I have always admired the beauty of sugar skulls (calaveras de dulce), which are created for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This traditional Mexican holiday combines ancient Aztec customs of celebrating ancestors with All Souls Day and takes place from October 31st to November 2nd. It is not Halloween, but it’s own separate holiday. It is the same holiday that is featured in Disney/Pixar’s Coco, which if you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend it!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and advertisements. This means I may earn a small commission should you chose to sign up for a program or make a purchase using my link, at no extra cost to you. It’s okay – I love all of these companies anyways, and you will too! You can read my full disclosure here.
Of course, the two holidays have tended to become a bit combined in mainstream culture in recent years, which is both a good and bad thing. Good is the increased awareness of this special holiday, bad is the exploitation of symbols associated with it. I won’t get into all of that, but just be aware that this holiday is not just “Mexican Halloween.”
The movie Coco inspired me to learn more about Day of the Dead. And of course I can’t keep those beautiful painted skulls off my mind. One of the many customs associated with Día de los Muertos is to paint your own face in honor of deceased loved ones. This is not meant to be scary, but to embrace your own morbidity and bring a positive light to your and your departed loved ones’ journey after death.
Now, my skin is not a fan of face paint (and I’m not very good at it anyway), and I’m sure there are others that have the same problem, so I began looking for a crocheted mask version that could be worn instead of painting your face like a Catrina. I tried searching for a pattern to make a mask, but none really matched what I was picturing in my head. So, I decided to try my hand at designing my own!
I wanted to use materials I already had. For the eyes I used pipe cleaners to help the mask keep shape (I only had bright neons, but you might want to go for black if possible). For the yarn I already had Red Heart Super Saver in black in my stash, plus bright colors by Crafter’s Secret (a Hobby Lobby brand). I had a lot of scrap white yarn, but I don’t know what brand. All of the yarn is size 4 worsted weight acrylic.
Red Heart® Super Saver® Economy Size
The strap is just a crocheted chain and works well to keep the mask on, but you can make it thicker by crocheting back along the chain, or attaching elastic instead.
If you would like an ad-free PDF version of this pattern, visit the listing in my Etsy shop to purchase it for a small fee.
[disclosure – affiliate links ahead!]
- Difficulty Advanced Beginner
- Finished Size Adult – One Size
- Stitch Guide ch(s) – chain(s), st(s) – stitch(es), sk – skip a stitch, sl st – slip stitch, sc – single crochet, hdc – half double crochet, dc – double crochet, tr – treble crochet, sc2tog – sc two stitches together.
- Notes Mask is worked in the round. Do not turn for each round. Weave in ends as you work.
- Aran/Worsted Weight Yarn in black, white, and bright colors of your choice (I used a variety of stash yarns, including Red Heart Super Saver and Hobby Lobby’s Crafter’s Secret)
- Two black pipe cleaners
- US E/4 (3.50 mm) and US H/8 (5.00 mm) crochet hooks
- Yarn needle
Eyes (make two)
Shape each pipe cleaner into a 2″ wide by 1.5″ tall oval. These will provide the structure for the eye openings.
R1) Using your E hook, attach the black yarn with a slip stitch around the pipe cleaner and Ch 1. 30 sc around pipe cleaner. To join the round, sl st using the next color (pink in my mask) to first sc. (30 sc)
R2) Ch 1. Sc in same st and each around, except for the st on each side of the oval (see picture below). 2sc in those two sts instead. Join with an invisible join and fasten off. (32 sc)
Joining the eyes:
R3) Place marker to join the two eyes (refer to above picture for placement). Count 14 sts from the marker (to your right as you look at the eyes) and join white yarn to the 14th st. Ch 1 and sc in same st and next 5 sts. 2 sc in next st. Sc in next 6 sts. 2sc in next. Sc the two sc connected by the marker together. You are now working the next eye (right eye). [2 sc in next st. Sc in next 6 sts] 4 times. 2 sc in next st. Sc in next 3 sts. Hdc in underside of sc2tog that connects both eyes (now you are back to working the left eye). Sc in next 3 sts. [2 sc in next st. Sc in next 6 sts] 2 times. 2 sc in last st. Join. (76 sts around)
Bluprint Box: Crochet
R4) Ch 1. Sc in same st and next 6 sts. 2 sc in next. Sc in next 5 sts. Sk next 3 sts. 3 dc in the sc2tog from previous round. Sk next 3 sts. Sc in next 5 sts. [2 sc next st, sc next 7 sts] 3 times. 2 sc in next st. Sc in next 3 sts. Sc the next two sc tog (sk over the hdc from previous round), sc in next 3 sts. [2 sc next st, sc in next 7 sts] 2 times. 2 sc in last st. Join. (78 sts)
R5) Ch 3 (counts as dc). Dc in next 6 sts. 2 dc next st. Dc next 3 (switch to the next color by joining in last pull through of 3rd dc). Ch 1. Sk 4 sts. [(dc, ch1) 3x] in same st (switch back to white in the last pull through). Sk 4 sts. Dc next 3 sts. 2 dc next st. Dc next 7. 2 dc next st. Hdc next st. Sc next 6 sts. 2 hdc next st. Sc next 7 sts. 2 sc next st. Sc next 4 sts. Sk next 2 sts. Dc next st. Ch 1. Dc next 2 sts. Ch 1. Dc next st. Sk 2 sts. Sc next 4. 2 sc next st. Sc next 7. 2hdc next. Sc next 6. Hdc next st. 2dc last st. Join to top of beg ch 3. (85 sts including chains)
R6) Ch 3 (counts as dc). Dc next st. Hdc next 2. Sc next 3. 2sc in next. Sc next. Hdc next 2. Dc next 9 sts including ch 1 spaces. Hdc next 2. 2 sc next st. Sc next 3. Hdc next 2. Dc next 2. 2 dc next, hdc next, sc next 8. 2sc next. sc next 8. 2 sc next. Sc next 16, including ch 1 spcs. 2 sc next, sc 8, 2 sc next, sc 8. Hdc next, 2dc last st. Join to top of beginning ch 3. (94 sts)
R7) Ch 3 (counts as dc), dc in same st as ch 3 and next 12 sts, tr in next 7 sts, dc next 12, 2dc next, hdc next, sc 58, hdc next, join to top of beginning chain 3. Do not fasten off. (96 sts)
Strap (Switch to H hook)
Ch 36. Sl st to opposite side of mask. Check fit and add or remove chs as needed. Fasten off, weave in end.
Stitch designs of your choice by hand using different colored yarns. I added roses using this free pattern from Scrap Yarn Crochet, I just used an E hook instead and fastened off after round 3. There are many options for customizing your mask, just Google sugar skulls for inspiration!
You can paint black around your eyes and the tip of your nose, and draw teeth over your lips to complete the look. Now THAT I can handle!
I hope you enjoy this pattern and are inspired to learn more about Día de los Muertos!
Pin me! 👇