Rethreading elastic into my masks
June 30, 2020 9:43 PM   Subscribe

I pulled the elastic (one big loop that ties) out of some cotton masks to wash them and realized I don't know how to easily rethread it.

Difficulty level: I can't currently find a safety pin or a straw, and the channel the elastic needs to be threaded through is too narrow to admit a pen. I looked up how to rethread a hoodie and most of the solutions involve one of those objects. The channel the elastic needs to be threaded through isn't that long, maybe 3-4 inches, but it's pretty narrow and the elastic is maybe 3/4 inch wide. Help!
posted by skycrashesdown to Grab Bag (15 answers total)
Do you have any wire? You can make a small loop in the end of a longish piece of wire and thread the elastic through the loop, then pass it through the channel. In a pinch, you might even be able to unbend a wire hanger and tie the end of your elastic to the end of the unbent hanger, then thread it through the same way.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:49 PM on June 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

And if you think you'll need to remove and replace the ties on a regular basis, get a drawstring threader!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:51 PM on June 30, 2020

Got a paperclip?
posted by kate4914 at 9:53 PM on June 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

I've used a bobby pin for this, if you have one handy.
posted by third word on a random page at 10:00 PM on June 30, 2020 [6 favorites]

Been there! Use a needle and thread. Thread the end of the elastic tightly with the needle and make a knot in the thread so the elastic is like an extension of the needle. Then feed the needle through the fabric with the elastic trailing behind it. You can probably also use something like a common nail, where you tie the elastic in a tight knot around the nail head and carefully feed the point of the nail through the fabric.
posted by oxisos at 10:17 PM on June 30, 2020 [5 favorites]

Is it a pen that you can take apart like the cheapo disposables? The inside bit would probably fit. I have better luck pushing the straight rigid thing through, then attaching the cord and pulling it back through. At least for short distances, cuts down on the total size of the thing you're trying to thread. I'd use a bamboo skewer, wire coathanger, the arm of my reading glasses, one of the removable tubes that come with some spray cans, the inside bits of a pen, a *tightly* rolled up piece of paper so that it's stiff and you can double it over and feed it through and then put the elastic in the loop and pull it back through.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:33 PM on June 30, 2020

Sometimes I’ve managed a temporary aglet by wrapping the end of the cord very tightly in a spiral of tape.
posted by clew at 10:35 PM on June 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

You can try using a skewer or chopstick: drape the end of the elastic over the top of the stick and hold the elastic while you push it through the channel.
posted by mezzanayne at 10:48 PM on June 30, 2020

Just last week I had to do this with a drawstring bag whose string became unknotted and pulled out.

I used a chopstick, and some clear tape to tape the end to the chopstick. Skewer was my backup plan, this this worked perfectly. Tape is the key-- you can fiddle all day with trying to push a limp band through a path-- use tape and save aggravation.

Next time you clean this mask, you do the reverse with, say, some dental floss, or some cheap string that you can dispose of without a second thought. Tie the floss to the elastic band while it's still in place in the mask, and as you pull out the band, it'll pull the floss through. Now tie the floss to itself in a loop, and wash. Later, cut the floss loop and reverse the procedure. The extra work of creating what I'd call a cable-pull string is worth not having to find the tape and the chopstick/skewer.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:21 AM on July 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

showbiz_liz's wire method is what I'd use, if I didn't have a bodkin. (Which is the actual name of a "drawstring threader." Odds are, you didn't know that.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:28 AM on July 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

I've used a safety pin for this (the bigger the safety pin that will fit through the channel, the quicker it will go). Pin the safety pin through the end of the elastic, push the pin into the channel and keep scrunching the fabric down over it and pushing it forward until it comes out the other end.
posted by octothorp at 8:57 AM on July 1, 2020

If the elastic will freeze (mostly) solid, then it may be strong enough to push through the channel.
posted by alaaarm at 11:20 AM on July 1, 2020

Seconding a paperclip, if you have one. I used one for this exact reason a couple of weeks ago. I pushed the pointy part of the paperclip right through the elastic and then just pretended it was a safety pin. It worked great.
posted by MangoNews at 11:29 AM on July 1, 2020

Some other ideas: a twist tie or the plastic thing off of a bag of coffee twisted around the elastic, even a thin piece of cardboard with a little cut that you "thread" the elastic through.
posted by echo0720 at 4:08 PM on July 1, 2020

Paperclips were it! It turned out to be considerably more obnoxious than anticipated because these masks are pleated and so the straightened paperclip kept getting caught in the folds instead of just pushing straight through. I was able to restring two of the three masks - the third may be a loss because I tried it first, didn't realize about the issue with the pleats/folds and tried to push a paperclip through without straightening it. Got caught on the folds going in, now won't come out. Alas.
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:58 PM on July 10, 2020

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