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Make your own Balaclava (or ski-type mask)

Our Colorado skies have dropped several thick blankets of snow lately…..and my kids are in absolute HEAVEN!  Even if we don’t have time to head to a sledding hill, they are perfectly content stepping outside in the backyard building snow castles, making snow angels, throwing snow balls, and well, just plain ol’ kicking around in this stuff!  And me?  I usually watch them from inside…….with my slippers on!  It’s a tough job……but someone needs to have full feeling in their fingers to make the hot cocoa afterwards. :)


But, I’m pretty sure kids don’t have a functioning internal thermometer….because those little rascals can stay out there for the longest time.  And the biggest reason they come in, is because their face is cold.  And their poor little noses are FROZEN.


And bless Connor’s little heart, he has my thin skin (sorry buddy…..blame grandma!).  So the moment he runs around doing any type of exercise, his face gets flushed.  And once he steps outside in the cold…..the same thing, his skin immediately gets flushed.  So, once they all come in to defrost from an hour or so of playing outside in the snow, his cheeks are the reddest of all.  And take the longest to turn back to normal flesh color.


So……he was my first subject.  Because those frozen red cheeks/nose, were screaming at me to help keep them warm!


So, I made him a super-quick Balaclava.  All from some scrap fleece……and a little fold-over elastic.  Simple.





The opening of the Balaclava is stretchy… if it starts bugging him, or if he feels warm enough, he can pull it down under his chin.





But brrrrrrrr………..when it’s chilly outside, you know it’s that steamy breath that helps keep your face warm.  This very breathable Balaclava keeps all that warmth held right in.





The top is nice and snug, to conform to his head….but also helps keep the opening right at his eyes.  It also comes down long enough to cover his neck and to stay tucked into his jacket.






It’s totally perfect for this little snow bunny.  (And for the record…….he calls this his “Clumsy Ninja” mask.  And even wears it inside, while doing his “Clumsy Ninja” moves.  Ha!  Does anyone else have that app?  Pretty cute.)






Alright buddy……now you are ready to stay outdoors for hours.


I guess I better hurry and make your sisters one.  And me too, for that matter (I do love sledding)! This Colorado winter isn’t getting any warmer…




Would you like to make one too?




  • Fleece, 1/2 of a yard
  • Fold-Over Elastic, 1 yard (5/8 – 3/4 inch wide)
  • Paper Balaclava Pattern (fit for my 5 year old, with a large head….make adjustments as necessary)


I created the paper pattern to fit my 5 year old just right.  He, however, has a large head.  So, it’s probably more like a 10 year old head.  However, kids’ heads don’t grow much past the age of 2-3…..up until adulthood.  So the pattern I made may fit your adult head perfectly.  If not (or it doesn’t fit your child like you’re wanting), you’ll have to shrink it down just a bit, as needed.


Use the pattern (or create your own) to cut out 2 pieces, with right sides together.  BE SURE TO CUT YOUR BALACLAVA PIECES WITH THE STRETCH GOING FROM RIGHT TO LEFT….SO THAT IT WILL STRETCH CORRECTLY OVER THE HEAD.



Then, place the pieces together with right sides together….and then sew together around the the top and sides (using a 1/4 inch seam allowance), skipping the cutout for the eyes.  Be sure and leave the bottom edge open as well.



Sew another straight seam, right next to the first one, for extra reinforcement.



Then, begin pinning your fold-over elastic around the eye opening of your balaclava…..sandwiching it around the edge of your fleece.  As you’re folding your elastic around the fleece, pull the elastic slightly, to help ease the elastic around the curves and to keep it from puckering when you sew.  You’re not going to stretch it a ton…..just ever so slightly.  Use pins to keep it in place.

((**Why Fold-Over Elastic?  Well, it’s really soft [generally used as a waistband for underwear] and isn’t bulky, like other elastics.  It also maneuvers really well around the curves and will help your balaclava keep its shape.  I have found mine on and have even seen it lately in fabric stores, like Joann’s.))




