TUTORIAL: Fleece Balaclava

What is a balaclava?  It is a piece of cold weather headgear that provides full head, neck and face protection. It is adjustable and can be worn as a neck gator, full face mask, or partial face mask.  Very handy for people who are exposed to extended cold, by choice or by occupation.

So, get a piece of fleece and let’s get sewing!



3/4 to 1 yard 58-60″ fleece (This will make two, and you may as well cut them out and assemble them at the same time.)

1 barrel clasp (or two, if you are making a set)

18-22″ mid-weight elastic cording (or 38-44″, if you are making a set)


NOTE:  When sewing fleece I use a stitch length of about 3 or 3-1/2 on a narrow (1-2) zig zag setting.  This allows for the stretch of the fabric and prevents thread breakage. You may want to use this  method, too.

1. Print out the pattern pieces and assemble.  Pieces should be placed edge to edge with no overlap. You have a choice between small, medium and large. Small is suitable for a child maybe age 8 and up to a small woman.  A medium fits me and I am an average size woman.  Large works well for my husband, who is a big man (6’3″).  I hope you will find something that works for your situation.

With any luck at all, if you click on the appropriate size, a PDF file will open for printing.  Good luck!

Balaclava small

Balaclava medium

Balaclava large

2. If using whole pieces of fleece, you can fold the fleece in half twice, allowing you to cut two balaclavas at a time.  Make sure to place the pattern on the fold on the correct side.

3. With right sides together and using a 3/8″ seam allowance, sew all along the curved side of the fabric.

4.  Still with right sides together, turn up a cuff on the bottom.  For size Large–4″, size Medium–3-1/4″, size Small–2-1/2″.  Sew along the edge of the cuff, about 1/4-3/8″ from raw edge.

5. On the bottom corners of the face mask opening, make 3/4″ cuts at a 45-degree angle.  This allows you to fold back the seam allowance for the cord to pass through.

6. Still rights sides together, fold out a flap 3/4″ and pin down.  You should have a straight fold along the bottom of the face mask area and a fold along the arch of the face mask area.

There will be a gap between the folds.  Don’t worry about that.

7. Stitch along the raw edge, about 5/8″ from the fold.  Your zig zag should catch the raw edge. When you get to that gap we just talked about, just maintain your seam allowance and sew around through the gap and to the next fold in a curve.  This will look nice and stabalize this area.

8. It is time to prepare your elastic.  Cut your cord.  For size Large–22″, size Medium–20″, size Small–18″.  You will need to use a lighter or something similar to singe the edges so they do not fray.  Be careful to not burn yourself.

9. Turn the balaclava right side out.  Starting on the left side, run the cord up through the arch of the face mask portion where you just created the tube.  The cord is stiff enough that it pushes through fairly easily.

10. Sew down the left end of the cord approximately 1″ from the end of your tube.  Reinforce stitching to keep the end of the cord in place.

11.  On the free end of the cord on the right side, slide the barrel clasp into place and tie a secure overhand knot about 1 or 1-1/2″ from the end.

12.  Ta-dah!  Enjoy the cold weather!

GALLERY–Share yours here!

Here’s one a terrific mother made.  She said that her boys “both prefer it loosened completely.  One kid made me remove the clasps because they bug him, but he still likes it, and it is way warmer than all his other hats.

20 thoughts on “TUTORIAL: Fleece Balaclava

  1. how interesting..i will print this off–all 3 sizes–watch for a remnant of fleece and make a couple later this winter..i have a couple of people in mind for them…thanks for the tutorial..i have knit them but never sewn them…

  2. I may try and make one of those for Sawyer! Are those your pretty blue eyes peeping out from the balaclava? And…for your Friday morning amusement, I couldn’t figure out at first glance why there were pictures of a hoodie hat in a post that was supposed to be about a Greek pastry. *sigh* LOL! Happy Friday! 🙂

  3. You make it look so easy! Hmmmm. Blues. What’s up with that? LOL Thanks for the three sizes. This could come in handy for some gifts – if I start this summer, I could have them for Christmas. =)

  4. My Grandson emailed your link and asked if I could make It for him.
    It only took an hour or so and he was thrilled. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Just made a couple for my 3 and 6 year old. I’ve never sewed anything from a pattern before, and have managed to get all this done during my baby’s nap, including the time to find and print the pattern. Thanks very much!

  6. Just made one for a friend’s baby. Decided not to use the toggles for a young baby, but secured the elastic with extra over stitching. Can’t wait to see it on now! x

  7. I like this a lot. I made balaclavas (from a different pattern) for husband and me this winter. We use them when we go out and are glad to have them. I didn’t use the elastic cord and that would be a good addition. If I make more, I’ll for sure keep this in mind. Thanks for the tutorial. I know from experience it’s more work to pull one together (and yours is great!) than most people would expect.

  8. Thank you so much for the pattern and great instructions!!! I appreciate the time you took to share with all of us in cyberland. Can’t wait to get out my machine and get started 🙂

  9. Hi – so glad I decided to search for a kids face mask pattern on Pinterest. It looks like that little boy at the bottom of the post is wearing a small? Is that right? I have a couple of 4 year olds that I want to make these up for but don’t want to waste the fabric if that boys mom shrunk the pattern… can you advise?

  10. When assembling the pattern you say they should be placed,”edge to edge with no overlap”. Does that mean the edge of the paper the pattern is printed on or should the pattern lines on the individual sheets meet? To make the pattern lines meet it is necessary to trim the sheets, however if I assemble them with the paper edges meeting there is a gap between the pattern lines which could be drawn in except for the top 2 pieces on the curved side where there is a half inch difference if I continued the straight line to meet the curve.

    1. I am sorry you are having trouble with the Fleece Balaclava pattern. Unfortunately, not all printers are created equal and that does create some variation. Fortunately, on the other hand, fleece is stretchy and forgiving. Generally, if you trim the pattern pieces and lay them as straight as you can and then approximately the line, you should be fine. You may want to try a “muslin” with a less desirable piece of fleece to verify fit, then use the good stuff once you are sure.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. It is nice to hear from you.

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