Make a DIY Feathered Headdress by Eliza Starbuck of Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things, Eliza Starbuck, DIY tutorials, eco-friendly accessories, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, DIY summer


  • 5-8 54-inch long laces (faux suede, repurposed leather, or woven)
  • Large feathers (faux, vintage, or found)
  • Clear nylon thread
  • Large beads
  • Needle that can go through your beads


Take you laces and tie them together in a knot at one end, (we recommend you start with five if you are a novice braider-weaver, but the more laces you weave, the more secure your feathers will be in your band).

Bright Young Things, Eliza Starbuck, DIY tutorials, eco-friendly accessories, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, DIY summer


Weave the laces into a strap. (Note that the color and order of your laces will determine the pattern of your strap.)

Bright Young Things, Eliza Starbuck, DIY tutorials, eco-friendly accessories, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, DIY summer


Tie off the end of your strap with a square knot.

Bright Young Things, Eliza Starbuck, DIY tutorials, eco-friendly accessories, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, DIY summer


Wrap the end, covering the knot, with two lacing ends, wrapping in opposite directions. Again, rie off the end of the wrap with a square knot. Your band is now complete.

Bright Young Things, Eliza Starbuck, DIY tutorials, eco-friendly accessories, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, DIY summer


Lay out the feathers in the order you want them, then weave them into the back of your band.

Bright Young Things, Eliza Starbuck, DIY tutorials, eco-friendly accessories, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, DIY summer


Lay out your beads in the order you want them in. Using a needle and nylon thread, stitch the beads on the headband, securing them with a knot on the backside at the beginning and end. The headdress is complete. Enjoy your new wings!

+ Bright Young Things

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21 Responses to “Make a DIY Feathered Headdress by Eliza Starbuck of Bright Young Things”

  1. Margo says:

    You may not know that this is considered extremely disrespectful by most native peoples. Surely you don’t want to launch your fashion label with a message of racism and cultural appropriation? For more information, this is a very helpful link with a quick explanation as to why the appropriation of headdresses is offensive:

    also this blog:

    I love you Inhabitat! /please hire me.

  2. E.Starbuck says:

    @Margo,thank you for the reminder. I think EVERYONE is aware of stereotypes and what is and isn’t “PC” at this point in time. A handmade headdress (and not the dime store “cowboys and indians” plastic version) is sacred to anyone who wears it and certainly to anyone who makes it.

  3. Margo says:

    Well, did you read the links I posted, especially the first one? I understand you’re on the defensive but this is cultural appropriation of a kind that particularly upsets many Native Americans, and I think that that is reason enough to take the post down.

    To quote the native appropriations blog:
    There is a history of genocide and colonialism involved that continues today. By dismissing and minimizing the continued subordination and oppression of Natives in the US by donning your headdress, you are contributing to the culture of power that continues the cycle today.

    also, is this really who you want to be?:

  4. KatieKim says:

    Chill the F out Margo.

  5. Pete says:

    no I am with Margo on this one.

    I am Native. Atikamekw from up north. I find this trend seriously offensive. I gather that this may not have been the intent, but please understand that this is unacceptable. we have had to fight to keep our cultures alive, in the face of some serious genocidal BS by Europeans and settlers, to now have our practices stolen and cheapened into fashion actually does hurt a lot of us. please stop.


  6. NK says:

    Hey. I’m sure it sucks to put a lot of work into a craft project, photograph it, write a post about it and then have people tell you it’s racist. However it’s important to listen to the people who are actually from the cultures one is drawing inspiration from and who are affected by this sort of thing.

    You’re not Native – nor am I – and so don’t know how it feels to live as a Native person in the USA or to have your culture used this way. Other people, like those who created the resources Margo linked to, do. I learned a lot from reading these and would encourage you to as well.

    I would love to see this post taken down with an explanation why – it could be a great learning experience for all the people who come to check out your otherwise great DIY ideas.

