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How Long Should Ties Be On A Fabric Face Mask?

How Long Should Ties Be On A Fabric Face Mask?

One of the most common questions these days for people making medical fabric masks is: How long should the ties be on a fabric face mask?

The second question is: “What material should I use for fabric ties?”

And strangely, the answer is, “It depends.”

So I have provided some answers to both questions to help you determine your best approach.

There are a variety of mask patterns that people are using, because the recipients often have specific requirements or preferences.

So this post is breakdown of what I’ve seen and learned over time.

How Long Should Ties Be For A Face Mask?

When You Make A Fabric Face Mask With Vertical Ties

How long should face I make face mask ties?

For those of you sewing fabric masks with vertical ties, if you are attaching them permanently, the range has been between one continuous piece of fabric/tape/t-shirt that measure 36″ – 40″.

In the above face mask tutorial, I used 36″ long piece because that was a nice length for various head sizes, but I have seen some people going as high as 40″.

The breakdown of the 36 inches is this: you have 4 inches to cover the raw edge of the face mask’s sides and 16 inches for the top and bottom pieces that are used to tie it securely.

If you are going to use t-shirt ties either sewn onto the mask or threaded through a casing, some people have made each piece as short as 30 inches.

I still prefer to use a t-shirt ties strip that is 36-38″ long.

Since the ties are often threaded through the casing, you can use your first mask to determine the best length.

The more flexibility people have when securing the mask, the better so I tend to opt on the longer side since trimming the ties is easy to do.

Also, I cut the ties 1.5″ wide then puuullll so that the t-shirt material rolls (pictured in the next section).

When You Make A Fabric Face Mask With Horizontal Ties

If you are making a mask with ties that run horizontally, the most common number I’ve seen is 40″.

It is likely that people are using that extra length because the length of the mask is greater than the height.

So, the longer tape as part of the design is there to allow for long enough ties to secure the mask.

What Materials Are Best For Fabric Mask Ties?

The beauty of makers and crafty folks is that they are truly industrious, especially in times of crisis.

This trait is nowhere more apparent than in the groups helping to get face masks and other PPE to those in need.

When considering materials for making mask ties, the most important thing, I feel, is that they can stay secure once fashioned.

We don’t want the masks losing their seal regardless of design.

Some materials that people have used to make fabric mask ties are:

– Packaged 1/2″ bias tape

– Cotton fabric or sheets cut up to make their own 1/2″ tape (doesn’t have to be on the bias).

– Twill tape

– Grosgrain ribbon

– Cotton jersey knit (like a t-shirt, pictured below).

You can make t-shirt yarn and then cut to size.

Or you can immediately cut strips to the size you’ve determined is best for the design you’re sewing.

Ties On A Face Mask Are Just One Option

Face masks make a difference in a variety of settings so, just as there are a selection of mask designs, there are many materials that people can use to secure a mask.

Securing or threading ties is just one option and the other main option is elastic.

If you have any additional questions you’d like answered, please contact me and let me know.

If you’re wondering about how to do something, I know a lot of other people are hoping to find an answer as well. We are in this together.

Share The Goods

If you are an organization in need of handmade items – not just face masks – please feel free to contact me and let me know more about your needs.

There are a lot of people with home studios who want to contribute and are looking for a variety of ways to volunteer.

Share ideas for good deeds!

Polly Clements

Friday 24th of April 2020

I've been making a more fitted style mask for adults! I have one client continuously ordering for friends and family!! With these I am using cotton on outer and lining backing, but using a layer of felt as a filter layer. Felt is pressed not woven, yes it's warm, but I'm in Mississippi as are the people ordering these and I've not had any complaints on them being too hot to wear! Fortunately I was able to secure a 200yrd. Spool of 1/8 " braided elastic before the bottom fell out and still have some left. However I went out today and purchased some polyester/spandex material that I believe will be a good alternative to the elastic! Wish me luck!! I'll be putting my masks on my Etsy site this weekend to try to get some much needed income!

Joan Gray

Thursday 23rd of April 2020

I have been making my masks with cotton fabrics on the top and bottom layers and flannel in between, I have been wearing them like this and don't find them to hot, and easy to make, with elastic around ears. I do plan on making some to add a filter inside and using jersey ties to tie around your head, with cotton fabrics being the top and bottom layers! Joan

Nancy Paravechia

Wednesday 22nd of April 2020

Flannel fabric is not advised. The weave is too loose and does not offer the same protection as cotton fabric. I've been using batiks and nylon also for maximum protection. Make sure the users know how to wear the mask properly! Tight at the nose clip and pull the accordion folds down, over the chin and towards the throat. If they aren't wearing it correctly, you may as well not wear a mask at all!o

Patti Wright

Friday 24th of April 2020

The nylon is good for filtration but not breathability.


Monday 20th of April 2020

What about using flannel for the masks especially for children's masks?


Tuesday 21st of April 2020

I’ve used flannel for some of the face masks, for the layer closest to the face. I thought it would be soft, but the thing is flannel makes the face masks pretty warm when the temperature is warm. Lately I’ve been trying not to use flannel for that reason.


Monday 20th of April 2020

Sheila, Thank you for the comment. It really is a personal preference as I've heard mixed reviews about the comfort of flannel. Some like the softness while others think it's too hot. With the Summer months fast approaching, my sense is that it wouldn't be very comfortable.

What I have been doing, instead, is using a nice, soft muslin as the inner layer. It's working well for adults and children. My current "go to" design for family and friends (not healthcare professionals) is using three layers this way people don't have to remember to put in a filter. The outside fabric is a fun design in a quilting cotton, middle layer is a tea towel (as the filter fabric), and inside fabric is muslin.

If you have any additional questions or would like to see any other information added to the site, please let me know. Kind regards, Dana

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