There are many types of Indian headdresses traditionally worn by more than 560 native tribes, factions, nations, towns, ranches, communities, and villages in the U. S. Some types of headgear have served as a fad, while others, such as the plume, they are sacred and can only be made and used under specific ceremonial conditions. If you are making a headdress, learn about the culture you are imitating. Be aware that dressing as a Native American for a party or Halloween is likely to upset those who are aware of the long history of violence against these individuals.
Method 1 of 3: Making a Feather Headband
Step 1. Get your supplies
You will need scissors, a tape measure, a ruler, brown construction paper, crayons or paint, regular or hot glue, and either pens (as many as you want) or more construction paper of more colors. If you are making paper pens, you can place up to one pen for every 1 inch (2.5 cm) of construction paper. However, you may want to buy multi-colored construction paper and cut out a feather or two from each.
Step 2. Cut a strip of brown construction paper
The stripe should be about 1.5 inches (4 cm) wide. It should also be long enough to wrap around the wearer's head with a little extra room to overlap.
- Add an extra 1 inch (2.5 cm) to the length. This length of overlap will allow you to securely glue the ends together to form a band later.
- Feather headbands were worn by some tribes in the wooded savannas of the northeastern US, such as the Lenape and Abenaki. They were worn by both men and women and were not associated with battle.
- Choose a sturdy brown paper so that it looks like leather. Choose another color if you would rather have a different color headband. Headbands with real feathers were usually woven or beaded, so you can use an alternate color for the band.
- As another alternative, beaded turbans became popular with Cherokee, Seminole, and other Southeastern Indians when the fabric became readily available in the 19th century, so consider wrapping a turban and inserting a feather into it.
- You can search the internet for a template for this and use it instead.
Step 3. Decorate the headband
Use markers, crayons, paint, or colored pencils to create a colorful design, perhaps inspired by a tribe like the Wampanoag, Lenape, or Abenaki. You can find patterns online or in books on the tribal patterns of the Wooded Savannah Indians.
- Purple and white beads were preferred by members of northeastern tribes such as the Wampanoag.
- Draw a geometric pattern along the headband. For example, draw a series of triangles within alternate colored triangles. Draw the lines along a ruler to make them straight.
- If you want the headband to look like beads, you can paint pops of color.
- If you're doing an art project with a child, give them a ruler and a limited palette of colors (2-4 crayons, for example) and explain that the pattern should be the same around the entire headband.
Step 4. Glue the ends
Apply a dot of glue to one end of the headband, on the decorated side. Wrap the strip into a band and press the end of the other side onto the glue. Let it dry.
- There should be about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of overlap on the paper.
- If regular glue doesn't hold the paper headband well, use a glue stick or a stronger type of glue, such as hot glue.
- If you are using real or make-up feathers, you can glue them on at this time. Put a few dots of glue on the inside of the headband and arrange one or more feathers so that they are standing up. If you have multiple feathers, arrange them so that they fan out slightly.
Step 5. Choose the paper for the pens
If you don't have real or make-up feathers, you can make them yourself by cutting fringes into colorful ovals from construction paper. Any color and number of feathers will do. You can choose red, yellow and orange or use the colors that you used when decorating the brown headband.
Step 6. Cut each feather
Draw a narrow oval on the first piece of construction paper. The oval should be at least 6 inches (15 cm) long by 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. Cut it.
Step 7. Fold and crease the feathers
Fold the oval in half lengthwise. Cut slits along the open, curved edge. Make sure the slits don't cross or cut through the straight folded edge. The indentations should extend from top to bottom.
- Folding the feathers creates the barrel of the feather. Don't worry about the fold being perfectly centered as the feathers are not always symmetrical.
- Unfold the paper pen. Repeat with construction paper of other colors.
Step 8. Glue your feathers to the headband
Glue the confection paper or feathers to the inside of the headband and let them dry. The feathers should all extend up and out of the headband in a single point. One pen can stand straight but the other two should fan out slightly.
Step 9. Wear the headband at home
When wearing the headband, position it so that the feathers are behind the wearer's ear, to the side of their head. Incorporate this costume option with a lesson on the tribe whose designs you are borrowing.
- Most native people find "Indian costumes" offensive. You should avoid dressing like any breed stereotype for Halloween.
- Understand that you will seriously offend people whose culture you borrow if you paint your skin or sexualize minority groups whose oppression includes a long history of sexual violence.
- If you must dress up as someone of another race, do so as a specific person. Take the time to research and dress up as the historical Pocahontas, not the Disney character.
Method 2 of 3: Plume of Paper and Pens
Step 1. Gather supplies
You will need scissors, a tape measure, a hole punch, a double-prong paper clip, and regular or hot glue. You will also need corrugated chipboard, crepe paper, and confection pens or paper to make pens.
Step 2. Cut a strip of corrugated chipboard
The fringe should be 1.5 inches (4 cm) wide and 2 inches (5 cm) longer than necessary to fit around the wearer's head.
- Corrugated chipboard, also called corrugated cardboard or corrugated paper, has ridges or narrow holes along the inside, making it slightly lighter than standard cardboard but also slightly thicker.
- Choose a thin piece of corrugated chipboard to make it easier to shape into a headband.