  7. native127 says:

    I am Native, Blackfoot to be exact. And this “trend” is beyond offensive to me, and to all Plains Natives. War bonnets (what they’re actually called, not headdresses) is a sacred part of our culture, not something hipsters can feel free to mock. In my culture, the only people able to don a war bonnet are the chiefs and braves–men, not women, are the wearers of war bonnets. The eagle fathers are sacred to us. Seeing non-Natives parade around in dimes store or handmade war bonnets is akin to someone parading about dressed as the Pope. This is a sacred, religious part of my culture; Natives have been beaten down quite enough without people now mocking our cultures (and FYI, don’t use the excuse that it’s “only fashion” and that you’re “respecting our culture”–if you were really respecting our culture, you wouldn’t be wearing it).

  8. Jasmin Malik Chua says:

    Thank you all, for your comments, and my deepest apologies to anyone who is offended. As someone who can see both sides of the argument—and is more than familiar with the concept of “racebending,”—I think it’s important that this post stays up to facilitate what is an important conversation about culture and the evolution thereof, especially in fashion.

  9. NK says:

    I think the puts it really well:

    “When you enter into these arguments, ask yourself ‘Is my right to wear something pretty greater than someone’s right to cultural autonomy and dignity?’”

    Another great round up of perspectives on the issue is at threadbared here:

  10. Salinger says:

    Honestly, you all need to relax. No one meant any harm, this is an act of replicating an aspect of cultural dress that these girls found beautiful. Not mocking it. No one is trying to undermine Native peoples. They are enjoying the aesthetic aspect of having feathers on their heads. That’s all.

  11. skeptic says:

    why is it wrong to take inspiration from other cultures? What if she did something inspired by viking helmets or kimonos? why would or wouldn’t that be offensive? is it wrong for non-aboriginal people, for example, to play the didgeridoo?

  12. Tashina says:

    Telling people to relax or to “chill the F out” when they are protesting the appropriation of their culture by others who do not/are unwilling to understand the implications behind their actions is not only condescending, but it is rude.

    Have you not read the links provided? They answer these questions about why it’s not okay to appropriate from Native culture (they do not talk about other cultures, as this is a Native custom to wear feather headdresses – which are actually called war bonnets – for traditional ceremonies and formal functions), about how it’s more than just “feathers on their heads”. There are ways you can wear feathers in your hair that do not mirror the sacred practice of wearing a war bonnet. That is what they are asking/saying. Please respect their culture. This is what is being asked.

    When the people from a specific culture ask you to respect their culture in a way that does not demean them, you do not become defensive and say it is YOUR right to do what you will, but you do ask they ask – because that is showing respect. This would also be a good time to discuss with them other ways you can show your respect or how you can help.

    Natives cannot speak for the appropriation of other cultures, but they can/should/will speak out about this.

    I am shocked at how often these points need to reiterated. What’s not to get about how hurtful this is to the people that practice these things? These are not just a few either, they are whole communities – hundreds of thousands of people.

    They have been displaced, dishonoured, and disrespected for centuries.

    That is enough. They ask for your respect, and it begins with small, but not insignificant things, like not replicating the war bonnet.

  13. skeptic says:

    Tashina, Which one of those “headdresses” in the picture looks most like a war bonnet? They all look different to my eyes, and i don’t see eagle feathers in any of them. Are they all bad? Is one worse than the others? I understand your point to a certain degree, but as the woman is not telling us how to make war bonnet replicas I guess I don’t find it too offensive (not that I’d wear one – it’s not really my style).

    It seems like there are a lot of knees jerking in response to what seems to me to be a fairly benign post. I *did* read those links and they don’t satisfy me – in fact they raise more questions than they answer. Keffiyehs, turbans, harem pants, kimonos, Persian rugs (made for prayer!), African masks, crosses – these have all been used as fashion/interior design items. What makes feathers in a leather band more sacred than those other things? Should we stop all cultural appropriation? Or religious appropriation? Or is it just appropriation from Native American cultures that you don’t like – but the sacred jewelry? that’s ok or no?

