How to Make Twisted Turban Headbands: PRO Way + Free Pattern

I bought 2 twisted ‘turban’ headbands ($5.50 and $24) and took them apart. Here’s exactly how to copy those professionally made headbands.

This diy headband design includes:

  • A twisted knot in the middle.
  • Stretchy knit fabric, so it feels comfy. And the fabric edges won’t fray, so you don’t need to finish them.
  • Elastic at the back. This gives your headband more sizing flexibility and strength.

I’ve included a printable sewing pattern that you can use. It comes in 8 sizes for toddlers to XL adults. You can download the free template from my resource library.

a woman mannequin wearing a twisted turban headband
diy twist turban headband
close-up of twisted knot on diy headband

Here’s what the headband looks like on. It’s not too wide, and the twisted knot is small and subtle.

close-up of a woman mannequin wearing a twisted turban headband

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The back has elastic to make the headband stronger and give it more stretch.

back view of a woman mannequin wearing a turban headband with elastic

There’s a neat finish inside. No invisible hand sewing is needed to achieve this.

close-up of diy elastic headband

Note: this headband style is often called a ‘turban’ headband by stores. I’ve used the same word in this post because that’s how people search for it, but this probably isn’t an accurate description. Turbans look very different and have strong ties to certain cultures and religions.


Fabric & tools needed for a diy headband:

Project-specific supplies:

  • The headband sewing pattern (download here).
  • Lightweight knit fabric with 2 or 4 way stretch. I don’t recommend thick fabric, like sweatshirt jersey. When you sew the elastic to the front section, you’re going to sew through a lot of layers. If your fabric is too thick, your machine will struggle.
  • 1″ (25mm) wide knit elastic.
  • Thread. I used polyester ‘sew-all’ thread by Gutermann. It’s strong and lint-free.
  • Ballpoint sewing machine needle. This is used to sew stretchy fabrics. It’s sometimes called a ‘stretch’ or ‘jersey’ needle. I use the Schmetz brand. You need size 80/12 for light-to-medium weight fabrics.
  • Big safety pin for turning tubes inside out and inserting elastic.

Basic sewing supplies:

  • Fabric scissors, or a rotary cutter and mat to cut the fabric.
  • Small scissors for snipping threads.
  • Flexible tape measure.
  • (Optional) Sewing pins.
  • (Optional) Sewing clips.
  • Sewing machine.

Free headband sewing pattern (printable pdf)

A pdf sewing pattern is a digital file. You print it out and use it to cut your fabric.

I made this knot headband sewing pattern in 8 sizes for head circumferences between 17″ to 24″. This will fit toddlers to xl adults.

You can download the free pattern from my resource library.

free pdf sewing pattern for turban twist headband

How to choose your headband size

Choose your size based on your head circumference.

Use a flexible tape measure (or a string or a strip of paper) and wrap it around your head in the same way that you wear a headband.

Here’s an example photo below. Follow the arrow.

Note: the tape measure should go around your head completely, not just half way.

side view of a woman mannequin wearing a purple headband
How to take your head circumference measurement. Follow the arrow all the way around your head.

Use that head circumference measurement to pick your headband size. For example, if your circumference is 21″, then pick size 21″.

Your final headband will be 1/2″ smaller than your head (this is called ‘negative ease’), allowing it to stretch and stay in place.

If your head circumference is in-between sizes, round up or down to the nearest inch. For example, if it’s 21 1/4″, round down to 21″. If it’s 21 6/8″, round up to 22″.

Are you making this for someone else & don’t know what size to pick?

If you can’t measure the giftee, here’s a general guide on what size to pick:

AgeHeadband size
1 – 2 years old toddler17 – 18″
3 – 5 years old child19 – 20″
6 years old child – teen20 – 21″
Adult22″
Large adult23 – 24″

If in doubt, pick the smaller size. The elastic at the back of the headband will give you flexibility. We don’t want the headband to be loose because then it won’t stay on the head.

PS. These sizing suggestions are based on research from the World Health Organization, multiple hat stores (source: 1, 2, 3, 4), and my own measurements of 3 adults who ranged from 21 1/2″ to 23″ (head circumference).

No printer? Here are the headband template measurements

fabric for turban headband cut out

If you don’t have a printer, here are the approx. measurements to make your own sewing pattern.

Front piece: 3.7″ tall (9.5cm). The width varies depending on your head circumference measurement.

