Friday, August 12, 2011

Adjustable Headband Tutorial

Earlier this summer my daughter chopped her hair. And I mean chopped. She went from having hair that fell to the middle of her back without bangs, to having chin length hair with bangs. Now we are working on growing those bangs out but they keep falling into her face. Ugh! It must be the teacher in me, but hair in a child's eyes drives me nuts. (The little girl above, with the beautiful curls, is my daughter's friend. Sadly, my little girl had absolutely no interest in modeling for me.)

I love these headbands because they're adjustable. At their smallest, they fit a two to three year-old, but adjusted to their largest size they'll fit an adult. I made my first batch back in 2009, but never did a tutorial. This past June I got an email from Lisa in California hoping that I would share how I made them, and I thought that I'd better get it done before school started. I'm looking at a crazy school year coming up (but more on that another day). So, Lisa, this one's for you!

Let's get started, shall we...

Here's what you'll need:
  • Fabric - two pieces measuring 2 in (5 cm) by 14 in (35.5 cm)
  • Matching thread
  • Rotary cutter, ruler and mat, though you can just use scissors
  • Scissors
  • 3/8 inch (1 cm) wide elastic - 14 inches (35.5 cm) long
  • Pins
  • Fabric marking pen
  • 3/8 inch Lingerie strap slides & rings - mine were made by Dritz. I found them at Joann Fabrics in the notions section. They came in a package of six - two white, two black and two clear. Slides from an old bra will work just fine, too.
  • A knitting needle or something similar to turn the headband right side out after sewing
Step One: Choose Your Fabrics

I really love using a striped fabric for these, but be aware of the direction you want to stripes to go. In the school fabric shown above, I wanted the ruler to go around my daughter's head, so I had to purchase 1/2 yard (about 45 cm.) For the sample headband shown above, I wanted the stripes to be perpendicular to the long sides of the headband, so I only needed to buy 1/4 yard (about 21 cm.) The hot pink backing was a fat quarter.

I like to make these reversible, so I use two different fabrics. Only one will show at a time, so they don't really need to coordinate.

Step Two: Cut Your Fabric

Cut two strips of fabric so each is 2 in by 14 in. (5 cm by 35.5 cm) If you have a strip of a design element you'd like to use, you can cut them a bit narrower or wider. Just make sure to cut the strips the same width. For the ruler headband I just used my rotary ruler to cut 1/4 inch outside each side of the ruler on the fabric. (That headband is narrower than two inches.)

Step Three: Tapering the Ends

In order to taper the ends of the headband, you need to find the center. Fold both strips in half length wise and press.

Now, stack the four ends on top of one another.

Use your fabric marking pen and mark a line for the taper on the end. I didn't measure, I just kind of winged it. Just be sure not to make the end of the headband too narrow.

Cut off the little triangle pieces. Make sure you press hard - you are cutting through four layers of fabric.

When you unfold the fabric it should look something like this. At this point you could press out the fold, but I kind of like having it there as a guide to help me when I put in the elastic.

Now, you don't have to taper the ends. You can just leave them square - like these. I just think they look a little nicer tapered.

Step Four: Elastic

Cut your elastic into two pieces:
  • 2 inches (5 cm)
  • 12 inches (30.5 cm)

Start by sliding the ring onto the small piece of elastic. If you are using old bra hardware, you'll probably be using a slide - the piece that looks like a squashed 8. (At least all the bras I've taken apart have two slides rather than a ring and a slide.) It's OK if you have two slides - just turn the slide so it is laying on its side - so that the 8 looks like it's laying down. Place the small piece of elastic through the hole on the right side of the slide. It will work just like the ring, just with a separation down the middle.

Next, fold the elastic in half and place it on the end of the headband like this:

I like to pin it in place so it doesn't move around too much.

