Monday, April 13, 2020

Best face mask pattern, tested 5 different patterns and this is the winner

This post shows the evolution of my patterns starting with the first pattern I made and tested and ending with the final pattern that tested to be the most comfortable with the best coverage.  I wrote this post in hopes to save you some time from having to test it yourself.  It took me a few weekends to make and test all of them and I hope to save you time.

This is the final one I am making now.  (this article shows the progress of what I started with as my first design and why this latest design (shown below) is much better in terms of fit and comfort.
(my latest design.  Fits perfectly without the need of a nose wire, adjustable ties (not uncomfortable elastic bands)

Here it goes:

I know the Internet is full of face mask patterns because of the covid-19 outbreak and I have seen them too.  Everywhere.  There are patterns that are easier to make, patterns with pockets for optional insert filter sheets, with or without nose wire, ties or elastic loop around the ear.

It is hard to know which one is best.  Those of you who bought my products in the past know that I am all about testing and coming up with the best patterns (determining the best is through testing the actual product).  I made 5-6 different patterns and wore them each all day.  Some were almost identical, but small changes sometimes make a big difference.  I wanted to see which pattern gives the best coverage while being comfortable even for people who wear them all day.  So, I wore them all day.  

Here is what I found:


The first pattern I made was the one with no pleats on the side, one that follows the shape of your face.  I did loops around my ears in skinny elastic- thinking this would be most similar to the medical ones.  The problem is that those medical masks are so paper thin that the "elastic" is not even elastic but s stretchy super fine cord and it does not cut into your ear.

I used 2 layers of fabric (100% cotton.  I use designer fabrics because I have bolts left from a previous project.  I also use 100% cotton flannel)
This is how it looked (sorry I didn't take a picture with the elastic loops so I am just showing the side view:

Here it is on a very handsome kiddo:     

Again, there was a skinny elastic loop around the ear. 

Here is what I found:

faster to make
good coverage especially with inserting a wire by the nose.
See how it goes all under your chin so it definitely doesn't let air in there.  There is a little gap by the nose (2 sides of the nose) but that can easily be improved by doing a wire casing and inserting a wire to shape to your nose.  OR to use a technique I ended up with on my final product.

I thought my ears will fall off.  LOL so for me it was uncomfortable.  Unless your elastic is adjustable I don't see how you can make it fit tight AND be very comfortable wearing it all day.  I wasn't wearing this all day but after 1/2 hour I felt like I couldn't do it anymore.  Later I used a 1/4" elastic and that was somewhat better in terms of the "cutting" feeling BUT remember that I am making these for myself and I am here to adjust it to exactly what I need.  I don't have each and every customer right in front of me to do this with, so it is either going to fit loose, too tight and cut in your ear.  The thicker (1/4") elastic didn't cut in my ear that much BUT it did pull my ear when it was tight.  

I knew that the elastic loop wasn't for me in terms of comfort.  I asked friends and cashiers who bought some with elastic loops around the ears and not one told me they loved it.  Some said it was too tight, some said it was not tight enough.  So I ditched the elastic loop at this point.

So, I modified it and added a tie.  One longer strip of fabric that I threaded through so it went around on the back of your head and you tied it behind your neck (at the bottom).  Look at this picture:

At this point I was creating a pocket at the sides and threaded the strip of fabric through, like this:

See how your EAR still plays a huge role here.  The tie sits on TOP of your ear and it helps hold it in place, btu it does NOT cut into it nor does it pull it forward.  Nor is it too loose as you can ADJUST it.

It is easy to add a pocket for filter in this at which point it does take longer to make, but gives you the option for a filter.  You can still put a wire in at the nose for a tighter fit there.

good fit
adjustable tie, so we pretty much eliminated the "too tight or too loose" problem
The tie serves as much more than just comfort especially if you wear them all day.  You do not have to take this off to drink!  All you do is you unhook it from your ear, let it down and when you are done drinking/eating you just hook it back above your ear again.  This way you eliminate the need to have to put it down (in potentially germs?) or having to hook one side on one of your ear and hope it doesn't fall off while you drink/eat.  Again, this is very helpful if you have to wear this all day.

took longer to make (especially if you do the nose wire and the pocket for filter)
I reinforce the seams many times by the side pocket (where the tie threads through) but I still don't know how it holds up with many washes and yanking on it at times especially if you do the filter pocket (because in that case you have one layer of fabric that you work with for this pocket)
I felt like it was just a bit too close to my face especially my nose and kind of flattened my nose at times (remember I wore this all day for the test).

THE BEST PATTERN in my testing:

I added pleats to the side (to create room for the mouth) and added pleats on each side of the nose (to create a tighter fit even without wire, this is a pretty tight fit, yet allows more room for the nose.  My drawing won't show the extra room but look at this handsome boy wearing it, you'll see that there is some room by the nose/mouth BUT it is tight up at the bridge of the nose.  This does not even have a wire in it and it is super tight-fitting at the bridge of the nose.

(notice that this still loops above her pony tail and ties at the nape of her neck)

Here it is on my awesome model:

The last step I did was instead of creating a pocket for the tie (on the sides by the ear) I went ahead and sewed the ties in and tied the top ones above the ears in the back and the bottom ones at the nape of the neck like this:

(the drawing doesn't show it too well, but it still sits on top of your ear for support).


1.  You fit it to your chin first
2.  Then pull it up over the nose
3.  Take the ties on each side and lay them on top of your ear, lead them to the back of your head and tie.  Make sure it is comfortable (doesn't have to be too tight)
4.  Tie the bottom ones at the nape of your neck.

I made a lot of them with stronger fabrics: one layer of quilt weight and one layer of heavier weight (like a comfortable jeans material).  This way I only need 2 layers, it is very sturdy.

Here is the other shape/patterns I tested: (I didn't want to take anyone's pictures and I didn't take any of the ones I made so here is the idea:
To me and my testers this model was just not as good-fitting and the coverage was not as good (look at the sides there is always a hole where air goes in).  it does take about the same time to make as the one we ended up liking more so if I'd have to pick one of the two I'll definitely make the other ones.

I decided to not include the designs that I opted to not make anymore because it would just be confusing and this post already ended up longer than I wanted it to be.  


I make a spray bottle with essential oils (water and a few drops of antiviral, antibacterial EO-s like rosemary or lemongrass, tea tree, cloves) and I spray if on the outside of my face mask and iron it on hot (when I don't have time to do laundry).  No bugs live through that LOL

Here are a few more pictures of different angles:

I just wanted to give you a glimpse of what we tested and why we decided that these were the best face masks.  

I am happy to share details on how I make these.  I am not here to make a profit from making these, I never wanted to make face masks in my life and I certainly hope this is just a phase and it'll pass and we won't ever need to wear them again!  

In the meantime, if you want help making these ask me any questions you have.

If you can't sew, but would like to wear one of these, I am happy to make you one.  You can get one 

(I did, yes, I did offer to make face masks for the local hospital through a friend.  They said they are "not there yet" in terms of needing them. )

If you are experiencing hardship and lost your job but would like to wear one, please let me know and I'll make you one.  I believe in karma :)

We're in this together!  
Let's do everything we can to stop this from spreading so we can resume life as we know it.

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