  14. Margo says:

    dear skeptic,

    Hipsters wearing headdresses, or warbonnets, would be a lot like some frivolous German youth culture adopting yarmulkes as a party fashion despite Jewish assertions that they found it disrespectful, except that Germany has always been a lot more contrite about World War II than the US has been about the settlement of North America. If Muslims or Japanese or any of the other cultures from which you named artifacts and to which I do not belong asked me not to use those artifacts as they found it offensive (whether there was a history of genocide and oppression involved or not, although I don’t think it’s irrelevant that there is here), I would respect their wishes. The issue at hand isn’t whether or not it is logical or reasonable not to wear things that resemble warbonnets/are inspired by that cultural tradition, the issue at hand is that someone doesn’t want you to.

    I can’t explain to you why you as an individual should treat other people with respect. That’s something you probably already know. I think you should ask yourself why you want to play devil’s advocate to an issue of race when by doing so you are obstructing the real issue (respect or no respect) and contributing to the continued disempowerment (lack of control over things that belong to them) of Native Americans.

    Yes, race is complicated and it is sometimes hard to know what is right. But in this case, Native people are telling you what is right for them, which makes it easy. A better question to ask than “why should I respect these people?” is “why wouldn’t I respect these people?”

  15. skeptic says:


    I honestly can’t see how I’m “contributing to the continued disempowerment of Native Americans”, yet you tell me that I am. That’s a pretty serious charge to level at someone and I’d like you to explain it to me.

    You tell me that I’m being disrespectful of other people. You’ll have to explain that one to me, too. I didn’t write this post, nor am I advocating the wearing of these headdresses.

    You tell me “race is complicated”. I’m biracial myself so I think I can grasp some of the subtleties, but maybe your experience of race is more valid than mine? Really, you’re verging on disrespectful here…

    You tell me people shouldn’t do stuff that other people may be offended by – well, there’s a mosque being built at the World Trade Center site that a majority of Americans are offended by. I think that’s a fairly ridiculous attitude, but try telling that to people who take the First Amendment to mean freedom of *their* religion. See, I can do analogies, too.

    I’m sorry, but other people’s desires are not necessarily going to be a standard for my behavior, even if those people are ethnic or religious minorities who have been victims of genocide. I don’t think Israelis, for example, are necessarily models of ethical behavior.

    If you seriously think I’ve been disrespectful, I’d ask what kind of mindset you have where asking questions is an act of disempowerment. What kind of truth does not hold up to questioning?

  16. griplikeavice says:

    yo Skeptic – since that is your name, why don’t you try to be open to challenge on your views and be skeptical even of your own position? What if you ARE being disrespectful? What if cultural appropriation is heavily embedded with power and histories of colonialism, racism, etc, so that what you think is something small, like wearing feathers or keffiyehs, is actually part of a BIGGER picture of these histories of violence?

    Thanks for offering your views on those other topics, though it will not distract us from the point at issue: how problematic cultural appropriation is, and that you continue to question that it’s problematic, and that you do not take the initiative to educate yourself but are relying on Native peoples to do that education for you (on top of everything else they have to go through, they also have to educate you on how to respect them??).

  17. skeptic says:


    You’re going to have to trust me (or not) when I tell you I *am* skeptical of my own position. In fact, it’s because I’m not sure what my position is that I’m asking these questions. Since you seem so certain of yourself, maybe you can answer my questions since no one else has….

    First maybe you could tell me where i said cultural appropriation was not problematic… It’s because it *is* problematic that I’m asking questions in the first place. Why does it happen? Does it have to happen? Does it work in only one direction or is it multi-valent? Why is it wrong? *Is* it wrong? Is it *always* wrong? Why? I’m trying to have a discussion here and to brand me as disrespectful, racially insensitive, or contributing to the disempowerment of Native Americans seems a tad excessive.

    As far as taking the initiative to educate myself, well, I’m not sure what you mean… If there’s something I’m not sure about I ask questions. Since people here expressed a certitude about something I find a bit problematic, I asked them about it. I respectfully read what was written and I read the links I was pointed to. If I tell you I still find the notion of racially sacred objects problematic please believe (or don’t) that it’s not out of disrespect, racism or any desire to oppress anyone.

    I’m not producing war bonnets, replicas of war bonnets, headdresses inspired by war bonnets or leather bands with feathers in them. I’m not telling anyone else to produce them. I *am* interested in the notion of cultural appropriation and how it works. Some cultures obviously hate it; some accept it reluctantly, some wholeheartedly; some promote it to state or national tourist boards. I know Native Americans who love John Wayne movies and have read critiques by other Native Americans about those same movies.

