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Most face masks need a nose strip to get the best snug fit. Here is my way of making Iron-In Metal Nose Strips for Masks. No special materials needed.

The Metal:

Did you know that sardine cans are aluminum? That means they do not rust. Go, have some lunch, I’ll meet you back here…

Yes, wash your can well. I mostly use the lid as that’s easiest. It is not that super sharp as other cans and cuts with some (old) scissors. The length also works well. It’s amazing how many can be cut from one lid.

Cut the strips about 1/8″ – 1/4″ wide depending on your fabric choice. If the fabric is bulky it probably needs a stronger/wider strip.

Cut the strips 3.5″ – 4″ long depending on your pattern. To lessen any poking round off the corners. The edges do not feel that sharp but a quick run over sand paper will take any sharpness off.

The Secret Ingredient:

Fusible Webbing is a wonderful stuff! That is what will bond these into place permanently. It comes as a parchment paper with a layer of heat sensitive ‘glue’ on one side.

After cutting the strips of sardine can, cut thins strips of the fusible webbing that is wide enough to fold over the metal strips. Using a rotary cutter and metal ruler make it super fast.

I make a bunch at a time, and then head to the ironing board.

Place a metal strip inside the folded fusible webbing and then grab the iron.

To ensure that the iron does not get any of the webbing on it, I use a sheet of parchment to protect it. Medium to high heat will melt the ‘glue’.

After it is ironed and cooled, peel the paper off like taking a candy out of a wrapper. Ta-da! It’s ready to insert where you like! Fusible web is wash safe as well, but I would use a ‘lingerie bag’ to protect it form too much tumbling.

I am not a huge fan of the pipe cleaners as they break and have thin wires but in a pinch you could substitute them for the wire. Again, ironing them inside the fusible web would make them flat and able to be iron-in place.

I have used these strips in most my mask designs; Snug Nose-Bridge DIY Fitted Mask, DIY Ultimate Fitted Face Mask, DIY N95-Style Face Mask Pattern and the latest Fitted Face Mask Pattern for Glasses. The less bulk of seams makes the nose-piece flatter and then much less likely to get in your eyes and also fit well. The metal piece stays in place but can be shaped easily.

Instead of Elastic:

Due to shortage of elastic I found another option; t-shirt strips! They are so much more comfortable than the elastic and depending on the fabric can be so soft. If the fabric has some spandex it has more stretch. Test different widths, 3/8″ -3/4″.

Another tip; you can make some toggles out of ‘Pony Beads’ so that it is a slide adjustment. Test which thickness works best through the bead hole. One t-shirt/camisole can make so many stretchy straps! Many prefer these over the elastic. Using casings allows for switching out straps or using the behind the head option.

Once the strip is in place (this is the Fitted Face Mask Pattern for Glasses) it stays put and actually flattens the fabric since it is fused. This magic stuff can replace sewing in a lot of projects. It’s great for appliques and art quilts…

I hope this will make you & your loved ones just a bit safer. Do not worry, we will get over this with care and patience.

Thank you for making and wearing a mask! 😷 Stay safe & we will soon be making things for fun…

Watch this as a video:

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 73 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the nose pieces! That will be very helpful for my next batch of masks. My first attempt was to order pipe cleaners – thinking they were for crafts, too – and receiving painfully bristled cleaners that could take bark from trees!

    1. For those of us who don’t eat sardines it seems that pop cans would do the trick for mask nose pieces! Barb Thanx so much for sharing your talents with us.

      1. I’ve been using florist wire but can’t get any anymore, and after a while it rusts! I love the can idea, but cans in Australia seem very tough, I don’t think I’d get through them with scissors!

      2. Have you tried the tops of coffee bags? They have metal strips inside but are covered by plastic so no rusting. You can get at least 2 nose wires out of one and they are slightly sticky on one side so they don’t slide around. I cut them in half lengthways so they are thin enough and for a small/kids mask I also cut them in half the other way too. I highly recommend them.

    1. You can use pipe-cleaners, or some floral wire in a loop. Also, if you have tin snips you can cut tin cans, but it is a bit harder. Maybe you ca get someone else to eat them… for a good cause.

        1. I think they are too thin. Some have said aluminum baking pans, or roof flashing may work. Tin cans can be cut but heavy duty sheers need to be used. Good luck!

        2. I have used pop cans but I fold strips in thirds so they are a thicker and hold their shape but are still pliable.

    2. I have seen others use the aluminium take away containers or disposable roasting pans you can often buy at the supermarket. The type you can make a lasagne in.

    3. I buy whole bean coffee and some brands have a strip on the bags of beans for resealing. I use those strips. They work great! They are plastic coated and cut easy.

  2. These are wonderfully easy directions to understand! One question, I ate my can of sardines several weeks ago and didn’t save the top, can I cut up a soda can, or would that be too thin? Thanks!

  3. Thank you, for all of your awesome info and tips! I have been procrastinating and overthinking it for so long, but now I’m feeling confident. I might try to add a filter pocket just to cover all of my bases. You are amazing!! XO

    1. The key to ‘making’ is not putting too much pressure on your self and saying ‘I can do this’. I teach in a college and I’d say that I feel like a coach most of the time, I hear; ‘I can’t do this’ most of the time, before they even try… Sewing is a wonderful art form that can really enhance your life. Best of luck.

