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Re-purposing: Tshirts into 5-strand-braided-headbands

I was walking through Target a few weeks ago and noticed this little knit fabric headband that was not just braided together…….but woven.  I decided they were charging way too much for something that could be made with t-shirt scraps. And that means free.

So there you have it. A nice and easy project to give my bad-hair-day head some love.

5 Strand Braided Knit Headband

(Or you may need one for working out.  Or washing your face.  Or while putting on your make-up.)

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I kinda love it on my little girl .  And she does too……because it’s stretchy, soft, and cozy.  Win-win.

grey braided headband2 2

She always has little hair fly-aways that get into her face…….and this helps with that problem.

grey braided headband

It even works great with her hair down…..and keeps that hair tucked behind her ears.

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pink braided headband

And yep, good for me too.

Thanks little t-shirt scraps.

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Want to make your own?

First, find some old t-shirts.  Or buy some jersey knit.  Either way works.

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Then, cut your fabric into long strips.  I made my strips about twice as long as the measurement around my (or my daughter’s) head.  The thick headband strips are about 2 inches wide and the narrow headband strips are about a 1/3 inch wide.  You’ll need 5 long strips for one headband.

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Next, stack your 5 strips on top of each other and sew together at one end.  (Or hand stitch them or glue them.)

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Now, pull on each strip of fabric so that they kind of curl on the edges.

Then lay your strips with the sewn edge up at the top (tape this down if that will help you while braiding) and then split up the strips into 3 on the left side and 2 strips on the right.

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Now, to create this 5 strand braid……’ll kind of be braiding on the left side and then braiding on the right.  And then back and forth until you’re done.

But let me explain a little better.

First, you’ll work on the left side. So grab the strip all the way on the left (pic #1) and cross if over the strip right next to it  on the right(pic #2).  Then grab the strip furthest to the right of this section (pic #3) and cross it over one strip to the left (pic #4).  Now grab the middle of all 5 strips (pic #5) and bring it over the the right side (pic #6) so that you can start braiding on the right side.  Now you have your strips separated into 2 strips on the left and 3 strips on the right…….but opposite from the beginning.


Now, you’re going to do the same thing on the right side………just mirrored from what we did the first time.  So grab the strip all the way on the right (pic #1) and cross if over the strip right next to it  on the left (pic #2).  Then grab the strip furthest to the left of this section (pic #3) and cross it over one strip to the right (pic #4).  Now grab the middle of all 5 strips (pic #5) and bring it over the the left side (pic #6) so that you can start braiding on the left side again.


**Something to remember: When you’re working on the left side or on the right side……’ll always start with the strip on the outside.  So if you’re working on the left side……grab the strip all the way on the outside on the left.  If you’re working on braiding on the right side…….start with the strip all the way on the outside on the right.

So, start again from the very beginning and work on the left side again (pics #1-5) and then on the right side again (pics #6-10).


You’ll need to adjust the tightness as you go and may have to tighten individual strips here or there.

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Keep on braiding and braiding……keeping the tension about the same all the way down.

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When you get to the end (or as long as you need it)…… (or hand-stitch or glue) the ends in place.

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Then overlap the ends together and sew (or glue) in place.

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**Before attaching, remember that knit will stretch and the woven design allows for stretch.  So you want to make this headband smaller than your head so that it hugs your head and stays in place.

To finish it off (and cover up the ends), cut a rectangular piece of fabric that’s wider than the ends that you’ll need to cover.  Fold the side edges in…….

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And then stitch (or glue) one end on the inside of the headband.

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Then wrap this piece of fabric around the headband, tuck the ends up……

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And then stitch (or glue) this end down too.

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And that’s it.

A nice and stretchy headband for you or a little girl you know.

. . . . . . . . . . .
This post is sponsored by:

Ashley Johnston

Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!


  1. Lisa says:

    What did you do about the seam? It looks like you cut from the body of the shirt and to make it big enough wouldn’t you hit the side seam of the shirt or did your shirts not have side seams? Any ideas how to get around that?

    1. Ashley says:

      Just cut right through the seam and use the strip with the seam included. If you make the strip too narrow, you’ll need to reinforce that seam to keep the 2 pieces together. Otherwise, just cut through it and use it like the seam isn’t there.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Amy says:

    Wow! Who knew it was so easy to get that woven look?! Definitely making one of these ASAP. Hot weather and no AC means lots of ponytails:)

  3. cindy says:

    Love the headbands!!! And love the look of the blog! So fun!

  4. Lindsay says:

    I linked this up to my blog to be posted on on Saturday!

