How to Make a Hanging Indian Head Dress

Written by michelle labbe
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How to Make a Hanging Indian Head Dress
Make your own feathered headdress. (Too Many Chiefs 2 image by Lee O'Dell from

The feathered Native American headdress is a prominent icon of Native American culture, although it was only traditionally worn by a handful of tribes in the Midwest, such as the Sioux, Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfoot and Plains Cree. Still, these headdresses, officially known as warbonnets, became strong symbols of fortitude: each eagle feather in the warbonnet had to be earned by an act of bravery. Other tribes later adopted the warbonnet as well. Today, a Native American costume isn't complete without one. They're not difficult to make, although you will have to use artificial eagle feathers for this modern, eco-friendly version.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Five suede or leather laces, 54 inches long
  • Five suede or leather laces, 70 inches long
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Nylon thread
  • Artificial eagle feathers
  • Beads, assorted shapes and colours
  • One suede or leather lace, 24 inches long
  • Nail or wall hook

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  1. 1

    Knot together the shorter set of five laces at one end. Use laces that are in earthy tribal tones such as brown, white, black, and red. Apply a dab of craft glue to secure the knot.

  2. 2

    Weave and braid the laces together. Pass strand 1 over strand 2, then take strand 1 and pass it under strand 3. Arrange strands 2 and 3 to the left, and strands 1, 4 and 5 on the right. Take strand 5 and pass it over strand 4, then under strand 1. Strands 2, 3 and 5 should be on the left, and strands 1 and 4 should be on the right. Continue braiding strands over and under, always starting with the outermost of the group of three strands to pass over and under.

  3. 3

    End the braid with at least five inches of room left over. Check the braid's length by circling it around your head. When the braided band fits snugly around your head, tie off the ends with a knot and cut the long ends if necessary. Take two strands from the middle and wrap them around the knot in opposite directions, then knot again. Dab craft glue onto the knot to secure.

  4. 4

    Repeat the braiding process for the longer set of laces. When the second braided band is complete, arrange it in a semicircle over the front of the first band to create a band that will hang down on either side of the head. Adjust the band's position so the lengths on either side are equal. With needle and nylon thread, stitch the longer band in place.

  5. 5

    Arrange the artificial eagle feathers around the longer braided band. Space them neatly and evenly so they will fit together with a little overlap when the band is curved against the head. Insert the spine of each feather into the braided band and secure with a dab of craft glue.

  6. 6

    Decorate one or both bands. Arrange beads over the band or bands. Use antique-style beads in matt, muted colours such as turquoise or brick red. Stitch the beads onto the headband with a needle and nylon thread, securing each with a knot on the back side of the band.

  7. 7

    Tie an additional suede or leather lace around the curved braid of the headdress. Knot the ends of the cord securely, and hang from a nail or hook on the wall to display.

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