Oct 11, 2011

Keeping warm and staying cheap: A DIY head wrap tutorial

I've been eying a product at REI and other outdoor stores for a long time now. It's called The Buff Headwear and it's a multi use wrap that can be used as a scarf, head band, face mask, or bandana. It's an ideal accessory to throw in my backpack on hikes or camping trips that wouldn't take up much space and that I could use in a number of ways to keep warm. The only problem was, I couldn't justify spending $20+ for a sleeve of fabric. 

So I did some improvising. 

The last time I looked at The Buff, we were at a fishing/camping store in Pinedale. I took some mental measurements and noted the fabric that most of them were made from (about 2 feet by 1 foot of a knit that stretched only horizontally). Then I decided I would make my own. 

When we got home, I began the hunt for the perfect fabric and as luck would have it, I scored a remnant of this sweet tie dye knit for about $2 at the first place I looked.  

I took my measurements and made my cuts, being sure to cut two panels so that the pattern would carry from front to back when I wore it. I pinned and sewed my panels right-side together on three sides (so it was like an inside-out pillow case) and then flipped it right-side out (I'm sure these are very technical terms) to sew the final side together. Then, I matched up my two ends and sewed them together to make a large loop. 

That's it. Totally easy project for a very effective outdoor accessory that I have used almost every weekend since I made it. As expected, it takes up almost no space at all when stuffed into a backpack and I can even wrap it around my wrist when I'm not wearing it for one of these purposes:

It is great as a neck-warmer when I double it over my head

or for protecting my ears from the wind. 

It's also perfect looped around once as a scarf

or to block a certain rotten egg smell that might be seeping out of the ground

And, if you're a super bad ass like me, you can use it as a full face mask when riding on the back of a Harley and the temperature suddenly changes. 

Bad ass or creepy? I can't quite tell.

It has proven to be worth its weight in gold and I LOVE it. 

Oh and did I mention it was $2.00? Because it was. And that allows me to stick it to the wildly over-priced specialty stores who are probably making a 1000% profit on each one of these they sell.  

Take that!


  1. Where did you find the fabric?!?!?!? I don't necessarily need the same print, but it ROCKS!! And, I would love to make these for my friends for Christmas because scarves are amazing.

    1. Hi Jessica! I got the fabric at Hobby Lobby. I'm sure any stretchy knit would work well though. These would absolutely make great Christmas gifts! I'd love to receive one :) My only recommendation would be to use elastic thread, which I didn't do. This will help when stretching it around your head. Happy creating!!

  2. I was thinking about making one of these and then I saw your blog....I have the same fabric!
    Okay I have a silly question.... how long is your scarf before you sew it into a loop? I got confused when you mentioned you double it over your head....

    1. Hi Kika! Thanks for reading. I think my fabric was about 24 inches before sewing it together. You can kind of play with the length before you sew, just make sure it's long enough to double it over your head if you want a tighter fit. Hope this helps!

  3. Thanks for sharing this! To clarify, did you cut two pieces of fabric, each 24 x 12? Then, after closing the open end (After turning right side out), sew the two short (12") ends together?

    Thanks again!

  4. Do you know exactly what type of fabric it was? I don't have a hobby lobby near me, and would have to order it online!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, you could probably use any knit fabric, but I would look for one that is mostly cotton but has some spandex/lycra in it for stretch recovery. There are a couple facebook groups which sell 95/5% cotton lycra at a decent price (solid is $6.50 and higher for some prints) The groups are called the purple seamstress and nr fabrics. Etsy has a bunch of fabrics with lycra in it. If you use just 100 percent cotton I think it might stretch as you wear it and not go back to its original shape. Make sure you use the appropriate needle for the knit with lycra in it :-). I haven't made one, but I'm going to today with the 95/5 solid fabric.

    2. Hi! I might shy away from using cotton if you plan on doing a lot of hiking and outdoorsy activities. Cotton takes a long time to dry, and if it's raining and just might not be great. A nice merino knit would have similar properties of elasticity, but would be antimicrobial and continues to insulate when wet.

  5. Thanks for your tips. I am going to Iceland in March , but I live in Houston. I can't justify the cost of a Buff. I am going to try to make one out of a soft merino wool sweater I got cheap on eBay. I think I can use the sleeves for hand warmers. Wish me luck.

  6. A friend of mine has cancer and another lady said when she was going for chemo she wore one of these. Going to make a couple to see if she will like these. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Came by looking for DIY buffs. Wearing a buff, but wanting another as I write, a cheap way to get several is to cut sections of leg from a flannel polar fleece pajama bottoms. Buy a pair of large or XL men's if you need a larger fit. Hem the edges if you want. I did this years ago when living in Wales. I needed the buff more than the jammies.

  8. I would love if you made a video making it! For me, it'd be easier to follow. So glad I found this post!


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