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What's the going rate for quilters cotton for face masks?

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Since I've been searching for quilters cotton for face masks, I've been inundated with ads from questionably reputable online stores with a copyright of 2020. Of course they have beautiful coordinating sets. As a total newbie to this, some prices seem really high. Is there any fabric left? What's a good online store? My Joann's is across town and I can curbside pickup, but they seem to be out of everything. There's a few local quilt shops but I don't know what prices are reasonable and what fabrics I should prefer. I've been using stuff I had around the house or what I could buy at a big box store. I want to make some pretty masks for family now that I'm somewhat able to make a decent stitch by hand. 

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Pre-pandemic, high quality, cotton quilting fabric, would cost between $11 and $14 dollars a yard where I am. That is fabric from a store specializing in quilting fabric only, which is a higher quality fabric than that at Joanns. So if they are asking above that they are price gouging. 

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I was really happy with equilter.com  https://www.equilter.com/category/0/equilter-departments

I got 3 pieces / patterns  each in smallest amount available one on sale Clearance pattern piece less than and two pieces at $11 something per yard, half a yard of each.    Some patterns are a lot more, but there was plenty at those prices.  

I liked looking at the patterns so much it made me want to try actually quilting!  

 

Fields Fabrics in Michigan had a lot too—a different emphasis on patterns and color palettes. More maybe “traditional”?   And more earth tones or hunting and farming type patterns. 

 

 

 

 

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On the mask thread, someone mentioned equilter.com - I then looked at the website and ordered from them and the fabric was good quality. Shipping took a while which was no surprise as their website states shipping delays upfront due to receiving so many orders.  They do have an expedited option to get your order out the door the same day.

One thing I really like about their website is they have it set up so you can easily find coordinating fabrics.  That is what I did for the fabric I ordered, and everything coordinated perfectly.  I plan to order from them again.

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I looked at equilter..but what kind of fabric am I looking at on their site? Batik? Cotton print? Does it matter?

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3 minutes ago, sbgrace said:

I looked at equilter..but what kind of fabric am I looking at on their site? Batik? Cotton print? Does it matter?

I am putting 2-4 filter layers between T-shirt inner and an outer layer for looks so it didn’t much matter. But the batik I got is a tighter weave than the cotton print I got. 

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@sbgrace in other words if you are using extra filter layers it doesn’t matter IMO.  If you are depending on the fabric itself, get batik. 

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Another good shop for fabric online is www.fatquartershop.com   You will want batik if using only fabric (and if using batik, 2 layers is enough, I think 3 layers of batik would be harder to breathe through). 

If you do use fat quarter shop, do a search for their "jolly bar" -- it's a precut size that is the right size for most mask patterns. 

Another shop offering mask kits is cherrywood fabrics; I don't know if they still are, but they were offering them at cost. There fabric is higher to start with, but the kits were super reasonable and included the material for masks and the cloth ties as well. I wouldn't buy yardage from them to cut up for masks (too $$$) (*a fair price for what their fabric is, which is commercially available, hand dyed fabric, that is deliciously gorgeous, but I wouldn't buy it just to use for masks at that price). 

Generally speaking, though, $11-$14 a yard is about right for good, quilter-quality cotton. 

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20 minutes ago, TheReader said:

You will want batik if using only fabric (and if using batik, 2 layers is enough, I think 3 layers of batik would be harder to breathe through). 

Oh good I've been looking at batiks as well. I need some masculine colors that are thick enough for some protection but light enough for summer. 

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I've been using my stash of batiks.  I wear these masks myself.  I have used 2 layers of pleated fabric, and can get 9 masks out of a yard.  

I wear the masks myself, and I have to say, they are GREAT for regular moving around, like at the store and so on, but when I power-walk, I can barely breathe.  I think I'd keel over if there were three layers.  

That said, I found (in my stash) a very finely woven, fine-thread silk and I am going to try that as a third layer.  It won't add bulk, for one thing.  And I'll see about the breathability.  

My stash is extensive and I will never outsew it, but when I have looked at the batik prices from the stores I got these from (the ones that have not gone out of business, pre-CoVid), they are selling at $14 a yard.  (I paid $9, back in the day...)