Step Five: Sewing

Place the two pieces of your headband right sides together and pin into place. Beginning at the end without the elastic, stitch all the way around the outside using a 1/4 inch (about .5 cm) seam allowance. Be sure to leave the non-elastic end open for turning. I like to back stitch over the elastic to make sure it's really sewn in well.

Step Six: Turning

Clip the corners of the elastic end. Do not clip the other end.

Insert your knitting needle, or whatever you are using, and turn your headband right side out.

When you're done, you'll have something like this:

Press the headband flat. Take your time with this step so the edges are nice and crisp. I had to use the knitting needle to help push out the corners on mine. You'll notice my elastic looks a little wonky; I thought about redoing it, but it's hidden by my daughter's hair so I wasn't too worried about it. I know the elastic looks long, but it needs to be to give the presser foot enough room to stitch around it. If you'd like a much shorter piece sticking out, you could hand sew that end.

Now, move over to that unfinished end. Take the unfinished fabric ends and tuck them into the end of the headband about 1/4 inch (about .5 cm) or so and press. You want a nice neat end. That knitting needle came in really handy here, too. You'll sew that end closed in a few minutes.

Step Seven: Elastic Part Two

Take your remaining slide and place it on your remaining piece of elastic. (It doesn't matter which end.)

Fold the end over,

and stitch into place. I found a zipper foot really helpful here. It let me sew much closer to the slide. You could also sew it by hand.

Step Eight: Putting It All Together

Lay your headband out on your sewing table. Put the side you like the best facing the table, though it really doesn't matter.

Hold on to the end of the elastic that you stitched to the slide.

Thread the elastic through the ring (or the empty hole if you are using a slide instead of a ring) and then back and into the first hole on the slide.

Next, put the elastic down into the other hole on the slide.

Slide the end of the elastic into the end of the headband and pin into place.

Step Nine: Finishing

You really only need to sew the end of the headband to hold the elastic in place, but I think they look so much nicer when the stitching goes all the way around.

Did you know that if you put your bobbin thread through the little hole in the arm on your bobbin case (at least on my Bernina machine) it keeps the bobbin thread from being visible on the top of your sewing? A nice thing to know when you need to use a different color thread in the top and the bottom.

I used my edge stitch foot to stitch all the way around my headband. If you don't have an edge stitch foot, just put your needle all the way over to one side and use your smallest presser foot as a guide so you'll get a nice even stitching line. Or just go out and buy the edge stitch foot for your machine. I love this foot! People will "ooh" and "aah" at how nice your stitching looks; only you'll know who easy it is was. Seriously - go get one!

If you are worried, go back and add in a second line of stitching on the ends - just to make sure the elastic won't pull out.

See what I mean about the bobbin thread not showing? Not a bit of pink shows through to the top.

That's it - you're done! I'm telling you though, these headbands are kind of like potato chips; once you start making them, you can't stop.

Just think of how cute your special little girl will look with one in her hair. And the best part it, she'll never out grow it because it's adjustable!

Of all the headbands I've made, the little dog one is my favorite. That fabric was a little harder because it didn't have a straight line stripe where I could easily cut. So, I laid my rotary ruler down on top of the fabric and lined up the 1/2 inch line with the dogs feet and cut. That way I had 1/4 inch between the dogs and the edge of the headband and my 1/4 inch seam allowance. That one is also a bit wider than two inches - it really doesn't matter as long as the two fabric pieces are cut to the same size.

Now, go make some headbands...


Heidi said...

CUTE! Thanks for the tutorial... I might try making a few! One of my daughters chopped her hair this summer too... VERY short... too short for headbands, but I love that the hair isn't in her face anymore though, I can't stand that either. :)

pam said...

Excellent job on the tutorial! And now I am beginning to rethink having cut my hair so short! I would so make bunches of these!

Manoute said...

Very clever and very cute!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant tutorial. Thanks!

Leah said...

Very cute! My little girl almost has enough hair to "do" so I'll be making her some accessories soon.

Lisa E said...

Thanks so much for the tutorial. Very clever.