How to fix a face mask

When the elastic on your face mask gets worn out, or your mask doesn’t fit well & isn’t easy to adjust, it’s easy to fix a face mask and make it fit just right!

 

In this tutorial you’ll learn how to fix a face mask.  It’s pretty easy to get that mask back in rotation!

 

And the cool thing about this tutorial on how to fix a face mask is that you’ll be able to easily swap out your elastic or ties in the future if they get worn out again.  If you’re using synthetic elastic, you can also take the elastic out of the channels before you wash your mask so that you don’t release microplastics into the water.

You can go through these same steps with any type of face mask – not just a pleated mask.

Here’s what you need:

Supplies to fix your face mask

 

1. Elastic or cording.

All natural materials are best.  About 1 yard should be enough to go around your head.  About 30” will go around the ears, depending on how stretchy your elastic is & your personal fit.  

2. Fabric scraps. 

The exact measurements depend on the mask you’re fixing.  I’ll walk you that out below :).  You might want to pick a fabric that matches your mask.  A lighter weight fabric is best – quilters weight/poplin cotton.  Organic is always easier on the earth than conventional cotton & if you need some organic cotton fabric, I’ve got some in the shop HERE.  

3. Measuring tape/quilting ruler/quilting mat

Anything to measure with :).

4. Scissors

5. Clips or pins

Clips are easier to use than pins, but use what you have!

6. Safety pin

7. Thread

8. Iron

9. Sewing machine

Image of supplies
Supplies needed to fix your face mask

Step 1: Cut off old elastic

-If it’s a synthetic elastic, you’ll need to toss it in your landfill trash or find a fabric recycler near you.  

-If its a cotton elastic, you can either recycle it with a fabric recycler or compost it.

Step 2: Measure your mask to figure out the cut of your scrap fabric

-The height of your scraps should be the height of the side edges of your mask plus 2”.  So if the side edges are 3” in height, your scraps will be 5” in height.

-Regardless of the height of your mask, the width of your scraps should be 3”.

Step 3: Turn the scraps into channels 

-Fold the top & bottom edges down ½”, iron, then fold again ½”, iron.  The final height of the scraps should be the same as the height of the mask edges.

image of fabric folded over to make hem
Top and bottom edges folded & ironed. Final height will be the same as the height of the mask.

-Stitch straight across the top & bottom edge to hold this hem in place.

image of hem
Stitch the hem down on both sides.

-Fold the side edges (the raw edges) in ½”, press at iron

image of fabric folded over
Fold sides over 1/2″ and press at the iron.

-Fold the entire scraps in half lengthwise (from top hemmed edge to bottom hemmed edge) and press at the iron. 

Image of scrap folded in half
Fold in half lengthwise so the hemmed edges are at the top & bottom.

Step 4: Clip to mask & sew on

-Using clips, connect the channels to the sides of the mask so that they overlap about ½”. 

image of fabric folded onto the edge of the mask
Overlap the channel of fabric about 1/2″ with the edge of the fabric.

-If you clip on the side, you can get the channel & mask under the presser foot without having to move the clip out of the way.

image of fabric channel clipped onto the mask edge
Clip the fabric onto the edge of the mask.

-Once you start sewing, move the side clip out of the way.

-Sew all the way down, then rotate the mask around so you can stitch a second row of stitches right next to the first row.  This makes the channels really secure.

-Backstitch when you get back to the start of your stitches so that the stitches are locked in. 

image of stitches
Stitch down the side with two rows of stitching to attach the channel to the mask.

-Repeat these steps on the other side of the mask

Step 5: Insert elastic & trim threads

-Using a safety pin, thread the elastic through the channels.   

Insert elastic into the channels using a safety pin.

-Tie a loose two strand overhand knot.

image of overhand knot

-Try your mask on & adjust your knot as needed.

-You can tuck the knot into the channel if you like.

-Trim any loose threads.

You’re done!

I hope this helps get your masks back in action.  If it does, I’d love to see it!  Tag #notracemaker on Instagram to share your fixed mask.

Thanks for reading!

Liz

 

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How to sew a zippered pouch!