Once you make it all the way around, leave the two ends of elastic free…….and then sew the pinned areas of the elastic in place, with a zig-zag stitch.  Just be sure to leave several inches free at both ends of your elastic. (If your elastic is pulling and stretching out as you sew, increase the stitch length a bit, so that it will skip over more fabric with more stitch…..which will help with the pulling.)



I used the center seam of the front of the balaclava as my guide for where I would join my two elastic ends…….so I pulled one end over to where it would reach the seam of the fleece and placed a pin there.



I did the same with the other elastic end and added a pin.



Then, I placed the two elastic ends together, with right sides together…..then pinned them together, right where the two original pins were placed.  Then, I sewed a seam right where the pin was inserted.



Trim off the excess elastic ends, then sandwich the remaining elastic around the rest of the eye opening.  Pin in place.



Then continue zig-zagging the rest of the way around.



Add more fold-over elastic around the bottom of the balaclava…..the exact same way.



And that’s it!  A quick balaclava for this chilly weather! :)



Good luck!





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  1. Barbara Dunlop says:

    This pattern has been a lifesaver. My grandson was severely burned on the back of his head last year at the age of two. For 68 days his head had to stay bandaged. He would not leave the bandages alone so they kept falling off. I found this pattern and made him a bunch of these out of 100 percent cotton knit. I simply serged around the outer edges. The area around his face could be pulled down under his chin, So simple. I have now made him more since he just underwent the first of many surgeries to repair the scars on the back of his head. Thank you for posting this pattern.

  2. Jen says:

    I just found this pattern, and laughed about your child's head being a 10 year old size at age 5. My husband's head is larger-than-average, and two of my kids inherited that trait. I'm well-versed in kids with large heads – my daughter had to have shirts with shoulder snaps, button-downs, or a LOT of stretch to get them on! I'm going to make one of these for my youngest, who has outdoor learning/recess at his preschool, and it gets quite cold. If it doesn't fit him, it should fit his big-headed brother, LOL, and I'll adjust the pattern smaller!

  3. Natalie Strand says:

    Thank you for this great pattern! It was the perfect shape for my kids’ ninja costumes this Halloween (I’ve linked to your tutorial in my blog posts about them), and now I want to make them actual fleece balaclavas for when they play in the snow this winter! P.S. Here’s a link to the overview post about the ninja costumes:

  4. Pingback: Costumes 2019: Lloyd and Nya (Ninjago) | Vegetablog
  5. Holly says:

    Thank you for this!!!! You are so awesome!

  6. Amanda Smedry says:

    My bro will be existed!!!

  7. Cathie says:

    Reiterating question about whether the elastic is necessary–particularly at the bottom.

    I totally love this, and I’m making two to got under the Christmas tree for my twins. :)

  8. Lauren says:

    Making one for my 7 year old nephew. I bought the 5/8 inch foldover elastic because that is what I could find but really had trouble sewing it without it pulling out and having to rip out multiple times, especially on the very curvy part. Any tips on how to make this easier other than getting the wider elastic? I found it difficult to pin that narrow edge and have it stay while sewing. Loved your color choices on the one in the tutorial– very cute– and the perfect pattern for what I was looking for!

    1. Lauren says:

      PS would you consider making a pattern for convertible mitten to match? :)

  9. Kathleen says:

    Have you made one for an adult size head yet? I plan to make one for my husbands beanie exchange but all of them have giant heads….Im not sure how to change the pattern to fit. Mostly I’m worried about the eye hole. Any suggestions? I love the pattern and the look…just need to figure out how to enlarge….

    1. Lauren says:

      FYI, I tried this on my 13 and 10 year old girls and it fit fine with a 1/4 inch expansion on the side seams. I would go an inch larger around and then try it on your husband and adjust the size of the eye hole. When you get it good then use that one as your pattern for the big guys.