    As far as my actual position on cultural appropriation is concerned, I will sum up as quickly as I can: people encounter other people; violence or trade occur, sometimes both; sacred and non-sacred objects find themselves in new hands as a result; when the relations of power are skewed in one direction or other, bitterness arrives on the one hand, triumphalism on the other. I don’t find the truth in either hand but in some combination of both. There are always oppressors and oppressed, sometimes both exist in the same person.

  18. Soumaya says:

    i think instead of highjacking this blog whose purpose is to entertain through a fun excercise…why don’t the natives get of their backside and do something worthwile to raise awareness about their culture instead of venting their frustrations in the wrong place?
    I am not into feathery head dresses, but creativity shouldn’t be gagged in the name of a disporportionate victimisation.

  19. Ndn says:

    I am also an Indian, and I do not really see white people wearing feathers on their heads as offensive in anyway, so long as they dont start acting stupid about it. In all reality it is kinda cool if Native style is incorporated to the mainstream, I mean thats what all of the Native clothing makers are trying to do right? I mean when Vincent Ortiz partnered with Donna Karan, no one thought this was offensive?!

    So I agree I think people need to chill the ‘f’ out. There is no reason to be hyper sensitive to all of this stuff. Usually this means that one is insecure in their own identity. I am for one very secure in my identity and culture, I also am an active participant in my tribal community and culture.

    I mean, this stuff looks more mexican indigenous to me, stop hating, and maybe give them a suggestion to make thier look ‘cooler’? Maybe some white people will get interested in Native stuff, and learn frm this? I mean I dont want to go around wearing feathers on my head but hey, if someone wants to i have more important things going on to let them be.

    Now if they start acting stupid and trying to play indian and say they’re ‘cherokee’ or doing ceremonies or something else, then thats different. But wearing it for fashion is ok. fashion has always tested limits, and sometimes been avant gard. Grow some skin all…

  20. B says:


    I’m going to try to tackle your questions. I hope you won’t feel misrepresented when I paraphrase some of them.

    1.) “What’s wrong with taking inspiration from other cultures?” Nothing, but this is beyond “inspiration.” If you Google image search “indian headdress” you will see that what this DIY project produces is EXACTLY what we Americans think Indians wore. That we are incorrect doesn’t matter. What matters is that one could not make or wear these headdresses without conjuring up thoughts of Indians, and that makes it beyond just “Native-inspired.”

    2.) “Would it be just as wrong to do something based off of Viking helmets, or kimonos?” and “Is it wrong for a non-aboriginal to play the didgeridoo?” I can’t answer all those questions. Generally, it is for each cultural group to decide how much and what types of cultural appropriation they find acceptable.

    And I would like to suggest that that is part of the reason you are being dealt with harshly, or as you put it “a tad excessive.” You are asking for grand unifying rules of cultural appropriation, where none exist yet (if they ever will). And in the meantime, you are ignoring the many people pointing out that THIS example of cultural appropriation is offensive and truly harmful. And you seem to suggest that you will not believe them until they justify themselves to your satisfaction.

    Can you see how that would be pretty upsetting to a member of an historically oppressed group, coming from a member of the group that historically did the oppressing? How it is deeply personal for them, and somewhat more “intellectual” or “esoteric” for you? (And no, I don’t know what groups you consider yourself a member of, but I am pretty confident that most people here assumed you were white until you mentioned that you were biracial, as most hipsters and defenders of cultural appropriation are white.)

    Now, the viking helmet is actually a bit of a useful example. What we think of as a viking helmet- you know, the one with horns? (Again, Google image search if in doubt.) It’s a myth.

    But, most of us in America do indeed have that stereotypical image of a Viking in our minds.

    Now, imagine that most of us have a similar stereotypical image in our minds about Indian/Native American Peoples.

    Vikings are long gone, but Native Peoples aren’t, and I have often heard members of Native Peoples write about the struggle to have their culture seen as complex, multifaceted, and living. Can you see how that stereotypical image of Indians is directly in opposition to that goal?

