Google+ wunderbar: Retro Headband Tutorial

Friday, June 29, 2012

Retro Headband Tutorial

I love the look of using a knotted handkerchief as a headband with an updo, but I usually can't pull it off because a) it's too hot, b) it slips around too much, or c) I can't find the size and style handkerchiefs I want. This is my attempt to fix that problem. 

Made from a strip of cloth (left over from my nephew's quilt!) and a couple inches of elastic, these were easy to whip up and they work beautifully. 


A strip of fabric
the striped headband was made from a 8" x 43" piece
the polka dot headband was made from a 5" x 43" piece
A piece of elastic
choose 1/2" - 1" width
Thread to coordinate

Fold fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together.

Starting on the fold, stitch at a diagonal until you reach the raw edges. Continue sewing, leaving a 4" gap about halfway down. (Or, if you prefer, go back with a seam ripper and make your 4" gap.) Finish the other end in a similar diagonal. 

Trim seam allowances to 1/8".

See the gap? I used a seam ripper. 

Turn fabric right side out.

Iron fabric strip out smoothly. Try to keep the seam from rolling to the front or back.

Now you're ready to tie your knot! I find it's easier to tie knots around something, so I grabbed a handy box. A large book would also work. 

Tie a basic knot, not too tight.

Now "fluff" your knot. Basically, take whichever loop is on top and loosen it up a bit till it resembles a large triangle and hides the rest of the knot. 

To hide the tails, I tucked them underneath and tacked them down. (For a different look, you could chose to leave them out, or only hide one. I wanted the sleek, simply knotted look.) The tail on top will not want to hide, but if you gently ease it around you can twist it the rest of the way. Don't worry - it will blend with the twisty knot. I chose to keep the tails the way they were rather than trim them because it adds a bit of stiffness to the top and helps the headband keep its shape. 

Ta da!

Now let's size this baby and add that elastic. Measure your head, roughly from under a ponytail to where a headband rests. For my Germanic head, that was 24". My headband was already 24", so I wanted to replace about four inches of fabric with a couple inches of elastic. 

Try to take it from as near the middle as possible. I folded my headband in half the other direction and snipped 2" off through both layers (notice it was the part left unstitched!).

from this perspective the knot sure doesn't look centered :x

To stitch the fabric to the elastic, fold the fabric to the inside of the headband until it equals the elastic in width. (For the polka dot I did a simple tri-fold, the striped fabric needed a double fold from both sides.)

Stitch through (about an 1/8" seam allowance), right sides together.

See how pretty?

Repeat with the other side.

And you're done! I can't decide which I like more. The smaller polka dot band is sleek, but I like the dramatic knot on the striped band too. I think they will complement different hairstyles. 


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  1. Gorgeous! Goodness you've been busy since you've been home!

  2. So cute!!! Looks easy to do, if you sew. Heck, I don't sew and I could probably do it, :-) Found your blog through Doodles & Stitches Fabulous Friday Link Party.

  3. Thanks!! It's definitely a simple sewing project.

  4. Love this. Thanks for the great tutorial.

    Kimberly from

  5. Awesome tutorial! I'm going to try making some of these for my girls. Thanks so much for linking up at Doodles & Stitches.

  6. Loving these headbands. Very cute! I can't wait to make my own. I adore vintage inspired good like these. Following you now. I'd love for you to share this post at my link party.

  7. woow, tq for the tutorial.. mind if i shared your post to my fb.. ?



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