I live to design things for my daughter, but it’s safe to say that she, like most toddlers, is a bit finicky — and stubborn, and contrarian, and disobliging, and any number of synonyms for “kinda difficult.” Today she loves flowers and dresses, tomorrow it’s everything octopus, and last week it was purple, purple, and a little extra splash of purple on the side.
No surprise, then, that my designs have changed since she came into the world. These days, I favor quick-and-easy over heirloom-quality labors of love. Enter the perfect toddler project: the headband. It takes only a tiny bit of fabric — think old t-shirts or scraps from the craft bin — and a little bit of time, and voilà: you’ve made your toddler something cute and practical that can be replaced in minutes if you mistakenly thought today’s favorite color was green when, in reality, it’s light green. (Duh.)
You will need:
Washable fabric marking pen
Stretchy knit fabric (preferably one that contains spandex)
First, measure around the crown of the child’s head and write down the number. (Typically, an infant’s head measures between 16” and 18” and a toddler’s between 19” and 21”. My 2 ½-year-old’s head, for example, is 19” around.) To test the fabric’s give and to determine how much you’ll need for the headband, cut a test swatch that’s roughly six inches long and one inch wide, making sure to cut the long sides of fabric vertically (with the grain of the fabric, not across). Gently stretch the strip of fabric until it curls into a tube shape, measure it again, and write down the difference in length; the fabric I’m using gained one inch.
Now, calculate the length of the fabric you’ll cut for the headband (the width will be 4″ for everyone). Start with the circumference of the head — that number you wrote down right at the beginning — and subtract the amount of stretch you observed in your test swatch, then subtract two more inches. For my 19″ headband, I needed a 16″ x 4″ rectangle. Making sure to position the long sides vertically (as you did for the test swatch), cut the fabric for the headband. This part is very important; if you cut the fabric the wrong direction, it won’t roll up into tubes when stretched.
Using a fabric marker, draw parallel lines on the back of the fabric that are one inch apart and one inch from each edge. Starting two inches in from one end of the fabric strip, cut along the lines, stopping about two inches in from the opposite end of the fabric.
Gently stretch the fabric until the strips curl into tubes.
Bring the two flat edges of the fabric together and overlap them by 1/2”. Pin the pieces in place.
Replace your sewing machine’s regular needle with a ballpoint needle (for sewing knits), then zigzag stitch over each overlapped edge of the fabric, removing the pins as you sew. When you’ve finished stitching, use the scissors to extend the slits closer to the overlapped section, then give the whole thing a final stretch.
All photos by Lucy Blaire.