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.)

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

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

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

And yep, good for me too.

Thanks little t-shirt scraps.

Want to make your own?

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

**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…….

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

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

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

And that’s it.

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

. . . . . . . . . . .
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Filed under Accessory, Children, Family, Featured, Miscellaneous, No Sew, Re-purposing


534 Responses to “Re-purposing: Tshirts into 5-strand-braided-headbands”
  1. 1
    Sara says:

    So cute and easy!

    • 1.1
      Anonymous says:

      Do you know how long the strips are?

    • 1.2
      Meghan says:

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

    • 1.3
      asdf says:

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

    • 1.4
      Anonymous says:

      so fun, so easy, and so cute!!

    • 1.5
      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!!!

  2. 2
    Kami says:

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

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

  3. 3
    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!

    • 3.1
      BarMaidCandi says:

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

  4. 4
    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 :)

  5. 5
    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!

  6. 6
    Lindsey says:

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

  7. 7

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

  8. 8
    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.

    • 8.1
      Anonymous says:

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

  9. 9
    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! :)

  10. 10
    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!! ;)

  11. 11
    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!!

  12. 12
    grace says:

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

  13. 13

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

  14. 14
    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.

    • 14.1
      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!

  15. 15

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

  16. 16
    anna says:

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

  17. 17
    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.

    • 17.1
      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.

  18. 18

    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 :)

  19. 19
    Marcela says:

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

  20. 20
    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!

  21. 21
    marie says:

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

  22. 22
    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!

    • 22.1
      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! ;-)

    • 22.2
      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.


  23. 23
  24. 24
    Cousin Cassie :) says:

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

  25. 25
    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!!!

  26. 26
    Leslie says:

    Genius! Soooo Cute!

  27. 27
    Lisa D. says:

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

  28. 28
    Katie says:

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

  29. 29
    Christine says:

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

  30. 30
    Lindsay says:

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

  31. 31
  32. 32
    Jen says:

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

  33. 33
    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 …

  34. 34
    Angie Ward says:

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

  35. 35

    Sooo cute !!! I love the idea !

  36. 36
    Grandma G says:

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

  37. 37
    Emily siple says:

    I cant wait to try this. So darling!

  38. 38
    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.:>

  39. 39
    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!

  40. 40
    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!

  41. 41
    Jenny says:

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

  42. 42
    Rachel says:

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

    • 42.1
      Robin says:

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

      • 42.1.1
        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.

  43. 43
    Rose says:

    Amei muito lindo,!!!

  44. 44
    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.

  45. 45
    Lindsay says:

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

  46. 46
    cindy says:

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

  47. 47
    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:)

  48. 48
    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?

    • 48.1
      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!

  49. 49

    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Tomorrow I am going inside my closet and try to find some t-shirts to make some :)

  50. 50
    Pam Pike says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I will have to make these for my two granddaughters. I couldn’t help but notice how cute your daughters shirt is. Love that hat. Your daughter is just precious.

  51. 51
    Becky says:

    If I didn’t already have the YW camp crafts decided, I would be doing this. Instead I’ll just bookmark it for next year. (By the way, I’m in Robin’s ward.)

  52. 52
    Carissa Cooke says:

    Just made one for my DD and it was great. Thank you so much for posting this. I now am going to make myself. one.

  53. 53
    CJ says:

    Thanks so much!

  54. 54
    dawn says:

    this is completely brilliant! thanks for sharing!!

  55. 55
    Annika says:

    This is an excellent tutorial. They look so pretty! Thanks!

  56. 56
    Jessica says:

    Oh I LOVE these. Now I have something to do with all those old shirts I kept! Thanks for sharing!

  57. 57
    Jill D says:

    Yeh! Love to repurpose!

  58. 58
    Robin says:

    did you have to piece your strips together? Measuring my head and doubling it makes it 46 inches. My tshirts are smaller than that.
    please advise

    • 58.1
      Ashley says:

      Just cut right through the seam and use the strip. 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!

