Sugar skulls and many other forms of calavera are a popular feature of Day of the Dead celebrations throughout the world. Traditionally, these skulls are made of cane sugar that is molded in one piece and then decorated with line art, flowers, and often the name of a deceased loved one as a way of honoring them.
I drew inspiration from these designs to crochet my own version of the sugar skull. The pattern starts out with a fan to create the forehead, then you work on the opposite side to create the eyes, nose, cheeks and teeth. Within the PDF pattern, I’ve included a very detailed step-by-step photo tutorial to guide you along. It’s a lot of fun to embellish these motifs with beads, embroidery, and crochet flowers to really make them look like sugar candy skulls.
Embellished or just plain, I’ve found so many uses for these skulls. I’ve worked them into scarves, using floral motifs in between each skull. I made a small coin purse (pictured above) by sewing the bottom half of two skulls together and adding a lining and metal clasp. They also make fantastic appliques. They look great on just about anything! Sew them to pillows, bags, scarves, hats, mittens, and jeans. Sew them to your pockets for an original and fun look. But by far my favorite use for them has been as elbow patches on hoodies. It’s so easy to do, and it creates a garment that will definitely get people’s attention.
Check out photos of all these projects at the end of this post. And download the free pattern below to give yourself a great head start on your Halloween and Dia de los Muertos preparations.
Sugar Candy Skull Crochet Pattern
Download the PDF: Sugar Candy Skull Crochet Pattern by Jennifer Olivarez
If you are unable to download this pdf, I’ve saved the pattern pages as images below. Click on each one, then print or save them to your computer.
Large Sugar Candy Skull
Looking to make a large sugar candy skull? This free pattern will make a skull that is 8″ wide by 9″ tall!
Sugar Candy Skull Scarves
Sugar Candy Skull Scarf with Calavera Flowers
Sugar Candy Skull Scarf with Rose Flowers
How will you use your Sugar Candy Skull Motifs? Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
September 4, 2014 at 3:14 pm
Some really cute patterns!! Thank you for sharing and I shared too!! Sandy
September 5, 2014 at 11:18 am
Thank you, Sandy! You are the best.
September 5, 2014 at 11:32 am
September 4, 2014 at 3:54 pm
I love them very much. I also love the idea of celebrating The day of the dead. I have known grief but I am also glad to have had my loved ones. I think it is so healthy to have a day where you can grieve your loved ones. We pretty much get told to “move on” in my culture. I must show these to my friend when she returns from Vienna. Sugar skull art is one of her favorite things and she has known her share of grief too. Kisses from Australia.
September 5, 2014 at 11:29 am
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Sharon. I really appreciate this holiday too. My favorite part is how people will make little alters for their lost loved ones or go have a picnic at their gravesite and bring some of the things that their loved one enjoyed while they were alive (like their favorite food or drink). It’s a special time to remember them and keep them alive in our hearts. I’m really glad that its popularity in Mexico has spread to the US. That’s too bad that Aussies feel that way. You should celebrate anyway. Tell your friends! 🙂 Saturday, November 1. Hugs and kisses to you, my friend!
September 5, 2014 at 9:04 pm
Well if it is spread to the US it can come here too! November the Ist it is!
September 6, 2014 at 5:39 am
Yay! You will enjoy it!
September 5, 2014 at 11:31 am
I am loving your work. I can’t wait to make the skull. Can you tell me what flower square you used for the hot pink one?
September 5, 2014 at 11:45 am
Hi Joanne! I’m so glad you like my patterns! That means a lot to me. For both the red and hot pink flower squares, I used a pattern by Melinda Miller called Lady’s Rose – 6″ square that you can download from Ravelry. However, I don’t think mine was 6″. I think I stopped after rnd 9, maybe even sooner. I’ll check my scarf tonight when I get home and let you know. Do you think you’ll make a scarf?
September 6, 2014 at 5:39 am
I checked my notes on Melinda’s Lady Rose pattern and in fact, I did do only 8 of the 10 rounds and adjusted Rnd 8 slightly. Instead of her instruction, I did: Ch 1, 2 sc in same st, * 8 sc, 3 sc in next st, rep from * around. Hope that helps. 🙂
September 6, 2014 at 9:48 am
How cute! Thanks for sharing the pattern!
September 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm
You’re welcome! I’m glad you like it. 🙂
September 7, 2014 at 11:15 am
Thanks for the pattern. A library near me puts up an altar every year. I would like to make a decorated skull but bigger. Have you designed a bigger pattern?
September 7, 2014 at 2:34 pm
Hi Barbara! Thanks for your question. I haven’t put together a pattern for a larger skull yet, but I’ll need to make them myself for a project later this month. I might end up putting the pattern I design for that on Etsy. Once it’s available, I’ll blog about it to let everyone know. I think they will look great on your library’s alter!
October 1, 2014 at 11:38 am
Hi again, Barbara! I just wanted to give you an update. I designed a pattern for a larger skull motif that I think you might enjoy. It is 8″ wide by 9″ tall. Here’s the pattern: https://squirrelpicnic.com/2014/10/01/a-new-sugar-candy-skull-crochet-pattern-for-you-this-ones-big/ Enjoy!
October 1, 2014 at 7:56 pm
Wow! Thanks,again. Now off to find some black and white for the skulls.
October 3, 2014 at 7:01 am
You’re welcome! Have fun!
September 8, 2014 at 11:00 am
love your pattern!! what pattern did you use for the white scarf flower “square”?
