How to Make a Turban

turban front turban side

I've scoured the web in search of a tutorial or example on how to create turbans for shows like Aladdin, or The Arabian Nights and I have had no success. Actually creating a real turban will not work for my theatrical purposes. Real turbans require meters and meters of fabric, and a lot of practise. Additionally, they are not easily nor quickly put on and removed. So here is a quick Turban pattern that can be adapted for larger and more grand turbans if you like.

This green hat will become a turban.

Starting Your Turban

It starts with a hat form. I was given some dollar store foam hats, but I think that you could also use baseball hat, if you wanted to, or a cap of any kind. Just make sure that it fits the head of the person who will be wearing it. Remove the brim.

Remove the brim of the hat. Also remove the hat band, if there is one. These foam hats are nice to use because they can be hot glued or sewn, or both.

Next, you will be taking two measurements on this hat form. One measurement is all the way around the widest part of the hat, the other is from edge to adge, across the top of the widest part of the hat. Hats are usually oval, like our heads, so this measurement can be imagined as 'from forehead to the back of the head'. Remember to write the measurements down!

Measure this way.Measure that way. Remember to write down the measurements.

Add four inches (10cm) to the measurements that you have taken. You will create a fabric rectangle with these measurements, and you need the extra fabric to turn under and to create seams, etc. Better to add a little too much than to cut it short.
You can use any fabric, even old sheets.It is important for theatre productions to keep an eye on the expenses, so when possible, I use inexpensive fabric, ends, even old sheets, pillowcases, and curtains to build costumes. This turban is covered in a purple satin sheet that I purchased at the used clothing store.

I selected to use the hemmed edge of the sheet, so that I could save one step in the building process. If your fabric has a selvedge or a hem, then you may also want to save a step and use that to your advantage. If you are using fabric with four raw edges, then you will need to fold one inch (2.5cm) on one long edge and stitch to create a hem. This is so that the fabric doesn't fray. The other long edge is treated similarly, although a half-inch hem is fine for that. I will name the edge with the larger hem the 'bottom edge' and I will name the edge with the narrower hem, the 'top edge'.
Cut carefully, try to make the edges straight and the angles square. Press a fold to make stitching easier. Cut carefully.
Make a tube (or a cowl, however you imagine it). Fold the piece in half, right sides together, with the two raw edges aligned. Pin baste this to form a new seam. Stitch a quarter-inch seam, then press the seam open to make it easier to work with later.
measure carefully, try to make the edges straight and the angles square. Invert your work so that the right side is now out. You should have a tube-shaped piece with a bottom edge and a top edge. measure carefully, try to make the edges straight and the angles square. Fit the bottom edge over the hat form, keep the seam at the centre front of the hat - you can pin it there to secure it while you work. Pull the bottom edge of the fabric past the edge of the hat, so that it hangs over by about one inch (the size of the bottom hem). Now it's time to heat up the glue gun!

Start at the centre back of the hat form, and glue each side smoothly toward the centre front. Excess fabric will be pulled to the front. If you have excess, leave two inches on each side of the centre front and ease some finger pleats into the fabric to use it up. It is fine to gather the fabric at the font of the hat. Carefully glue the bottom edge to the inside of the hat form.

Tip! Dampen your fingers in water before you use the glue gun. It works better than dunking them AFTER you get burned.

measure carefully, try to make the edges straight and the angles square. measure carefully, try to make the edges straight and the angles square. measure carefully, try to make the edges straight and the angles square.

Congratulations! You're Half Done!

And this is what half-way done looks like.
  1. take the brim or bill off of the hat that you are building on
  2. measure the hat around, and over the top
  3. record the measurements
  4. decide how full you want the turban to be; add at least 4 inches (10cm) to the measurements (you can add as much as you want, the more you add, the fuller the finished product will be)
  5. measure a rectangle using the lengths that you have just calculated, and cut the fabric
  6. finish the top and bottom (long sides) with a hem to prevent fraying
  7. fold the right sides together, pin baste the remaining raw edges and stitch to form a tube
  8. invert the tube so that the right side is out, and fit it over the hat form
  9. keep the seam at the center front of the hat form and hot glue the tube to the inside of the hat, gathering toward the front as you go
  10. move on to the next set of instructions



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