Sew Your Own Feather Mohawk




About: I'm M@. If you know Prototype This, TechShop, The Best of Instructables, Show Me How, or AVPII: Requiem, you've seen some of my work and the cool stuff I've been involved in. I build and design and make and ...

Do you need to achieve maximum stopping power at a party? Perhaps something striking for the burn? Or possibly it's just a few extra inches of height? Regardless, a feather mohawk is a powerful statement of your inner awesomeness manifested on your head for all to see. They're pretty easy to make and inexpensive if you know where to get the materials.

The design came together through a random intersection of ideas that were stewing in my brain. I often hunt about for new materials and project supplies. I've found that following a trail of weird materials or random projects can lead to some pretty heavyweight inspiration if you're willing to plunge all the way down the rabbit hole. While investigating fox tails and kudu horns I came across a treasure trove of cheap feathers on eBay.

Given that I was already wearing my hair in a mohawk at the time I figured a feathery version could only add to the effect. Besides, I love to make stuff. Speaking of which, if you like this project you might want to check out my site and my store .

For this project you'll need:
* A sewing machine
* Feathers
* Unicorn buckram (I got mine at Jo-ann's)
* Goop (or any other gooey sticky glue)
* A brush
* Paper
* A pencil

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Step 1: Select Your Feathers

After browsing a few eBay sellers I found one called Pretty Plumes which had good prices and the exact shade of royal blue I was looking for.

Feathers from different parts of a bird serve different purposes and will have a different look and properties. I used a combo of chicken wing and guinea feathers. The wing feathers are pretty straight and durable and the guinea feathers add variety and flair.

I picked two styles with complimentary colors, but you could just as easily mix and match. It's easy to come by peacock feathers , long tail feathers , and ones with extra fluff at the end. Go nuts.

Also, you're going to need more feathers than you think to complete the mohawk. Each bag of feathers is going to contain a good bit of fluff, broken feathers, and ones that just aren't pretty enough to make the grade. I went through ~50 wing feathers and ~100 guinea feathers with barely a handful to spare. Fortunately they totaled me about ten bucks so it's hard to complain.

Step 2: Measure Your Head

To get started you're going to need to get your profile. Take a pad of paper, hold it against your ear. Take a pencil and lay it across the top of your head and trace all the way from where your hair begins in the front to where it ends in the back. This is going to be the basis for the rest of your measurements.

Use the profile you just made to sketch out the vertical fabric that's going to define the "upper hawk" part of your feather mohawk. This should be about 3-5 inches high depending on how tall you want the finished product to stand. Make sure the beginning and end of it are perpendicular to your profile. Remember to add an inch of material on the bottom so you can make tabs once everything's cut out. Trace two copies of your pattern onto your buckram.

Next you'll need the skullcap, which holds the mohawk on to your head. Cut yourself a 4 inch wide strip of buckram long enough to stretch from your hairline in front to your hairline in back plus an inch on each end. Trace two parallel lines down this strip the long way, straddling the center and about an inch apart. Add another pair a half inch outside of those. The first pair will be where you line up the upper hawk, and the second pair indicate where you're going to stitch.

The last thing to do is round out the edges of this strip so it looks like a surfboard - wider in front and tapering towards the back. I sketched this out before cutting it just to make sure everything was symmetrical.

Step 3: Cut and Sew

Cut out your surfboard shape, which is going to form the skullcap, and the two pieces of the upper hawk. Pleat the surfboard by folding over little triangles. These should end up about a quarter inch wide and an inch and change long. The more pleats you make and the closer they are together, the more your skullcap is going to curve. Use this to adjust it to fit your head. Pleat and test and pleat and test until it fits you snugly. It should stay on your head pretty well without you even needing to hold it there. Make the pleats permanent by running a stitch along each of them. Then, stitch around the edge of your skullcap with a bit of fabric to make sure there are no sharp pleats poking you in the head.

Sew your two upper hawk pieces together along their top edge. Snip the bottom of your upper hawk pieces at one inch intervals to make tabs. Fold the tabs out and align the bottom of the hawk with the lines you drew on the skullcap earlier. Now sew along the other set of lines you made and VOILA!

Traveler's Note: After taking this mohawk all across the country, flying with it, driving with it, and stuffing it into bags, I've come to realize that feathers are quite fragile. I noticed that this design is very stiff, which is great for the aesthetic but not so hot when it comes to packing it in your carry-on. It will crumple and the feathers just won't recover. If you want to make yours lay flat for packing you'll need to attach the upper hawk with velcro so you can take it off the skullcap. I'd recommend traveling with the whole thing sealed in a freezer bag to make sure nothing tears off any feathers.

Step 4: Glue the Hawk

Pick out your favorite feathers from the bunch. These will be the stars of the show. Make sure the longest, straightest, and prettiest ones get prime placement in the piece. Try to match up your feathers by size so you can get everything aligned without any odd feathers sticking out at random angles.

The next step is simple, long, and messy. Starting from the top glue on your long superstar feathers. I found that applying a little glue to the feather end by dipping it in a blob of glue then attaching it to the upper hawk and patting it with a bit more glue from a brush was the way to go. Slowly work your way across from one side of the hawk to the other, making sure to not leave big visible gaps between feathers. Once this is dry to the touch (about 30 mins) repeat the process on the other side.

