Reversible Headbands – A Beginning Sewer’s Tutorial

We have a lot of hair in our family. Three girls plus me. And not just hair, but LONG hair. Needless to say, hair accessories are a necessity in our house. So when our middle daughter came home with a friend’s headband and asked if I might be able to make some more like it, I was happy to oblige.

I set to work making a pattern and writing instructions for a post. Little did I know, there are already more than a few blog posts about this same reversible headband. But my way may be a little different than someone else’s, so I decided to post it anyway, and write it specifically for the beginning sewer, with lots of pictures and text. I’m also going to show you a few different ways to use one of my favorite tools for the sewing room: a tube turner. So I’ll apologize in advance for the length of this post. If you’re an experienced sewer and still want the pattern, just skip to the bottom.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 coordinating pieces of cotton print fabric, 5” x 16” and 3” x 16”, or a single piece measuring 8” x 16”
  • 1/2” wide non-roll elastic (6” long)
  • 3” x 14” piece lightweight, fusible interfacing
  • matching thread
  • pattern, printed out onto tissue paper (download link at end of post)

Also, there are a couple of tools that I highly recommend for this project: a 3/8″ tube turner, and a sturdy pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers. I like to use ones that are self closing, like below.

Although this project is a great stash-buster, I was out of interfacing, so I started with a trip to my local JoAnn’s. When I got to the checkout counter, I realized that I had a bunch of fabric and thread in my cart too, so I went ahead and paid for it. ;) Some of you who follow me on Facebook might have already seen this picture. Doesn’t that make you want to sew?

Start by cutting out your pattern pieces. You’ll cut two of the headband piece (one out of each coordinating fabric) and one of the strap. All three pieces have to be cut on the fold, as I’ve indicated on the pattern.

You can save yourself a little time by stacking your fabric, and cutting both headband pieces together.

You also need to cut one headband piece out of the lightweight fusible interfacing, again, on the fold. But this time, leave off the square part at the end of the piece. This is clearly marked for you in the pattern instructions.

And lastly, measure and cut a 6″ piece of non-roll elastic. There’s an elastic guide included with the pattern in case you don’t have a ruler handy.

Why non-roll? I ran out half way through making my headbands and used some regular knit elastic. As you can see in the picture below, although slight, there *is* a difference. The non-roll, on the left, looks neater to me because it doesn’t roll over on itself and stays flat. The regular is on the right. Not a huge deal, really, just a matter of preference.

At this point, you should have two headband pieces, one interfacing piece, a strap piece, and a piece of elastic.

Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of one reversible headband piece. The square ends should be free of interfacing, as below.

Now fold half of the square end over onto itself (see the fold line on the pattern), wrong sides together, and iron it down. Do this on both pieces, and at both ends.

Pin the two headband pieces, right sides together, keeping ends folded down to the outside. Make sure the side with the interfacing is on the outside.

Now stitch both long edges, using 1/4″ seam allowances, and keeping the short ends free. Don’t forget to back stitch so your stitches won’t come undone. Below is what mine looked like after I trimmed the interfacing piece close to the stitching. I forgot to do it on a few of the headbands, and it didn’t really make a noticeable difference, so you can skip that step if you want.

While you’re at the sewing machine, stitch the long edge of the strap piece, right sides together and keeping the ends free, back stitching at the ends. Don’t forget to use 1/4″ seam allowances.

Now you’ll need to turn your headband and strap pieces inside out. There are many ways to do this, but my favorite method for speed and ease of use, by far, is to use a tube turner, so that’s what I’m going to show you below. If you don’t have one, you can always use a safety pin, or a small tool called a bodkin, both of which I’ve used in a pinch. I’ve also seen people use chopsticks or pencils. Lastly, I found this tutorial for a method I’ve never seen before, but would definitely try if I didn’t have my tube turners with me!

If you’ve never used a tube turner before, hold onto your hat, because it’s quite handy. It comes in two pieces which consist of a long, metal tube, and a long, thin hook.

They come in different sizes. I have a whole set of them.

When getting mine out to take a picture, I realized the receipt was still with it. I love finding old receipts. Apparently, my sister bought it for me, sweet girl. She obviously knows what I like. ;) She paid $26.99 for it from Nancy’s Notions over 10 years ago.

Unfortunately, the price has gone up since then, but if you want to get a set, Nancy’s Notions is still the place to go. She sells them for $45.99, nearly $20 less than Amazon! They also have some sets on eBay.

I’ve also seen them sold individually, at a cost of about $10-$15 a piece. Still steep for what you’re getting, if you ask me, but they’re indispensable for projects like this. Time is money after all, right?

So here’s how it works. Let’s start with the strap, for the back of the headband. Insert the metal tube (I used the 3/8″ size, or #4, for this project) into the strap piece. Let about an inch of fabric extend out beyond the end of the tube.

