Gas station without pumps

2020 March 31

COVID-19 mask

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:40
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On Sunday, I sewed myself a mask for when I need to go out to the store.  I used a pattern from Tiana’s Closet, which seemed to me almost the same as many others on the web.  I modified it in one major way—replacing the elastic with ties that go behind the head (using some 30-year-old bias tape that my wife had).

The results look a bit sinister:

I think I’ll make the next one out of a more cheerful fabric.

Flattening and reinforcing the curved seam was a little harder than I expected (it has been a long time since I sewed anything curved), but not too bad.

There was one problem with the mask design—the part that covers the nose does not fit tightly to the nose, leaving a gap between the nose and the cheek. This means that exhaled breath goes up through the gap and fogs my glasses.

Here is a closeup of the gap under my eye.

I’m not sure how to redesign the mask to avoid that gap. Commercial N95 masks (of which I have a handful from last year’s fire season) use a strip of soft metal to pinch the mask tight around the nose. I tried using some soft 12-gauge copper wire to make a nose clip, but I was not able to make one that helped.

Does anyone have a pattern that works well for big European noses? Or suggestions for ways to avoid or close the gap?


  1. […] going to take a walk today (wearing my COVID-19 mask) to get in a little exercise. I’m also going to have to come up with some way to motivate […]

    Pingback by Forty-third weight progress report | Gas station without pumps — 2020 March 31 @ 14:55 | Reply

  2. We use pipe cleaners, folded in half, to help mold to our noses. My daughter added a little pocket to insert the pipe cleaner on top of mask, then remove so can be washed.

    Comment by Mariel — 2020 March 31 @ 15:15 | Reply

    • That sounds doable. Now to see if we have any pipe cleaners!

      My wife suggested 3D-printing a custom nose piece, but that seems a lot harder to get right.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2020 March 31 @ 15:44 | Reply

    • I added a pocket to the mask today, by sewing on a little of the leftover bias tape. I found a couple of pipe cleaners in the back of a cupboard. It turned out that one pipe cleaner was not stiff enough to hold the gap closed, but two pieces twisted together was just stiff enough. I’ll give the mask another tryout today as I go to pick up dinner from Full Steam Dumping. They are taking orders only by text message and calling people back to schedule pickup and collect credit-card information. This is the first time I’ve ever ordered anything by text message!

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2020 April 1 @ 15:08 | Reply

  3. This person cuts an aluminum strip from pie tins and folds it several times.

    From the website:



    Jonathan Collins
    PO Box 39
    Aptos, CA 95001

    Comment by Jonathan Collins — 2020 March 31 @ 15:19 | Reply

    • That’s also a good idea, but I’m pretty sure we don’t have any disposable pie tins—we’ve been avoiding one-use things like that for over 30 years.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2020 March 31 @ 15:45 | Reply

  4. How did you choose the material for your mask, and determine that it would be effective?

    Comment by whatisron — 2020 March 31 @ 22:26 | Reply

    • I chose the material by going through the trunks in the living room and looking for scraps of fabric that seemed suitable. Nothing I have will stop aerosolized viruses (nor, with a beard, am I going to get a tight enough seal for that level of protection). So I looked for tight weaves of washable materials that would stop large droplets, which is about all that a homemade mask is good for, and all that is really needed for someone who will not be deliberately interacting with people who are sick.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2020 April 1 @ 08:34 | Reply

  5. I have been making masks to give to anyone who wants one. I saw a few ideas for the nose piece. I ordered stainless steel zip ties. I cut them with heavy duty scissors. The ends can be banged a little with a hammer to smooth. I place these into a pocket that I made at the top of the mask. The ones I made are the same style as yours, but have a lining for inserting a filter (nonwoven interfacing, cut up reusable grocery bag, hepa filter, or it can cover a dusk mask or N95 type mask,) I also saw where a company that makes the actual nose pieces for masks will sell them to the public.

    Comment by Tracy Jackson — 2020 April 1 @ 02:52 | Reply

  6. […] saw that Prusa had released a couple of designs for nose clips for closing the gap in fabric face masks that causes glasses to fog up. They call it “Face Mask Pozicer”, which I think […]

    Pingback by 3D-printed nose clip for fabric masks | Gas station without pumps — 2020 April 4 @ 14:34 | Reply

  7. […] I sewed myself a second mask, like the one in COVID-19 mask—again using the pattern from Tiana’s Closet. This time I used a more cheerful fabric and […]

    Pingback by COVID-19 mask #2 | Gas station without pumps — 2020 April 5 @ 15:05 | Reply

  8. […] by Idea Fab Labs, I believe.  The site has patterns for a face mask similar to the ones I made (here and here), but with a wire to shape the mask to the nose, rather than a 3D-printed clip like I […]

    Pingback by Local effort to produce PPE | Gas station without pumps — 2020 April 6 @ 11:06 | Reply

  9. […] The mask sort of worked with the thinner ties and the nose wire, but even the narrow ties would not stay in place over my ears and got quite uncomfortable after a while. I also had trouble keeping my glasses from fogging, despite the nose wire. I had stopped wearing this mask, relying just on my first COVID mask. […]

    Pingback by COVID-19 mask #2 now working | Gas station without pumps — 2020 July 24 @ 23:36 | Reply

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