  • Width for 17″ head: 13″ / 33cm
  • Width for 18″ head: 14″ / 35.5cm
  • Width for 19″ head: 15″ / 38cm
  • Width for 20″ head: 16″ / 40.5cm
  • Width for 21″ head: 17″ / 43cm
  • Width for 22″ head: 18″ / 45.6cm
  • Width for 23″ head: 19″ / 48cm
  • Width for 24″ head: 20″ / 50.7cm

Elastic casing piece: 11″ wide (28cm) and 3″ tall (7.6cm).

1″ (25mm) wide ‘knit’ elastic: 5″ length (13cm).


Sewing tutorial: how to make a twisted ‘turban’ headband

Step 1: cut 3 rectangles & your elastic

fabric for turban headband cut out
  • Cut 1 piece of elastic 5″ (13cm) long.
  • Cut 1 ‘elastic casing’ piece.
  • Cut 2 ‘front’ pieces.

You can download the printable templates for each piece from my resource library. It’s free. Or scroll up to find the measurements for each pattern piece.

How to cut your fabric

My headband pieces can be cut with the stretchy cross-grain running along the length, or the less-stretchy straight grain running along the length.

blue fabric illustration showing grainline arrows

To copy the store-bought headband, I cut my pieces with the straight grain running along the length.

This meant the fabric wasn’t very stretchy, so I could use straight stitches to construct the headband. Like the store, I relied on the headband’s elastic section to provide the stretch needed to put the headband on, not the fabric itself.

turban headband sewing pattern placed on blue check fabric

If you want the fabric itself to stretch, place the pattern pieces so that the cross-grain is running along the length.

In this case, you’ll need to sew the headband using narrow zig-zag stitches or stretch stitches. Normal straight stitches will pop when the headband is stretched.

turban headband sewing pattern placed on blue check fabric

If your fabric has 4-way stretch, meaning it stretches in all directions, then use zig-zag/stretch stitches too.


Step 2: make the elastic casing

Fold the ‘elastic casing’ rectangle in half (along the width).

The ‘right sides’ of the fabric should be facing each other. This means the side of the fabric that looks better. If both sides look identical, then it doesn’t matter.

Pin the long open edge together.

Sew the long open edge to create a tube.

Use a 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance. ‘Backstitch’ (sew forward by 3-5 stitches, then backward by 3-5 stitches) at the beginning and end to stop the stitches from unraveling.

Suggested sewing machine settings:

  • Straight stitch if your fabric doesn’t have much stretch running along the length. OR a narrow zig-zag/stretch stitch.
  • Stitch length: 3
  • Tension: 4

Trim any excess threads.

Turn the tube inside out.

Tip: use a big safety pin to help you turn the tube inside out. Attach it to one end, then feed the safety pin through the tube and pull it out.

Insert elastic into the casing. Use a big safety pin to help you feed it through.

Don’t feed the elastic all the way through. STOP when the elastic is just about to get lost inside the tube.

Stitch this end down to stop the elastic from getting lost inside the tube.

Make sure the seam (the line where the tube is joined together) is placed in the middle.

Use a 1/8″ (0.3cm) seam allowance when sewing. You don’t need to ‘backstitch’ because this is only a temporary stitch.

Suggested sewing machine settings:

  • Straight stitch.
  • Stitch length: 3
  • Tension: 4

Carry on feeding the elastic through the tube now.

When the elastic reaches the end, stitch that edge down too.

Make sure the seam (the line where the tube is joined together) is placed in the middle and on the same side as before.

Trim any excess threads.

Your elastic section is now done!


Step 3: make the twisted front part

Get one of your ‘front’ pieces. Fold it in half (along the length).

The ‘right sides’ of the fabric should be facing each other. This means the side of the fabric that looks better. If both sides look identical, then it doesn’t matter.

Pin it together, leaving a 7/8″ (2cm) gap on the FOLDED edge.

I used pins to mark the stop point 7/8″ (2cm) away from the folded edge.

Sew the sides, leaving a 7/8″ (2cm) gap on the FOLDED edge.

Use a 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end.

The folded edge is on the left. A 7/8″ (2cm) gap has been left there. On the right is the open edge.

Get your other ‘front’ piece. Insert it through the 7/8″ (2cm) hole in the front piece you just sewed.

Match up the edges, as pictured below.

Make sure the ‘right sides’ of the fabric are facing each other. This means the side of the fabric that looks better. If both sides look identical, then it doesn’t matter.

Pin the sides together.

Sew the sides together using a 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance.

Backstitch at the beginning and end of your line of stitching.

