After a bit of a break over Christmas and New Year, what better way to ease yourself back into sewing, than a quick and easy project like this decorative headband for a doll or other toy? It’s made from an old plastic bottle.
You will need:
- A clean plastic bottle – I use a 2l cola bottle here, which should be suitable for a range of medium to larger sized toys, but read on for more details on sizes.
- Either ribbon or fabric to cover the headband (I’ll describe both options)
- Decorative bits – flowers, beads, ribbons etc
Measure from ear to ear over the top of the head
Measure the toy from ear to ear across the top of the head to get your headband measurement. This is Emily; she measures 23cm (9”).
The headband is cut from a curved strip round the plastic bottle.
This type of plastic tends to be pretty flexible once it’s cut, so the largest headband size you can make will be close to the circumference of the bottle (the measurement round the bottle) . My cola bottle is 31cm (approx 12”) round, so will fit up to a 30cm headband measurement, although because of the curvature it will work best for measurements a bit less, say 25cm (10″) or less.
If your headband measurement is quite a lot smaller than your bottle, you may find that there isn’t enough of a curve in it. For best results you want to use a bottle that is no more than three times the headband measurement; you may find a litre or 750ml water bottle the right size for smaller toys.
So the 2l cola bottle should fit toys with measurements of between 10-25cm (4-10″), while a 750ml water bottle (mine had circumference 20cm – approx 8″) should fit measurements between 7-15cm (3-6″).
Make the headband
1. Cut into the bottle and cut a ring from the cross-section the desired width of your headband. I used a width of 15mm (just over 1/2”). It’s easier to cut it wider to start with and then trim it neatly to size once it’s separated from the rest of the bottle.
Cut a ring out of the plastic bottle.
2. Cut through the ring and cut the curved strip to a length of the headband measurement. Curve any sharp edges – they’ll get covered up later, but you don’t want them poking through and hurting anyone. It’s hard to see in the photo (must avoid working with transparent materials in future!) so I’ve outlined the ends for you.
Cut to the headband measurement and curve the ends.
3. (optional) Make another and glue together. I found the cola bottle just a little bit flimsy, so I cut a second strip and glued them together for strength.
Cover the Headband
You can either cover the headband with ribbon or with fabric, depending on the look you’re after.
Method 1: Cover with ribbon
1. Cut small strips of ribbon and glue over the ends.
Cover both ends by gluing short strips of ribbon.
2. Cover the headband with ribbon.
Next take a long length of ribbon (mine was about 1/2m – just over 1/2 yard) and glue one end to the end of the headband. Start wrapping the ribbon round the headband, overlapping it very slightly.
Start wrapping the ribbon, overlapping slightly.
3. Pull it tightly and glue in place. You don’t need to glue every wrap, but I usually do every 5 or so to keep it in place. Glue on the underside so you don’t get bumps on the good side.
4. Adjust the wraps as necessary. As the headband curves you’ll find you get small tucks in the ribbon. Move these to the underside, and wrap the next piece of ribbon over the top of the tuck tightly to hold it in place.
5. When you reach the end, cut the ribbon and secure with glue.
Headband wrapped in ribbon and secured.
Method 2: Cover with fabric
1. Cut a strip of fabric.The length should be your headband measurement plus 2cm (3/4″) for turning under plus another 5mm (1/4″) ease. The width should be twice the width of the headband, plus 12mm (1/4″) seam allowance plus another 5mm (1/4″) ease.I like to cut this on the bias as it stretches to fit snugly round the headband without creating crinkles on the underside. If you don’t cut it on the bias, add a small bit extra (ooh, I don’t know, about 3mm (1/8″) say?) to the width so there’s definitely enough room to fit the plastic inside.My headband was 1.5cm wide by 23cm long, so my strip is 47mm wide and 25.5 long.
2. Fold over top and bottom by 1cm (3/8″) and then fold right sides together. Sew down the long side with a seam allowance of 6mm (1/4″).Folding the top and bottom ends over now catches the folded edge in the long seam, and makes it easier to turn under the ends when the strip is turned right side out.
Fold the short ends over to the wrong side and then fold the strip right sides together down the length.
3. Turn to the right side and press flat so that the seam is in the centre. Make sure the ends are folded under.
Turn to the right side and press.
4. Insert the band into the fabric tube – it may need a little wiggling to get it in.
Insert the plastic ring into the fabric strip.
5. Hand stitch the folded ends neatly.(Actually, you can do this messily if you want – I promise I won’t tell!)
Sew the ends closed.
Decorate the Headband
Your imagination is the limit, but here are a few suggestions:
- Glue a thinner ribbon or braid down the centre of the headband.
- Add a bow; there are lots of different bows here – they use a special Hair Bow Maker but you could easily make one yourself, or just use your fingers like I did.
- Or festoon with flowers; either fabric flowers or ribbon flowers – or a combination.
- Try curling ribbons
- Stick beads down the centre of the headband, or in clusters – but make sure they’re securely attached.
Just remember to keep the embellishments to scale. You can sew them on if you like, but the easiest way is to use a hot glue gun.
I made two versions, a pretty gingham with a bow for everyday, to complement Emily’s school uniform, and an all-singing all-dancing special occasion version with flowers and ribbons – more is more in this household!
And here you can see the headbands a bit clearer:
The one on the left has a flower made out a piece of pink wired ribbon with beads in the centre, plus a smaller one from a slightly narrower organza ribbon, a piece of beaded trim and some curled ribbons. The one on the right has a narrow decorative ribbon glued down the centre and topped with a ribbon bow.