  5. Karin says:

    Just finished a red one for my daughter, and she loves it. The first one is a bit ragged, but I think in the subsequent ones I plan on making I can fine-tune them. Thanks so much for sharing, these are brilliant.

  6. Rose says:

    Amei muito lindo,!!!

  7. Rachel says:

    Just made a couple of braided bracelet cuffs using this tutorial. So fun and lightweight- THANKS!

    1. Robin says:

      good idea Rachel! ….Oooh you could do one with a lot more than 5 strands and get a fat cuff bracelet. Nice!

    2. Rachel says:

      Yes, I think 8 or 10 of the 2″ strands would give you a 2 1/2 inch cuff. Pretty thick. Mine (with 5 strands) came out to be just over an inch thick.

    3. Ashley says:

      Oooh, cute idea! Love that you made it into a cuff!

  8. Jenny says:

    so cute! I can’t wait to try this out.

  9. Leah says:

    I love these. I can’t wait to make them. Thanks for figuring it out for all of us! This will also be a great craft project for my daughter’s birthday party!

  10. Dana says:

    This is awesome! I was at Target the other day and saw those and thought the same thing, but there’s no way I could have figured out how to make them. Thanks for the tutorial!

  11. Danielle says:

    I did a tute on Blissful and Domestic for a three strand braided hair band, but I am loving your 5 strand one. I think I will ahve to try this one out.:>

  12. Emily siple says:

    I cant wait to try this. So darling!

  13. Grandma G says:

    What a great idea! Thanks for sharing. I will try these out for my granddaughter.

  14. Byby's Kingdom says:

    Sooo cute !!! I love the idea !

  15. Angie Ward says:

    Love these! I am going to make some for my girls.

  16. monette says:

    This is very cool … my little jazz has also same problem ..a lots of fly aways…this is a great tutorials thanks.. im gonna try it out today …

  17. Jen says:

    These are great! I’m definitely pinning these for later, thanks for sharing!

  18. Lindsay says:

    Already made one I loved them so much! :) Great tutorial! Very easy to follow! I can’t wait to get more colors!

  19. Christine says:

    I just put a shirt in the give away pile that I will have to pull back out.

  20. Katie says:

    Ooooo..I know what I’m doing tomorrow! Love it

  21. Lisa D. says:

    I can’t wait to try these! Super cute!

  22. Leslie says:

    Genius! Soooo Cute!

  23. Stephanie says:

    I definitely need to make some of these for myself and my daughter! I’m trying to grow my hair out and was thinking of getting it cut short…if I can get these headbands made, it may save me from cutting my hair off!!!

  24. Cousin Cassie :) says:

    Those dimples on E! Soooo cute. It was fun to talk to you the other day.

    1. Ashley says:

      Yay…….it was so fun!!!! Talk to you soon, I’m sure! :)

  25. margaret says:

    love it!

  26. Nicole says:

    My 11 year old just whipped up a cute pink one out of an old t-shirt of mine! I read the tutorial to her while she braided away…thanks for giving us a fun activity to do together! I was amazed at how quickly her little fingers were braiding away, while I was still trying to make sense of it in my head. Haha! Not the fault of your tutorial (which was awesome!) but I guess I don’t pick things up as quickly as an 11 year old! :) Thanks so much!

    1. Nicole says:

      ….and she’s now asking me to get some red, white & blue fabric so she can make a bunch for the kids she is walking in a parade with, on the 4th. Look what you’ve gone and started! ;-)

    2. Ashley says:

      Oh my word, how cute is she!!! Those little minds amaze me! I’m glad it gave you guys something to do together. Sweet.


  27. marie says:

    You always have something easy, nice and lovely….
    Love your creativity! Thanks for the sharing…!~

  28. LLicht @ says:

    Such absolutely incredible timing!! I just made t-shirt yarn out of a bunch of old t-shirts and had the top section between the arm holes up to the neck area laying aside waiting for me to figure out what to do with them! That section would be perfect for a project like this! With all my hair I always need a good washable headband! Thanks so much for posting!

    1. megachristian says:

      these are washable?

  29. Marcela says:

    These are LOVELY! And I am so obsessed with headbands! :)
    You always do amazing things. Thank you! :)

  30. Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty says:

    Soooooooooooo cute! I made a fancy shirt for zumba the other day and have lots of extra left overs, now if I could figure out that braiding! haha :)

  31. erin says:

    this is such a great idea! i must have a big head, or it’s oddly-shaped, because store-bought headbands are too little for me. i can’t wait to try this and get some headbands that actually stay on and don’t slip! thanks for sharing.