Get as close to the knot as possible, but don’t let your seam allowance get smaller. If it does, the fabric’s raw edge will peek out of the hole on the final headband.

Suggested sewing machine settings:

  • Straight stitch if your fabric doesn’t have much stretch running along the length. OR a narrow zig-zag/stretch stitch.
  • Stitch length: 3
  • Tension: 4

This is as far as I could get without losing my 3/8″ seam allowance. Backstitch here.

Here’s what your front pieces will look like now. Trim any excess threads.


Step 4: turn the front pieces inside out

At this point, both sides will be the ‘wrong way out’. This means the stitching and seam allowances are showing. You need to turn both sides inside out.

Start by pulling one front piece over the other.

Pull the loop to get the other front piece out.

Repeat this for the other front piece until both sides are ‘right sides out’. This means all the messy seam allowances and stitching are hidden inside.

Pick one side as the back. Mark it with fabric chalk or safety pins.

You’re going to attach elastic to the back side, so you don’t want to get anything mixed up.


Step 5: attach the elastic and front piece together

Make sure the headband is flat and the side seams are positioned at the sides.

Note: a seam is a line of stitching that joins pieces of fabric together.

Place the elastic on the RIGHT side of the headband. This is the side with NO safety pins or fabric chalk marks.

Place the elastic so that it lines up with the left or right edge of the headband. It should be placed in the middle, as pictured below.

Fold one side of the headband over the elastic.

Fold the other side of the headband over the elastic.

(Optional) use a sewing clip to hold it in place.

Sew the layers together using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

This line of stitching doesn’t need to stretch, so a straight stitch will be fine.

Sew slowly to avoid breaking the needle. You’re sewing through a lot of layers right now. Backstitch at the beginning and end.

Suggested sewing machine settings:

  • Straight stitch.
  • Stitch length: 3
  • Tension: 4

Here’s what it will look like:

Now place the other end of the elastic to the other side of the headband.

Repeat the same folding and sewing process as before.

Then trim any excess threads.

Pull the headband and elastic so that the raw edges get hidden inside the fold.

Here’s what the join will look like. The raw edges are hidden inside the fold.

Your twist headband is now complete! Great work 🙂

I’d love to see how your headband turned out. You can share your photo and feedback with me on this Pinterest pin.

purple turban twist headband on a white table

Does your headband feel too loose?

This headband is designed to be 1/2″ smaller than your head. This keeps the headband in place whilst still feeling gentle on your head.

If you want a snugger fit, here’s a quick way to make your headband tighter.

Sew the elastic and headband together again with a bigger seam allowance.


How professional headbands are made

I bought 2 twist headbands to deconstruct. I wanted to learn exactly how professionally-made headbands are constructed, what type of elastic they use inside, and what fabrics work well.

I bought 2 sizes: a one-size adults version and a one-size kids version. I bought the headbands from 2 different stores, at 2 different price points. I wanted to see what the difference was between cheaper and more expensive headbands.

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This cheetah print headband was a one-size kids version. It cost £4 (about $5.50).

brown cheetah print turban knot headband on a white table

Here are some of my observations:

  • It was made from a lightweight knit fabric. It was a furry velour type.
  • It was a 2-way stretch fabric, with the stretchy cross-grain not running across the head.
  • It was made entirely with straight stitches, even though it’s a knit fabric.
  • It had elastic at the back to provide flexibility in sizing. They used a 6/8″ (19mm) wide ‘knit’ elastic.
  • The twist was created using the method you saw in today’s tutorial
close-up of the turban knot on the brown cheetah print headband
birds-eye view of a brown cheetah print turban knot headband on a white table
headband fabric pieces laying on a table

The next twist headband was £20 ($24). It was made from a woven silk velvet fabric (no stretch).

The construction was very different. I pulled the front sections apart a little to show you:

black silk velvet turban knot headband
  • The front knot was created by looping together 2 tubes. The tubes were not sewn together. They were only sewn to the elastic.
  • They used 1″ (2.5cm) wide knit elastic.
  • The elastic casing fabric was very evenly gathered. The elastic casing was topstitched in the middle.
  • Unlike the $5.50 one, there were no raw edges or holes anywhere. Everything was closed up. This is because it was made from a woven fabric that frays.
  • It was sewn together with straight stitches.
elastic on a black turban knot headband

I’ll be covering how to make a twist headband using woven fabric in an upcoming post.

turban knot headband taken apart

This post was originally published on 3 April 2021. It has since been updated.


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