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Flexible Nose Piece Materials for a DIY face mask

You can improve your face mask seal by adding bendable nose wire to your fabric face mask. You can fit a small metal strip/wire at the top — so that the metal can be molded over the nose and fit individual face shape better. The nose wire material should be both durable and flexible, and we found a number of options you can use no matter which face mask you are making. So far I’ve seen three distinct variations of face masks:
1. regular face masks with elastic ear loop;
2. face masks with adjustable fabric ties (can fit over N95 respirators)
3. contoured/fitted masks with pockets for removable filters
Our free fitted face mask pattern allows for an easy fitting of a nose wire and many of our readers asked what they can use as a bendable nose wire for their face masks, so I wanted to quickly cover the options.

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How to make a Flexible Nose Piece

There are a number of ways to make the bendable nose piece for the face mask. Let’s cover the best ones:

1. Crafting wire

Using a wire cutter cut 7 inches of thin crafting wire or floral wire. Curl in the ends of the wire to prevent the edges from piercing through your fabric. Curl either side about half an inch inwards.

2. Folder fastener

Prong fasteners such as those from office files are just the right length.

TIP: If there any sharp parts, you might want to cut them and / or curl them inwards. I prefer using mini wire cutters and bent nose pliers over larger multi-purpose pliers, but according to my husband you can and should use whatever you already have at home. 

3. Aluminum foil

Cut a piece of aluminum foil 8″ long  x 6″ wide. Fold over in half width-wise 5 times. You can even sew through it with the sewing machine. No aluminum foil? Use thick tin foil from a baking dish or a disposable cookie sheet instead.

4. Twist ties

Use twist ties from bread loafs, gift bags, or trash bags. While you can use a single twist tie, it won’t be durable enough and won’t mold very well over your nose. I suggest two or three twist ties together. The resulting nose piece is both flexible and durable.
You can either sew the ties in the mask, or make a removable nose piece and slide it through a channel 3/8 inch away from the top stitch of the mask.

TIPS:

  • If you are taping your twist ties together, slide them through a channel and don’t sew them in as clear tape won’t withstand washing.
  • Don’t use paper twist ties, as the paper washes away during hot water washing and the sharp ends of the tie will show.

5. Paper clip

Unfold the paper clip and straighten it. It doesn’t have to be perfectly straight.

The resulting nose wire measures about 3.5 inches in length if you use a small/regular paper clip, and almost twice as long if you use a jumbo paper clip. Curl the edges just a little bit so it does not stick through the fabric.

TIP: While you can use the regular sized paper clip, the resulting nose piece is rather small (about 2.5-3 inches) and I recommend only using it for a child sized mask or if the other options are not available.

6. Pipe cleaner

Use a 12 inch pipe cleaner, fold it in half and twist together. The resulting nose wire measures about 6 inches in length.

TIP: Only use pipe cleaner if your nose piece is removable, as face masks are to be washed in higher temperatures and pipe cleaner wire may rust.


7. Other (non-conventional) options:

  • Christmas ornament hanger
  • Aluminum can – cut into strips and folded over, so that there are no sharp pieces that can rip through fabric
  • Heavy-duty waxed thread

How Long Should the Flexible Nose Piece Be?

After testing a lot of options, we found that the 6″ long nose wire was the most comfortable to wear and provided the best fit for an adult sized mask. Of course, depending on the mask of your choice and your personal preference, you may want to make it a bit shorter.

Not sure which face mask is the right fit for you?
Check out our FREE face mask tutorials:

how to sew a surgical face mask

Pin for later

Nose wire for face masks pin

TELL US: What did you use to make a flexible nose piece? Do you have any other ideas for the nose stay?
Do you have an idea for improvement? Leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 21 comments
Face Mask Pattern (FREE) - How To Make Diy Mouth Mask - March 25, 2020

[…] daily! Due to popular demand we designed a diy face shield from household materials, found the most suitable flexible nose wire materials, added a printable pdf of the instructions and a comprehensive list of hospitals in dire need of […]

Reply
Peggy Mauro - March 26, 2020

Thanks so very much for all your detail.

The hepa vacuum filter has many layers when cut apart.

How do I keep the layers together?

Does the filter have to go up high into the nose curve? Or is it mostly a rectangle?
My biggest concern is how to keep the filter layer edges sealed?

Sincere thanks , peggy

Reply
Kyle - March 27, 2020

I just read that some people were using an aluminum can that they cut into strips and fold over so that there are no sharp edges.

