Adding a flexible wire to the nose area of a fabric face mask can help you make a better fitting mask. In this article, I’ll teach you how to add nose wire to any face mask sewing pattern. And, I’ll show you how to add a nose wire pocket to existing pre-made or purchased face masks.
Make Better Fitting Face Masks with Nose Wire
In order to be effective, face masks need to fit well and be comfortable. A nose wire also helps a mask stay in place better, and keep the mask from sliding down your face.
A nose wire can help the edges of a mask fit closer to the natural contours of your face. And, people who wear glasses will appreciate that a nose wire helps keep your lenses from fogging up.
What Type of Wire to Use
The material you choose for nose wires should be both flexible and durable. Remember that face masks need to be washed and sanitized, so choose a material that can withstand high heat, soap, and water.
Here are a few types of materials that you can use to make a nose wire for face masks.
- Pipe Cleaners, also called chenille stems
- Jewelry Wire
- Nose Bridge Strips made specifically for masks (check Amazon for these.)
I have also seen people use folded aluminum foil and grocery store twist ties.
How Long Should the Wire Be
Adult nose bridge wires should be about 3.5″ long. Child size nose wires can be smaller, about 3″ for most kids.
If you are buying ready-made nose bridge strips, they will likely already be this size.
How to Fold Nose Wires
If you are cutting nose wires from floral or jewlery wire, start with a piece of wire that is 4″ long.
Using needlenose pliers, fold each of the sharp ends in about 1/4″ toward the middle.
Twist the ends to secure them. That way, you won’t accidentally poke yourself with sharp wire when you wear the mask.
After you fold over the sharp edges of the wire, the finished nose piece will measure about 3.5″
For kid-size masks, start with a piece of wire 3.5″ long, so the folded piece will be 3″.
Instructions to Add Wires
Some people will want to add nose wires to face mask patterns as they sew them. Other people will want to add nose wire to existing masks that they have purchased pre-made. In either case, I want to provide all the information you’ll need to add wires to your face masks.
Add Nose Wire As You Sew
If you are sewing a fabric face mask pattern, you will be able to add a nose wire at some point during the sewing process.
In most pleated mask patterns, there will be a step in the pattern when sew the front and back panels together (right sides facing) and then turn the mask right-side out.
After you turn the mask right-side out, you will be able to amend the pattern to add a to nose wire casing. In short, you’ll be sewing a rectangular channel at the top of the mask in which to insert the nose wire.
Here’s how to do it:
- Use pins to measure a 4″ space at the center of your mask.
- Starting at the first pin, sew 1/2″ vertically down the mask. Turn the mask 90* and sew 4″ along the length of the mask, or until the needle reaches the second pin.
- Insert the wire into the channel you’ve just created. Turn the mask 90* again, and sew up the last 1/2″ to close the channel. Be sure to keep the wire out of the way of your needle so you don’t accidentally break your needle.
(In my face mask pattern, you can add a nose wire after Step 3.)
Adding Wire to a Premade Mask
You can also add wire to an existing mask – whether that’s a homemade mask you’ve made or a pre-made mask you’ve purchased.
To do this, you’ll sew on a small piece of additional fabric to create a channel for the nose wire.
You can use a small piece of pre-made bias tape or a fold a small rectangle of quilting cotton.
- 4-inch piece of wire, ends folded in toward the middle
- 5-inch piece of bias binding OR
- 5-inch by 2-inch piece of fabric, quilting cotton preferred
- sewing machine and thread
Here’s how to make it.
Step 1: Fold the long edges of the fabric rectangle to meet in the middle.
Step 2: Fold one short edge over 1/4″, twice, to encase the raw edges. Stitch down.
Step 3: Fold in the other short edge. Then, fold the rectangle in half. Press. Place the rectangle onto the top inside edge of the mask. Line up the open sides with the top edge of the mask. (The folded edge faces down.) Pin in place.
Step 4: Sew along the three sides, leaving the one finished short edge open. In other words, sew along the top edge, the one unfinished short edge, and the bottom edge.
Now you have a pocket in which you can insert nose wires.
How to Add a Pocket for Removable Nose Wires
Some people want to be able to remove the nose wires from their masks before they wash them. In this case, follow the instructions as written above.
This pattern creates a three-side sleeve – in which you can insert and remove the wire.
How to Add a Pocket for a Permanent Nose Wire
The process is very similar to the tutorial above. In this case, you would make just a few changes.
First, don’t go through the trouble of stitching the first short edge. Just fold it under and press with your iron.
Then, instead of sewing around 3 sides, you’ll sew around all sides. Remember to insert the nose wire before you sew the 4th side closed.
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- 5-inch piece of bias binding
- OR 5-inch by 2-inch piece of fabric, quilting cotton preferred
- jewelry wire or premade nose bridge strip
- needlenose pliers
- sewing machine
- If you are cutting nose wires from floral or jewelry wire: Start with a piece of wire that is 4″ long. Using needlenose pliers, fold each of the sharp ends in about 1/4″ toward the middle. Twist the ends to secure them.
- If you are using a piece of fabric: Fold the long edges of the fabric rectangle to meet in the middle. Fold one short edge over 1/4″, twice, to encase the raw edges. Stitch down. Fold in the other short edge. Then, fold the rectangle in half. Press.
- Place the rectangle onto the top inside edge of the mask. Line up the open sides with the top edge of the mask. (The folded edge faces down.) Pin in place. Sew along the three sides, leaving the one finished short edge open. In other words, sew along the top edge, the one unfinished short edge, and the bottom edge.
These are instructions for adding a pocket for a removable nose wire to premade fabric masks.
For additional instructions and variations, see the details in the post above.
Sarah Stearns is an artist, maker, and blogger at sarahmaker.com
Her work has been featured in Scientific American, Good Housekeeping, Vox, Apartment Therapy, and more.
Sarah lives and works in North Carolina with her husband and young kids.