how to sew a bandana

How To Sew a Bandana

Crafting a bandana is an easy and gratifying endeavor that enables you to fashion a fashionable accessory infused with your unique style. Here’s how to sew a bandana in 7 easy steps:

  • Cut a square piece of fabric
  • Iron the fabric flat
  • Fold and pin the edges
  • Stitch the folded edges
  • Clip excess fabric at corners (optional)
  • Press the stitched bandana
  • Customize with embellishments

Can you craft a trendy new bandana to tie around your neck or give as a gift? Let’s get started!

What is a Bandana?

A bandana is a versatile square of fabric, typically made from cotton. Originating as a practical accessory for outdoor workers and cowboys, the bandana has evolved into a fashionable statement piece. Whether tied around the neck, head, wrist or carried in a pocket, a bandana instantly adds character.

Sewing your custom bandana allows you to choose the perfect fabric pattern, color, or material to reflect your unique style. From floral prints to plaid flannel, the options are endless when creating a unique bandana.

The Origins of the Bandana

The word “bandana” derives from the Hindi “bandana,” which means to tie or bind. Brightly colored bandanas were popular in ancient India and brought to England in the 17th century.

American pioneers and cowboys adopted the bandana as a practical accessory on the frontier. Its moisture-wicking properties made it ideal for wiping sweat from the brow. The bandana could also be soaked in water and tied around the neck to keep cool.

Bandana Styles Through the Years

While initially just a solid-colored square, bandana prints emerged in paisley and floral motifs during the Victorian era. By the 1960s counterculture movement, psychedelic patterns and tie-dye became trendy bandana designs.

Today’s bandanas stay true to classic paisley or embody modern geometric, plaid, or graphic novel prints. No matter the style, a handmade bandana carries a personalized quality that store-bought versions can’t match.

Sewing a Simple Bandana

Sewing a Simple Bandana
Photo credit: pexels

One of the easiest ways to sew a bandana is with a simple folded hem method using just a few materials. This basic technique creates a clean, polished look without complicated steps.

Materials Needed:

  • A square piece of cotton fabric (21″x21″ is the standard size)
  • Sewing machine & coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • Fabric marking pen or chalk (optional)


Step 1: Cut the Fabric Square

If you don’t have a pre-cut 21″21″ square of fabric, use sharp fabric scissors to trim a more significant piece down to size exactly. A rotary cutter and self-healing cutting mat work well for precisely squaring fabric.

Make sure to cut off any loose threads or frayed edges left on the raw fabric for a clean finish. Use a fabric marking tool to lightly trace guidelines before cutting for an exact square.

Step 2: Press the Fabric

Next, give the fabric square a good press with a hot iron on an ironing board or flat surface. This sets the fibers and removes any wrinkles for crisply folded edges. A burst of steam can help smooth out stubborn creases.

Step 3: Fold and Pin the Edges

Working on one side at a time, fold over a 1⁄4″ seam allowance and press flat with the iron. Use straight pins placed every few inches to hold the folded edge in place as you go.

Make sure to create a neat 90-degree angle at each corner by folding the corner edges inward. A small sewing gauge can help measure an accurate 1⁄4″ fold if needed.

Step 4: Straight Stitch the Hem

With the edges pinned, thread the needle and bobbin on your sewing machine with a coordinating thread color. Set the machine for a basic straight stitch.

Start stitching from the right side of the bandana, securing the stitches with a backstitch or locking stitch at the beginning. Sew slowly and steadily along the inner folded edge, removing pins. Be sure to pivot with the needle down at each corner for crisp 90-degree angles.

End with another backstitch and tie off the threads neatly on the wrong side of the fabric. This completes the simple stitched hem around all four sides of the bandana.

Step 5: Clip the Corners (Optional)

If desired for a crisper finished look, use small sharp scissors to clip off the excess fabric at each corner. Be very careful not to cut through the stitching accidentally.

This simple step helps the square corners of the bandana lay flatter once turned right side out. It’s an optional step that gives a more professional finish.

Step 6: Press the Stitched Bandana

Once all edges are stitched and corners clipped (if doing so), give the whole bandana one final pressing with the iron. This sets the sewn hems and edges for a polished look.

Turn the bandana over and press the wrong side to flatten any remaining seam allowance bulk from the folded edges.

Step 7: Add Personal Touches

The beauty of handmade is putting your creative spin on a project. Customize your new bandana with fun embellishments like:

  • Fabric paints or markers
  • Embroidery stitches
  • Iron-on appliques
  • Contrasting fabric trims
  • Printed patterns with stencils

Think of the bandana as a blank canvas to decorate however you like! From simple monograms to intricate designs, the options are limitless.

Tips for Sewing Bandanas

  • Use a cotton fabric that breathes well. Avoid heavy or stiff materials.
  • Wash and preshrink the fabric before cutting and sewing.
  • For rounded corners, use a plate or bowl as a template to trace gentle curves.
  • Try sewing a rolled-edge hem with contrasting thread for a whimsical look.
  • Make oversized bandanas from a larger fabric square for head wraps or shawls.
  • Cut rectangles instead of squares and sew them into infinity loop scarves.
  • Mix and match different coordinating fabric prints or colors.


How do you finish the raw edges of a bandana?

The easiest way is to fold over the raw edges by 1/4″ and straight stitch all around to create a clean hem finish. You can also overlock or zig-zag stitch the raw edges if preferred.

What’s the best size for a bandana?

The standard bandana size is 21″ x 21″, a versatile dimension. However, depending on your needs, you can make bandanas slightly larger or smaller. For kids’ bandanas, 18″ x 18″ is a good smaller option.

What type of sewing machine stitch works best?

A basic straight stitch works perfectly for hemming a bandana’s folded edges. A narrow zig-zag or overedge stitch in a contrasting thread color can be used instead for a decorative look.

Can you tie-dye or batik a bandana?

Absolutely! Plain cotton fabric is ideal for tie-dye and batik methods of adding colorful patterns before sewing the bandana. Aim for a thinner, lightweight cotton that absorbs dye evenly.

How much fabric do you need to sew a bandana?

For one standard 21″ x 21″ bandana, you only need a 1/2 yard of 44″ wide cotton fabric. For multiple bandanas, calculate yardage based on the number you’d like to make.


Can you sew a stylish new bandana accessory to wear or give as a gift? Get creative with fabrics, patterns, and personal touches!


Main image: freepik

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 249

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