Few fabrics are as easily identifiable as the iconic bandana. This humble square of vibrantly colored, mostly paisley designed fabric has a long and flamboyant history.
In historical photos it can be seen tied to a stick – the small bundle containing the meager possessions of a wandering hobo. Forever associated with the hardworking Western cowboy – it was used as a neckerchief and readily available to pull up over the mouth and nose to keep from breathing in choking trail dust.
Hollywood movies in the past have further promoted the modest squares associated with the traditional outfit of the cowboy or rebel persona. On a more ominous note, the bandana was often used by bank robbers to partially conceal their identity, later by gangs as a source of communication and identity.
Now a fashion icon, the classic red, blue or black bandana colors can be seen in use by celebrities tied to wrists and ankles, wrapped around necks as chokers and as headbands, hair coverings, or at times made into totes and carryalls or simply tied to purses as a colorful adornment. The unassuming piece of cloth can be seen today in use in all cultures around the world, by all facets of society and popular with all ages.
A bandana can have many, many functions: as a head covering to keep hair out of the way of working equipment, or merely wrapped into a decorative headband, tied around wrists and ankles as trendy fashion, folded to be used to grab hot pot handles from stove or campfire. The bandana can be thought of as a tool to be used as an emergency tourniquet, a first aid bandage or tied to a tree to mark a path. Several bandanas stitched together can even be made into clothing items, window valences, pillow covers or quilts. So many uses can be attributed to this simple square of cloth.
Bandana sewing projects can be found on Pinterest.com and many, many other sewing and crafting websites. The humble bandana continues to be a functional square of fabric as well as an iconic textile artifact for the ages.
Sew happy, sew inspired.