Want to make a zippered pouch? Even if you’re new to sewing, you can make one in no time at all!

 

A zipper pouch is perfect for your pencils and markers, art supplies, toiletries, make-up, special things and more!  And these make the best little gifts for your loved ones!

 

So let’s go!

If you’d like to see a video of this process, head to https://youtu.be/rDwNvhW5AQo to watch me sew this up!

Here’s what you’ll need to make a zippered pouch

Supplies

  1. 7” zipper – try to find a cotton one with metal teeth – it’ll breakdown at the very end of its life, but polyester ones with plastic teeth will be on the planet FOREVER!
  2. Fabric- I love organic cotton fabric for my products – easier on the planet and the farmers and on us!  You’ll need to cut 4 pieces that measure  8.5”w x 5.5”l.  2 pieces are your outside or outer panels, and 2 pieces are your inside or inner panels.
  3. Matching thread – again, i’m all about the organic cotton!
  4. Plus your iron, some pins/clips, and  your sewing machine!

Now that you have your supplies, here are the steps to make your zippered pouch: 

 

Step 1: Attach the fabric to one side of your zipper 

  1. Line up your outer layer right side up with the top of the zipper facing down on top of your fabric.  So the right sides of the fabric is facing the right side/top side of the zipper.  Clip in place.  Or pin if you don’t have clips :).

2. Next, place the inner layer on top of the bottom of the zipper.  You’re making a zipper sandwich with the zipper in between your inner layer and outer layer of fabric.  Make sure that the right side of the inner layer of fabric is facing the right side of the outer layer of fabric.  Add this to your clips.

3. Put a zipper foot on your machine and stitch about ¼” from the edge of the fabric/zipper sandwich, removing the clips as you get close to them.  When you’re done, make sure you caught all the fabric and zipper tape in your seam.

4. Take your finished side to your iron and press the right sides down.  You’re trying to iron the fabric away from the zipper teeth as much as possible.  This way they won’t get caught when you’re trying to zip your pouch.  

Iron along this seam and make sure the fabric is pressed away from the zipper teeth.
Top stitched after ironing.

5. Take it back to your machine and top stitch all along this seam.

 

Step 2: Attach the fabric to the other side of your zipper

  1. Next, line up the remaining piece of outer layer of fabric on other side of the zipper – the side of the zipper that is still open/unattached.  Again make sure that the right side of your outer layer of fabric faces the top of the zipper.  Pin/clip in place.

2. Next, place the remaining piece of inner layer of fabric onto the bottom side of the zipper.  You’re again making a zipper sandwich.  The right sides of the inner and outer layers will be facing one another with the zipper in the middle.  Add the inner layer into your pins/clips.

3. Stitch together with the zipper foot close to edge.  Make sure you caught all the fabric and zipper in your seam.

 

4. Like you did for the other side of the zipper, press the right sides down and away from the zipper teeth as much as possible.  This helps them not get caught in the zipper teeth.

 

5. Top stitch all along this seam.

Top stitched after being ironed.

Step 3: Sew the sides of the bag

  1. Lay the bag flat on your surface so that the zipper is in the center, the outer layers are facing each other (right sides facing) and the inner layers are facing eachother (right sides facing).  Make sure that the zipper is at least partially open.
Make sure zipper is partially open.
Clip along sides, leaving 5″ opening.

2. You’re going to stitch all around the bag, leaving a 5” opening at the bottom, so first pin all around the bag and mark the area that you won’t sew closed.  This opening will let you turn the bag right side out later.  Make sure that the seams on the zippers are lined up with one another.  And have the zipper tape pointing down into the inner layer area of the pouch, rather than pointing up towards the outer layer fabric. 

Make sure the seam at the zipper is lined up when you clip it in place.

3. Start at one side of the 5” opening and start sewing all around.  Backstitch at the start and stop of the opening.  

 

Step 4: Finish the bag

  1. Turn the bag right side out through the bottom opening.

 

2. Sew shut the bottom opening.  You can iron this opening if it doesn’t fold in neatly before you sew it.

Stitch closed the opening at the bottom. Make sure all the fabric is pressed in and caught in the seam.

