When I was a kid I had two bandanas – a red and a black one. On any long journey, either one was a constant on my head or around my neck. I had a bad tendency to get cold at the drop of a hat. So these bandanas replaced the ‘hats’. They protected me and I liked to wear them. They were colourful and had those cute paisley prints which I loved.
Since then I know a couple of other ways to tie a bandana. Nowadays I see many wearing bandanas – even dogs. Dog bandanas are ever so popular. Boys have them tucked in their pockets. My cook wears them when making food and she has a couple of them which changes with her clothes.
No longer are bandanas associated with bandits, outlaws and cowboys. Young women have found new ways of wearing the bandana. The fashionistas of the modern world use them as a headband, wristband, pocket square, collar cuff , hankie, skirt, top – what not. This square piece of fabric that used to cover the head or tie around the neck is a versatile cloth that takes on many roles as occasion demands.
Bandanas are not expensive; when compared to a shawl they come pretty cheap. But you can make them even cheaper and more prettier than the ones you get at the store. Especially when you can customise them to your special purposes.
If there is a favorite team playing you can wear a bandana scarf on your head with the favourite team’s (football? cricket? baseball? basketball? tennis?) emblem painted or embroidered on your bandana. Display your pride in your favourite team by wearing their colour and or logo.Even if you are not into sports this one would make a good gift for your man to wave on the stands. If you belong to a charitable organisation or a club why not stitch one for all of the members. This way your unity is displayed for all the world to see in the way you wear your club’s colours
There is no end to cool DIY ideas to do with a bandana on the internet. Your kids could go crazy on creative juices with a white cotton bandana. Something (anything) to keep them quiet and happy for sometime.
When you embellish the bandana with rhinestones and other such bling it reaches another space altogether.You know that embellished bandanas are much in demand and costs a lot more than ordinary ones. Why not do it yourself with the supplies you have at home.
What is the standard size of a Bandana ?
Bandanas are basically square in shape. It can starts from an 18 ” square but I think that size will be more fitting for a child. A 22 inch Bandana is what I would prefer for myself. The ones we usually get at the retails stores measure at 22 inch square to 27 inch squares.The 27 inch bandanas are usually called Jumbo. Checkout this post on the sizes of different types of scarves.
How many Bandanas can you make from a yard of fabric ?
If you are making a 21 inch Bandana from a 45 inch wide 1 yard cloth ( .91 meter / 36 inch) you can make 2
Fabric suitable for making a Bandana.
A medium weight cotton like muslin is best suited to make the bandana. You can also make a pretty bandana in silk or satin. I have used a georgette fabric here. In my opinion, if you are using it on your hair it had better not be a very slithery slippery fabric like satin. They will never stay put on your head. Sure they will look incredibly pretty.
Using fabric with interesting prints also is popular for making bandanas. Many skull Bandanas are going around. I am thinking of drawing a skull on a bandana and give it as a present to my cousin who likes things like that. Look how the scull bandana has made the kid fierce.
Another thing to look for in the fabric selection is if it is skin friendly. You might find a good fabric but if it is scratchy on the skin, you might find it uncomfortable to wear it next to your skin.
How to sew a Bandana
Cut a 21 inch square piece of fabric in your preferred colour.
The above fabric would make a 20 inch square bandana . This is ideal for an adult head. You should know that you will loose 1/2 inch from each side when hemming a rolled edge in the sewing machine. So for a 20 inch bandana I will be cutting 21 inch square piece.
If you are making a bandana for a kid make it slightly smaller. For my 10 year old daughter I made one in 19 inch square which came out to be 18 inches and it was good; but slightly big is better than small.
Make a rolled edge hem on all four sides.
As we are using medium or light fabrics to make these bandanas, a rolled hem is the best. Use a 10 size needle to sew the rolled edge.
Alternatively you can hand sew the edges if you want to. Checkout the tutorials for the best hand stitches or different ways to hand sew the hem to make the hem. If you are patient enough and something of a perfectionist go for a shell edge finish for all the sides of the bandana. They are beautiful.
To make the rolled edge finish for your bandana, thread your sewing machine with a matching thread and load the bobbin with the same thread. You will be using a straight stitch. Attach the rolled hem feet on the machine. More details on using the roller hem feet to make a rolled hem can be found here.
Turn under 1/8 inch from all edges and press in place.( If you are using a very thin fabric to sew the bandana you could make your work easier by first making a straight stitch along the fabric edge 1/4 inches from the edge on all sides – before folding. I did it with the georgette fabric I am using. True that it is an additional step but because the light weight fabric may be difficult to fold and stitching it without this new stitching line will ( may) result in a shoddy rolled stitch)
Fold the fabric edge , once more so that the raw edge is now inside. No need to press now. The continuing fold will be made by the machine’s foot.
Thread a hand sewing needle with double strands of thread. Make one or two anchoring stitches in one corner of the fabric near the fold. This is just for guidance and will be cut away later so use any colour thread.
Keep the fabric on your sewing machine so that the needle is on top of the newly made folded edge . You can use the thread tail you have to guide the fabric into the rolled hem foot .Start stitching. As you sew a nice narrow edge will be made along the sides.
Continue doing this with all the sides.If you are having any trouble folding the corners without the fabric ends sticking out like a dog’s tail, cut a little bit of fabric at the corners or make a mitered corner.After finishing the hem of your bandana if there is still fabric sticking out, use a hand needle and thread to roll and work a whip stitch to get the fabric corners in shape.
If you are not familiar with sewing a rolled edge , practice on a scrap of the same fabric as you are going to sew the bandana. Different fabrics behave differently to the rolled hem foot. So you may get a perfect rolled hem on a cotton but the same maynot happen with a chiffon. So ‘practice first’ is my advice
On the bandanas that my sister wears, there are always tassels attached to the corners. She wears these big jumbo bandanas which almost look like a wrap and which are mostly austere in colours like black or white but the tassels bring something lighthearted to the bandanas and they are always very colourful. I took a sneak picture of one of them. Checkout the tutorial to make tassels like these.
Decorate your bandana
You could embellish your bandana with some embroidery flowers, some tie dye painting, some fabric painting, some stenciling, some bead work or even sequins.For a dazzling look try swaroski crystals on your bandana. Iron on patches can also be added to the bandana.
Rhinestones can be applied to the fabric on top of design using fabric glue.If you are applying the stones, try it by placing them without the glue. If you like the arrangement use a tweezer to keep the stones with glue on to the fabric.
More on decorating the bandana
I decorated my bandana with a paisley design in remembrance of my earlier ones. Anyways Paisley designs are great and I love them still. I had some black fabric paint leftover from some other projects and some bugle beads and sequins.Checkout the post on 10 different ways to decorate paisley prints and patterns with embroidery
If you are not a ninja with drawing it is better to make a template of the design to make sure that the design stays the same through out your cloth. Simply draw two circles like above and intercoonect them. It is another idea to trace it from a book with a carbon copy paper. There are about 9 different way to copy embroidery designs on to fabric.
I made the template for the paisley design and drew around it with a paper. Infact I made a template for the smaller paisley shape inside the bigger one too.
I dipped thin Number 0 brush in fabric paint and drew the outline. You can also make small chain stitches as the outline in gold embroidery thread. Then applied fabric glue in small drops. I picked up beads and sequins with a tweezer ( so that my fingers are not drenched in glue) and dropped them on the designs.
Checkout this post on block printing for doing this easy diy decorating your bandana