Reply
    Helen Spencer - March 27, 2020

    What a great idea. Thanks for sharing, Kyle

    Reply
Madeline-Keys - March 27, 2020

I found the pattern too small. I added 1/2 inch all around for myself and had to add an inch top and bottom and 3/4 inch on the face and ear side to fit my 6’ 4 “ bearded husband. Used elastic to go around head and neck instead of ears, adjusting elastic to about double the ear length. Good directions! Nice close face fit. Thank you!

Reply
Kellie Boehm - March 28, 2020

I found some aluminum duct tape ( used to seal duct work). I cut a. 6 1/4” strip, cut it in half lengthwise, then folded a pipe cleaner inside of that.

Reply
Liz Campbell - March 28, 2020

how do I share this info please

Reply
    Helen Spencer - March 28, 2020

    Hi Liz,
    We are adding the option to share with you social media friends. In the meantime you can simply share the link to this article on Facebook or Twitter

    Reply
Teresa - March 28, 2020

How do I add the wire to the mask?

Reply
    Helen Spencer - March 28, 2020

    There are few different ways to achieve that, depending on the mask model and your preference.
    1. Use zig-zag stitch
    2. Slid it inside the top middle of the bias tape (for masks with adjustable fabric ties such as this one)
    3. Make a channel 1/2 inch from the top (for masks with filter opening such as this one). Like so:

    Reply
Anna in Illinois - March 30, 2020

I have found a new product to use for the nose piece and I found it at my Dollar Tree store. It is called Flexible Tie and is meant to be used to tie up plants. It comes 16.5 feet in a package and I find that when I cut it, the plastic outside shifts to cover the wire inside. Best part right now is that it costs $1.00 a pack and I can get more than 30 from a pack. (actually I’m cutting 4-5 inch pieces and I’m getting about 45 from a pack). https://www.dollartree.com/garden-collection-flexible-twist-tie-165ft-spools/192099

Reply
    Helen Spencer - March 30, 2020

    Great tip and awesome value per nose piece. Thank you, Anna

    Reply
    Margie in California - April 2, 2020

    Wow thank you! I sure hope my local Dollar Tree has some in stock. I am going to make these masks as gifts for family members.

    Reply
Kelly - April 1, 2020

If you are a rural person and familiar with farm supply stores, you could use electric fence wire.

Reply
Russ - April 3, 2020

Have you tried rebar ties? They are 4” long and have a loop on both ends. They are annealed which means they are very flexible. You can get them at any Home Depot in the concrete area.

Reply
    Helen Spencer - April 3, 2020

    Good tip, Russ, thanks for sharing.
    We haven’t tried rebar ties but it looks like they might work. Let us know whether they do if you decide to try them.

    Reply
Judy - April 3, 2020

Flat heater wire for heating elements. I found it on Amazon and ordered it before I found this website. I haven’t tried it yet. Some of the options listed above are more readily available, cheaper, and might work better.

uxcell 10M 32.8Ft 0.2x6mm Nichrome Flat Heater Wire for Heating Elements https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E5RBB3I/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_c_api_i_3s5HEbTGVKZZP

Reply
    Helen Spencer - April 3, 2020

    That’s an interesting find. Drop by to say how it works as a nose piece
    The edges look sharp – maybe you can fold the edges inwards or wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil so that it won’t prick the fabric

    Reply
Jill - April 3, 2020

Before cutting into HEPA filters, please check what they are made out of. Many (if not most), are made of fiberglass or glass strands that can break when cut into. This can be dangerous for the lungs in that the micro pieces can be breathed in from the mask.

It is smart to research this before creating a mask using a HEPA filter insert.

Reply
    Helen Spencer - April 4, 2020

    Absolutely! Great reminder, Jill

    Reply
Sue - April 4, 2020

Thanks for the ideas for the nose “wires”

I want to ditto your suggestion to make pipe cleaners removable for washing. I use pipe cleaners to mold the ears of solft sculpture troll dolls. I learned the hard way after dying one head that the pipe cleaners started to rust immediately, and then broke into many pieces.

Perhaps they could be cased in masking tape, and then still put into a casing that allows removal for washing. This might make a very available nose piece wire last a little longer.

At any rate, I’d let anyone I was giving a pipe cleaner mask to know how to make a new one if it starts to break. Or provide an extra pipe cleaner.

Reply

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