  10. Paula says:

    I had to add 2″ to make it big enough for my little guy. Think it’s all his curly hair! :-) Thank you so much for the pattern! Our first Winter in VA coming from the sunny desert. I want to make one for ME next! :-) Thank you again!

  11. Perrine says:

    Very nice pattern done in grey and pink for my 3 yo daughter. Very easy to use under a ski helmet.
    We are now ready for snow !
    Thank you so much!!!

  12. scott says:

    Im not sure what I did wrong I cut out the pattern cut out the material stitched it up (hand) and I ended up with a balaclava for a cabbage patch doll lol does the pattern need to be enlarged?

  13. Ksenia says:

    Thank you so much for this! Just what we need for our cold winters in Russia! But when I follow the link for the pattern, it doesn’t open, i get “the image contains errors and cannot be open”… I wold very much like to make this balaclava, maybe you can reload the image or fix it any other way?
    Thanks a lot!

  14. Darline says:

    Thanks so much Halloween costume the Evil Witch one and I needed one.

  15. Jane says:

    I have searched for months looking for this type of pattern. U are a life saver. I am going to adapt it to make a new Spider-Man mask for my 4yr old grandson as his has seen better days and we have been unable to buy another one. Thank you so much for your wonderful site. I think I will be coming back for regular visits

  16. CAPERNIUS says:

    This is a very cool idea!! TY for sharing.

    I have been wanting to make a warm winter hat for when I take my dog out to do his “business”…

    Though you made this for your son, I can adapt it to fit me & maybe change a few things so it does not look like it was made/designed for a small boy.

    BTW, I just LOVE that orange color!

  17. Suzette says:

    Thanks for this pattern. I used it to make a Ninja mask for my son.

  18. Veronica says:

    Thank you for sharing! My son has also been asking for a “ninja mask.” I found a pattern that I was going to make work, but your pattern is much better!

  19. Danielle says:

    OMG. Thank you so much for this!!!! I saw this in the newsletter I get from Make It & Love It, best thing ever. I was super excited because the two-year-old I nanny for has thin skin too. Her poor little cheeks take such a beating! They get red and puffy like someone slapped her :( We put this eczema cream on, just her cheeks get like this in cold weather. And we like in PA. So this is PERFECT for her and our upcoming ski trip. Yes, like we don’t have enough snow here. LOL. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! Now let’s just hope I can make it look as good as yours!!!! PS I made her a little rag doll from the pattern here, OMG she LOVES her doll!!!!!! Let me tell you, I am loving this blog!!!!! So thanks a million, Ashley!!!!!!!

  20. Leslie says:

    your elastic looks so nice and flat…mine turned out a bit wavy. Did i pull too much? maybe not pull enough when pinning? or my stitch length was too short? it fits so nice around your sons nose and eyes (maybe just because you made the pattern for his head?) the rest fits my sons head perfect, just not the cutout eye area.

    1. Liz says:

      I just did one for my boy and girl last night. My elastic was also wavy. I didn’t think I pulled it at all. It doesn’t look nice and flat either…Hmmmm….

  21. Heather says:

    Totally misread this and was expecting a recipe for that delicious flaky Greek pastry…. LOL

  22. Kathy says:

    I made one of these for my husband several years back..he only had a black cotton one?!?! I used our leftover fleece from one of your other tutorials. Ever since then each of the kids have asked for one of their own. I had to modify it for my 5 yo because the seams bothered her, so I folded my fabric and only did a seam in the back and top of head. Happy family now!

  23. Anne says:

    This is awesome!!! I’ve linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip:


  24. Ellen says:

    We love our “Ninja” masks! The kids can be seen wearing them all year too while playing “ninja” with each other!

  25. Nancy Morin says:

    Perfect Item…Perfect sewing directions…love this

  26. Laura says:

    I actually made one of these for my little guy a couple years ago when he was 3. I couldn’t find one in any store that was small enough. It looked very homemade. At the time, I wasn’t familiar with fold-over elastic. I may try making my boys some new ones with a great fleece that actually look professional this time around!