    1. Tracy says:

      I agree with you, my head shape must be off. 99% of headbands(except for the plastic headbands with elastic on them for the back of your head, sold at the 99 cent stores) either hurt my head (the hard ones)or slip further + further back on the top + up at the bottom of my head(the stretched ones)
      I also think your daughter is so cute + pretty. You must be so proud. She looks like a little lady.
      I am so happy that I decided to check out this site, after posting on it. I love this tutorial.

  32. anna says:

    these are soo awesome! I would love one, perfect look with some sexy beach hair. :)

  33. Kari - Ucreate says:

    Hey Ashley!
    This looks like so much fun to make! Also, that brown braided headband looks like its your hair…cool!

  34. kristina says:

    I want to make one for myself so badly, but I’m shamefully confused by the 5-strand braid. I’ll have to give it a go, though. Too cute not to.

    1. Elizabeth says:

      I am making the headband now. At first I was confused but I realized that the numbers refer to the photos not the strands so hopefully that helps!

    2. Ashley says:

      Thanks for clarifying for Kristina……hopefully that helps!

  35. Jessica at Me Sew Crazy says:

    Cute, cute, cute! What a great headband! Looks great on the both of you too!

  36. grace says:

    SO cute! i’m seriously making this. and i have the perfect bright orange t-shirt in mind…

  37. Becky k says:

    Brilliant!! Those store bought ones always squeeze my apparently larger than average head :) making one now for my upcoming camping trip!! Yay! Thank you for the tutorial!!

    1. Hannah says:

      I totally agree. Ones that I buy at the store are always too small or too big. Thanks!

  38. Rebekah says:

    Love it! :) I made one with 3 strands the other day but this is just fabulous! :) Off I go to make one for my niece! :) And maybe one for myself!! ;)

    1. Neranda Hermania says:


  39. Lynette says:

    Oh I needed something to go with a t shirt for a birthday gift for my niece. I think she would love this! Thanks for the tute, just in time! :)

  40. Marissa says:

    Your little girl is so cute. So photogenic. And these headbands are great. I love free stuff! Score! Can’t wait to make my own.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I agree so cute and fashionable for school,play, or even church. So multi purpose thanks so much for the tutorial❤❤

  41. Katie@Little Things Bring Smiles says:

    GENIUS! absolutely love this idea and the final result. you and your daughter make beautiful models :) thank you for sharing!! happy weekend to you!

    1. Neranda Hermania says:

      I know right lol :)

  42. Lindsey says:

    This is great! My favorite t-shirt just got a big hole in it, this will extend its life! Yay!

  43. Jenny says:

    I really love those and can’t wait to make some. I’m already imagining matching ones for my daughter and me. Thanks so much!

  44. Jamie says:

    Love this! Perfect timing too, I was just going to make a braided headband for my daughter for the 4th, now it’ll be even cuter! Thanks :)

  45. Dianna says:

    These look so cute and easy to wear! Thank you for all the pics. Gotta find some old t-shirts to cut up!

    1. BarMaidCandi says:

      Thrift stores are a great place to look if you don’t have any old t-shirts in your closet.

  46. Kami says:

    That is so adorable! I love it! Great tutorial!

    Thanks Ashley! It was so fun to meet you in TX!

    1. Ashley says:

      Yay…… was so fun to meet you too! When’s the next meet up?? :)

  47. Sara says:

    So cute and easy!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Do you know how long the strips are?

    2. Sara says:

      I’m not sure- it just looks easy! But the post said to be about twice the circumference of your head.

    3. sydney says:


    4. Makayla says:

      I just did it today and I made the strips about 1 1/2 times the circumference of my head, then stretched the braid tight as I went.

    5. Hannah . says:

      Cut your tshirt in half & use the bottom horizontal part of the shirt & only use what you need .

    6. blah says:

      depends how big is your head. you just measure it

    7. Anonymous says:

      they should be long enough to fit twice around your head

    8. Anonymous says:

      Take your tee shirt and cut tue five strips then cut each strip long ways to double your length

    9. Meghan says:

      I agree! I did this and it turned out great!(:

    10. asdf says:

      these are so cute! i love them. perfect for soccer gals!!!! thanks so much for the directions.

    11. Anonymous says:

      so fun, so easy, and so cute!!

    12. Judy says:

      I don’t personally use headbands but have very young nieces who do and also make boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Thanks so much for sharing this cute, cute idea that can be made without any cost involved. Your instructions are very well written and easy to follow. I can’t wait to make some for my boxes this year. Bless You — and your daughter is beautiful!!!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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