 

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Do be aware that not all batiks are the same.  Batik is technically a dying process, not a fabric or fiber type.  The process involves multiple hot-water washes, so in general, batik-dyed fabrics that will shrink should be maximally shrunk by the process.  But batik can be cotton, linen, silk, rayon, (pretty much any fiber that will take dye) and can have a loose weave.  (I'm married into an Indonesian family and and have been thoroughly "schooled" on this 🙂 )

Edited by wathe
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11 minutes ago, wathe said:

Do be aware that not all batiks are the same.  Batik is technically a dying process, not a fabric or fiber type.  The process involves multiple hot-water washes, so in general, batik-dyed fabrics that will shrink should be maximally shrunk by the process.  But batik can be cotton, linen, silk, rayon, (pretty much any fiber that will take dye) and can have a loose weave.  (I'm married into and Indonesian family and and have been thoroughly "schooled" on this 🙂 )

 

That’s good to know.  

The 2 batiks I got from equilter were both 100% cotton.  Both are quite tight weaved. One even more than the other.  I washed and dried them in hot water myself too when they first arrived. 

I think their non cotton fabrics are listed separately from their cotton batiks. 

 

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On 5/18/2020 at 12:58 PM, TheReader said:

Another good shop for fabric online is www.fatquartershop.com 

I have been adding and removing fabric from my cart since you posted this. I'm sure I've slowed down the server with all of the tabs I have open. 😊 I'm going to have to take up quilting or something to use some of this fabulous fabric. They have houndstooth and plaids! I've been looking for those. And they have some adorable fabric that looks like granny's quilts or afghans. I'm coming up with the excuse that I'll make masks for my family members and their kids that will need them for school and their jobs. I finally made an order that was under $150! It's like a trip to Target. No wonder all you had so much fabric on hand when this whole thing started! 

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On 5/18/2020 at 12:22 PM, Pen said:

I am putting 2-4 filter layers between T-shirt inner and an outer layer for looks so it didn’t much matter. But the batik I got is a tighter weave than the cotton print I got. 

What are you using for your filter layers, Pen?

My local (mere blocks away) shop is charging $12.99 per yard for beautiful batik fabrics. I order online and she drops it off at my door the next day. Sometimes the same day. Yes, I am extremely lucky! 

Edited by Penguin

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On 5/18/2020 at 9:01 AM, Mary in VA said:

Pre-pandemic, high quality, cotton quilting fabric, would cost between $11 and $14 dollars a yard where I am. That is fabric from a store specializing in quilting fabric only, which is a higher quality fabric than that at Joanns. So if they are asking above that they are price gouging. 

Does anyone have suggestions for ordering better quality quilting fabric online. Stores or brands?  I gave my stash away some years back and our local store is closed.

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I’ve also had good luck finding cotton batik prints on Etsy. I can shop a variety of quilt stores nationwide and gauge their pricing. If you’re not particular about pattern (and even if you are) you can get some gorgeous stuff for cheap. I got 2 yards of hand dyed fabrics in a rainbow of colors for $20 plus $3 shipping. That gave me enough for 36 masks.

Edited by Sneezyone
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14 hours ago, Plum said:

I have been adding and removing fabric from my cart since you posted this. I'm sure I've slowed down the server with all of the tabs I have open. 😊 I'm going to have to take up quilting or something to use some of this fabulous fabric. They have houndstooth and plaids! I've been looking for those. And they have some adorable fabric that looks like granny's quilts or afghans. I'm coming up with the excuse that I'll make masks for my family members and their kids that will need them for school and their jobs. I finally made an order that was under $150! It's like a trip to Target. No wonder all you had so much fabric on hand when this whole thing started! 

LOL! Yes, this is why. Gosh but it's hard to limit! Have fun with everything!

58 minutes ago, Pippen said:

Does anyone have suggestions for ordering better quality quilting fabric online. Stores or brands?  I gave my stash away some years back and our local store is closed.

I mentioned above, www.fatquartershop.com is a fabulous shop with all good quality quilting fabric and fair pricing. 