    And how when something is repeated enough -be it a phrase like “the free market will take care of everything,” or an image, like the viking helmet or Indian headdress- it starts to be believed as truth? (This has been demonstrated by social and cognitive psychology research, by the way, see the link below.)

    Also, regarding the didgeridoo, did you know that there was controversy when the Australian version of “The Daring Book for Girls” suggested playing the didgeridoo? So much so that that was removed from reprints of the book?

    I say this to point out that Native Americans are clearly not the only ones concerned about how their culture is used.

    3.) “Which one looks like a war bonnet?” I think my answer to question 1. pretty much covers this. It doesn’t matter how accurate it is, what matters it that people THINK it’s accurate.

    4.) “How am I being disrespectful, and contributing to the disempowerment of Native Americans?” I am sure those things are being said to you because you seem to be defending it as perfectly fine that anyone make and wear and Indian headdress however they want. As for how such appropriated headdresses are disrespectful, a number of people have mentioned how the originals were only worn for special/ceremonial times or by special/ceremonial/high-ranking people. Now, it is perfectly acceptable for one to challenge such sacred/special objects within one’s own culture, which one presumably understands nearly completely (like Aboriginal women who play didgeridoos, thus challenging their own traditions) and quite another to do it to someone else’s culture, which just comes across as ignorant and disrespectful, if not downright colonial and patriarchal.

    As for disempowering, see my answer to question 2. for how these Indian headdresses work counter to the stated goals of modern Natives for their people.

    5.) “Some people are also offended by the “Ground Zero Mosque,” too…” As I recently read, there is a difference between being offended by something, and having harm done to you by it. Rape survivors aren’t usually just offended by rape jokes, they are re-traumatized by them. On the other hand, no one has been able to demonstrate any real harm that would be done by the “Ground Zero Mosque.” In fact, people directly impacted by 9/11 aren’t speaking out en masse against it- in fact, the governor of New York says they mainly support it. For the most part, the people against it are social conservatives, of whom we have enough evidence to reasonably suspect an “anti-Islam” or at least a “pro-Christianity-as-the-dominant-religion-of-America” agenda. No similar agenda can be postulated for Native peoples (okay, some people say there’s an agenda of victimization or reverse racism, but I find those both laughable based on all I’ve read about racism), and harm from perpetuating stereotypes of Indians can be demonstrated.

    6.) “I’m trying to educate myself. I did some reading, and I’m asking questions.” Good on you. Now, read more, and when you ask a question, realize that the people you are asking don’t owe it to you to educate you, and that expecting them to satisfy you is the height of privilege. You said you read the linked posts, so let me put in a few more. I liked:–-please-stop-annoying-the-fuck-out-of-me

    And also, GIVE IT TIME. New concepts, especially when they are replacing older contradictory ones, sometimes take time to sink in. (Ask me how long it took me to switch from pro-life to pro-choice!) So, if after reading all this (and there’s a lot more, if you follow the links at the links), you are still left with pressing questions, metaphorically put it down and revisit it in six months.

    You may not change your mind, but I hope you will more fully understand the viewpoints expressed here, and why your questions have been answered the way they were.

  21. Morgen says:

    I stumbled onto this site looking up how to make a “traditional” warbonnet. But after reading these comments to the post, and seeing how much turbulence behind such a subject is making me re-think the whole idea in general. I wanted to be creative, and use everything around me to make a beautiful piece of art. The fact of the matter is that people need to respect artwork if it is meant for creativity, while keeping in mind of political issues, but is artwork really going to make an impression if it is so sensitive to everybodys needs? If i make this piece of artwork, I cannot call it a headdress, for that would be disrespectful, and I cannot call it a warbonnet, for that is even more disrespectful. But if I want to be an artist, I should call it what I want because it is mine, correct? It doesn’t belong to any Natives, and is not going to be used in ceremonies, and isn’t supposed to because that is not what it is meant for.
    So, my question, so I can be creative and free WITHOUT disrespecting someone is, if i make this “headdress” and make it not to “mock” Natives, but to make an idea my own? Should I state that I am not making this item to support/demean anybody?
    An earlier post said that we should ask the people if we wish to know how to respect, so I am.