How to Make an Indian Chief Headdress

Written by diana wittenberg
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How to Make an Indian Chief Headdress
Indian baby wearing a headband (cute babies Indian image by Photoeyes from

An Indian chief headdress is worn by the chief of an Indian tribe. Most people think of an Indian warbonnet as an Indian chief headdress, whereas most Indian chiefs only wore this type of headdress when going into battle. An everyday Indian chief headdress can be as simple as a leather band worn around the head or as complicated as a special basket woven to fit the head of the wearer. Even though these are simple, they can become very elaborate. The simplest headdress or headband can be made with just a few simple items, including a beautiful beaded leather headband.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1/4 yard leather
  • Awl or punch
  • 12 yards fishing line
  • 1,920 1/8 inch beads
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Cut the leather in half lengthwise so that you have two strips 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.

  2. 2

    Wrap the tape measure around your forehead and write down this measurement.

  3. 3

    Add 10 inches to the measurement of your head and cut 12 lengths of fishing line to this measurement.

  4. 4

    Place a small dot of glue 5 inches from the beginning of your first length of fishing line and string your first bead over the glue to anchor it.

  5. 5

    Continue stringing your beads into a design that is pleasing to you until you are 5 inches from the end of the fishing line. Add a dot of glue to the last bead. Make 12 strings of beads.

  6. 6

    Mark the middle of one leather strip and each string of beads.

  7. 7

    Lay the strings of beads on one leather strip, aligning the middle marks from step 6. Mark the beginning and end of each row. A pencil works well as it doesn't leave a lasting mark.

  8. 8

    Using the awl, punch a small hole in the headband at each of the marks you made at the beginning and ends of the rows. You should have 12 holes in each end of the leather.

  9. 9

    Take one end of the string of beads and pull the fishing line through the first hole to the back of the headband and tie a knot large enough so that the line will not pull back through to the front. Apply a dot of glue to the knot. Do this for the other end of the string of beads also. Repeat for all 12 rows.

  10. 10

    Spread glue onto the back of the second strip of leather. Lay the second strip of leather over the back of the first strip. This places all your knots and gluing inside of the headband for a neat finish. Allow the glue to dry before continuing. A heavy book can be placed on the headband to keep it from curling while drying.

  11. 11

    Take the headband and place it around your head and tie it into a square knot at the back. The leather will give a little so once you have tied the knot you shouldn't have to undo it when removing the headband from your head.

Tips and warnings

  • It is a good idea to lay out all your beads into the design you want before stringing them onto the fishing line. This allows you to change your design before you begin stringing the beads. If you want to make this into an Indian warbonnet, glue feathers to the back of the headband before you glue the second piece of leather onto it. These feathers can be purchased at any hobby store and any type of feathers you want can be used.
  • Be sure to keep the beads away from babies and small children.

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