Bow Headband Tutorial Using Knit Fabric

I gleefully jumped on to the headband making train when I had my first daughter after having three sons!  I love the way a knit headband has a comfortable fit and the big bow adds a fun flair to any outfit (it also masks crazy hair - or no hair! quite well).   This free tutorial will guide you through the steps to sew a large bow headband from knit fabric.  You can choose from a small, medium, or large bow.  This is a sewing tutorial - you will need a sewing machine or serger.  No hot glue gun required (I prefer not to use hot glue on this style headband).  If you are wondering what might make mine different from others (good ones, too!) out there - in my opinion, it's (1) no hot glue (I think sewing makes it more comfortable to wear and less likely to come unglued) and (2) interfacing - the not-so-secret ingredient to give my bows a little extra fluff, shape, and stability.  It's worth it!

Fabric: Homestead by Emily Isabella for Birch.  From  Top-Bottom: Roost, Blackberries, Daisy Bed Storm (contrast band is Birch Mod Basics Coral), Blackberries, Little Lamb Fog 

Materials Needed:
  • Knit fabric for headband, Knit (or woven) fabric for bow and bow ring.  Look for a knit fabric with a good amount of stretch and recovery (when you stretch it, does it bounce back to original size, or does it stay stretched out a bit).   My favorite online places to buy knit fabric (for garments or headbands) are: Fabricworm, Imagine Gnats*, and Girl Charlee*.  Of course, if you have a Joann Fabric, Hobby Lobby or Hamilton Fabrics locally you can find knits there, too.  (* these are referral links.  It doesn't cost you anything extra to use my link and I am super grateful for any support of my blog! For more info, see my affiliate tab.)
  • Knit Interfacing (This really makes the difference in the bow having body and not being limp!  If possible, do not skip it.  In the US, look for Pellon lightweight fusible knit interfacing – it comes in white and black and is carried at Walmart and JoAnns as well as online).  If you are using a woven fabric for the bow, I would still suggest a lightweight woven interfacing.
  • Thread (stretch thread is optional but helpful)
  • Optional: hot glue gun and/or serger set for 4-thread overlock.  See below for further tips.

Note on sewing knit fabric:
I make these on my serger or my sewing machine depending on what is handy.  I used my sewing machine for all the headbands in this tutorial.  If you use a serger, set it up for a 4-thread overlock.  If you use a sewing machine, you either need to use the stretch stitch (looks like a lightning bolt (05 or 06 in photo below) – not the regular zig zag  OR you can use a straight stitch if you use stretch thread in the bobbin.  I love stretch thread, but have to buy it online.  I order it from

Pieces to Cut:
Headband: Cut a rectangle with a 6” width* and the length you need.  If you have the measurement of a child (or doll) and you want an exact fit, I’d suggest taking 1” off the head circumference measurement (additional length will be taken up by seams, but you want the band to stretch and fit snugly so you want the finished band to be smaller than the actual head circumference).  If you do not have a child to measure, below are measurements based on average child head circumferences.  *if you prefer a wider band, match the band width to the width of the bow size you are making.
2+ years


Large Bow
Medium Bow
Small Bow

Bow Ring: 2”x4”

Step One:  Cut Pieces Cut out headband strip, bow strip, interfacing strip and bow ring strip.  Make sure that you cut (at least) the headband strip with the direction of greatest stretch running parallel to the longest side.

Step Two: Fuse Interfacing With iron, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the bow strip fabric.

Step Three:  Sew Headband Fold headband strip in half length-wise (so it is a long, narrow strip), pin, and sew a seam along the long, unfinished edge (not the folded edge).  *Note – this seam must stretch – so use a stretch stitch on your machine, a straight stitch with stretch thread in the bobbin, or a serger.  

Turn the strip right side out and press {when pressing, choose whether you prefer the seam to be at the bottom edge, or running across the middle of the back (against the child’s head).  I prefer to keep the seam at the bottom edge.}  

Next, take one short end, and turn under the unfinished edges about 1/2”   into the inside of the headband (this is creating a folded edge).  

Now, take the other short end and slide about 3/8” of it into the end that has the folded edge. 

 You should have a headband ring.  Pin, then sew a seam very close to the place where the short ends are connecting.  You can stitch in the ditch, use a small zigzag, a straight seam parallel to the fold at ¼” or hand sew. *Make sure your band is not twisted before you sew!  After sewing, make sure the band is securely stitched closed and does not come apart anywhere when pulled.

