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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Free Pattern/Tutorial: DICIS Bear Buff

DICIS Bear Buff by eSheep Designs
Panda modelling my DICIS Bear Buff worn as a neck warmer...
Okay, today I promise you a very cute tutorial... :-D

This is my second "project kit" style tutorial based on my Spoonflower fabric, with the first being my Pride & Prejudice Mobinity Scarf.

It's a buff: a versatile and useful accessory used by motorcyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, but perhaps most known by its appearance since the turn of the century on the reality show, Survivor. The one that I've made for this post features my DICIS Phrases fabric in Rainbow. The project is named for my model.

I purchased a whole yard of this fabric — part of my Inspiration collection — and couldn't help taking this picture before the scissors went to work.

One yard of my DICIS Phrases fabric in Rainbow...
There are two options that you can go with for fabric selection. The issue is that you need the item to fit various head sizes, so stretchability is a big factor.

Spoonflower's sport lycra is a moisture-wicking fabric with 4-way stretch, minimum shrinkage and a 56" width. It has 75% stretchability along the width, and 50% along the length. (Spoonflower also carries cotton spandex jersey and modern jersey with similar four way stretch properties, but both of those do shrink more.) A yard provides sufficient material to make six buffs.

The performance piqué shown in my pictures here (that I also used for my P & P scarf) is another choice for fabric. It has less stretchability, so a yard will only yield four buffs. (But then you'll have enough fabric left over to make a small infinity scarf!)

Other considerations? The sport lycra is about twice as heavy as the performance piqué (more suited for winter use) and it's also more expensive ($32 per yard versus $20). If you're looking for a lighter option that's easier on the pocketbook, go with the performance piqué.

A fat quarter of either fabric measures 28" x 18", which is more than enough to make a single buff if that's your pleasure.


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Apart from having to figure out the best way to sew with stretchy fabric on your particular machine, this is hands down the easiest project you'll ever take on. It consists of cutting a rectangle of fabric and then sewing along a lengthwise seam (of about 18")

DICIS Bear Buff by eSheep Designs
Buff worn as a head band...

Neither of these particular fabric options will fray, so no other finishes are required. (The actual buffs that you can buy at retail outlets are made out of a seamless tube of microfibre, but unless you "knit" this project, you'll have to put up with the single seam.)

By the way, you won't get any better model than a stuffie... he just sits there and doesn't complain. (And he's so cute to boot!)

Normally, I would model my own projects, but I have long-ish hair and the whole look is just messy when I attempt it... ;-)

DICIS Bear Buff by eSheep Designs
Buff worn as a mask... great for ATV-ing when you're at the rear of the pack
(and yes, I know this from experience)...

For this same reason, I hate helmets. But all things considered, if you do have to wear a helmet, wearing one of these buffs underneath helps a lot.


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My husband actually asked me to make him one too, when I told him about this project. (In fact, this led to a fabric design collaboration with him, which was how I came to be familiar with the sport lycra product.) This would make a great gift for an outdoorsy guy. Father's Day is just a couple of weeks away.

DICIS Bear Buff by eSheep Designs
Buff worn in balaclava fashion... if my model had a human sized head, you would see the top
of the buff snug against the forehead..

A variation of the style above is a simple "hoodie" with the mask part pulled down, which would be appropriate for wearing under a helmet in colder weather (e.g., for snowmobiling).

DICIS Bear Buff by eSheep Designs
Buff worn in "do rag" style...

Hip hop references aside, this style is good for maintaining your cool in hot weather; plus, the end of the buff protects the back of the neck from sun.

DICIS Bear Buff by eSheep Designs
Three more variations for wearing the buff, clockwise from top left: pirate style skull cap,
sweat band for wrist (or scrunchie for hair), and double-sided beanie cap...

Okay, I'm done showing you all the various ways to wear this incredibly versatile Bear Buff... time to make it!


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Materials Required

For each buff, you will need:
  • 1 fat quarter performance piqué ($12 plus shipping) or sport lycra ($17 plus shipping) DICIS Phrases fabric in Rainbow — and yes, buying a yard and making four (or six) is a much better deal!
  • thread, rotary cutter and cutting mat, ball point sewing machine needle to accommodate stretchy knits, etc.
And of course, you don't have to use my fabric, but definitely select something with similar properties as what I've described. This is something that will get dirty and needs to be easily "wash and wear". It must have stretchability and good recovery.

Simple as this project is, you will not succeed in making a functional buff using the wrong type of fabric.

And — before you do anything else — ensure your fabric is pre-washed so that shrinking will not affect your final product!


Spoonflower Fat Quarter Sale
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Layout Instructions for Spoonflower Yardage

Not only do Spoonflower's performance piqué and sport lycra both come in a width of 56", all Spoonflower products have a white "border" around them — up to 6" — that can be used in a seam. This is why you can eke out six buffs using the sport lycra option. To do so, measure and mark off a 57" width across the fabric, making use of the left and right white borders evenly. Cut away the excess border to leave a 57" wide piece of fabric. Trim off enough of the top and bottom white borders so that you have 36" in length.

Finally, cut the entire rectangle into three 19" wide sections and then cut each of those sections in half to wind up with six pieces, each 18" high x 19" wide .

For the performance piqué, make use of 1/4" to 3/8" the white border (depending on whatever you want to use as a seam allowance) along one side to measure and cut out a rectangle 40" wide x the entire length of the fabric. Trim away enough of the top and bottom white borders to leave 36" in length. Then cut that piece in half lengthwise and again widthwise to end up with four pieces, each 18" high x 20" wide. (You will have a 36" x 14" piece of fabric left over to fabricate a small infinity scarf if you like!)

NOTE: The above measurements will make snug fitting "one size fits all" buffs for average adults; if you have concerns about accommodating larger head sizes, you may want to experiment — and perhaps use more of the white border — before cutting up all of the fabric.

General Instructions

1. Trim fabric to a rectangle measuring 18" high x whatever" wide; go with 18" high x 19" wide for the sport lycra and 18" high x 20" wide for the performance piqué.

Otherwise, the width will depend on the stretchability of your specific fabric. You may want to make it larger to start and cut back to fit if you're unsure of how the fabric will perform. Generally, do not go any less than 20" unless you're making this for a child or your fabric has a decent amount of lycra in it.

2. Pin the two 18" edges right sides together.

3. Using whatever stretch stitch setting is available on your sewing machine, sew the seam together with a 1/4" or 3/8" allowance.

DICIS Bear Buff by eSheep Designs
Sew a 1/4" or  3/8" seam along the 18" edge of your fabric...

4. Tie your thread ends together a few times before you trim them.

5. Turn right side out and try it on for size. If it doesn't fit snugly, go back and adjust your seam. (When you have a seam that works for you, snip the excess fabric away.)

DICIS Bear Buff by eSheep Designs
The easiest sewing project ever!

Was that simple or what??

Oh, if you need some guidance as to how to accomplish all the various ways of wearing a buff, go straight to the original source for a video demonstration.

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