The Skinny Leather Headband DIY

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Just to try a little something new, I recently started working on making a leather headband. Nothing too fancy, just something elegant to tame locks of hair on a bad hair day, or add some style to a simple ponytail.

Here’s what I ended up with.

Bronze Skinny Leather Headband Model Shot

This little gem was so simple to make that I decided to post a DIY tutorial to share it.

Below are instructions for how to make this headband. Now you can get a hold of some leather and make one of your own!

Materials Needed:

One piece of leather- at least 1/2 inch by 12 inches with a thickness of about 1-4 ounces (basically thin and stretchy enough to wrap around your head)
Rotary Cutter and Ruler or Strap Cutter
Hole Punch
Sewing Awl
Paint (optional)
Extra small size double cap rivets with rivet setting tools
Leather Glue (Any kind of strong craft glue will also work)
Tape Measure
Elastic Strap Material
Leather Edge Beveler

Leather Supplies Needed

** A few tips on finding leather: You can get bags of scrap leather from craft stores like Hobby Lobby, Joann’s Fabrics, and Michael’s. You can also cut up genuine leather purses or jackets either from your own collection, or from a nearby thrift store. as long as the leather is in good condition.  I get my leather from Tandy Leather Factory.


To begin, you will need to cut out the piece of leather for the top of the headband. I used my handy strap cutter, but a carefully used rotary cutter along with a straight edge ruler can also do the trick.

You will want  to cut a 1/4 inch wide piece of leather. The length of the piece is up to you, depending on how tight you want the headband and how much of the elastic strap you want to show.  I’ve got puffy curls on top of a size-able head, so I went for 12 inches. Anywhere from 10-14 should be fine for an adult’s headband. Go smaller if you are making the headband for a child.

When you are cutting your strip, make the strip 1 inch longer than you will need because later you will make two 1/2 inch long pieces that go on the back of the leather piece to secure the ends….more on that later.

strap cutter cutting leather strip

[Regarding the strap cutter: The way this tool works is that there is a blade held between two wood pieces which are connected with an adjustable clamp. The two pieces are able to slide back and forth inside another piece according to the desired thickness of the strap (notice the measurements in the picture). You simply tighten the clamp and pull the leather through the opening.]

leather strip cut out with strap cutter

Cut out your leather strip and then cut it to your desired length being sure to add on one extra inch. Then cut off the inch and cut that piece in half. You will be using those two pieces later on so keep them handy. When cutting the ends, carefully cut a straight edge to make a square end. Then use your edge beveler to take the sharpness off just the ends of all the pieces.

Beveling the ends of all pieces of the headband

The next step is to paint the leather. If you already love the look and color of your leather, skip this step! I used natural vegetable tanned leather which is a plain flesh color so I decided to paint with a shimmery bronze acrylic paint I had from a previous project . I absolutely love the warm metallic sheen of bronze so I went for it.

This is your chance to personalize, so go crazy! Dots, stripes, hearts, whatever. Take care to paint the sides and back of the strip as well as the two backing pieces for a uniform color. Set the painted strap and backing pieces aside to dry.

leather strip with bronze paint

Alright now here’s where it gets a little technical. Don’t be scared. You can do this!

Get your tape measure and measure the circumference of your head about where you would want to wear a headband (mine was 22″). Subtract from this number the length of your already cut out leather strap (so for me: 22-12=10).  This is the length of elastic strap that you will cut to make the stretchy part of your headband. Cut your elastic to this measurement. As a side-note, this is where you can control how tight the headband is, so if you like yours loose, add an extra half inch or so.

cutting the elastic band to your measurement

Once the paint has dried on your leather piece, it is time to puncture the leather to make holes for the rivets. The size of the hole will correspond to the diameter of the rivet. The rivets you will be using are pretty small so the holes should be just big enough for the rivet to fit snugly. You can make sure the hole is the right size by fitting the rivet into the hole of the hole punch. 

Rivet fitting inside hole punch tube

Punch one hole about 1/4 inch from each end of the leather piece. Be sure to center the hole in the middle of the strip.

leather hole punch on end of headbandNext you are going to punch holes in both of the 1/2 inch pieces being sure to center them as well.

When punching these holes, GO UP ONE SIZE on your hole punch. You will need to do this because the cap of the rivet will be a little wider than the shaft. This will help you fit the cap into the backing piece.

holes punched in two small pieces

Now you will need to use your sewing awl to poke through the elastic strip about 1/4 inch away from each end. This will be where you push the rivet through to join the elastic to the leather pieces.

using sewing awl to poke through elastic

Now is the part where you get to use your rivets! Here is a youtube video I found especially helpful for learning how to set rivets. Also, make sure you are using double cap speedy rivets. Other kinds of rivets will be more difficult to set.

You will do each end of the leather strap one at a time. Basically what you will want to do is to push the long piece of the rivet through the long leather piece first, and then through the elastic. You may have to work with the elastic a little bit to kind of force the rivet through. If you need to use the sewing awl again to re-open the hole you can. It also helps to stretch the elastic while you are pushing the rivet through. Here is a view of the inside of the strip at this point. You want the small end of the elastic to be laying over the long leather strip.

rivet set halfway through elastic and leather

Then you will put the cap side of the rivet through the hole of the 1/2 inch long piece of leather and finally put the two sides of the rivets together creating a “sandwich” of rivet- leather-elastic-leather-rivet cap.  Now you’re ready to do some pounding!

Setting the double cap rivet

As shown in the YouTube video, you will need to position your anvil underneath one side of your rivet and put your rivet setter on top of the other side.  Then pound on the setter until the rivet is firmly set. You can test to make sure it is set by pulling on the leather and making sure nothing moves around.

 It should end up looking something like this:

rivet set into bronze leather headband

Repeat the whole process with the other end of the leather strip and the other end of the elastic, making sure to position the elastic so that it is not twisted.

The next step is to add glue in between the main leather strip and the backing pieces to help keep the two sides of leather together. This will help prevent the headband from getting mixed up with your hair! Any nooks and crannies left become traps for your strands, so add that glue!

glue added to inside of leather strip and backing piece

And there you have it! A skinny leather headband. Created and decorated by you!

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Bronze headband on model

Thanks for reading my tutorial! If you like it, you can share this DIY with your crafty friends by pinning it to Pinterest or posting it to Facebook. Feel free to let me know in the comments how your headband turns out! You can even post a picture of your finished product to my Facebook page :).

Have fun!



Joanna Jenkinson