Gas station without pumps

2020 July 24

COVID-19 mask #2 now working

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 23:36
Tags: , ,

For Covid Mask #2, I complained that the top straps were too wide and that they wouldn’t stay above my ears:

The thin tie at the bottom works well, but thick tie at the top is too wide and does not fit comfortably over my ear.

I replaced the top tie with a thinner self-fabric tie quite some time ago, and I sewed a place to put a wire stiffener over the nose (having given up on getting the 3D-printed nose clips to be reliable). I’m using 22-gauge copper wire (with insulator) in a triple thickness to get something that has the right stiffness and malleability.

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.

Last week I had an idea on how to make the mask work better—instead of trying to keep the upper tie above my ears, I tied it below my ears:

The tie below the ears does not slip and does not crush my ears.

The low tie also pulls the nose wire firmly against my nose, and I’ve been able to walk or bicycle for 45 minutes without my glasses fogging and without needing to fiddle with the mask.

The change in how I wear the mask has changed this mask to being my favorite, though I still plan to make or buy some more, as having only two masks means that I sometimes don’t have one that has been laundered since the previous wearing.

[The astute reader will notice that my beard is much greyer in the newer photos—I’ve not been dying my beard this summer, and all the dye has either washed out or the dyed hair been trimmed off. The colors now are the natural colors of my hair.]


  1. My husband also prefers to wear his mask with the ties below the ears. I made woven-fiber masks (Bullfrog 600 material for sewn-in filters between the cotton layers) with ties made from cutting up t-shirts (t-shirts with no side seams, 1-inch cuts across the shirt). I made channels on the sides of the masks to insert the ties. The tie is one piece, instead of two. The cut ends are inserted from the top, which creates a solid, uncut piece going around the back of the head. The cut ends tie at the neck. I finally bought 3mm toggles because he never tied the ties. This has worked perfectly to keep the mask cinched when needed. For a nosepiece, I ordered stainless steel zip ties. I cut them about 4-inches long, curled the ends under with jewelry pliers, and inserted them into a pocket. Your mask looks great.

    Comment by Tracy Jackson — 2020 July 25 @ 05:25 | Reply

    • Stainless-steel zip ties could be a good wire stiffener. I tried an old pipe cleaner we had, but it was too flexible, unless tripled or quadrupled, and it would rust when washed. The twist ties we have are all free ones from the grocery store, and they would also have problems with rusting. I chose 22-gauge insulated copper wire because I have a lot of it, not because it is the ideal material.

      Similarly, the ikat material is leftover from recovering the dining-room chairs decades ago (the color difference between the mask and the faded chairs is striking). One sad thing about making the masks—I opened some of the chests of fabric for the first time in years and most of my wool fabric is badly moth-eaten.

      If I make this mask design again (possible, though I want to try the Idea Fab Labs design with darts: ), I’d flatten the curved seam in front a bit—there is a little too much loose material there.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2020 July 25 @ 08:03 | Reply

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