You'll want to add a second and third layer lower and lower along the hawk until it's completely filled.

Step 5: Fill Out the Rest

Next, things start to get really pretty. Use your small fancy feathers to fill out the skullcap, this time starting from the perimeter and working your way in. Make sure you save enough of the prettiest feathers to go on the very last layer so that they stand out the most. If you have any little spots of buckram showing through use a dot of glue and some of the fluff from any remaining feathers to patch it up.

Let the glue set overnight and you're ready to....

Step 6: Attach to Head

Put it on your head!

I found that my feather mohawk would stay on pretty well with a few hairpins, but if you want to make sure it hangs on like an angry crab I'd suggest getting yourself some contour clips.

So, there you have it. This project took me about two consecutive evenings all tolled. I'd say the total project price was $20. Not bad for such a stylish accessory.

If you liked this tutorial please give my site and store a look. Best of luck making your very own feather mohawk.

8 People Made This Project!


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44 Discussions


4 years ago

I'm completely freaking out looking at everybody's creations! They're gorgeous! Definitely on my list!


Reply 4 years ago

I'm guessing fabric glue could be used to put it together, but I could be wrong....I'm going to try it this way though because I'm incredibly inept at sewing :-)

can this be sewn up hand?

I am having a lot of trouble with the pleating... It looks very bumpy.l. Any advice ?


4 years ago on Introduction

can someone please let me know how many, what type and what length feathers I need to order to make a Mohawk. I'm looking to order feather online and I have no clue what I'm doing.

1 reply

8 years ago on Introduction

This is really incredible. It works especially well on your head, bofthem.

However, you mentioned that this would be a good Burning Man accessory. While æsthetically I agree, I feel I must mention that feathers in BRC are generally frowned upon, because they are notorious for falling off and creating difficult-to-round-up MOOP. This originally came from the multitude of boas whose feathers were poorly attached and flying everywhere in the wind. As long as you glue the feathers on reeeally well, this isn't a practical problem, of course, but in some circles this fashion accessory may unfairly earn you a stigma.

As long as the mohawk is well-constructed, I believe there ought to be no problem; I just wanted to let everyone know of the general anti-feather sentiment at Burning Man.

2 replies

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Fortunately, my comment no longer applies. They lifted the feather restriction this year, and I did see a few of these mohawks there.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

one other tip to secure the feathers even better after you glue them on, is to use a sawing machine. This will really keep them from falling off. However i did not wear my feather mohawk at burning man either, i agree on the stigma and i dont want to encourage more people to want to wear it next year.


6 years ago on Introduction

Thank you for taking the time to post such detailed instructions. I used your idea to make headpieces for two eel costumes (Flotsam and Jetsam from "The Little Mermaid"). I cut the top piece in a wave shape and covered both pieces with fabric. Your terrific instructions enabled me to complete a stunning costume piece.

Instead of sewing darts (triangles) in the base, I used the cut, wet and overlap technique described in the following link from Threads magazine:
It was fun to do and a little easier than sewing tiny pleats in the buckram, so I wanted to share. Thanks again, and I'm looking forward to checking out your other Instructables!


7 years ago on Introduction

This is so cool, and your instructions are top-notch. The only thing I wasn't sure about were the tabs... Can you explain what the tabs at the bottom of the hawk piece are for? Thanks!


8 years ago on Step 6

Oh this is beautiful!

You've made a roach.

George Catlin documented American natives all over the east and mid west back in the early 1800's. He shows roaches made of all sorts of things-- deer's tails, porcupine's quills, dried grasses, horse hair, feathers...

You're a living part of a centuries-old tradition!

4 replies

Way cool. I found some images of roaches from a couple different sources, but couldn't get a clear picture of how you actually got them to stick to your head. I figure they must be platted in to your hair, but in that case the feathers would soon get pretty natty. I wonder what making them, wearing them, and keeping them looking sharp entailed.

The ones I've seen at modern pow-wows, the guys tie them on with a kind of elaborate system that ties under the chin. I imagine that some sort of gummy sap got used sometimes, like the gum arabic that we use for gluing beards on for stage, or any thing their ingenuity could think up.

Feathers can get washed, by the way-- use shampoo, no problem.

Nope! Most of us used hair sticks and braids. The thing about roaches, especially the deer and porky roaches, is that they are on a woven base with one or two holes in it. Those holes are where small braids at the top and back of the head can be pulled through and secured using a hair stick. Add a spreader (often made with German silver) to ensure maximum loft and shape to the roach and voila!

The guys with the short hair, or the ones who don't like having all the pain from the pull on the scalp use the ties, but for a clean, traditional look, the way I described is best.

This is an awsome tutorial and im in the middle of making mine.... you inspired me to be a blue bird for halloween!!! Just want to throw this out there, use a sewing machine needle intended for "Heavy Fabrics" i broke my only thin needle (which offput my quilting project but thats ok). I just stuck in my new denim needle and it sews through the buckram so much easier!!! Thanks again for this amazing costume piece!!


8 years ago on Step 6

if i were you, i would have found a way to attatch just small sections of feathers to your styled-up matching mohawk. then it an alternating combo of feather and hair. i like the idea though and might try some feathers in my hair now