Are the elastic bands on your "one size fits most" mask too snug or too loose?
Has washing them over and over again affected how tightly your mask pulls on your ears?
Change the elastic to ties!
You can make the tie yourself if you have a shirt you can cut a strip from or an extra shoelace lying around. You'll want it to be at least 42 inches long.
These tie conversion kits are available on my store website (Made by Wade) if you aren't particularly in the mood to make the tie yourself. It comes with a 42" tie strap, made of 100% cotton, two safety pins in case you need them, and an easy-feeder tool.
No matter the style of mask you have, you can alleviate the strain on your ears by swapping the stretch cord or elastic with a tie.
Below are a few ideas as well as how to use this kit!
Generally, the masks I've seen come in two strap varieties: with feeder-tube pockets that an elastic or stretch cord is fed through and tied OR elastic / stretch cord that is sewn in. I'll go through both.
Mask 1: has a feeder tube and elastic or stretch cord is NOT sewn into the actual mask. Instead, it's fed through the feeder tube and tied or sewn to itself.
If your mask was made with feeders on either side where the elastic or stretch cord was fed through (and not sewn in), your conversion is going to be a bit easier.
The tie in the kits are only 1/4 inch (or 6 mm) wide so that it will slide into most feeder tubes. Even if it's a snug fit, the easy-feeder tool will help you finagle the tie through with a little careful tugging.
Step 1: Cut the ties off.
Tip! Before you pull the cut elastic or stretch cord out of your mask, be sure the easy-feeder tool will fit in the feeder tunnel. If it is too narrow, scroll down to the Mask 2 section, Number 2, where it mentions the easiest way. Instead of pulling the elastic out, tie them into loops so that it won't fall out and feed your tie through the loops. There's a picture at that step.
Step 2: Feed the tie through the easy-feeder tool.
The tail (how much you feed through) doesn't need to be very long. You want it short enough to not fall out while you're feeding it, but you don't want it so long that you're having to deal with the extra width while you're pulling it through.
My tail was less than an inch long. My finger is covering the very end of the tie.
Step 3: Carefully finagle the easy-feeder tool through to the other side of the tunnel.
The tip of the tool has been dulled so that it won't snag on the fabric, but depending on how your mask was crafted, it might find its way into a hem fold and seam rather than through to the other side. If you do, pull it back a little and try to squeeze the tunnel to widen it. If you need to, you can also open the tunnel by going in from the other side.
Tip! If your mask has a nose piece (or a definite top and bottom pattern), be sure you're feeding your tie from the top of your mask toward the bottom.
Step 4: Repeat on the other side.
Try to ensure your tie is lying flat when you feed it through the other side. This step should be completed at the bottom of your mask. This part of the tie will rest on the back of your neck.
If you fed step three from bottom to top instead of top to bottom, just pull the tie out of the easy-feeder tool and feed the other end of your tie through it instead.
Mask 2: Elastic or stretch cord is sewn into the mask itself.
There are a few ways you can alter your mask when it has no feeder tunnels.
1. If you're comfortable using a needle and thread or doing basic stitches on your sewing machine, you can simply cut off the elastic or stretch cord that is on your mask, fold over that side of your mask, and run a single seam 3/8" from the edge of your mask. Do that on both sides. That will create your feeder tunnels, and you can continue with the steps above!
2. You can use the elastic or stretch cord that is already there to hold the tie. You can do this a couple of ways.
The easiest way to manipulate the ear pieces is to cut your elastic or stretch cord in half, so that you have one piece of it hanging from each corner of your mask. Then tie each of them into a loop and feed your tie through both loops on each side. Be sure you feed them as before: from the top to the bottom on one side, then continue to the other side from bottom to top.
The other way is if you want to keep your elastic or stretch cord intact.
Lie your mask face down and put your tie underneath the elastic close to the edge of the mask. Pull the outermost point of the elastic underneath the tie (pictured) so that the elastic wraps around the tie.
Fold that outermost point of the elastic back out toward the tie (pictured). You want it to lie so that the outermost point is slightly inside the other loops you made.
Put a safety pin through each fold in the elastic.
You can then pull the tie out of one of the loops to be able to feed it through that center loop and back through the loop on the end (pictured below).
Repeat these steps for the other side. :)
3. The last option is to simply feed the tie through the elastic or stretch cord and tie it behind your head (pictured below). That way, the elastic doesn't pull on your ears and you don't need to doctor your mask at all. It will, however, leave you with a bit of a dangling tail.