.

 

3. Trim any loose threads on the inside and the outside of the bag and you’re done!  

 

Wasn’t that easy?  Making a zipper pouch is a great beginner project.  Once you make one, you’ll want to make 10 more for everyone you know :).

 

If you make one, tag @no_trace_shop in Instagram and share your finished bag!  I’d love to see it.

 

Thanks for reading and for all that you do for our planet :).

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Learn how to sew on a sewing machine! 

Learn how to sew & make a simple napkin!

 

Do you want to learn how to sew?  It’s easier than you thought :).  In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to sew on a sewing machine.  

 

We’re going to make a simple napkin together, so let’s get started!

 

1. Supplies

photo of supplies - fabric, scissors, measuring tape, ruler
Here are the supplies you’ll need.

Here’s what you’ll need to learn how to sew:

  1. Fabric – you can use an old sheet for this project, or search the thrift stores for options, or go to your locally owned fabric store (HartsFabric.com in Santa Cruz has great options).  You can easily make 4 napkins from a yard of fabric.
  2. Thread.  You can get thread that matches your fabric, or just use whatever thread you have on hand.  I work with organic cotton thread, which can be hard to find, but it’s a great sustainable option.  
  3. Scissors
  4. Ruler
  5. Measuring tape
  6. Pins
  7. Iron & ironing board
  8. Marking pen or tailor’s chalk
  9. Sewing machine

2. How to set up your machine & thread it

  1. Find the spot where your spool of thread goes.
  2. Find a short post on the top of your machine, near the large spool, where the bottom bobbin goes to get wound up with matching thread.
  3. Thread from the spool of thread to the bottom bobbin.  There may be a path drawn on your machine showing how to get from the big spool to the bottom bobbin.  You generally go around at least one or two metal hooks to create some tension from the big spool of thread to the bottom bobbin.  To wind the bottom bobbin up, either press on your foot pedal or push a lever that’s just for winding the bottom bobbin.

    To thread the bottom bobbin in matching thread, follow a line from the large spool to the bottom bobbin.
  4. Once the bottom bobbin is threaded, cut the thread connecting it to the top bobbin and bring it down into the hook plate area, under your presser foot.  Thread the bobbin so that the thread is going AGAINST the notch in your hook plate area, as opposed to moving in the same direction.  The idea here is that you want the thread to come off the bottom bobbin with more tension, vs. come off with very little tension. 
  5. To thread the large spool of thread, you’re going to work your way down towards the needle, going through a few hooks and turns on the way.  Your machine might have a path displayed on the top, like this.  But if not, you’ll likely thread from the large spool to around a hook or plate.THEN move into these two long slots/notches on the machine right above the needle.  First, go down the long slot on the right,  then go back up again in the slot on the left.  You’ll find a hook inside the long notch on the left.  Turn the large round knob on the right side of your machine to make the hook come forward if it’s not visible. Thread the needle into that hook and then back down again towards the needle.  At the top of the needle, there will be a small wire or hook to hold the thread closer to the needle that you want to place the thread behind.  Then thread the needle from the front to the back.  Your machine might have an automatic threader or you can do it by hand or you can use a needle threader.  Then put the top thread under the presser foot.  You can also put the bottom thread under the presser foot if it comes out from the hook plate area.  On my machine, it stays down in there.
  6. Make sure your machine is set to a straight line stitch and that the stitch length is between 2-3mm.  I once borrowed a machine from a friend that she thought was broken – it was just in a zig zag stitch instead of a straight stitch so it kept hitting the presser foot and breaking!  Once we put it into a straight stitch, it worked great ;).
  7. Make sure your presser foot is in the down position before you start sewing.  There’s a handle on the back of your machine that moves your presser foot up and down. 
  8. Cut a scrap of fabric off or use a little rag and test some straight lines with your machine until you feel comfortable.  The more gently you press on the presser foot, the slower you will sew so take your time.  Repeat until you’re ready to tackle your napkin!

P.s. – If you want to watch a video of me threading my machine, CLICK HERE.