  4. I find that this type of nose piece (as on the 3D mask) works pretty well with glasses. I worry that any metal material will, with frequent washing, eventually get all dented and uncomfortable. Can you figure out how to somehow make an opening so one can replace the metal?
    (Also – I found the video a bit hard to see – if you do another, could you use light material and dark thread?)
    Can’t wait to try this pattern – it’s the best of 3D and Olson. I was trying to figure out how to combine the two when I found your blog. Thank you SO much!

    1. I think washing gently would be key. There’s probably a way to make an opening but my aim was to keep the top as flat as possible to not push up my glasses. Video making will get better… 🤞🏻 Hope the pattern is a win with you!

    2. Use a rectangular piece of fabric or felt. Sew it on the inside top of the mask. It makes it much easier to use seam ripper on one short external seam not hidden between the front & back material. I have had to replace multiple nose pieces. The flower wire started twisting out of shape & poking out even though I had taped the ends. Nose metal strips I bought from Amazon quickly broke in half.

  5. Ring pull bean dip and cat food can lids are light weight as well but I’m not sure if they would achieve the length requirement. I just discovered this last night and they are still in the sink to be washed!

  6. Your nose piece idea us brilliant! I doubt I would ever have thought of using fusible web on the metal. Nor would I have thought of using sardine cans (no fan of sardines!) I’ve been using disposable aluminum pans, so that should work, too! I will be trying this tomorrow and will let you know my results!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

      1. I have about 100 ft of plastic coated copper wire left over from a buried electric fencing project. It’s been perfect. Just in case there are any dog owners with similar leftovers.

  7. Thank you for sharing the nose piece technique! I used it for masks I made for family. My adult offspring are in corona lockdown in Melbourne, VIC, Aus., this means they get fined if they fail to wear masks for any tasks they undertake outside of their home – they are only supposed to leave their homes for 1 hour exercise/grocery shopping per day. The nighttime curfew starts at 8pm. Pretty grim. The offspring reckon your nose pieces make all the difference In comfort and reducing glasses fog – so thank you – your thoroughness and attention to detail are appreciated!

  8. I love this tip! I’m getting ready to create a new set of masks and I’m frustrated with the wire in my old ones. I’ll be using a silver craft wire (20 GA). It’s held up wonderfully but never stays in place. This should be a big improvement!

  9. I have gone onto Aliexpress and bought the Aluminium Nose Bridge Strips with self adhesive on the back, they are so cheap, you get 100 for £2.42 including delivery, only thing is the wait. Mine arrive in the UK 2 weeks after I placed the order. Hope this helps.

  10. How do you use the pony beads to make the strings adjustable? I have made a few masks, but am looking forward to using this pattern for better fit.

    1. The trick is to test the thickness of your ties (cut a test width to see how it will pass through the bead) Make sure it isn’t too loose and then push both ties through (use a skewer or similar). Slide to adjust.

  11. So do I need another piece fusible web to attach the nose wire to any of the mask pieces, or do I just iron it again and the same fusible web fuses it to the fabric?

  12. Thanks for this idea.
    Ive been using pieces of pipe cleaner but have to sew them in by hand, this should be a lot easier.
    Thanks again

  13. I like the fusible web for securing nose piece.
    I started with heavier floral wire. It holds up to washings. I sew them in against the top edge. I dont like working with sharp objects so the aluminium option is not for me and seems like a lot of work. I moved on to using pliable ties that come from products you buy that say have a cord wrapped in a twist tie. They work better than floral wire as it is more pliable and no rust over time. Holds up to thg he dryer so far. I did save the coffee bag sealer but dont drink enough coffee to use that method. I like they are flat.

    All great ideas and one of these will work for someone. I love thse forums for sharing ideas

    I’ve made over 70 masks just for friends and neighbors when nothing existed. Like you Barb, keep trying to improve the pattern but working full time doesnt leave much time to perfect them. Thank you for sharing your patterns. You lay out great detail directions.

  14. Hi from Far North Qld 🇦🇺 Barb,
    Thank you so much for this pattern, however I do not have access to a printer (I have downloaded the PDF pattern), however I am terrible, terrible (did I mention terrible) at sewing, but at the risk of my own sanity I want to make this mask my maiden project. Would it be possible (I know you are busy busy) to forward the actual measurements (in inches or cm) of the mask & nose peice pattern so this dummy can draft it onto paper myself, (did I mention, maths & figuring out scale is not one of my strong points either) & possibly add that to future patterns you may make available for beginner folk like myself.
    Kind regards

    1. If you notice the 1 inch grid on the background of the pattern, you can draw one on your paper and then follow where each line crosses a line. That’s how to replicate it without a printer. It’s really not that hard and will be better shape. Or, count the squares for measurements. Each is 1 inch. Hope that helps!

    2. Hi Mish, I was wondering if Barb could just make them for us 🇺🇸 would be glad to pay someone to make these mask. Hint hint 👋

      1. I’m sorry but I am swamped with work, and also helping daycare my grandson. Shipping makes it so expensive especially going over a border. If you find a local sewist they may welcome you bring thing the pattern.

  15. Barb thanks for the idea 💡 with the sardine can lid. Ingenious…
    Going to try and figure how to make these mask 😷 🤔. They look very comfortable.

  16. Dear Barb, the first mask I made way back in 2020 the pattern was from it has a side dart which makes the mask fit better, so on your pattern I have made a dart each side, the nose piece makes all the difference NO FOG up on the glasses, have just made another for my son in Sydney and am waiting for feed back .
    Thanking you Heather

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