Gator (neck warmer) instructions:

These directions are very detailed, and take longer to read than to sew a gator! If you still have questions, please email me at .


60 inches of 60″ wide stretch fleece will make nine gators, so purchase fleece in multiples of 60 inch increments. (Many fabric stores have given a discount if it’s not on sale, when told about the project!) Choose tan, grey or black. With 2 yards of fabric still folded in half as it came off the bolt, cut across the length every 20 inches, then cut each of these strips into thirds, making nine 20×20” squares. Fold each square in half so it measures 20×10″, checking to see that this folded rectangle stretches the long way.

First seam: Zigzag stitch the 20″ seam close to the edges, creating a long tube. (NOTE: This is important — this first seam must stretch, as this is how they gator is pulled on over the head. If you cannot stretch the tube around your head, rip out the seam and refold the other way.)

Second seam: To sew the seam that closes the tube (this vertical seam will be located at the back of the head): turn the tube right side out, and then turn tube inside out just half way, lining up the raw edges and seams. Zigzag stitch around the tube close to the edge, to within 4″ of where this seam starts, leaving an opening. Pull all the fabric through the opening, turning the gator right side out.

Third seam: Turn the remaining 4″ raw edges under, and straight-stitch opening closed, very close to the edge. Turn right side out. Insert a postcard or a note of thanks and encouragement, if you like.
Sewing Tips:

-For the second seam, you may find it easier to turn the tube right side out, as instructed above, then place right sides together, matching seams, and begin stitching around the tube, an inch before the seam. This does create alot of bulk in the opening you’ll have, so your opening will be greater than 4″ which is fine.

-I also found that stretching the fabric for the first seam eliminates the critical need to zigzag stitch. The other two seams can be straight stitched as well.

-A large rotary cutting blade can go through 4 layers of fleece with no problem. If you have a friend who quilts, you might ask to borrow one.

-There is also no need to back stitch, as long as your stitch length isn’t too long.

If you have any other suggestions, please email me at
Insert a postcard or a note of thanks and encouragement, if you like.

My son-in-law wearing a gator

My son-in-law wearing a gator

Sewing Tips:

– -A large rotary cutting blade can go through 4 layers of fleece with no problem. If you have a friend who quilts, you might ask to borrow one.

-There is also no need to back stitch, as long as your stitch length isn’t too long.

If you have questions, or any other suggestions, please email me at

Illustrated instructions

Illustrated instructions

41 Responses to “Gator (neck warmer) instructions:”



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  5. linda moore Says:

    I made 5 orange ones for the hunters in my family for practice. Then I made 55 from desert light camo. I looked for more of that material, but was unable to get it at the local Hancock or Walmarts. All web sites I was have what I condidered to be high cost. The local walmart had suitable colors for about $3.5 I am going to get another color from among the ones suggested. I want to try to make enough to have 100 for a local unit in Iraq.

  6. Linda Santos Says:

    I’m always looking for something to send the troops and you have given me a great idea. My grandson is in Afganistan and has written us telling us how cold it is. My sewing friends and I are making his unit gators this weekend. I am sure they are going to appreciate them. Thanks for a this wonderful idea and God bless you for everything you are doing for our young men and women.


  7. Jackie Says:

    Please be advised… the military troops are not allowing polyester items such as this made from fleece. If they are exposed to fire, they melt to the skin and cause much more damage to the individual wearing it, than the fire itself!! Please search a 100% cotton fabric to use in place of fleece, even if you have to double the layers to get the desired warmth. Possibly t-shirt or sweatshirt fabric would be a suitable option. Well, good luck and happy sewing!

    • kittyresq Says:

      At some bases, the commanders allow troops to wear fleece items while on base. It pays to check ahead of time. Another place to donate gaiters would be your local VA Medical Center, especially if you are in a cold-weather area.

