Learn how to make a bandana! They are really cheap to make and easy even for beginner sewers. You can make a no-sew version with raw edges, use simple hand stitching or your sewing machine. Bandanas are everywhere and are suitable for both men and women of all ages. They can be worn on your forehead, as a scarf, around your neck or even on your pet.
How to Make a Bandana
What shape is a bandana? All bandanas are square. They may look oblong or even triangular but that is just how they are folded. The good news is that the squares are so easy to make!
Bandanas come in different sizes but a fairly standard size for adults is 22 inches (56cm). Larger bandanas tend to be 27 inches (68.5) and child bandanas 18 inches (46cm). Anything smaller than that won't fit around a head or neck and is really considered a hanky.
Fabrics for Bandanas
Lightweight cotton fabrics work best for a bandana, You want to be able to scrunch, roll and tie the fabric and thinner fabric is more suited to this. Cotton or natural fibers will breathe and not cause you to sweat which is important if you are wearing it on your forehead or neck. Check to see if the fabric is soft on your skin and not scratchy.
Somewhere along the way, someone somewhere decided that bandanas should be made from paisley fabrics. You can make yours from any pattern or color that makes you happy but be aware that in some cities certain colors have gang or sporting associations. I'm lucky to live in a city where I don't have to think about that but you may not.
Cutting Fabric for a Bandana
Cut a square of fabric for your bandana in your desired size. If you will be sewing a hem around the bandana, then you will need to add ½ inch (12mm) for a seam allowance all the way around.
This means for a 22 inch (56cm) bandana you will cut a square 23 inches (54.5cm).
Save Money - Make 2
Most fabric are 44 inches (112cm) wide which means if you cut your square 22 inches (56cm) you will get 2 bandanas across the width of your fabric. With the completed hem, your finished bandana will be 21 inches (53cm) which is not much smaller than standard size so worth the savings.
How much fabric do you need to make a bandana? - With ¾ yard (70cm) you can make 2 bandanas - Assuming standard 44 inch (112cm) wide fabric
Many fabrics have finishing chemicals in them to keep them looking good on the rolls in the shops. It is always recommended to pre-wash your fabrics before sewing. This will also make sure your fabric doesn't shrink or have the color run after you have spent time making the bandana.
How to Cut a Square
The easiest way to cut a square from a rectangular piece of fabric is to fold one edge in a triangle, measure one side then cut. A perfect square!
If you want to leave the edges raw then you are all done and ready to wear your bandana. Be aware however that the edges will fray slightly so you may want to do a simple hem. Even if you have never sewn before, a simple hem really is quite easy.
How to Make a Bandana - No Sew
Cut the bandana in a square in your desired size and you are done. If you are going to leave the edges raw, take care to choose a fabric that doesn't fray too much. Tightly woven fabric frays less than loosely woven fabric. For example, choose quilting cotton over linen.
No-Sew Hemming Ideas
- FRAY - Make the fraying edges a feature by fraying them even further. (How to Fray Fabric)
- SHEARS - Pinking shears have a serrated zig-zag edge that can reduce fabric fraying. It also creates an interesting edge.
- TAPE - You can also get hemming tape which is a heat fusible tape that will seal the edges with no sewing required. This tape is available at many supermarkets and all fabric stores. Press a small hem and then put the tape in the fold. Press with your iron and it will seal the edge. Hemming tape usually comes in wider widths so you can cut it narrower to suit a small bandana hem.
- GLUE - You can also get fabric glue to hold the edges but I think the tape does a better job and never shows through the fabric.
Further Reading: How to Use Hemming Tape
How to Make a Bandana - Hand Sewing
Cut your square of fabric then grab your iron and ironing board and turn all the raw edges over by ¼ inch (6mm).
Turn the edges over again by another ¼ inch (6mm) and you will have a neat double fold hem that won't fray. The hem can be smaller than ¼ inch (6mm) if you wish and can even go down to ⅛ inch (3mm) if you can press it that small.
Hemming for Beginners
Now it is time to do some simple stitching. If you are new to hand sewing, then the simplest way to do this is with a running stitch.
If you are new to sewing you might want to read how to hand sew.
How to Make a Bandana Hem
- Step 1 - Thread your needle with cotton doubled over and knot the end. (Further Reading: How to Thread a Needle)
- Step 2- Put the needle into the fold of the hem to hide the knot.
- Step 3 - Use an up and down motion to stitch all around the hem edge. The smaller the stitches, the stronger your stitching will be.
Finishing - If you run out of thread halfway, you can knot it off and then use a new piece of cotton. To knot off the thread, take a small backstitch and before the cotton loop is pulled tight, put the needle through the loop. This creates a small knot. You would usually do this twice and then cut the excess cotton.
Hemming Fine Fabrics
Fine fabrics can be hemmed using a hand-rolled hemming stitch. This is a stitch better suited to intermediate sewers and not beginners. It does take a little longer of course but the result is beautiful and almost invisible if you use a matching thread. This stitch creates a really small rolled hem.
- Step 1 – Crease a fold along the hem edge with your thumb or finger. Make it as narrow as possible
- Step 2 – The hem is hand-stitched from right to left. Start with a few back stitches. Do not use a knot as it will show on the right side.
- Step 3 – Make a small diagonal stitch in the fabric just above the hem. Then slant into the hem and take another stitch in the hem. Repeat but don't pull the threads yet.
- See in the photo how the needle makes a small down and up stitch first through the fabric and then at the edge of the hem.
- Step 4 – After 3 or 4 stitches, gently pull the thread. The hem will roll in forming a hem and hiding the raw edges. Repeat.
Further Reading: Hemming Stitches
How to make a Bandana - Sewing Machine
If you have a sewing machine then hemming your bandana is a breeze.
- Step 1 - Press the raw edges over by ¼ inch (6mm) and then press over again by the same amount to create a narrow double hem. You can even make the hem smaller than ¼ inch (6mm) if you are an intermediate sewer. The smaller the hem the softer the edges will be.
- Step 2 - Straight stitch all around the edge of the hem. Try a length of 2.5. A matching thread will make your hem less noticeable but you can use contrasting as well. Play around with your decorative stitches and make the hem a feature.
Decorating your Bandana
Bandana edges can be decorated with pom pom trim, ric raw or even tassels. Decorate it with scattered sequins. Use your creativity to make something unique.
Wearing a Bandana
Neck and Hairband
Place the bandana in a diamond shape in front of you and roll the bandana up. Wrap it around your neck or hair and tie a knot.
Fold the bandana in half diagonally so it becomes a triangle and then tie it around your hair or neck.
DIY No Sew Sew Face Mask
Bandanas are popular at the moment in order to make no-sew face masks. You can fold your bandana diagonally in a triangle and then tie it at the back of your head.
Alternatively, fold the edges in to meet each other or overlapping slightly. Thread through hair elastics on the ends and fold the fabric over in towards the middle. You can adjust the length and width of your folding to suit your face size.
If you can hand or machine sew, I have a more detailed tutorial including a face mask pattern.
More Bandana Articles
If you are looking how to make a bandana for dogs, I have a simple one that threads over their collar which is great for everyday use. Threading it over their regular collar means you don't have to worry about knotting it around their neck. This pattern includes 3 sizes and a video to help you along.
How to Make a Bandana - In Conclusion
So now you know how to make a bandana 3 different ways with or without sewing. Make yourself one in every color of the rainbow.