DIY Balaclavas and Gaitors


Every year, Bike Winter gives away hundreds of homemade balaclavas and neck gators to encourage people to stay in the saddle.

The tradition began during the first Bike Winter: inspired by the free T-shirts  at Critical Mass rides, Gin Kilgore dug out her sewing machine to make dozens of balaclavas for one of Mr. Bike's "Get Layered" workshops at Quenchers. Fair weather cyclists took home the tips and treats and kept their promise to keep pedaling, as evidenced by the frequent sitings of the bright blue balaclavas on Milwaukee Avenue that frosty season.

Each year, more and more people* have gummed up their sewing machines to produce fleece goodies that entice faltering cyclists to try winter biking.  Offers to host cutting and sewing sessions and/or donations of raw materials and completed products are always welcome. Contact the BW Chairs for more information.

  • One yard of standard width (60 inches) fleece yields about 6 balaclavas or 10-15 ear and neck gators.
  • Look for stretchy, cozy wicking fabrics: think thin fleece, not cotton.
  • Wash and dry fabric before cutting
  • For a pattern, trace a balaclava or gator you like on newspaper or cardboard, or see Gin's rough sketch patterns: balaclava and gator (pdf file)
  • Fold fabric to make cutting easier and eliminate a seam.
  • Only fold to the width you need, so that you maximize fabric.
  • Orient the fabric so that the main stretch is perpendicular to the fold. To be able to pull it over your head, the stretch should be side to side, not up and down.
  • To reduce time and waste, the bottom cut of one item can be the top of the next one.
  • Once you're done, bring them to BW events and always carry an extra in your bag to help with outreach on the road.

cutting balaclavas


cutting gators

final products


 *Special thanks to Willow, who exploded production in recent years.

Other elves include: Ash Lottes, Jami Krause, Lisa Phillips, Julie Hochstadter, Kathy Schubert, Aaron Bussey, Dan Brown, the Riccardos, and Alex Wilson, the CCM T-Shirt making inspiration


gator pattern.pdf262.22 KB