Jersey Headband Tutorial

THIS TUTORIAL CAN BE USED WITH ALL OF MY MASK PATTERNS, AND CAN BE USED WITH MOST OTHER MASK PATTERNS. 

Elastic is now in short supply, and medical workers have noted that their ears cannot support masks all the time. The elastic is rubbing them raw, or the cartilage in their ears is breaking down and folding.

A cotton-Lycra jersey headband is like a wide, athletic headband for a mask — it can be worn low on the neck or above a bun/pony tail, or anywhere in between. It’s at least 2 inches wide, so it distributes the weight and tension to the entire skull instead of just on the ears. Think of it as a yoga waistband for a mask.

The problem with this is not all knit fabrics are suitable for this application. The fabric must have excellent recovery and 4 way stretch, so that the mask fits tightly to the wearer’s face.

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Be aware that many jerseys curl up at the cut edge. This is the nature of knitting; it doesn’t mean the fabric is defective. It can make cutting difficult, though. You can spray it with starch or starch alternative and press firmly to temporarily flatten it.

Start with a piece of cotton jersey. Ensure your fabric has at least 75% 4 way stretch. To determine degree of stretch, hold the fabric on a firm surface, beside a ruler. Measure 3 inches of fabric, now pull the fabric outwards. Note how far your fabric can go.

If your 3 inches of fabric stretches to 4.5 inches, that’s 50% stretch.

If it’s 5.75 inches? That’s 75%.

6 inches of stretched fabric is 100%.

7 inches is about 120%. 

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Do this both across the width and length of the fabric. For the Lycra headband, the stretch across the width matters more, but length-wise stretch helps with recovery.

Second, ensure that your fabric has good recovery. Stretch it and ensure it returns to its  original dimensions. Stretch it ten times, and check. Stretch twenty, and check. If it doesn’t return to original dimensions after 20 stretches, it will not return until the wearer washes it — and this will matter if your wearer has to take it on and off.

This fabric stretched about ½ inch over 20 pulls, and has been starched — that limits recovery. The starch will wash out, so this fabric is fine.

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Measure your wearer, if possible, from just in front of their ear hole, around the back of their head, to just in front of their other ear hole. For most adult women, this will be around 11 to 12 inches. For most adult men, this will be 12 to 13 inches.

Consider your fabric. Mine has 100% 4 way stretch. I am making mostly women’s headbands, at 11.5 inches. The headbands need to have negative ease — they need to be smaller than the head wearing them, by at least 30%, because the tighter the headband, the more secure the mask. That means 8 inches of fabric (plus 1 for seam allowances)  will easily stretch to at least 11.5 inches without being too tight, and can fit up to about a 16 inch head, though that will be tight and likely uncomfortable.

If your fabric has 75% stretch, 8 inches of fabric will stretch up to 14 inches. 9 inches will stretch up to 16 inches.

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  Cut strips of cotton Lycra jersey at least 5 inches tall, by the full width of the fabric. Use a ruler and a rotary cutter if you have one, otherwise draw the straight line and cut carefully. Then cut the strips down to 9 inches for an 8 inch headband, 10 inches for a 9 inch, etc.

Fold these rectangles in half the long way, right side together, and zig-zag the long raw edge, close to the edge. (You can also use an overcasting stitch, the lightning bolt stretch stitch, or the triple straight stretch stitch. If you have a serger, you can also use  that; don’t use the knife.) Try not to stretch the fabric as it goes through your machine, just let the feed dogs do the work.

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Some fabrics will lettuce edge no matter what you do; it’s related to the knit structure. This will press flat enough.

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Turn the tube right side out and press, with the seam in the middle of the inside.

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Pin one raw edge to the pointy edge of the mask, right sides together. Stitch firmly across both mask and tube. Wrap the tube around the front of the mask, match the right sides of  the other pointy edge and raw tube edge together, and sew firmly. (Cutter is doing duty as a pattern weight.) 

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Turn it inside out, press the seam allowance towards the center front of the mask, and you’re done.

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