September 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm
Hi Mary! I’m so glad you love it! I created the pattern for the white scarf flowers, but I hadn’t planned on publishing it. If you’re really interested, I might be able to test it again and post it here later this month.
September 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm
That would be awesome! Thank you so much, I would really appreciate it!!
September 10, 2014 at 5:25 am
Love it! Thank you so much for the pattern. Those with flowers, colorful one are beautiful! It is going right away on my to do list. Will place it as must do this year 🙂
September 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm
Thank you so much, Vanja, for your interest in this pattern. I can’t wait to see what your skilled hands will do with it!
February 10, 2015 at 7:03 pm
I can’t download the PDF. Can someone help????
February 11, 2015 at 7:55 am
So sorry to hear you are having trouble downloading the PDF. I checked it on my end and it all seems to be working. Another option you might try is to create a PDF using the Print & PDF button at the bottom of this page (Scroll up a bit until you get to “Thanks for sharing”). It will take you to Print Friendly.com, a free and very easy PDF creator that will automatically create a PDF for you of this page. I hope this helps. Please let me know if it doesn’t.
February 17, 2015 at 11:14 pm
Thank you so much! My daughter loves Sugar Skulls! I getting the same pattern when I download the large and small sizes though.
February 17, 2015 at 11:16 pm
Opps! Nevermind, I figured it out! lol Thank you again!
February 18, 2015 at 8:16 am
Thanks, Mary! I’m so glad you like the sugar skull patterns and that you were able to figure out the downloads. Enjoy!
April 9, 2015 at 9:33 am
Gorgeoous, thanks so much for sharing! I’m going to add mine to a mug cozy :).
April 10, 2015 at 4:58 am
Thanks, Susu! I’m so glad you like my pattern. A sugar skull mug cozy is a great idea!
August 19, 2015 at 11:29 am
Thank you so much for this EPIC cool pattern! I have a SIL who loves all things skulls. I am going to start working on a scarf for her for Christmas. ❤ Have a very crafty day!
August 24, 2015 at 4:07 am
Awesome! I’m really glad you enjoy my pattern. I know your sil will love the scarf. Sugar candy skull scarves are one of my favorite things to crochet. Enjoy!
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April 10, 2016 at 3:09 am
Thank You for this great skull pattern! Of all the skull patterns I have searched on the web, this is by far my favorite. Also the photo layout with the pattern is very helpful!
April 11, 2016 at 4:40 am
Thanks, Jack! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed the pattern.
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October 2, 2016 at 12:07 pm
I love the pattern for the skulls! I’m wondering if you could share your pattern for the skull and rose scarf please? I need to make it for a friend. Thanks!
October 3, 2016 at 3:05 am
Hi Sara! Thank you for your interest in making a sugar candy skull scarf. For both the red and hot pink flower squares, I used a pattern by Melinda Miller called Lady’s Rose – 6″ square that you can download from Ravelry. I used only 8 of the 10 rnds though and adjusted Rnd 8 slightly. Instead of her instruction, I did: Ch 1, 2 sc in same st, * 8 sc, 3 sc in next st, rep from * around. Hope that helps.
October 6, 2016 at 9:23 am
I was also wondering about the skull and rose scarf also. I have both patterns, but have a couple questions, you said you stopped after Rnd 8 on the roses, but when I look at the picture it shows black going around the inside color, did you stop at Rnd 8 and then when onto Rnd 10 to complete (black around the inside color)? Also was wondering about how you connected the roses to the skulls, what stitch or technique did you use? Thanks.
October 6, 2016 at 10:52 am
Hi Janet! Thank you for your interest in making a skull and rose scarf. It’s been several years since I made these, so I am just going by my notes. It’s exciting that so many people want to make this scarf. I’m taking that to mean that I better provide a few more resources to help you all out! If you don’t mind waiting for a few days, I would like to put together a separate blog post with further instructions on how to make the rose motif, along with a short video tutorial on how to join everything together to make the scarf. Planning to release this on Saturday (10/8/16) should give me enough time before and after work to test out these motifs again and verify that my advice to you is accurate. Sorry to make you wait for the information, but I think you will be happier knowing that it is correct.
October 6, 2016 at 7:26 pm
Hi again, Janet! I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that I tried out the Lady’s Rose pattern again this evening and verified that I did stop after Round 8. Replace Round 8 with “Ch 1, (sc, ch 1, sc) in same st, *sc in ea of the next 8 sts, (sc, ch 1, sc) in next st, rep from * 2 more times, sc in ea of the next 8 sts, join with slst to 1st sc.” This will give you 10 sts on each side (not counting the ch-1 spaces), which is important because that is how many stitches there are at the bottom of the jaw on the Sugar Candy Skull. This makes it easier to pair up stitches when you go about joining the motifs. The top of the skull is another story, but I will try to help you reconcile that in my video on Saturday. I hope that this at least gives you a good start.
October 9, 2016 at 1:16 pm
Thank you for all the information and instructions. Can’t wait to put it all together!
October 10, 2016 at 5:25 am
You’re welcome. I am glad I could help and I hope you enjoy making your Sugar Candy Skull Scarf.
October 20, 2016 at 11:11 am
Hi Is there a pattern for the black scull and flowers ?
October 24, 2016 at 5:56 am
Hi Jean, sorry it took me a while to respond. We were on vacation this past week. The pattern for the black skull is available as a pdf on this page. Are you asking about the black skull and flower scarf? Instructions for this scarf can be found here: https://squirrelpicnic.com/2016/10/08/how-to-assemble-sugar-candy-skull-scarves/