  8. Ann Says:

    We are about to send over 300 gators to Afghanistan. I’ve already talked to our son, and though they can’t wear them on base, the guys off base can. They are looking forward to getting them, it’s already cold over there. We’ve already sent a bunch to a special forces unit, and they’ve already got them and are wearing them. I’m not sure who Jackie talked to, but our guys/gals can still use them. If you don’t have an address, call the local VFW or USO. Some radio stations also have an “adopt a soldier” program. Our local VFW is helping with the shipping cost. You can get abuot 37-38 gators in the Post Office APO box for $11.95. Put the gators in white trash bags, use your vacuum to suck out all the air and flatten the gators, twistie tie shut. Tape the box well to keep it from eventually expanding. Stuff gators in any little crack open. thanks to everyone involved in this project.

    • Carla Says:

      Have you found the fleece gators stay up for Covid Masks? I am going to experiment with and without a lining.

  9. Debbie Smothers Says:

    Operation care package is not allowed to give out individual troop addresses but is always happy to except any gators or other items for the troops. And yes please do include a card or note of thanks with them.
    We send approximately 150 packages per week throughout the year and for Christmas our goal is to reach 10,000 troops. We are an all volunteer non for profit so any and all support is always appreciated. Any gators can be mailed to:
    Operation Care Package
    611 Wilcox St.

    Joliet, IL. 60435

  10. Keri Says:

    Jackie is semi-correct….the Marines banned the wearing of any polyester clothing off base in Iraq back in 2002, and highly suggested they not wear it while on-base. To view their reasoning you can go to the following link…. I also found evidence that the Army may be moving to that decision but it is not official. Testing is being done at Fort Polk on a new material.

    While this article is in reference to Iraq and only the Marine Corp, I would assume due to the incidents they quote that Afghanistan & all Services should be the same. As our young men & women are in harms way daily, I would hope we do not want ot add to that danger and will use only 100% cotton or fire-resistant fabrics.

    Sign me…
    Wife of a soldier

  11. diane Says: is a great website to use to find units to send to. In fact one Marine unit specifically requested neck gators for his men in southern Afghanistan. I have made 27 so far and shipped them over.

  12. Sharon Knobeloch Says:

    I’ve made 150 or more at this point. I have two sons and three nephews in the military they have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan several times. So, with each deployment, I whipp a batch up for them and their buddies. One son told me “these are gold mom” The Gators are easy to make, the soldiers really love them, and it’s a great way to say THANK YOU. Thanks for starting this project and spreading the information.

    Proud Army Mom
    Sharon Knobeloch

    • Dianne Scott Says:

      For winter, did you use 100% cotton flannel or did you crochet or knit them out of 100% merino wool? Did you use the Armed Forces colors, black, brown, tan, drab olive green? I want to sew some for my son and his buddies in Afghanistan, too! I read that the temperatures in the Afghanistan mountains plumment to -51 degrees.
      Thanks to the creator of the Gaitor Project and this website!

      Another Proud Army Mom
      Dianne Scott

      • kittyresq Says:

        Flannel doesn’t stretch and would not be very good for this purpose. There are some cotton knits that stretch, but fleece is more widely available. As noted in my previous post, the contact I have for the troops is reporting that some commanders allow fleece clothing to be worn while on base. When soldiers are off the base, the opportunity for burn injuries is greater and fleece would not be allowed.

  13. Cynthia Zalewski Says:

    Hi Mary! Thanks for having these directions for the Gators online still. I made a bunch of these about five years ago. My daughter has an 18 year old friend who is married to a soldier (deployed). She wanted to send him a care package with something “special” in it. I immediately thought of the neck warmers. It took me five minutes of searching but I found your site again! Yippee! We’re on a “mission”…not only is he going to get a neck warmer, so are his buddies! Thanks so much!

  14. Edna Koogler Says:

    Might try T-shirt material.Might be good in warner weather as well as a protector from blowing sand.

