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How To Make Fabric Face Masks Fit Better

We all know that face masks need to fit well and be comfortable in order for them to be the most effective. In this article learn how to adjust mask patterns and fix premade masks for the best fit.

two fabric face masks

All of us mask-makers want to sew the best-fitting mask pattern we can. And anyone who buys a mask wants to be able to wear it comfortably.

Of course, this is a difficult goal to achieve. Each person’s face is a different shape and size. A sewing pattern that works for one person may not work for another.

So, if you find yourself with a mask that doesn’t fit quite the way you want it to, you can make changes to it so that it fits better.

In this article, I’ll explain quick and easy ways you can adjust your mask to make the best-fitting and most comfortable mask.

Well Fitting, Comfortable Face Masks

Fabric face masks will be the most effective if they are worn properly.

  • Masks need to fit close to the face to ensure that any droplets do not travel.
  • Masks need to fit well and stay in place, so you aren’t tempted to adjust them with dirty hands.
  • Masks need to be comfortable and breathable, so you won’t be tempted to “forget” them.

Any mask you make should fit from the bridge of your nose to the underside of your chin. Ideally, the mask will be snug, but not so tight that it chafes your face.

pinning pleats on a fabric mask

How to Adjust your Mask Pattern

Many people have been sewing fabric masks at home. Here are some ways to adjust mask patterns for a custom fit.

Ear Loops

One of the easiest things you can change in a pattern in the length of the ear loops. If they are too tight, add length. If they are too loose, shorten them.

If you don’t like how the ear loops rub the back of your ears, they are easy to switch out for fabric ties.

Or, you can wear your mask with any one of these “ear saver” patterns. Ear savers, sometimes called mask extenders, hold the elastic ear loops behind your head, taking the pressure off the back of your ears.

My pleated face mask pattern includes options for elastic ear loops, as well as fabric ties that go behind the head.

three types of mask ear savers

Height and Width

If you can’t get the mask cover the entire area between the bridge of your nose and the underside of your chin, you may need to increase the height of the pattern pieces. For example, you can try adding an inch to the height of the main pattern pieces.

Likewise, if the body of the mask feels too narrow, you can try adding to the width of the main pattern pieces. If you do add width, you may need to compensate by decreases the length of the ear loops.

Gaps Around Nose

If your mask is loose around your nose, you might have problems with it sliding down your face or fogging up your glasses. In this case, you’ll want to find a mask pattern with a nose wire. The nose wire will help you mold the mask to the shape of your nose so that it fits better.

You can also add a nose wire to just about any pattern.

inserting a removable nose wire into a sleeve on a fabric face mask

Gaps Around Chin

If you mask feels too loose around the bottom of your chin, you can add a small v-shaped dart to the bottom edge of the pattern piece. Start with a small dart, and made adjustments as needed.

How to Make Your Premade Mask Fit Better

Here are some common ways to adjust your existing or purchased mask so that it fits better and is more comfortable to wear.

Ear Loops Are Too Small

If the ear loops are too tight, they will eventually make the backs of your ears quite sore.

One idea you can try is to tie an extra piece of elastic or string between the two ear loops of your mask. This additional string will loop around the back of your head, taking the pressure off the back of your ears.

Or, try wearing a mask with one of these mask extenders.

Ear Loops Are Too Big

If the ear loops are too big, the mask may get loose and fall away from your face.

Here’s a simple solution: Fold the earloop in half, and tie an overhand knot at the folded end. You can move the knot closer or farther away to adjust the length of the loops so that they fit perfectly around your ears.

Here’s another option: Loop both of the ear loops through a paperclip to attach them together. Wear the loops/paperclip around the back of your head.

three types of ear savers

Ears are Sore

If you have to wear a mask for many hours a day, the backs of your ears may become sore. If the ear loops don’t fit correctly, it can make the problem even worse.

The simplest solution is to make a mask with ties that go around the back of your head, instead of around your ears.

But, if you only have masks with ear loops, you can attach the loops to “Ear-Saver” headbands or crochet ear savers.

If The Mask Has Gaps

If your mask has gaps around the nose, or if you have problems with your glasses fogging up, consider adding a nose wire to the top of your mask.

Yes, you can even add a nose wire to existing premade masks, or masks you have purchased from the store.

To do this, you will need a little rectangle of fabric and a small section of flexible wire. Follow the instructions in this post: How to Add Nose Wire to Fabric Face Masks

adding a nose wire pocket to fabric face masks

What’s Next?

Pin this post: Save this tutorial to your Pinterest boards, so you can come back to it later.

Leave a comment: I love to hear your feedback. Tell me in the comments below!

Share on Instagram or Facebook: When you make this project, share it on social media and tag me @sarahmaker. I love to see what you make!

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as health or medical advice.

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DIANE R A

Thursday 1st of October 2020

I have made several fabric masks. My daughter says hers is too long between nose and chin. I can't find a way to shorten it half an inch. Thought of making a seam but where so its comfortable. Any Ideas.? Also saw on the internet to use a opened paper clip wrapped in masking tape` One side is longer so I bent the extra a bit to make the sides even and use extra as a 'handle' to remove from the mask.

treehugger

Sunday 18th of October 2020

@DIANE R A, same problem. I have around six pre-made fabric masks (distributed by my workplace) that all are of the same make and are so long that the top edge repeatedly gets into my eyes, actually scratching my lower eyelids. They have a nose wire but even that isn't enough to keep it in place. I don't have a sewing machine so am wondering if I should just cut off the bottom 2 or 3 cm and hand-stitch the edge.

Kathy

Sunday 6th of September 2020

I’ve used bread bag ties to fit the nose. They are durable and I just stitched a narrow pocket at the top before seeing sides. I’ve also used 60” shoe laces instead of elastic. No ear rubbing, infinitely adjustable, easy to insert into side pockets with coated tips. Thread thru bottom, then top and tie behind head.

Andrea

Saturday 22nd of August 2020

Hi, I improved the fit around cheek/jaw by folding a dart into the outside edges where it gaped and top stitching to hold it. Works on bought shaped masks too. Just be careful not to catch your elastic if you have loops!

Lisa

Friday 21st of August 2020

What fabric is best for making masks?

Sarah

Saturday 22nd of August 2020

You'll want to choose a tightly woven cotton fabric, like premium cotton quilting fabric.

Pippa

Monday 17th of August 2020

how do the ear savers sit when wearing a mask - I have no idea how they would work? Picture please. Pippa

Sarah

Monday 17th of August 2020

Hi, They sit around the back of the head, just above the nape of the neck. I'll try to get a picture for you.