 

4. How to cut your fabric 

 

You can make your napkin any size you want.  17” x 17” is a pretty typical size.  The key is to add 2” to your desired final length and width before you cut it.

 

Another note: if your selvage edge (the part with the brand name printed on it) is wider than about ½”, you’ll want to cut that off before you take your measurements.

 

For this example, I made a 16” x 16” napkin.  I cut the fabric to 18” x 18” (added 2 inches all around.

 

Making marks at 18″ in a few spots on the fabric with a pen.

To cut your fabric, first fold it in half to make it a little easier to work with.  You might want to work on a large table or on the floor to have enough space to spread out.  Fold your fabric so that the edge is aligned evenly in at least one spot.  Take your measuring tape and make a mark at 18” from the edge (if you’re making a 16” x 16” napkin).  Make a few marks up the edge. 

 

Draw a line to connect the marks you made to make cutting easier.

Next get your ruler and draw a straight line connecting all of the marks that you made on the fabric.  Cut along the line.

 

Repeat this process on the other edge of the fabric by folding your fabric the other direction. E.g., if your fabric has a print with a direction on it, like flowers, fold so that the flowers are now pointed perpendicular to the direction they were pointed with the first fold.

 

Again mark 18” from the folded edge – make several marks along the edge.  Draw a straight line connecting the marks with your ruler, then cut along the straight line, just like you did for the first edge.

 

5.  Press & pin your fabric 

 

Take your fabric to your iron and press it flat.  Now you’ll fold up ½” on a side and then press it in place.  Repeat this for all sides of the napkin – fold it over ½” and press with the iron.  Then fold over each side another 1/2″ and press again.  This way all the raw edges are hidden in your hem.  

photo of fabric with edges folded 1/2
Fold edges 1/2″ on all 4 sides, press. Then fold again 1/2″ on all 4 sides, and press again.

Take your pins and pin the newly folded & pressed edges.  I put about 3 pins on each side.

fabric with hem pinned
Place pins along all 4 sides to pin hem in place.

6. Sew it up

 

Napkin is right side down so that I can see the hem I made. Sew close to the edge of the hem.

Take it to your machine and place it right side down.  This way you can see the hem and easily follow the straight edge. 

 

Pick a spot near a corner (but not on the corner) and sew straight down the side, making sure to capture the hem with your stitches.  Take your time, sew straight, and don’t go off the folded edge.

 

Sew slowly when you get near the corner. Sew close to the edge but not off the edge.

When you get to the corner, sew towards the bottom edge but don’t go off the fabric.  Press the reverse button (it probably looks like a u-turn) and go back a few stitches.  The goal is to stay on the corner and not go back onto the side.

 

Make sure the needle is in the down position.  Then lift up the presser foot and rotate the fabric so that you’re positioned to sew down the next side.  Press the reverse button and backstitch a few stitches.  Then sew straight down this side.  When you get to the corner, again go towards the bottom edge, backstitch a few stitches, rotate the fabric, backstitch towards the other side of the corner, and again go straight down the side.  

 

Repeat this until you get back to where your stitches start.

 

When you get to the side you started on, you’ll want to stitch over the original stitches with a few stitches, then back stitch, then forward stitch again just a few stitches.  This really locks those stitches in place so they won’t unravel.

 

7. Trim your threads

 

Once you’re done sewing, lift the presser foot and pull your napkin off the machine.  Your machine probably has a blade you can use to cut the threads, or just cut them with your scissors.

 

Next, carefully trim the threads very close to the fabric without cutting the fabric.  

 

Now you’re done!  

 

That’s it! 

 

Now you know how to sew!  Keep practicing with simple projects and before you know it, you’ll be sewing your own clothes!  Learning how to sew is taking a small stand for the planet.  Appreciating the effort that goes into making your stuff makes you a better and more thoughtful consumer.  And turning your old sheets and things into functional home goods is the greenest way to furnish your home.

 

Are you ready to sew?  What’ll you sew next?  Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading!

Liz at No Trace

 

p.s. I’ve got a tutorial on sewing a snack or sandwich bag HERE if you’re ready for your next project :-)!

p.p.s. head over to my YouTube channel for more video tutorials by clicking HERE.

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