    Might try some of those T S from camp etc we can’t think of parting with. I think I shall give it a try for the next boxes I send .

  15. Cleo Says:

    I belong to a Grange and a very poor one, but we do try to do our best at doing things for our troops. My question is where do you send the stuff such as the neck warmers, to what address? Are you still making these and exactly what is needed now, both warners and the coolers?
    I am looking forward to helping. Thank you.

  16. marie adamo Says:

    Hi- Please forward an address as to where to forward the gators.

  17. Frannie Says:

    In regards to material for making the gators. I would like to suggest 100% Cotton flannel, perhaps the cotton flannel that they make childen’s pajamas out of. The cotton fabric that is used is fireproof. I have purchased it at Walmart and Joanne Fabric Stores.

    Happy Sewing,
    Frannie, NH

    • Marsha Craig Says:

      Curious Frannie, how much bigger do you cut the fabric and how many layers do you use to acquire the same warmth factor?. My experience has been the flannel doesn’t have either the stretch capability nor the warmth of fleece. Thanks for any tips.

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  19. Nieves Fichter Says:

    Hi That’s a great wesite you have here. all of what you said. Can you tell me a little more ?

  20. Judy Leet Says:

    I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics to purchase the fleece but was told they do not sell inflammable fleece. Also all of their flannel is also flammable.
    I asked if they knew ofa place on line where I could find the fleece but the manager said nobody made it.
    Any suggestions?

  21. Antoinette Brubaker Says:

    Has anyone used flannel for neck warmers? Any feedback as to effectiveness of these compared to 100% cotton knit warmers? If so, would like neck warmer pattern for either (or both) fabrics. Thanks.

    • Eileen Says:

      My son will be going to Kabul in November. Any info on making these with cotton flannel? Thank you so much, this sounds like a great project!

  22. Week 16 « Handmade Hollydays Says:

    […] fleece was 60 percent off at Jo-Ann’s a few weekends back. I used the tutorial found here at the Gator Project (I’m going to stick with my spelling of gaiter though, after looking it up in the […]

  23. Neck Gaiters: a pile of progress « Stitch-Craft Says:

    […] used the tutorial found here at the Gator Project (I’m going to stick with my spelling of gaiter though, after looking it up in the […]

  24. Roy Says:

    Sure would like to print out just the instructions! The comments are great, but I cannot print out the instructions for the gator without also printing out four pages of comments — which are of no benefit at all.

  25. izle Says:

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  26. Affordable Swing Sets Says:

    While this was not the intended use, I made two of these necks for my kids to wear during a local carnival … they absolutely loved making them with me. Thanks for the clear instructions 🙂

  27. ross obrien Says:

    i made 2 of these for my soccer games and training they really worked thanks

  28. Sara Piazza Says:

    My son wanted one made of merino wool so I found a merino/jersey fabric, ordered it, and can’t wait to try this pattern. For some reason, he doesn’t like polar fleece and requested merino wool. I’m hoping the jersey factor will give it some stretch.

  29. Lore Lemmond Says:

    Perfectly pent written content, Really enjoyed looking at.

  30. Sew your own Buff or Gator aka Dust Face Mask – Top 7 Tutorials – Yoga with Gail Pickens-Barger Says:

    […] Sewing your own Gator – Oct 2008 […]

  31. Anna Says:

    Can the gator tube pattern be adjusted to use 100% cotton ( ie quilting cotton) non stretch

  32. Reza Says:

    Thank you for your pattern and illustration s.

    Very informative

    Thanking you

  33. Top 7 DIY Buff, Gaiter, Gator, Face Mask Covering Tutorials – Yoga with Gail Pickens-Barger Says:

    […] Sewing your own Gator – Oct 2008 […]

  34. Top DIY tutorials on making a face mask, buff, gators,neck strap, chain, holder! – Yoga with Gail Pickens-Barger Says:

    […] Sewing your own Gator – Oct 2008 […]

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