Sewing Indie Month: A Buff Tutorial

Mari’s very kindly let me hijack her blog today to show you truly one of the easiest, yet most versatile items you’ll ever make. If you’re anything like me, you’ll take a look and think “Really? Just a tube of fabric?” but trust me on this – it’s super useful and if you know anyone who’s into adventure sports, they will love you forever if you make them a few from your jersey scraps. Win for them and a win for you as you’re clearing out your scraps to make room for more fabric, right?!

In short, yes, this is just a tube of fabric. But like the infinity dress, it’s a lot more than that – you can wear it as a muff around your neck, a headband, a balaclava, a scrunchie, a do-rag, and (the coolest IMHO) with a twist, you can make it into a beanie, too. The original Buff man explains it best in their slick video.

A friend of mine came to visit recently and he’s a big bouldering fan (that’s rock climbing without the ropes, to you and me!). He wears Buffs all the time while climbing, and says they’re great in the winter for keeping warm, great in the summer dipped in ice water for keeping cool, and great all year round to prevent rubbing or chafing from helmets, too. They’re also a big hit with trail runners, hikers, and snowboarders, too!

The original Buffs that you buy are a seamless tube of fabric, but unless you have your own jersey loom (didn’t think so), we’ll just have to accept having one seam in ours!

You’ll need:

    • A piece of jersey 46cm x 50cm (about 18in x 20in). This needs to have good stretch and recovery, but should be soft against the skin, too. Wicking fabrics or merino wool jersey are ideal!


    • Sewing machine or serger (overlocker) with matching thread


    • Large-eyed needle (optional)


Step One – Cut

Cut your fabric down to 46cm high by 50cm wide, with the stretch running across. I’ve included 1cm seam allowances on the sides, but the top and bottom will be left unfinished (like in the original) as jersey will just curl instead of fray. If you’d prefer to hem the top and bottom, add seam allowances onto there, too.

Step Two – Sew

Fold the left side over to the right, and sew along the right edge. If you’re using a sewing machine, sew with a narrow zigzag stitch. Or if you’ve got an serger (overlocker), use that!

Step Three – Finish

If you’ve used a serger (overlocker) in the last step, you’ll need to tuck your thread tails inside the seam so they don’t unravel (Fray Check can be scratchy when it dries, so try to avoid that here). If you opted to finish off your top and bottom edges, fold these to the inside now, and topstitch using a twin needle (or coverstitch machine).

Step Four – Wear

Turn it right-side out and it’s ready to wear!

Not often do you come across an item that’s easy and quick to sew, only uses scraps, makes a great gift and is super useful, too! My friend liked this example monsters version so much that he wore it all day then took it home with him!

This post is getting a HUGE amount of traffic recently (for obvious pandemic-related reasons!) so first of all, big up my hosting provider for bumping up my bandwidth without charge, because y’all have absolutely crushed through my normal allowance.

Also, while I’ve got your attention, please have a look at my activewear sewing patterns over at – there are even some free and very beginner-friendly patterns to take your newfound sewing skills to the next level. If you need some help and advice, check out my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book, or my Bluprint “Serging Activewear” class. Stay safe, people! -melissa, May 2020


Add Yours
  1. 1

    Thank you for explaining so easily how to make a buff headband! Would you please convert your 46 cm x 50 cm to inches, please. Thank you. Jade.

    • 5

      Good question! You should topstitch with a stitch that can stretch with the fabric as it goes over your head. So something like a zigzag, twin needle or a triple-zigzag would work.

  2. 7
    Deborah Murphy

    Love this idea! Do you know what dimensions would be appropriate for a kids size (ages 2-5)? Thanks!

    • 8

      Sorry – I don’t have kids so I have no idea what size yours would be. Why not experiment with smaller rectangles and see what fits over their heads snugly?

      • 9
        Deborah Murphy

        Thank you for responding. I don’t have kids either and their in lies the problem! I’d like to make them for my nieces and nephews. I might take a guess at it. I’m also looking for any suggestions from people who have successfully trained their children to keep masks on. I thought this style might work well for parents trying to get their kids to cover their faces. I think this will be a real challenge for parents and teachers. I feel a lot of sympathy for parents right now.

        • 10

          Maybe get their parents to measure the circumference of a teeshirt neckband for you? That might give you a good baseline for what can fit over their head in a similarly stretchy material.

  3. 11
    fay moseley

    I think a good judge would be to look at children’s hat patterns for knitting. Most adult hats are between 20-22 inch. Children’s around 18 inches around. And width, look at patterns for a children’s cowl. It will usually say how long to knit it possibly 12 – 14 inches long. Make a sample to see how it goes then you can adjust plus or minus. Good luck! Fazie

  4. 12
    Teresa Dustin

    Thanks! Looks super easy! Face coverings are required this year for summer camp, so I’m using everything in my stash that’s stretchy. Beats spending another $100 or more for something else for the kids to lose. You’re a lifesaver!

  5. 13

    My kids have the original buff which has no seam but measures about 8.5” across when laying flat…. so double that plus seam allowance maybe?

  6. 16
    Karine Savage

    How do you wear it as a hat because there is a hole? It would be for a friend to cover her head due to hair loss caused by chemo. I want it to be as confortable for hervas possible. Thanks

      • 18
        Karine Savage

        Thanks so much. Someone had actually recommended this pattern to me, but didn’t know it was yours . Will have a go. I made also some of the ones above and fou a way ( the one you said actually) to twist, fold and turn to make it a hat and the hole at the top is not noticeable. Will see what my friends prefers.

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