How to Make Wide Stretchy Headbands + Free Pattern (8 Sizes)

I studied 7 headbands from stores, including 2 headbands that I bought and took apart ($5.50 and $24). This tutorial is based on how those professional headbands were made.

This DIY headband design includes:

  • A flat shape in 2 widths: wide and extra wide.
  • 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 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. If you don’t have a printer, I’ve shared the cutting measurements below.

3 wide and extra wide DIY headbands on a white background
a female mannequin wearing a grey extra wide DIY headband with elastic (side view)
Extra wide headband design in size 21″. Medium weight cotton marl jersey.
a female mannequin wearing a grey extra wide DIY headband with elastic (front view)

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a female mannequin wearing a grey extra wide DIY headband with elastic (back view)
a top-down view of a grey DIY headband with elastic at the back

The elastic and front sections are joined together neatly. No hand sewing is needed to achieve this! I learned this construction method by looking at how 4 stores make their headbands.

a close-up of the headband construction

Here are some of the professional headbands I studied.

6 wide headbands with elastics
Featured: headbands from Sainsbury, Madewell, and Zara. The prices range from $5.50 to $15.

The free sewing pattern (download here) comes in 8 sizes for toddlers to XL adults. Here’s size 21″ for teens/adults (grey) and size 17″ for young kids (star print).

DIY adult headband next to a toddler headband
Top headband: size 21″, extra wide design, medium weight cotton marl jersey. Bottom headband: size 17″, extra wide design, lightweight single cotton jersey.

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’ll go through lots 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.
sewing tools and stretch fabric and a headband sewing pattern on a white table
My fabric: lightweight single cotton jersey with a star print.

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.
  • Seam ripper for undoing mistakes.
  • Sewing machine.

Free sewing pattern for wide headbands with elastic

I made this 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.

printable headband sewing pattern on a brown table
The A4 paper version of the headband sewing pattern. These pages need to be glued together. (There’s also a US letter size version).

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.

female mannequin wearing a 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 2″ smaller than your head (this is called ‘negative ease’), allowing it to stretch and stay in place. This will also keep the headband flat across the curve of your head, so there won’t be any gaping.

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″.

If your fabric isn’t very stretchy, go up 1 size so your headband doesn’t feel tight.

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.

PS. These sizing suggestions are based on research from the World Health Organization, multiple hat stores (source: 1234), and my own measurements of 3 adults who ranged from 21 1/2″ to 23″ (head circumference).

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No printer? Here are the headband template measurements

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

Front piece: 5 7/8″ / 14.8cm tall for the wide headband. 7 1/8″ / 18.1cm tall for the extra wide headband.

The width varies depending on your head circumference measurement.

  • Width for 17″ head: 11 1/2″ / 29.2cm
  • Width for 18″ head: 12 1/2″ / 31.8cm
  • Width for 19″ head: 13 1/2″ / 34.3cm
  • Width for 20″ head: 14 1/2″ / 36.8cm
  • Width for 21″ head: 15 1/2″ / 39.4cm
  • Width for 22″ head: 16 1/2″ / 41.9cm
  • Width for 23″ head: 17 1/2″ / 44.5cm
  • Width for 24″ head: 18 1/2″ / 47cm

Elastic casing piece: 2 6/8″ x 9 1/2″ / 7cm x 24.2cm.

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


Sewing tutorial: how to make a wide headband with elastic

Step 1: cut 2 rectangles & your elastic

sewing tools and stretch fabric and a headband sewing pattern on a white table
  • Cut 1 piece of elastic that’s 5″ long.
  • Cut 1 ‘elastic casing’ piece.
  • Cut 1 ‘front’ piece.

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 piece.

Place your pattern pieces on the fabric like this, so the selvage edges are going in the same direction as the arrow on the sewing pattern. (Selvage edges = the left and right sides of fabric that are finished, not the cut edges. Sometimes they have writing or rows of small dots on them).

printable headband sewing pattern placed ontop of jersey knit fabric

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.

(Optional) Pin the long open edge together.

elastic casing piece for headband folded in half

Sew the long open edge to create a tube.

Use a 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance. (A ‘seam allowance’ is the distance between the fabric edge and stitching line).

‘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:

  • Narrow zig-zag/stretch stitch.
  • Stitch length: 2.5
  • Stitch width: 1
  • Tension: 4
elastic casing piece for headband with zig zag stitching
settings on a sewing machine panel

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.

safety pin on the headband elastic casing piece
elastic casing piece being turned inside out using safety pin
elastic casing piece being turned inside out using safety pin

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

elastic being inserted into the headband casing piece

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 in the middle and the seam allowances are open (to reduce bulk).

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
Before stitching this edge, make sure the seam line is in the middle and the seam allowances are open.
headband elastic casing being stitched on a sewing machine

Carry on feeding the elastic through the tube now.

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

Make sure the seam line is placed in the middle and on the same side as before. Make sure the seam allowances are open to reduce bulk.

finished elastic casing piece
Both ends are stitched down to hold the elastic in place.

Trim any excess threads.

Your elastic section is now done!


Step 3: make the front part

Fold your front piece in half (along the width). The ‘right sides’ of the fabric should be facing each other.

front headband piece folded in half

Sew the long open edge to create a tube.

Use a 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end. Then trim any excess threads.

Suggested sewing machine settings:

  • Narrow zig-zag/stretch stitch.
  • Stitch length: 2.5
  • Stitch width: 1
  • Tension: 4
front headband piece with zig zag stitching

Press the seam allowance open with an iron and steam it flat. If you skip this, you might see a lump in the middle of your finished headband.

front headband piece being ironed

Turn the tube inside out.

front headband piece being turned inside out

Step 4: join the front and elastic sections together

Place the seam line of the front piece in the middle.

Note: the seam line needs to be higher up than this so it’s in the middle, but hopefully this photo gives you a good idea of what I mean.

Turn the front piece over so the ‘right side’ is facing up. This is the side with no seam line.

Place the elastic on top. The ‘right side’ of the elastic (with no seam line) should be facing the ‘right side’ of the front piece (with no seam line).

closeup of front and elastic pieces
The ‘right sides’ of the elastic and front piece (with no seam lines) are facing each other.

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

elastic piece placed ontop of front piece

Fold one side of the front piece over the elastic.

fabric folded over the elastic

Fold the other side of the front piece over the elastic.

fabric folded over the elastic

(Optional) use a sewing clip to hold the layers 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
one headband side has been stitched

Now place the other end of the elastic on the other side of the front piece.

Repeat the same folding and sewing process as before. Make sure the folds mirror each other. So in the photo below the final fold goes from top to bottom on both sides.

the other headband side has been clipped together for sewing

Trim any excess threads.

Pull the front piece so the raw edges get hidden inside the folds.

2 hands are pulling the headband

Here’s what the join will look like.

back view of a DIY headband with a navy star print
Extra wide version for toddlers (size 17″).
front view of an extra wide headband for toddlers with a navy star print
Extra wide version for toddlers (size 17″).

Your stretchy 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. Sara 🙂

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