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1 hour ago, Penguin said:

What are you using for your filter layers, Pen?

My local (mere blocks away) shop is charging $12.99 per yard for beautiful batik fabrics. I order online and she drops it off at my door the next day. Sometimes the same day. Yes, I am extremely lucky! 

Thus far: Blue “shop towels” and polypropylene pieces.

I will probably try sewing two polypropylene pieces in permanently in the next one I make.

And for rectangle scrunch up style, I have tried sizing so that a blue shop towel folded in half is exactly the right size in one direction... not sure yet if I like that. 

Both the Blue shop towels and the polypropylene can be hand washed in soap and water I have discovered.   The poly dries faster. 

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15 minutes ago, Pen said:

Thus far: Blue “shop towels” and polypropylene pieces.

I will probably try sewing two polypropylene pieces in permanently in the next one I make.

And for rectangle scrunch up style, I have tried sizing so that a blue shop towel folded in half is exactly the right size in one direction... not sure yet if I like that. 

Both the Blue shop towels and the polypropylene can be hand washed in soap and water I have discovered.   The poly dries faster. 

Sweet.  Sams Club shipped a box of blue shop towels to me. I wanted to send some filters with my masks to family. 

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I'm frugal and new to sewing so take this with a grain of salt. I've been buying fat quarters and occasionally a yard of fabric. Walmart sells some yards of cotton as low as $4.XX here. I got a couple but one was a flop because glitter came off. Another one I saw that was on the rack didn't look as tightly woven so I left it behind. The fat quarters range from under $1 to something like $1.60. I shopped at Etsy, Walmart, and Michael's. My Etsy item was kinda lucky. A woman sold me 3 fat quarters for $6 with free shipping. When I got the items the postage on it was $7.XX. I don't know if she made any profit. And one of the pieces had a slightly brown discoloration on the edge although they were still sealed with a sticker and looked new. I think it was probably fabric she'd had stashed away for a long time? But the brown was cut off when I trimmed it so it did not hurt anything.

Just today I saw in my inbox that a walmart.com order was canceled. I had patriotic fat quarters scheduled to arrive in early June. They won't let you buy much from the site. I've had to get most of mine in the aisle (hardly any yards in stock and I didn't want to hunt down an employee to cut some). I just picked up a few fat quarters. Some were like 97 cents. I wanted solids for the inside layer or in some cases the exterior as it's been really hard for me to find unisex prints. I bought this anchor pattern and the darn things bled in the wash and left behind dirty looking streaks so I was pretty bummed about that. They were not washed with any other items, but basically bled on themselves. 

Michael's isn't great with shipping speed but no one really is. Inventory wasn't so great when I ordered there, either. I haven't looked lately. My other issue is some of my fabric looks stupid if you don't center the image a certain way... well that limits how many masks you can cut from it. Ideally I'd like more non-directional unisex fabric to work with. I didn't buy any fabric from Target but I thought about it. Theirs were kinda high to me for what I'd get and mostly they just had fleece so I didn't bother. Plus basically all child prints.

 

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I mean target online... I don't think their actual stores sell sewing fabric? I did consider buying a bandana on walmart.com and using the fabric but I didn't. It was camo and dh asked if I had any camo lol He got stuck with one of the only "masculine" prints I could find... bald eagles lol. 

Oh and do NOT trust the inventory that says, "in stock on aisle X." I went inside WM one day specifically for male superhero fabric... none in stock. 

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All my Walmart has is fleece right now. I got a bunch of bandanas early on that I’m using over tshirt material. I think I got a couple of the same thin camo bandanas because there weren’t any masculine prints. Finding anything patriotic is practically impossible. I snagged the last blue star bandana at Michaels and I tried to use a cotton baby romper that has red and white stripes but the cotton curled up too much to make it easy for me to hand sew. Everything else has too much ink on the surface to make me want to try to use it. 
I got some George tshirt packs at Walmart that say moisture wicking and antimicrobial on the package. Can’t hurt right? 