  27. Mary says:

    A muff is a hand warmer. They use to wear them in 1940’s-50’s.
    It looks like a tube but wide. It could have a long ribbon attached to wear around the neck, or a wristlets type to wear at your wrist.

  28. nikki says:

    awesome, so glad you shared this

  29. Trish says:

    What an excellent idea! Today, I wished I had had one of these. It’s been so cold, I’m wearing a Santa’s helper hat to bed at night. Keeping the head covered is sooooo important. Glad you shared this idea. I’ll be sewing one for my family members. Thanks again.

  30. Amber says:

    It is like you knew exactly what I needed! Joann’s has all their remnant fleece 50% off of the already discounted price. I have enough fleece to make 5 and spend less then $10! Best. Post.Ever! Ok, not ever, but very exciting to this mom!!!

  31. Katy Roberson says:

    Thank you! I have never thought of making one of these, but I know that my kids would be so grateful so they could play in the snow even longer!

  32. Karen says:

    A few months ago I was searching for a balaclava pattern so I could make one for my daughter. She is 5, and it is COLD in Saskatchewan (Canada). Most balaclavas that you buy here are black – I wanted something cute! So a sincere thank you! for providing this pattern. It is exactly what I was hoping for.

  33. Grammy says:

    Is the elastic necessary? What if you serge the raw edges? This will be for a 1 year old. I printed the pattern at 85%. Thanks

  34. las says:

    What size fold over elastic did you use? I can’t wait to try these.

    1. Ashley says:

      I used 5/8 inch wide elastic…..but a 3/4 inch elastic would work too. And thanks for asking….I just added that to the supply list. :)

  35. sorahart says:

    Very clever! I never would have thought about making these at home. So fun!

  36. Mary says:

    Do you have a pattern for muff? I would like to put alittle zipper pocket inside of it.

    1. Ashley says:

      Hmmmm, I’m not sure what a muff is? Explain and I’ll let you know if I do! :)

    2. Anonymous says:

      See muffs at Google images. It is a thick padded hand warmer, used in the last century.….0…1c.1.58.img..0.16.1664.2r0c43FS6aw

  37. Darlene says:

    cant find the pattern either

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh, sorry, I forgot to actually add the pattern to the pattern page. Oh gee. :) If you follow the link in the tutorial, it’s there now….all the way at the bottom. -Ashley

  38. Susan M. says:

    I so needed this tute last week when we had sub-zero temps and snow here in NC!

    BTW, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what “baklava” and a ski-mask had to do with each other and got so tickled when I realized that I had misread the “baklava”. Had a good laugh at myself!

    1. Ashley says:

      Hahahahaha!!! That’s hilarious! But, it totally looks similar….and that’s kinda why I added the “ski mask” part to the title. Because most people probably don’t know the name of this thing!

    2. Maureen M. says:

      I did the same thing…it does say balaclava but my mind read baklava…not sure what that says about me and Susan M. :) Maybe that could be another tutorial, though…

  39. Silvana says:

    I can’t find the pattern to print.

    1. Ashley says:

      Oops, sorry, I forgot to actually add the pattern to the pattern page. Oh gee. :) If you follow the link in the tutorial, it’s there now….all the way at the bottom. -Ashley

  40. Allison says:

    Wow! This is SUCH a good idea. THanks for sharing!

  41. Nicole Z. says:

    I’m not finding the pattern. Hoping to make one of these for each of my kids!

    1. Ashley says:

      Ack, sorry, I forgot to actually add the pattern to the pattern page. Oh gee. :) If you follow the link in the tutorial, it’s there now….all the way at the bottom. -Ashley

  42. HollowSquirrel says:

    PERFECT TIMING!! Just looking for one for my boys… I can’t find the pattern to print. Will you be adding it soon? Thank you!!

    1. Ashley says:

      Sorry, I forgot to actually add the pattern to the pattern page. Oh gee. :) If you follow the link in the tutorial, it’s there now….all the way at the bottom. -Ashley

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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