front),
grab mask near ears on both sides (slip your fingers in if you don’t want to touch the outside) and push it away from your face – the ties will slide through on both sides so there is a big loop at the bottom that you can easily slip through to take the mask off.
While you hold it anyway, fold mask inside out and put in your storage/transport bag.
If I’m using just elastic to loop over the ears instead of the pony tail holders, how long should I cut my elastic to make loops? Thanks in advance.
About 12” worked for me, but it really depends on the person wearing it.
You are the best! I’ve been searching the internet the last 30 minutes looking for an elastic solution! THANK YOU!!!!!!!
for an unusual solution – for those of us using a CPAP machine, the strap for the back of the head may be adaptable to use as a fastener for a mask – when making the maskadd a loop of fabric about the same size as the hair tie then attach the CPAP band to the fabric loop just as it attaches to the CPAP mask – it’s adjustable for size and washable and can be moved from one mask to another as necessary.
I used twill tape on many of my masks.
I love this site!!! I hav been sewing Olson Mask for the last week! "Speed Method" thank you so much!!! The directions and the video were so helpful. Everyone I have made them for loves them!!!
FYI 😀 next time you buy a roasted chicken , ( I get mine from Sams Club ) use the elastic they bake it in !
No kidding it’s GREAT !!!!! It doesn’t lose elasticity in the dryer , I mean it’s baked at 350 in the rotisserie. Just make sure you wash it first 😀
How long do you cut the single length of elastic for the child sized masks?
I cut them the same length but tie the knot loosely so the parents may adjust the fit if needed.
Rather than seeing the straps and feeding through the casings. I fold it over and stitch it down over the edge of the masks. I have found that this allows the mask a better fit along the side of the face and the mask doesn’t pucker. I like it better this way.