DIY Workout Headband for the Non-Crafter

I love my running gadgets and can't run without them, but if you've seen a picture of me running you know that there's one accessory I really can't run without: a headband. I have long bangs and I hate having even a strand of hair in my face when I'm working out. I also hate having sweat dripping down my face (who whoesn't?). I used to pin back the short pieces with bobby pins, but then I discovered the beauty of wearing headbands. I've purchased 4 or 5 that I love because they are super cute but, more importantly they stay put! I could easily stand to own 10 more of them, but at $15 a pop, they're not exactly budget friendly. I've always thought that, even as a non-crafty person, they looked easy to replicate. So when I needed a last-minute orange and maroon headband for my Hokie Half Marathon outfit, I finally decided to try it.

I am really not all that crafty or good with a sewing machine. I don't scour Pinterest for DIY projects or know my way around Michaels/Hobby Lobby. I know the basics of how to operate a sewing machine, but I don't really know how to sew, if that makes sense. I think you could even try this with a hot glue gun instead of a sewing machine. If I can do can too. Here we go.

Step 1: Gather materials.

Supplies (makes 1 headband):

  • 16"* long ribbon** (your choice of thickness but I used ~7/8" thick) OR cotton fabric (the advantage to this is that there are far more options in fabric than in ribbon), in color and pattern of your choice
  • 16"* long black velvet ribbon**, same thickness as your ribbon
  • 8"* long 3/8" braided elastic
  • thread to match your ribbon and the velvet ribbon
*I used a headband I already owned to get these measurements. Measure yourself and make adjustments as necessary - just make sure your ribbon and velvet ribbon are the same length.

**I tried a craft store first but had better luck at a fabric store. The advantage of a fabric store is being able to buy only as much ribbon and fabric as needed, whereas craft stores sells them ribbon the spool (which is WAY more than you need for one headband).

Also needed: sewing machine or hot glue gun (I strongly suggest a sewing machine and have not tried it with hot glue, but I think it could possibly work); ironing board and iron

All of these materials cost me $21 or $4.20 per headband. I did not already own anything for this project other than a sewing machine. It took me a little under an hour from start to finish, which also included the time I spent taking these pictures and figuring out exactly how I was going to do this. It took about 10 minutes to make the second one.

Step 2: Cut your velvet ribbon to the appropriate length (~16")

Step 3. If you're using a ribbon, this whole process is pretty simple. Just line up your ribbon and the velvet ribbon so that the backs of each are touching, pin, and skip to Step 5.

If you're using fabric, it's a little trickier, but not too bad (I mean, I managed to figure it out). If your fabric is a pattern, line up your velvet ribbon with the section of fabric that you want to use (this doesn't matter if your fabric is a uniform pattern or a solid since it will look the same no matter where you place it). When you decide where you need to place the velvet ribbon, flip the fabric over (back side up), and lay the velvet ribbon down (velvet side up) in that spot. Cut out this section of fabric, leaving ~2" on either side of the part of the fabric that you actually want to show.

Step 4: With the fabric still face down, fold over and iron the fabric, then pin the velvet ribbon in place. When you flip the fabric over, the part of the fabric that you want to show should be lined up with velvet ribbon (fabric on top, ribbon on bottom)

Step 5: Get ready to sew! I used the fabric thread for the bobbin and black thread (to match the velvet ribbon) on top. You could switch them but you'd be sewing on the opposite side that I did.

Step 6: Start sewing! I don't have an exact measurement for seam allowance, I just tried to sew as close to the edge of the velvet ribbon as I reasonably could.

Step 7: (Skip this step if using ribbon) After sewing the first side, you obviously need to sew the other side. This was the tricky part for me, since I made my ribbon out of fabric. If you look at the picture above, you can see two layers of fabric on the left side. I cut off the bottom layer so that it was even with the top layer. Then I folded that over across the velvet ribbon (like I had done on the right side), and ironed it.

Step 8: Sew the second side. The trick to this (if using fabric) is that the ends of the folded over fabric need to go UNDER the velvet ribbon before you sew. That way, when you sew that side, you're sewing down that edge while also securing the fabric to the velvet ribbon.

Step 9: Take your elastic and insert ~1/4" of one end of it into one end of the fabric/velvet ribbon strip. Sew across so that this side is now closed and the elastic is securely fastened. I went over it a couple times just to make sure the elastic wasn't going to come out.

Step 10: Repeat on the other end. For a custom fit, wrap the headband around your head to figure out how much of the elastic you need to insert on this side. I pinned the elastic in place (with the pointy end facing AWAY so I didn't stab myself in the head when I put it on) to check the fit. Once you're satisfied, sew that side closed. Your headband should now be a full circle.

If I were doing this again I'd change how I did the ends so that I didn't have this potential fraying issue. It would have been an easy fix, I just didn't think of it in time. I pretty much made this up as I went along.
Step 11: Put that baby on and go admire your handiwork.

Now, as cute and easy as this project was, I think we can all agree that it would all be for naught if it didn't actually function as intended. I mentioned that I wore this for a half marathon, but I won't lie, I packed an extra, tried-and-true headband to carry with me just in case this one slid around or broke or something. I wore this one for the whole race and it stayed perfectly put the whole time! The velvet ribbon is perfect for non-slippage. That's really the key piece here, and I think you could put just about anything (ribbon, fabric, whatever) over it that you want.

(Pro tip: if you want to take a really great-looking photo, take it right after running for almost 2 hours in the pouring rain).


  1. For a non-crafter this is pretty impressive! This makes me wish I had a sewing machine- I love the fabric you picked out!

  2. What a great idea and I love your picture tutorial!

  3. Aren't you just handy dandy?! This is awesome. Crafting does NOT come naturally to me, but THIS I think I can do.

  4. you're so fancy! i'm a non crafter for sure, and this looks easy enough for me! i really don't like headbands when i run though, isn't that weird?

  5. I'm with you - I don't want one tiny piece of hair in my face when I exercised. I cringe looking at girls that wear their hair down when they exercise….My mom has a sewing machine and I may just have to try this when I'm at her house next time! I love that you have a Hokie one!!

  6. Tracy this is such an awesome tutorial! So easy and clear. I need to make some of these, my hair is always in my face and it's not pretty


Thanks for visiting and taking time to share your thoughts! If you don't hear back from me, check your settings to make sure you're not no-reply (check here if you're unsure)!