I wanted to make life easy by sharing the 5 best materials for face mask ties, since time is of the essence when it comes to making and donating fabric face masks.
As you may have seen in other posts, elastic was initially the most obvious way (and seemingly the easiest) to secure a mask.
People quickly learned, however, that elastic wasn’t kind to the ears when you have to wear a mask all day. This was especially true for healthcare and essentials worker but also impacted everyday folks in a public setting. Makers started 3D printing “ear savers” or fashioning headbands with buttons in order to take the load off people’s ears.
The solution? Using the other standard design and making a face mask that ties.
Making a mask with ties opened up a variety of options and allowed people to step away from purchasing what seemed to be a more expensive, dwindling elastic supply. Even better, ties were a way to make sure people’s ears wouldn’t hurt while wearing the mask.
(A side note: Many suppliers now have elastic back in stock if you still need some. I have been using mine to make scrub caps that fit a ponytail.
But back to the ties at hand…
As with any new approach, there were questions around the best materials and the best length for face mask ties. And, true to form, people now have their own “go to” tie material, but there are a handful that seem to be tried and true.
So to make it as straightforward as possible, I compiled what I feel are the 5 best materials to use for face mask ties.
What’s The Best Material For Face Mask Ties?
The top 5 materials for face mask ties (in no particular order) are:
- T-shirts strips (i.e., jersey knit)
- 100% cotton fabric
- Packaged bias tape
- Grosgrain ribbon
- Twill tape
To decide which options will be best for you, I have detailed some of the merits and challenges of each material below.
Face Mask Ties: T-shirt Strips
Cutting up t-shirts for ties is a straightforward and easy solution. I consider this option one of the most eco-friendly since you are extending the life of the t-shirt material by upcycling it.
When selecting a t-shirt to use, 100% cotton is your best bet. You’ll also want one that doesn’t have side seams if you plan on making fabric yarn so that you can get a strong, continuous piece.
Mind you, making yarn isn’t a requirement if you’re in a rush. You’ll just need to find a t-shirt in a larger size (at a minimum an adult medium) to make sure you get enough length from each single strip you cut.
T-shirt ties afford some stretch when tying which means you don’t have to cut them as long. They cotton is also soft on the cheeks and scalp (depending on the design), making them more comfortable to wear.
Want more information on t-shirt yarn and how to use it for ties? Hop on over to my post “How Long Should Ties Be On A Face Mask?“.
Face Mask Ties: Cotton Fabric
Working with 100% cotton fabric means that you’ll be cutting and creating fabric tape to make into ties.
Using cotton fabric is a great way to reduce fabrics in your stash that had been relegated to the “meh” pile. This is also a great scrap buster if you have long pieces of fabric that are only a few inches wide that need to find a purpose. Simply cut to size, then fold into 1/2″ tape, and sew.
As people started to run low on the usual fabric by-the-yard, many of them turned to upcycling 100% cotton pillowcases and sheets to make face mask ties. So that’s always another option for ‘fabric’ if you find that you’re running low.
Pro tip: If you are in a rush or don’t feel cutting fabric for hours, you can snip the fabric at the right-sized intervals on the selvage (usually 1″) then rip it! Since you’ll be folding in the ripped edges when you make the tape, it doesn’t matter that the edges will be a little bit frayed.
Face Mask Ties: Packaged Bias Tape
Packaged bias tape is a great material for someone who is new to sewing, and to making masks, because it’s ready-to-use and comes in a variety of colors.
For face mask ties, you’ll want to purchase the double fold, extra wide which is 1/2″ wide and makes for easy mask finishing and tying. Each package should yield three 36″ strips to make into ties.
Packaged bias tape used to be very easy to purchase, but basic colors may now be a little more difficult to find because so many people are making fabric masks. The beauty of this bias tape is that if you start making scrub caps, you can also use it to bind the “standard” design.
Face Mask Ties: Grosgrain Ribbon
Grosgrain ribbon isn’t just for hair bows or gift packaging! You can also use it for face mask ties. This is also a ready-to-use option that only requires you cut it to size then sew.
You can sew grosgrain ribbon into the corners of the mask like you would elastic, or thread it through a channel on the side of a face mask. The ribbon can be a little temperamental, however.
Also, make sure when you’re sewing it in as part of the mask, that you leave more than a 1/4″ inside the mask so it doesn’t get ripped out of the seam.
Fun factoid: Grosgrain is actually a firm and tightly woven fabric.
Face Mask Ties: Twill Tape
Many people are touting twill tape because it provides a nice overall fit and secure tie for the mask. It’s softer to the touch than grosgrain and more supple. It is also easy to work with while sewing.
Sew twill tape into the corners of the mask or thread it through a casing.
All Tied Up In Knots
The ties may get twisted and knotted while while being washed and dried. So, I usually bind two of them together with slip knot. This approach especially important with t-shirt ties.
Share The Goods
What are your favorite mask-making materials? And which shops – local or online – have been your best source for purchasing them? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!