  59. 59
    Amy says:

    I found this project two days ago and can’t stop making them! Thanks for the tutorial!

  60. 60
    Ellyn says:

    Just found this today, Of course I had to drop everything & try it! Gray headband on my 14 year old’s head now (wow Mom! That’s cute!) and many more to come. Going to teach her to make them with me. Thanks for the great idea

  61. 61

    This was an awesome idea…..Kids, grandkids, moms and grammas….what a fun girl-time project!!!! Thank you.

  62. 62
    vanessa says:

    I just made 2! This is my new favorite headband. (your fabric headband had been my #1)
    Everything I make from this site, I absolutely LOVE! :)

  63. 63
    aleisha says:

    this is such a great idea for all of my old t-shirts i don’t fit anymore. i love it!

  64. 64

    Fantastic! What a great idea for old shirts!

  65. 65
    Jess says:

    Okay, I guess I’m short (okay, I know I’m short) but where did you find t-shirts long enough to go around your heads? My daughter’s head measured 21 inches and my t-shirts are not anywhere near that long.

    • 65.1
      Ashley says:

      I used the base of the shirt (so the width of the shirt…..not the height) and so you can use the length all the way around the shirt. Even if there are side seams, cut right through and use it. If the strip is narrow and there was a side seam, resew that side seam in place so that it doesn’t unravel.

  66. 66
    kathy oliveros!!! says:

    i saw these too and said to myself I’ll just wait until make it and love it blog shows me how to do it!!! and you DID!!! hahah this is awesome thanks!!!!!

  67. 67

    Can’t wait til I try, thank you so much for sharing the idea and process. Little one will be happy with it.

  68. 68
    Joy says:

    I love that you say “or glue” because I don’t sew a darn thing!

  69. 69
    Becca S. says:

    I used this to make a headband for my little girl, and put a fabric flower on it to embellish it a little. And of course my son wanted me to braid him a super-hero belt/ ninja headband. :)
    Thanks for the great tutorial- I could not have figured out how to braid the strands without it!

  70. 70
    Becky says:

    Thank you so much for this great tutorial! My head doesn’t like headbands and so I adapted it to be a bracelet. Super Fun!

  71. 71
    Becky says:

    So cute and fun! I adapted it to be a bracelet and it worked out great!

  72. 72

    I didn’t have my laptop in front of me and started this with only four strips. It actually came out great once I figured it out. I braided under on one side and braided under on the other. Looks great.

    I guess next time I should read more carefully, but I love happy mistakes…

  73. 73
    Charmaine says:

    Oh my goodness this is so flippin’ cute! Thanks for the tute :)

  74. 74
    Alicia G. says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I can’t wait to try it.

  75. 75
    Holly says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for such a detailed tutorial. I’ve never done a 5 strand braid before. I posted a link on my blog under things I’d like to make. Thanks again!

  76. 76
    Dom says:

    I LOVE this so much!!

    I have posted a link to it on my blog.


  77. 77
    Wendy C says:

    So cute!

  78. 78
    Heather says:

    This just makes me happy. Creative downtime…it’s exactly what I need!

  79. 79
    Ruth says:

    I really like it! Great tutorial!

  80. 80
    Kathryn says:

    This is such a cute idea. I got confused on your braiding directions so I looked it up on youtube…

    • 80.1
      Kathryn says:

      Actually I figured out your directions. That video isn’t as good as I thought it would, so I wouldn’t use it.

    • 80.2
      Ashley says:

      Awww, sorry about that. That’s a good video but a little different technique……it doesn’t quite give a woven look. More of a regular braided look. But it will still be cute. Good luck!!


      • 80.2.1
        Ashley says:

        Oh sorry, I just noticed you had an updated comment about the video. Sorry it didn’t work out but glad you figured out my directions above!! :)

  81. 81
    Andrea says:

    Quick question…I’m in the middle of making one of these – but for some reason the fabric won’t “curl”??? Which way is the grain supposed to go? I’m using 100% cotton t-shirt material….that should be ok, right? Thanks!!