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I keep hearing people say the masks don't help keep virus out, just the droplets from spit/cough... so I don't know how crucial the fabric is if you are viewing it that way. I do like to believe the tighter woven stuff is best so I've been using what I can get. I also have a couple friends that said they would let me have some of their fabric stash if I needed it, but one lives really out of the way and I don't know what she has. The other offered to mail stuff, but I think it was mostly kiddie prints (she was thinking good for children's hospital nurses, but I didn't follow their preferred pattern so I didn't think I'd be much use with that. I did mail them a few of my style. Don't know if they helped at all). 

Edited by heartlikealion
woven not women. Good grief

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1 hour ago, heartlikealion said:

I keep hearing people say the masks don't help keep virus out, just the droplets from spit/cough... so I don't know how crucial the fabric is if you are viewing it that way. I do like to believe the tighter woven stuff is best so I've been using what I can get. 

I think that’s a very complicated subject. The most dependable function of the mask is to contain your own droplets to prevent you from spreading to others. The degree to which your mask is going to go beyond that and also protect you to some degree is going to depend on a lot of variables about how it is constructed. I think the protection to the wearer probably ranges from very little to quite high, based on various research of effectiveness of blocking different size particles. Heck, even a mask well-made with quilters cotton that blocks 60% of virus particles coming in is going to be in the realm of a decent year‘s flu shot level of protection. Because I’m not comfortable with my risk level, I’m making mine as protective as I can manage. That means a really snug fit with nose wire and ties and 2 to 3 layers of fabric plus a filter pocket. I like to use flannel for my third layer inside, as there’s been a couple studies now showing that when you mix different fabrics together, you increase the filtration factor. So, while I don’t expect I am hitting N95 level of protection, I do feel that I’m protecting myself as well as others when I’m wearing one of my masks. If I’m heading into a particularly risky situation, I will add a nylon stocking over the top, which adds a significant protective boost to the mask’s function.

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2 hours ago, kand said:

I think that’s a very complicated subject. The most dependable function of the mask is to contain your own droplets to prevent you from spreading to others. The degree to which your mask is going to go beyond that and also protect you to some degree is going to depend on a lot of variables about how it is constructed. I think the protection to the wearer probably ranges from very little to quite high, based on various research of effectiveness of blocking different size particles. Heck, even a mask well-made with quilters cotton that blocks 60% of virus particles coming in is going to be in the realm of a decent year‘s flu shot level of protection. Because I’m not comfortable with my risk level, I’m making mine as protective as I can manage. That means a really snug fit with nose wire and ties and 2 to 3 layers of fabric plus a filter pocket. I like to use flannel for my third layer inside, as there’s been a couple studies now showing that when you mix different fabrics together, you increase the filtration factor. So, while I don’t expect I am hitting N95 level of protection, I do feel that I’m protecting myself as well as others when I’m wearing one of my masks. If I’m heading into a particularly risky situation, I will add a nylon stocking over the top, which adds a significant protective boost to the mask’s function.

N95 is a filtering mask said to be different in the whole breathing your own CO2 category. Just based on feedback from others, and wearing a 2 layer mask myself occasionally, I cannot imagine wearing many more layers. I do have some masks made with flannel inside only because that's what the local hospital requested... but being that we live in humid Mississippi, I don't think people are fans of that! The last several I made I used 2 cotton layers with a filter pocket so if people want to make another layer they can stuff a coffee filter or something in there. The nose pieces weren't preferred by all so I just left those off. Pipe cleaner, for example, didn't seem to do much in the way of holding the fabric closer to the face and I haven't tried electrical wire or such. I like to think my masks are a little better than say, a sock or t-shirt. 

I've found that the last few I've sent out were worn wrong. I didn't know I had to explain it. People are putting both straps behind their neck instead of one up above the ears so I have posted a picture of the right way to wear it and started informing people better. My own dad and son both put theirs on upside down. They had non-directional fabric so it wasn't obvious to them by the image... the pointed piece goes up the nose but they had that going under their chin. I feel like I'm having to over explain everything now LOL

For myself I tried the longer strap of elastic and it was way too loose. So I'm still stumped what the ideal amount of elastic is. I've told people if it's too much to maybe gather it with a safety pin. 

