If you Can’t Find Elastic For Your Face Masks, Use T-Shirt Yarn

Shortage of elastic?

Yep, with so many DIY face masks are being sewn worldwide the demand for elastic has skyrocketed.

If elastic is in short supply where you are, t-shirt yarn could be a good, free and available alternative.

if you can't find elastic for your face masks, use t-shirt yarn
if you can't find elastic for your face masks, use t-shirt yarn

Click here for the complete step-by-step photo tutorial.

If you’re not busy sewing masks, here are a couple of other ideas on what to do with your t-shirt yarn.

Wall hanging

t-shirt yarn wall hanging


t-shirt yarn rug

I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and sound.


About The Renegade Seamstress

I'm a busy wife, mom, grandma, and teacher who loves to create. I've joined the refashion scene and I 'd like to share and connect with all those talented and creative people out there doing similar things.
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39 Responses to If you Can’t Find Elastic For Your Face Masks, Use T-Shirt Yarn

  1. Edith says:

    I have heard from some relatives who are nurses the elastic starts to hurt and they prefer ties since they are being worn all the time now. Some are making ties out of bias tape.

  2. Lacey Capps says:

    Just in time. Making masks and can’t find any elastic. THANK YOU!

  3. KT says:

    You can also try using 2 elastic hair ties on each side, to loop over the ears.

  4. Valerie says:

    I recently retired a fitted sheet and got enough elastic out of it to make at least 10 masks 🙂 Just a thought for anyone with an excess of bedding lying around!

  5. Angela says:

    Thanks for the idea. I just tested it out, and I have one suggestion for others trying it. Add 2 inches to your length. For example, I was cutting 7 inches of elastic, so I had to cut the yarn at 9 inches. It works well, and I think it will be more comfortable compared to elastic.

  6. Elaine says:

    How do you keep the tshirt yarn from becoming a tangled mess in the wash? I made and washed about 10 of them and spent 20 minutes untangling the ties.

  7. Erin Lea says:

    The t-shirt yarn idea is a lifesaver! Nurses have requested that I sew ear loops, not ties, for speed and ease of placement. Do you have recommended lengths of t-shirt yarn to make the ear loops for men, women, and children? I’ve been using 7″, 6″, and 5″ of elastic, respectively, and I know the yarn has less stretch. Maybe 9″, 8″, and 7″ of the knit yarn?

    • Thank you Erin for making these for the nurses. Sorry, I don’t have a recommended length.

    • J Haller says:

      I have the same question. A six-inch piece of elastic will stretch to almost 12 inches, but is too tight to wear when stretched that far. At nine inches, the tension seems to be okay. A six-inch piece of t-shirt yarn (curled and ready) only stretches to about 7 inches, also too tight to wear.

      To substitute the 6-inches of elastic, I’m experimenting with 9- to 11- inch pieces of t-shirt yarn made into adjustable ear loops by using two “pony beads” or a pony bead plus a knot. The bead captures two strands of the loop and slides back and forth to get a good fit. So far, it can be adjusted so the bead rests behind or under the ear, where does not interfere with glasses, jewelry, hearing aids, ear buds, hats, hair styles, etc. If the face mask is narrow, the ear loops need to be longer. I wish we had a good rule of thumb to calculate a near-universal-fit.

      Pony beads, in various colors, are found in the child section of the craft store and cost about $5 or less for 500 beads. I hope this message invites others to chime in!

      • Erin Lea says:

        I just bought a package of the small, clear poly hair bands, and I’m using them in the same way you’re using the pony beads. I attach them to the t-shirt yarn ear loops as you would tighten a regular rubber band, and then they can be adjusted for optimal fit.

      • Sharon says:

        I can’t believe I didn’t think of pony beads before! I’ve made half a dozen masks with them as adjustment stops and I’m not going back to just fixed elastic. I ordered some 1/8 inch elastic from an Amazon seller and it wasn’t 1/8 at all, it was 1/4! So I ordered from another seller and it’s really nice, soft and comfortable. I’ll also use up my tee shirt bits to make elastics. Great!

  8. Dale says:

    I’m selling for a lot of hospital workers right now. Why do you need to make the diagonal connection? Why can’t you cut straight across?
    Thank you

  9. Dale says:

    My post should say “sewing”, not selling!

    Does the diagonal cut somehow increase the fabric’s rolling ability? Really curious. Thank you

  10. Jean Cogdill says:

    Just wanted to thank you for the t-shirt yarn demo…. it’s perfect! I found 3 t-shirts to use and it’s impressive how much yarn you can get from 1 shirt.

  11. Meg says:

    Does it matter what fabric the tee shirts are made from? I have only used 100% cotton so far, but I have other cotton blend or different material tee shirts that I possibly could cut up, but I don’t want to cut them if they won’t work (at that point I would use them for something else or donate). Thanks!

    • Erin Lea says:

      I found a precut 4-yd piece of cotton/poly blend jersey knit in the Walmart fabric dept, and it’s working well. I’m just careful with my iron placement since I use all cotton fabrics and don’t want to scorch the knit. Also, be sure not to use ribbed knit because it doesn’t curl into “yarn” like jersey knit.

  12. Pingback: Make Your Own Cloth Face Mask

  13. Lisa Blake says:

    How wide do you cut the t shirt strips to get both ends through one pony bead in order to have an adjustable ear loop?

  14. nallepolundberg says:

    Hi! I made t-shirt yarn to use instead of elastic but my t-shirt yarn isn’t very stretchy at all. Do you know why? Am i cutting it too thin? Thanks!

    • Hmmmmm all of the yarn I’ve made has been stretchy. All I can think of was perhaps it might’ve been the material of the t-shirt you used. Was it stretchy to begin with?

    • Debbie Sinclair says:

      I had that happen with the first t-shirt I used. It had side seams but since I was just looking for strips, I thought it would be ok. I think the problem was the content of the fabric. If you are working with a blend, try something that is 100% cotton and see if that helps.

      • nallepolundberg says:

        It was 100% cotton but not so very stretchy to begin with. I’ll just try to find an old t-shirt that’s stretchy and maybe has some elastain in it …

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