How to Sew an Expandable Headband

expandable headbands

 Debbie Colgrove

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

An expandable headband is a versatile hair accessory that can be worn in multiple ways. A portion of the headband has encased elastic while the rest is pleated fabric. You can open the fabric to wear as a wide hair wrap, scrunch it to be a thin headband, or position it somewhere in between. Beginner sewers can easily make their own expandable headband, and the project should only take around an hour. Plus, because the headband doesn't require much fabric, you might be able to use fabric scraps or pick up something from the clearance rack for a cost-effective approach. The best part is you can customize the fabric to your style and coordinate it with certain outfits. These headbands make great personalized gifts, too.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Safety pin


  • Fabric (one piece cut to 12 by 15 inches and the other cut to 11 by 3 inches)
  • 6 1/2 inches of 3/4-inch-wide non-roll elastic
  • Matching thread


  1. Prepare the Headband's Elastic Section

    Take the 11 inch-by-3 inch piece of fabric, and fold it lengthwise to align the 11-inch edges with the wrong sides together. Sew a seam along the 11-inch edge using a scant 3/8-inch seam allowance. Apply a seam finish, and press.

    Turn the fabric tube right side out, and press with the seam centered on one side of the tube.

    Thread the elastic into the fabric tube using a bodkin or safety pin. Leave the elastic exposed on each end and the fabric bunched in the center of the elastic.

    preparing the headband elastic section
    Debbie Colgrove
  2. Prepare the Expandable Part of the Headband

    Now, take your 12 inch-by-15 inch piece of fabric. Turn under 1/8 inch, and press it in place on the 15-inch edges. Turn under 1/8 inch again to enclose the raw edge, and press it in place. Stitch the 1/8-inch hem in place, sewing as close to the inner edge fold as possible.

    Next, pleat the 12-inch edge by making small fan folds until the edge is 1 inch wide. Baste the pleats in place.

    preparing the expandable part of the headband
    Debbie Colgrove
  3. Combine the 2 Headband Sections

    Sew the elastic to the pleated ends of the expandable section, keeping the seam on the wrong side of the expandable section.

    Turn the ends of the fabric tube in approximately 1/4 inch to enclose the raw edges. Then, slide each end of the fabric tube over the ends of the elastic and the basting stitches onto the pleated sections.

    Align the turned-under edges of the fabric tube, so they are even. Sew across the edges to finish the headband.

    combining the headband sections
    Debbie Colgrove