Sewing a Buff

September 25, 2015 10 Comments

Sewing a Buff

September 25, 2015 10 Comments
How to sew a buff

Is The Buff a big thing internationally?

In Sweden this versatile tube scarf is huge. I first heard about it a few years ago from a colleague who is a runner – he raved about his “buff” and showed me what it was. All I could see was a tubular knit, hardly an innovation, but then of course I started to see them everywhere. And a little while ago  my eldest daughter looked through my fabric stash and said she wanted a buff  (she is a very outdoorsy type). I think I promised her that I would, then forgot, but last Friday she reminded me and said she was in dire need of a buff for fall.

How to sew a buff

So I googled frantically to find the measurements. Turns out it is basically a square if you would cut it open. For the standard size buff the finished measurements are 50 cm x 24.5 cm/20 by 9 inches. After some more consideration I decided to go with the women slim fit version instead (47.5 cm x 22.5 cm/18.7″by 8.8″) .

The only drawback with DIY:ing the buff is that the homemade version has a side seam which might rub I guess. So I decided to do a flatlock instead which is pretty much rub free (hence why it is so popular in workout clothes). I also did a quick tutorial on how I made the buff – not exactly rocket science, but here you go!

Note: My tutorial relies on both a rotary cutter and a serger, but there are plenty of tutorials out there that are less equipment reliant.

Sewing a buff – a pictorial

You’ll need:
  • A stretchy knit with good recovery (a lycra jersey or rib knit is recommended). The piece should be about 50×50 cm (~20×20 inches).
  • A rotary cutter
  • A serger set up for a flatlock seam

How to sew a buff

How to sew a buff

How to sew a buff

How to sew a buff

How to sew a buff

How to sew a buff

How to sew a buff

Since my daughter was away doing outdoorsy stuff with her new school I had to model the buff myself. I did try to persuade my younger kid to model it, but she didn’t think the buff was a good look for her, Oh well. Have a nice weekend, you all!

Johanna Lundström

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  • Summer Flies September 25, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    I have no real need for a buff in my climate but when I was in Syria and Jordan on holidays (alas in 1997 I think when things were normal) my bags were lost for 12 days of the 14 we were there and someone offered me one of these in fleece. It was a revelation – you could use it as you have to cover ears and hair or around the neck or more open and covering the ears and head. I liked that there were no flappy bits like a scarf. So easy.

  • Glenn June 30, 2017 at 6:41 am

    That’s really the issue with the homemade buff, it has to be knitted or it really isn’t a replacement. You can come close with what you did, but you do have a seam, where a buff has none. There are many negatvie comments in many camping supply websites about how a buff is too expensive for what you get, how the finishing is bad, etc.. The reviewer/complainer tells us how easy they are to make. They all show us the same thing, a sewn product with a side seam. I’m sure your seam is not bothersome, but that area doesn’t stretch the same as a buff. A true buff is knitted, it is not a sewn product. I owned an old Turtle Fur neck gator for skiing back in 1990 and would often move it so that the seam doesn’t annoy me on the slopes. Old Turtle fur products had a side seam. I haven’t purchased one since though. I have an original buff and a polar fleece buff, I’ve never used my turtle fur neck gator again. The buff steteches better and has never annoyed me. However I believe in diy, and you have more color/design choices making it on your own and for a fashion accessory you be better off with your method. However for skiiers and hikers I recommend the performanace benifits of a no side seam product for activities. It’s like Ketchup and mayonaise, everyone makes their own mayo, its is easy and it tastes better than store bought, but ketchup is too hard to make and doesn’t taste any better and often is worse, so you buy it. Thanks for your post.

    • Johanna June 30, 2017 at 8:36 am

      Totally, they are not the same thing and the tubular design has it advantages for sure that you can’t recreate as a homesewist. I think it comes down to preference and if you can live with a side seam or not. As for me, I wouldn’t want one to rub my skin, hence why I used a flatlock seam in my tutorial. That worked well for this purpose, but again it is not the same as a seamless tubular version. Thank you for the input.

      • TracyKM November 4, 2017 at 12:22 am

        I did a regular 4 thread serger seam on all mine. I have worn them under helmets, for high performance activities, etc and have never been bothered by the seam or noticed it didn’t stretch there. I even sleep in mine sometimes. And I’m so tactile defensive I freak when a hair lands on my bare skin.

  • Janie August 6, 2017 at 4:33 am

    Thanks for this tutorial!!! I have a knit fabric that I love and thought I’d turn extra fabric into a buff. Thanks!!!

    • Johanna August 6, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      You’re welcome, it’s such a rewarding easy project to make 🙂

  • fran September 11, 2017 at 12:13 am

    Another option is to sew a french seam then sew it down close to the original seam. I just did some hiking in the White Mountains and need something to keep the salt out of my eyes. The buffs cost between $20 and $30 dollars so I thought I would try and make a few for my hiking group with a yard of fabric. I should be able to get quite a few for less than $10.00. Thanks for the pattern.

    • Johanna September 13, 2017 at 11:02 am

      What a great idea! I didn’t think about that, but it’s a great option when you lack serger.

  • KJ March 24, 2018 at 1:56 am

    I have made several of these using old merino wool shirts. I don’t care that there is a seam along the side. The important thing is I made them myself, they work, and they are free. Merino neck gaiters are the best! Thanks for the posting!

  • Maureen February 3, 2019 at 12:11 am

    Which way do you lay the stretch on the long or short direction of the material?

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