Step Four: Sew Bow Seam (with opening) Fold the bow strip in half horizontally with right sides together and pin to keep in place (you should have a piece that is the same width as before but half as long and the side with the interfacing should be on the outside). 

Sew a seam beginning where one long edge meets the fold but stop and lock you seam just shy of the middle of the long edge.  Lift your presser foot and needle, move the fabric so that you leave about 1 to 1 ½” opening, and the continue sewing the remainder of the long edge, the short edge and the other long edge.  You should now have a rectangle that has seams enclosing the open edges, and a 1 ½” opening at the middle of the bottom long edge.

Step Five:  Trim Corners and Turn Bow Cut the corners at an angle close to the stitching (but don’t cut the seam).  This will help the corners of the bow turn nicely.  Now, turn the bow piece right side out, through the opening.  The interfacing should go to the inside now, and the right side of your fabric should come to the outside.  Use a pencil tip eraser, chopstick, or similar tool, make sure the corners of the bow are nicely pushed out.

Step Six: Close Bow Piece Opening Hand or machine stitch the opening closed.  If you machine stitch, be sure both your main and bobbin thread match your fabric.  This seam should mostly be hidden in the end, but not completely.  {some might choose to use hot glue to close the opening}

Step Seven:  Gather Bow Center Using your sewing machine with the stitch length set to the highest setting (5.0 give or take), sew two parallel lines of basting stitches through the center of the bow rectangle.  The lines should be about ¼” to 3/8” apart right in the center of the bow and run parallel to the short edges of the bow.  Be sure to leave long ends of thread at the beginning and end of each line of stitching.  When you have stitched both lines, use the bobbin threads to gather the bow (holding both bobbin threads at the same time, gently pull while making sure the threads do no pull out of the fabric).  Gather to your preferred narrowness in the center.  Tie off securely at both ends and trim the threads.  {the simple step is to use clear or matching thread to tie a tight loop around the center of the bow.  I prefer gathering the bow, as this will not shift off center and tends to hold better.  But you can also just tie thread around the center as tightly as you like}

Step Eight: Sew Bow Ring Strip Fold bow ring strip in half length-wise with right sides together and pin.  It should be equally long as before, but half as wide.  Sew a seam along the long, open edge.  Turn the strip so that right sides are now facing out.  Put the seam running down the back instead of the side – lightly press if necessary to keep in place.  Turn the short ends into the tube about ¼” and sew a seam to close each end (you should still have a strip, not a complete ring at this point).

Step Nine: Assemble Take the bow and place the center of the bow on top of the seam in the headband (you are lining up your gathering stitches for the bow over the seam joining the short ends of the headband).  {optional:  sew a few stitches through the bow and headband to tack in place and prevent shifting.  Or some may choose to use a bit of hot glue here}  Take the Bow Ring Strip and wrap it around the center of both the bow and headband, keeping the open, unfinished edges to the back.  Make sure your ring strip covers the gathering stitches in your bow and the seam in the headband. 

 Secure Ring  To secure the ring, you have a couple options: (1) my preferred method is wrap the ring around the bow and band backward (so that the seam is facing out.  Then, pull it tight (or tighter than you want it in the end) and use your machine to straight stitch and backstitch a few times to secure (it helps to you’re your needle all the way to the left edge, if you have the option of changing needle position).  Trim the remaining fabric.  Then turn the ring so that the seam is now on the inside and adjust so everything looks nice.  (2) hand stitch to connect and close the ring.  Trim any extra fabric from the ring.   { (3) some may choose to use hot glue}  *Make sure the ring is tight (not saggy) around the bow and headband, and make sure it is still centered before you sew {or glue}. 

 Adjust all the parts, if necessary, so that the ring is centered on the bow and all the back stitching is covered.

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  1. Cute! I never put bows or headbands on my daughter and now she's 4 and we have a hard time finding something acceptable to "keep the hair out of her face". Will give this a try!

  2. Hi, just wanted to let you know that I linked to this tutorial on my blog:
    Cute headband!

  3. Perfect! This is exactly what I was looking for. I could see it in my head and you perfectly provided the tutorial to make it reality. Thanks!!


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