    • 81.1
      Amy says:

      Which way are you stretching…Length or width?

      • 81.1.1
        Andrea says:

        Length…but it def. doesn’t curl – even though it’s from a t-shirt…when you stretch it, the ends look almost frayed…any ideas on what I might be doing wrong? :)

          Ashley says:

          Try cutting it width-ways. Maybe that will help it stretch and curl a bit. But even if it doesn’t curl……you can still use it. Let me know how it goes!


          • Andrea says:

            Neither way curled….weird. Anyways, I did try it without the fabric curling and it didn’t work out too well…looked rather disheveled. :) I did find another t-shirt though that was made from a lighter, stretchier fabric and this one did what it was supposed to. Though…it still didn’t look near as cute as yours do. :) The weaving was kind of uneven I guess…had trouble keeping it all at the same tension! Thanks for the advice though…and the fun tutorial to try.

            • Jennifer Nordin says:

              Some knit dose not curl no matter what direction you cut it. I have made lots of braided headbands and bracelets in the past and found the same thing with some t’s. Very thin knit curls the best. It dose not work unless it curls. Try it again with a knit that curls and you will be hooked, it is lots of fun. I have only tried tradiitional braids but I am looking forward to tring this one with 5 strands.

  82. 82
    lindsay says:

    I linked this up to my blog. Thanks!!!

  83. 83
    Kathryn says:

    This was an adorable idea. I made one, but yours looked much nicer. Mine wasn’t very even…kinda lumpy.

  84. 84
    Heather says:

    I just made four of these for my girls from my favorite yucky old Tshirt that I just couldn’t bear to part with. What a wonderful repurposing of a favorite item. The paint and stains don’t even show up in the adorable head bands and my girls are begging me for more. Thank you for your shared genius!

  85. 85
    Sophie says:

    Good idea ! Sometime I ask myself what can I do with old tee-shirts. My daughters will love this ! Thank you !

  86. 86
    Rachel says:

    What a great tutorial for the 5-strand braid! I absolutely loved learning to make this.

  87. 87
    Kim says:

    Mine didn’t turn out as cute as yours :( I think my tshirt was too thick!

  88. 88
    Yelda says:

    Muhteşem bir geridönüşüm olmus ellerinize saglık. Türkiye’den sevgiler

  89. 89
    luanne dobson says:

    Love the headbands, but the shirt she is wearing is just too cute. Did you make it if so how. It is adorable. would love to make one for my granddaughters.

    Lu Lu

  90. 90
    Alfanalraqy says:

    Beauteful idea

  91. 91
    Candace says:

    I have to say your pictures are fabulous on your blog! I am sure it is somewhere on your blog but what camera do you use? This tutorial is great! So cute!!!

  92. 92
    Linds says:

    Thank you for this tutorial. I’m wearing mine now and love it!

  93. 93
    Joy Williams says:

    I executed your headband and blogged about it!
    Check it out!

  94. 94
    Rachel says:

    Such a great idea for repurposing all my old t-shirts! Enjoyed this post!!

  95. 95
    María José Canales says:

    I just finished mine and it’s so pretty. Thanks for the idea!!

  96. 96
    Bron says:

    What a great tutorial ..thank you so much for sharing I had a great time making these for my 12 yr old. I have re-blogged this to share.

  97. 97
    Natalie Mahaffey says:

    I made one for myself today and LOVE how it turned out. Tomorrow, I’m teaching my two girls have to make them and then we’re going to go on a headband making frenzy just in time for school! Thanks for the tutorial!

  98. 98

    I love this!! I am going to have to try this with my girls!!

  99. 99
    Tammy says:

    Thanks for this! It is so easy – once I figured out the numbers referred to the pictures and not the strands :)

  100. 100
    Amber says:

    Love this!!! It’s almost like this bracelt. Here is the website that I found…