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46 minutes ago, heartlikealion said:


For myself I tried the longer strap of elastic and it was way too loose. So I'm still stumped what the ideal amount of elastic is. I've told people if it's too much to maybe gather it with a safety pin. 

I find it hard to figure out how much elastic for a good fit also, so I use ties. Have you seen the trick with a pony bead to make the elastic adjustable? I did a couple like that for family members that I thought would prefer ear loops to behind the head ties, and it really works pretty well. I don’t find it fits snug enough for my preferences, but definitely adequate for someone who is looking primarily to protect others. 

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1 hour ago, heartlikealion said:

N95 is a filtering mask said to be different in the whole breathing your own CO2 category. Just based on feedback from others, and wearing a 2 layer mask myself occasionally, I cannot imagine wearing many more layers. I do have some masks made with flannel inside only because that's what the local hospital requested... but being that we live in humid Mississippi, I don't think people are fans of that! The last several I made I used 2 cotton layers with a filter pocket so if people want to make another layer they can stuff a coffee filter or something in there. The nose pieces weren't preferred by all so I just left those off. Pipe cleaner, for example, didn't seem to do much in the way of holding the fabric closer to the face and I haven't tried electrical wire or such. I like to think my masks are a little better than say, a sock or t-shirt. 

I've found that the last few I've sent out were worn wrong. I didn't know I had to explain it. People are putting both straps behind their neck instead of one up above the ears so I have posted a picture of the right way to wear it and started informing people better. My own dad and son both put theirs on upside down. They had non-directional fabric so it wasn't obvious to them by the image... the pointed piece goes up the nose but they had that going under their chin. I feel like I'm having to over explain everything now LOL

For myself I tried the longer strap of elastic and it was way too loose. So I'm still stumped what the ideal amount of elastic is. I've told people if it's too much to maybe gather it with a safety pin. 

re: the pipe cleaner, I've been folding a single pipe cleaner in thirds and twisting and then sewing that into the nose bridge. It's long enough to fold across the nose bridge and overlap a tiny bit onto the cheek, and I can definitely tell a difference between the ones I have with it and the one I made w/o it. You have to pinch it on each time, but it has helped. 

I also saw a hack for the elastics of giving a twist to them across the cheeks (so they make kind of an x shape) before looping over the ears, for those that are too long. I've been doing ties just because that's what I have (and what I prefer) but that could help for the too much elastic. 

 

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Fatquartershop has very delayed shipping right now.  I'm still waiting for the order I placed in April.

I use Hawthorne Threads frequently.  They get their orders out quickly.  For any garment sewers out there, I like their line of knit fabric.  It's not as soft as Art Gallery, but it is easy to sew and holds up well.  

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3 hours ago, heartlikealion said:

N95 is a filtering mask said to be different in the whole breathing your own CO2 category. Just based on feedback from others, and wearing a 2 layer mask myself occasionally, I cannot imagine wearing many more layers. I do have some masks made with flannel inside only because that's what the local hospital requested... but being that we live in humid Mississippi, I don't think people are fans of that! The last several I made I used 2 cotton layers with a filter pocket so if people want to make another layer they can stuff a coffee filter or something in there. The nose pieces weren't preferred by all so I just left those off. Pipe cleaner, for example, didn't seem to do much in the way of holding the fabric closer to the face and I haven't tried electrical wire or such. I like to think my masks are a little better than say, a sock or t-shirt. 

I've found that the last few I've sent out were worn wrong. I didn't know I had to explain it. People are putting both straps behind their neck instead of one up above the ears so I have posted a picture of the right way to wear it and started informing people better. My own dad and son both put theirs on upside down. They had non-directional fabric so it wasn't obvious to them by the image... the pointed piece goes up the nose but they had that going under their chin. I feel like I'm having to over explain everything now LOL

For myself I tried the longer strap of elastic and it was way too loose. So I'm still stumped what the ideal amount of elastic is. I've told people if it's too much to maybe gather it with a safety pin. 

I haven't sewn my masks yet but I was thinking to use some of these strips of hobby metal I have left from a project: https://www.hobbylinc.com/htm/k+s/k+s8230.htm

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You can check ebay for fabric, too.  I just sold a pack of 24 batik fat quarters for $45 plus shipping. 