Now insert the metal hook into the tube, starting at the end closest to the blue ring.

As the hook comes out at the other end, gently twist it clockwise into the extended end of the fabric to “hook” it.

Gently start pulling back on the hook, through the tube.

The end of the fabric will be pulled down inside the tube.

Keep pulling on the hook with one hand, while using your other hand to slide the remaining fabric on the outside of the tube up toward the top.

Your turned fabric tube will come out through the bottom.

Once you’ve pulled it all the way out, gently turn the hook counterclockwise to release it from the fabric.

Now let’s do the headband piece. This one’s a little different, because it’s too big to fit through the tube comfortably. But you don’t have to go out and buy another tube turner, I’ll show you how you can still do it with the smaller tube.

Start as you did with the strap piece, inserting the metal tube into the headband piece, then the hook, and hooking it into the fabric.

This time though, don’t pull back on the hook. Firmly grasp the headband piece with one hand, and the whole tube with the other, and begin pulling the headband up the tube.

Do you see what’s happening? The end you hooked will stay attached at the top of the tube. The other end, previously at the bottom, is getting pulled up and over, turning the tube inside out without ever entering the metal tube.

Keep pulling, but be gentle. As you clear the tube, use your hand, instead of the hook, to hold the headband in place while you continue pulling it inside out.

Easy peasy. This takes all of about 10 seconds (literally) when you’re not stopping to snap pictures along the way.

And again, counterclockwise to release the hook.

But don’t put that turner away just yet, we’re going to use it to help iron our fabric pieces. Instead of burning our fingers trying to get the seams turned out, just insert the metal tube into the turned strap piece, and run your iron along behind it as you pull the metal tube out.

Use it on the headband piece too, to push the seams out. I’ll bet you didn’t know it could be so handy, did you? And we’re not even done with it yet!

The next step is to get the elastic inside our strap. So again, insert your metal tube into the strap piece. This time, after you insert the hook through the tube, twist it into the elastic.

And you guessed it, start pulling.

Keep pulling that elastic inside the tube, until it’s only sticking out the top about an inch. Then pull the strap piece up and around it until there’s just a tiny little bit of elastic sticking out, like this. Try to make sure the seam is along the edge, for a neater appearance.

Now take the whole thing (turning tube and all) to your sewing machine and stitch that elastic down, using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Next, we need to stitch the other end down. Pull the strap and the elastic (with the hook still attached) back off the top of the tube.

Twist the hook to release it, being careful not to lose the end of the elastic. Move the fabric over to the end of the elastic, leaving just a little showing. Again, try to keep the seam at the edge.

Stitch it down as you did on the other side. Once you have both ends stitched down, grab hold of each and give them a tug to evenly distribute the gathers.

Now you can set the tube turner aside. We’re almost done! This is where you’ll need the tweezers I showed you above. I bought mine a few years ago at Hobby Lobby in a set for $5.99. I use them all the time.

Fold one end of the strap in half, and grasp it with your tweezers.

Insert it about 1/4″ inside one end of the headband piece,

and use your tweezers to straighten it out and flatten everything back down.

Then stitch the two pieces together close to the overlap.

Repeat for the other side, being careful not to twist the strap. Finally, top stitch 1/4″ along the outside edges of the headband piece.

And that’s it! I know it seems like a lot of steps, but none of them take very long, once you know what you’re doing. I cut all of mine out at the same time, making two out of each pair of coordinating fabrics.

Then stitched them up in an afternoon, each pair taking about 1/2 hour. So these 10 took me about 2 1/2 hours to make, after I had cut them out. But as I’ve told you before, I tend to be very slow and methodical when I work, so keep that in mind. You might be able to make them faster. I know some of the other ones I looked at can be made from start to finish in 15 minutes, but I really like the finished look of these with the covered elastic.

And they’re just what my girls wanted. Here’s my youngest daughter modeling one for me. I had to practically strap her down to get this picture before she ran out the door. I love the way this one looks against her dark hair.

And here’s our middle daughter, lovely in the flower print I couldn’t walk away from. I forgot to ask her to smile. :)

If you’re interested, I’ve created a two-page document with abbreviated instructions and a pattern that you can print out onto tissue paper if you want. Be sure to print it at 100% so you end up with the right size. You can download the PDF here.

I mentioned a while ago that I would try to show you some of the pants I made for my oldest daughter before she left for the summer. Below is a picture she texted me from New Mexico. It almost looks like she’s wearing a skirt, doesn’t it? But I really like it. Mostly, I love the fact that when she wears them, even so far away, there I am with her in every stitch. :)

I can hardly believe it’s already Friday. Where does the time go? Hubby and the little guy have been out of town this week, and I wish I could say I’ve been getting a lot done, but I’ve been relaxing a bit and catching up with my favorite blogs, among other things. :) Hope it’s been a good week for you. Thanks for stopping by!

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