Hats & Scarves after hair loss

I’m writing this because a friend asked me about hats and scarves as she wants to help her cousin who is losing her hair. My notes here are not comprehensive, but don’t worry because part of the fun of this time is making your own discoveries – shopping and scavenging for exciting hats and fabric with which to improvise. Fun? Well, yes. With a range of beautiful headgear that you love, you can enjoy dressing up!

Turban with scarf
Turban with scarf

There are beanies, balaclavas, tams, berets, snoods and all sorts of hat, and possibly the widest variety will be found in shops that sell pre-loved treasures. Think about shopping online too. Many unwanted nearly-new items appear on ebay after people finish chemo. You might also rediscover some great scarves unworn in the back of your own cupboard, as I did.

The chemo ward probably has a swap box with a mixture of turbans and beanies.

I found the Hairport Salon in Mareeba has a great web site with inspiring pictures.

The Cancer Council supplies helpful leaflets, eg how to tie scarves. Here also is a page with ways to tie a scarf.

Two turbans
Two turbans

Turbans can be bought or easily made and the Cancer Council offers sewing patterns. Here also is a handy online reference.

Body glitter is fun on a bald head for occasions when you don’t need to cover up for warmth or sun protection!

saxophone scarf
My decorated scarf worn over a pink turban
Somali scarf layout
Somali scarf layout showing 2 triangles

Somali Scarf

A beautiful nurse, Fatima, inspired me to create a personalised scarf. Her exquisite headwear and radiant smile cheered up the gynae onc ward! She kindly gave me an old worn-out scarf of her own to use as a pattern, but actually I mended and redecorated it.

To make one you need a rectangle of soft black net fabric about 75cm x 85cm (29.5” x 33.5”) or a square with side length approximately in that range. Hem the edges and fold into 2 triangles that overlap by about 8cm (3”). Sew the decorations through both layers. I sewed on silver beads and a silver saxophone motif. Fatima’s scarves featured favourite pieces of lace sewn onto the black mesh where it frames the face. You can attach anything – brocade, badges, jewels, a brooch etc.

Tube turbans

two tubes
Two Tubes

A tube of soft stretch fabric is a very handy “turban” to wear by itself or under a sunhat. Just pull one end over your head, then twist and tuck the other end of the tube under itself at the back of the neck. I loved to dress up a tube or turban by tying an exciting scarf around it.

Use any scrap of interesting fabric to sew a tube that ‘s about 25.5cm (10”) wide, ie 51cm (20”) in circumference and about 30-47cm long (12-18”). My seamless white tube was bought from the wig shop. I collected a couple of child-size strappy sun tops in spangly fabric that were easily converted to dressy tube hats.

There are a couple of brands of multifunctional tubes sold in adventure shops with instructions for dozens of different ways to wear them.

Byron Bay turban

(illustrated here) This is also a tube but much bigger, so you twist it in a figure of 8 and slip the 2 loops onto your head. The cheesecloth style in rainbow colours is named after Byron Bay, but you can make something similar from the body of a favourite tshirt, cut across below the sleeves to make a large tube.

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5 thoughts on “Hats & Scarves after hair loss”

  1. Cancer headwear is truly a marvelous alternative for cancer patients as this headwear includes hats, scarves and wigs which are designed in a stylish manner so that the individuals may not feel dominated in the society because of hair loss. Moreover, wearing this headwear, individuals can create beautiful and striking looks too.

  2. Hi Alison, it’s Edwina here, Jodie’s “cousin”. Thanks SO much for the tips! I also got “tube turbans” from the Lebanese Muslim community in Lakemba, they sell them for $4 each here! The Muslim girls use them under their head scarves and I asked a lovely girl on the street where to buy them from and she pointed me to the right suburb!

    I love the Somali scarf over the turban and seeing your other scarf tied over your turban has inspired me to look for more scarves, as I have loads of turbans, but it’s a nice way to dress them up. I love the local Vinnies so will keep dropping in to see if there are more bargain finds.

    Thanks again, cheers, Ed

    1. Hi Edwina, great to hear from you and thanks for that very useful tip – where to buy the tubes. Good luck and best wishes for successful treatment! xxx

  3. Hi Alison,
    might have to turn all this upside down – just shaved for the first time in my life to get the keratosis burnt off my face. Arafat hat is working pretty well though. Keep feeling the coolness of breeze like water across my face – so unfamiliar with being exposed – guess you must have been feeling that too.
    Luv,
    Binzi

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