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12 hours ago, hellen said:

Fatquartershop has very delayed shipping right now.  I'm still waiting for the order I placed in April.

I use Hawthorne Threads frequently.  They get their orders out quickly.  For any garment sewers out there, I like their line of knit fabric.  It's not as soft as Art Gallery, but it is easy to sew and holds up well.  

Oh, wow! I did not realize that. Thank you for mentioning. 

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16 hours ago, Pippen said:

I haven't sewn my masks yet but I was thinking to use some of these strips of hobby metal I have left from a project: https://www.hobbylinc.com/htm/k+s/k+s8230.htm

I've been using pieces of those wide twist-ties from supermarket lettuce.  They've held up well through washing (so far).

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20 hours ago, TheReader said:

re: the pipe cleaner, I've been folding a single pipe cleaner in thirds and twisting and then sewing that into the nose bridge. It's long enough to fold across the nose bridge and overlap a tiny bit onto the cheek, and I can definitely tell a difference between the ones I have with it and the one I made w/o it. You have to pinch it on each time, but it has helped. 

I also saw a hack for the elastics of giving a twist to them across the cheeks (so they make kind of an x shape) before looping over the ears, for those that are too long. I've been doing ties just because that's what I have (and what I prefer) but that could help for the too much elastic. 

Others were saying you shouldn't wash the pipe cleaner because of rust and I found removing it after each wash to just be a new burden so I had given up. I have one mask I wear with ties, but I didn't do a great job on it. I didn't cut on the bias and I failed to fold one of the edges so it frayed a bit, but overall I do like that mask. It is a superhero print and I ended up with legs appearing to come out of my nostrils when I wear it... which I didn't notice until wearing it at least three times LOL. I don't know how big a deal it is to cut the straps a certain way, but I will definitely be better about the edges if I make any more that way. Twisting might help, but mine go behind the whole head so I don't know if that would lay funny or untwist. I learn a bit more each week. 

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4 hours ago, DoraBora said:

I've been using pieces of those wide twist-ties from supermarket lettuce.  They've held up well through washing (so far).

 

I used that too before switch to disposable aluminum baking pan strips.

actually I think I like a combo— twist tie long enough to go out along cheek bones, extra pan strip for better bend holding in middle, and the two connected by a foil wrap.

for personal use

Edited by Pen
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7 minutes ago, Pen said:

I used that too before switch to disposable aluminum baking pan strips.

actually I think I like a combo— twist tie long enough to go out along cheek bones, extra pan strip for better bend holding in middle, and the two connected by a foil wrap.

for personal use

Ooo!  That's a great idea.

Thank you!

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22 hours ago, hellen said:

Fatquartershop has very delayed shipping right now.  I'm still waiting for the order I placed in April.

I use Hawthorne Threads frequently.  They get their orders out quickly.  For any garment sewers out there, I like their line of knit fabric.  It's not as soft as Art Gallery, but it is easy to sew and holds up well.  

Thanks for the recommendation to Hawthorne Threads. There's plenty there to make this science teacher as happy as she's going be about the mask wearing. 

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2 hours ago, heartlikealion said:

Others were saying you shouldn't wash the pipe cleaner because of rust and I found removing it after each wash to just be a new burden so I had given up. I have one mask I wear with ties, but I didn't do a great job on it. I didn't cut on the bias and I failed to fold one of the edges so it frayed a bit, but overall I do like that mask. It is a superhero print and I ended up with legs appearing to come out of my nostrils when I wear it... which I didn't notice until wearing it at least three times LOL. I don't know how big a deal it is to cut the straps a certain way, but I will definitely be better about the edges if I make any more that way. Twisting might help, but mine go behind the whole head so I don't know if that would lay funny or untwist. I learn a bit more each week. 

Fabric strips for binding tape do not need to be cut on the bias for this application (ties).  Cutting on the bias gives bias tape some stretch - which is important if you are applying binding to a curved edge.  But for mask ties, especially if applied to the straight edge of a surgical-style mask, stretch is irrelevant. 

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