How to Make a Native American Chief Headdress

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Native American chief headdresses are large and ornate, usually made with feathers and beads. According to native-languages.org, these headdresses are called warbonnets and they are worn by the Sioux, Crow, Blackfeet, Cheyenne and Plains Cree tribes. When deciding to make a Native American headdress it is a good idea to learn the history of the headdress and what it was used for; learning the origin of your craft project can be exciting for everyone. With a little patience and dedication you can create your own authentic headdress.

Things You'll Need

  • 30 imitation eagle feathers
  • Fluffy feathers
  • 1 or 2 strips of leather or cloth (4 inches by 1/8 inch and 23 inches by 2 1/2 inches in length)
  • Thread
  • String
  • Hot glue
  • Hot glue gun
  • Beads

Step 1

Prepare your supplies for your chief headdress. You can purchase imitation eagle feathers at your local arts and crafts store. You will need 30 feathers, 15 for each side. The large imitation eagle feathers will give the headdress a grand look.

Step 2

Place several small fluffy feathers 2 inches above the stem of each imitation eagle feather. The small fluffy feathers will give the headdress volume. To secure the small feathers, tie a piece of thread around the stems and make a knot. You can also glue down the small feathers onto the stems using a hot glue gun.

Step 3

Wrap the quill end with a 4-by-1/8-inch strip of leather or cloth and fold over the end. According to smileyme.com, this will create the quill end loop. The quill end is the very end of the imitation eagle feather. Apply a drop of glue, using the hot glue gun to secure the leather or the cloth around the quill end. You will continue this method for all 30 feathers.

Step 4

Measure your head with a 23-by-2-1/2-inch strip of leather or cloth. Once you get the correct fit cut off the excess leather or cloth and sew the two ends together.

Step 5

Create an imaginary middle line horizontally on the leather or cloth headband. Poke 30 holes above the imaginary middle line and 30 holes below the imaginary middle line. You can use a knife to poke the holes. Be careful when handling sharp objects. The holes will be used to lace the feathers onto the headband and the holes should not be too close to the edge.

Step 6

Place the 30 imitation eagle feathers in a row. Choose the largest and the nicest feathers for the front of the headband. Some of the feathers will be placed on the left and right side of the headband.

Step 7

Attach the feathers in an upside down hanging position on the headband. Take a long piece of string and insert it through the first hole (in the center), continue the string through the quill end loop on the feather then to the next hole. Continue this method until all 30 feathers (15 on the left and 15 on the right) are on the first row (above the imaginary middle line) of the headband. Use the second row in the headband to reinforce the string and feathers by placing another piece of string through the holes in the second row and tying it off at the end.

Step 8

Insert a needle and thread through each quill halfway up the imitation eagle feather. This will allow for the feathers to stand tall and slightly bow at the top. According to smileyme.com, this should be done on the inside of the headdress so it doesn’t appear in the front. Once the thread is in each quill, loosely tie in the back. You can now spread the feathers around evenly to create the traditional Native American chief headdress. The headdress should not be more than 20 inches in diameter.

Step 9

Decorate the headband by placing beads or ribbon, using thread or glue. You can place the decorative pieces on the sides of the headband, if you desire.

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