- These instructions will allow you to create a "straight" style plume, in which the feathers extend vertically from the headband.
Step 3. Glue feathers into the holes in the cardboard
Apply a small dot of glue to the top of each corrugated hole, inside the hole itself. Attach the barrel of a construction pen to each glue point and let it dry.
- To make it easier for the feathers to stick to the headband, you may want to keep the cardboard flat, attaching the feathers horizontally rather than vertically.
- Use regular glue or hot glue to hold the feathers in place.
Step 4. Overlap the ends of the headband
Fold the headband so that the extra 2 inches (5.1 cm) of length overlaps. Use a hole punch to poke a hole in each end and slide the paper clip through these holes.
- Spread the tips of the clasp to hold the headband in place.
- For added security, drill two holes at each end, one near the top and one near the bottom, and use two double-prong snaps to secure the headband.
Step 5. Cover the outside
You can use bright red fabric, beads, or crepe paper. The paper strip should be 2 inches (5.1 cm) wide and 1 foot (30.5 cm) longer than the length of the headband.
Center and glue the crepe paper strip over the chipboard band. There should be about 0.6 cm (0.25 inches) hanging from the top and bottom of the headband and 15 cm (6 inches) hanging from both ends
Step 6. Embellish the edges of the crepe paper
If you are using crepe paper for covering, embellish the edges. Use scissors to cut 0.25 inch (0.6 cm) fringe along the top and bottom of the crepe paper.
This completes your plume. When wearing it, the feathers should stand straight on the head
Step 7. Design an alternative plume
There is no single plume style, so look up photos of caravan plumes, halo plumes, and straight plumes for design ideas. About a dozen tribes, all in the Great Plains region, used plumes to reward bravery and good deeds. The plumed tribes include the Sioux, Crow, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, and Plains Cree.
- A plume is a sacred symbol that honors good deeds. Most members of the tribe do not use them. Native Americans today can earn a headdress for giving support or for schooling.
- You are likely to offend people if you wear a plume as a disguise.
Method 3 of 3: Knit a Headband
Step 1. Get supplies
You will need beads, string for threading, and a beading needle. You will also need a beading loom. If you have a loom and beading kit, opt for larger seed beads and a large bead as a pin to finish. If you're starting from scratch, buy a small bag of beads in the colors you want to use. The beads should all be the same size, although you can purchase a larger one to seal the headband if you wish.
- Build a loom. You can make a beading loom by attaching two combs to a sturdy box or lid. Take two matching combs or split a single comb in two. Glue or tape each comb to a parallel side of the box, each at the edge so that the bristles stick out.
- Buy string for threading beads. A slightly elastic string will make your headband more comfortable.
Step 2. Design the headband
Beaded headbands were worn by members of many tribes, including the Cheyenne, Sioux, Crow, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kikapú, Winnebago, Cree, and Arapajo. Look online for traditional patterns to these tribes, or look for one in a book on beading. You can also come up with your own design. Draw your design on graph paper, coloring in the squares to represent the beads you will use.
You run a lower risk of offending a native person by opting for a beaded headband, as they have less spiritual significance than feathered plumes or headdresses
Step 3. Thread the loom
Tie the string for beading into the bristle at the left end of the loom (or comb), then stretch it taut through the loom and cut to the correct size, leaving 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm). of rope hanging outside the loom. Tie the loose end to the bristle on the left end on the other side of the loom. Repeat the procedure until you have enough parallel strings to accommodate your design.
Step 4. Thread the beads on a long string
Arrange the pattern to fit the loom on a vertical line and start counting the beads from the top row. Count the first 5 lines of your pattern and thread the corresponding beads into a long thread in the order in which you counted. Count from left to right for the first row, then right to left for the second, then left to right, etc.
This is because you will weave the string with beads threaded through the strings on the loom from left to right and then from right to left changing each time a row ends
Step 5. Weave the headband
Tie the end of the string to a needle and knit in and out of the rows. Go over the first string, under the next, then over, then under. Weave the first row across the top of the loom, weaving from left to right. You will end up on the right. Start the same process again from the right, then again from the left. Stop after the first five lines to see if the pattern is coming out as you planned.
- If so, line up the next 5 rows on the rope and continue knitting.
- If not, undo the faulty rows and count the accounts again.
Step 6. Tie her up
Use a tape measure to measure the head of the person who will be wearing the headband. Knit until you've reached that length, or 1 inch (2.5 cm) shorter if you want to tie the ends. Cut the headband and tie the 2-3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) of string that you left hanging so that the beads stay in place. You can tie a large bead to one side and circle the other large enough to go around the bead.
- Trim to be neat.
- If you don't want to use the large bead method, you can tie the hanging string on each side in a knot. Tie the two knotted ends when you want to wear the headband.
- If the headband fits exactly, you can tie the ends tightly and wear it as is.
- For a more durable version of the feather headband, you can use a 2-inch (5.1 cm) flexible strip of leather instead of construction paper. Glue feathers to the headband using hot glue and decorate the headband by sewing beads along the top and bottom edges.
- For a more culturally conscious and accurate plume, do a little research on the meanings of various designs and colors to different Native American tribes.