The word bandanna (or bandana) originates from the Hindi word bandhana which means "to tie" and refers to a large colorful square of fabric that is typically folded in half, into a triangle, and worn tied around the face, head or neck. The bandanna is most often associated with the old west when bandannas were worn by cowboys on the trail. Worn tied around the neck, bandannas caught perspiration as it dripped down, which would then evaporate and cool the neck. When needed, the bandanna could be pulled up over the face to act as a rudimentary face mask either to conceal the identity of the wearer, or to protect him from dust in the air. Bandannas were also used by laborers such as farmers and miners to wipe the face free of sweat and did not show grime like a traditional white handkerchief would. In more modern times, bandannas have been used by people as a way of identifying themselves as members of specific social groups or gangs either by the color of the bandanna or style of wearing it.
I, myself, find bandannas to be handy when I am working outside on a hot day. I can roll one up and wear it like a sweatband around my forehead, I can cover my hair with it, I can use it to wipe my face dry, or I can cover my face to help keep from inhaling dusty air. For more ideas, this page lists 50-some uses for bandanas!
Traditional style bandannas are typically printed in a paisley pattern in either white or black on a solid color ground. They are most frequently seen in red or blue, but are available in many different colors. Nowadays, bandannas are also available in different prints to show off interests or hobbies. Many people collect bandannas as mementos of concerts.
Basic bandannas can be picked up inexpensively and quickly converted into easy sewing projects because they are already hemmed. Below you will find links to various free bandanna projects available on the web. If you have a project you would like me to add or if any links are broken, please contact me.
Bandana Pants Tutorial
A tutorial with illustrated directions for putting together some kid's pants using bandannas.
Bandana Pants Pattern
This post from Sew, Mama, Sew has a pattern for making bandana pants.
Bandana Halter Top Tutorial
This tutorial shows you how to make a girl's halter top using one bandanna and some ribbon.
Tutorial: Bandanna Skirt
Make a cute toddler skirt (2-3 year old) using a colorful bandanna.
15 Minute Dress
This tutorial shows you how to make a dress in just 15 minutes out of two bandannas.
This shows a cute dress made with a t-shirt and bandannas. The pattern does not seem to be available any more, but perhaps the photo will inspire you.
Basic instructions for making a halter top out of a bandana.
Bandana Clothing Crafts
Basic instructions from Martha Stewart for making an apron, pants, necktie, halter top, and halter dress out of bandanas.
Free Bandana Bib Pattern
Pattern and instructions for making a bandanna style bib.
A tutorial for a quick and cute bonnet made from a bandanna.
Morsbags Grocery Sack
Reduce dependence on plastic bags! Make a shopping bag from bandannas.
Make a Dog Bandana
Your dog can make a stylish statement with a customized bandana!
No-Sew Bandana Tote Bag
An easy no-sew project using bandanas.
Drawstring Bandana Beach Bag
A quick and easy bag for toting stuff to and from the beach.
Beat the Heat: Make A Cool Tie!
These cooling neck-ties are not necessarily made from bandanas, but are great to keep around during the summer!
Project from Martha Stewart to make a tablecloth out of bandanas.
No-Sew Bandana Pillow
This makes a great project and requires no sewing!
Make a durable mat using bandanans and iron-on vinyl.