Tutorial: Take a Stab at this DIY Bat Hair Slide
Hair slide: the term for that oddly archaic hair accessory that involves shanking your updo with a leather band and wooden stake. I’ve loved them forever, but ever since I saw Adrienne Rozzi wearing one from Lunation Leathers, I knew I needed one in my life. Alas, though Lunation Leathers’ hand tooled creations are over the moon gorgeous, the (totally justified) price tag pushed them out of my reach. Additionally, I try not to buy leather, so I decided to figure out how to make a vegan version for myself.
This project has lots of room for variation! You can make it in any shape, use nearly any fabric, and decorate it however you like. Ready? Ok go!
1. Gather your supplies.
Yes, wine counts as a supply. But to make the hair slide, you’ll need the following:
- Paper and pencil to make your pattern, plus the internet if you’re not used to drawing bats.
- Fabric. You want something with zero stretch. The thicker your material, the stiffer your hair slide. I used faux leather for the exterior of mine, and added in some denim to bulk it up. This is a great time to sacrifice ill-fitting clothing to the craft gods. Could you use actual leather for this? Sure, I suppose. Did I try that? Nope.
- Thread that matches your fabric. Or contrasts it. Just don’t do that thing where your fabric is black but your thread is navy blue, okay? That’s the worst.
- Fabric scissors, unless you can cut fabric with your laser eyes.
- A sewing machine if you have one, or a needle if you don’t. Either way, use a needle that’s appropriate for your fabric. I really recommend using a sewing machine if possible, especially if you’ll be working with several thick layers of material. It’s just no damned fun to hand sew that nonsense. If you’re gonna anyhow, have a thimble on hand.
- A hair stick. I used a chopstick that I sanded down and painted black.
The following may be optional, depending on your design:
- A standard school glue stick. A cheap one from the dollar store will do.
- Tape. I like to use painter’s tape for pretty much everything, but that’s just me. You can use any tape that isn’t going to leave residue on your fabric.
- Tailor’s chalk, marker, pencil, ball point pen, or eyeliner, to make marks on fabric.
2. Make a pattern.
It should be about 7″ across, but the proportions are up to you. You can Google “bat outline” for some decent shapes. I did a few sketches and then completed the time honored tradition of folding a piece of paper in half and cutting it a million times until I got a shape I liked. Several sheets later, I had a very decent (if slightly Batman logo’d) bat shape. I then added two circles to mark where the holes for the hair stick will be. From here forward, I can either refer to these as “holes for the hair stick,” or “bat nipples,” and I think we both know which one I’m going to choose.
If you’d like to use my pattern, you can swipe it off this article and resize it.
Once you’ve got your pattern drawn, cut it out. Don’t worry about the bat nipples. Do not use your fabric scissors for this, or the demons of textiles will heckle you forever.
3. On to fabric!
Grab that stuff and cut pieces that are larger than your pattern. You’ll need at least two pieces– one for the front, one for the back. I used my faux leather for this part. If you’re feeling fancy, you can use two different materials so the slide is reversible. I also grabbed an old pair of jeans that I’d gotten into an argument with.
4. Make a (fabric) sandwich.
Because my fabric was pretty thin, I layered a chunk of denim in between two pieces of faux leather. If your fabric is on the thicker side, you might not need to bulk it up. Just make sure your little bat friend will be decently stiff. Nothing’s worse than a floppy bat.
To keep my fabric from sliding while I sewed it, I glued each layer to the next with my glue stick. Why not use pins? Well, unlike natural fabrics (e.g. cotton), synthetics like pleather or vinyl don’t self-heal. That is, if you poke a hole in them, that hole will be there for. ev. er. Using glue fixes that issue. Will it make your needle sticky? It might, but I haven’t had problems so far. I used a bit of glue on each layer and smoothed the fabric with my hands to make sure I didn’t get wrinkles.
5. Transfer your pattern.
While the fabric sandwich is drying, grab your pattern and use some tailor’s chalk to trace it onto your fabric. Make sure to transfer the bat nipples, too. If you’re using something with a matte finish (like canvas), this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you, like me, have made the choice to use something with a bit of sheen that seems to repel every sort of tailor’s chalk you own, no worries! There’s an easy solution. Just take your tape and put a bunch of loops of it on the back of your pattern. Use little pieces to get into any weird pointy bits. Avoid putting tape over the bat nipples. Then stick the entire pattern onto your fabric sandwich. Voila!
6. Now for the sewing, aka “Don’t do this part if you’re tired.”
We need to stitch around the pattern line with a simple straight stitch. I used a stitch length of 3, but you do you. If you’re using the “stick the pattern on with tape” method, just stitch right around the edge of the paper pattern. If you mess up and stitch over the paper a bit, don’t freak out. It’ll be fine! To stitch the tight curves and corners, it can help to lower your needle through the fabric, raise the presser foot, and reposition the fabric so your next stitch is going the right way. I’ll also use my the hand wheel on my machine instead of the pedal so I can better control the speed of the stitches.
Once the outline is complete, you’ll need to stitch around the bat nipples. If your pattern is stuck onto the fabric, stitch right through the paper. (This is why we didn’t put tape behind the nipples.) Stitching this tight circle can be really tricky on a machine, but if you go slow and use your hand wheel, you should be fine.
With the bat nipples secured, you can remove the paper pattern if you used it. Little pieces of paper will be stuck inside the bat nipple circles, but they’re easy to pry up. Use tweezers if they’re being resistant.
7. Pimp your slide.
The next step is decorating, so it’ll be all about personal preference. I usually like to do a bit of topstitching around the edge of the bat (about 1/8″ from the edge). It helps ensure the slide stays together. Beyond that, you can stitch whatever you like. I often add lines that demarcate the bat’s body and wing… creases? Bones? Y’know, the lines on the wings. You can draw things on first using chalk, eyeliner, or a pen, or just wing it. In this example, I added two lines of stitching around the wings and a whole batload of lines on the body. I think it looks like armor. For my hair.
After you’ve added your topstitching details, cut away the excess material. I leave about 1/8″ all around the outermost line of stitching.
If you’re not interested in spending more time at the sewing machine, you can always grab some paint and add designs that way. Or glue and rhinestones. Or add some chains and charms. Or just leave it plain because you’re one of those minimalists that I don’t understand.
8. Nip snip.
Once your bat is properly attired, it’s time to remove the nipples.
We need to cut away the fabric from the inside of the stitched circles. I like to use a tiny pair of embroidery or manicure scissors for this. Sometimes it helps to cut through the layers one at a time. Be very careful not to snip through the stitching! Once you’re done with the surgery, make sure your hair stick will fit through the holes, and adjust them if needed.
9. Finishing touches.
-Clip all your threads.
-Use a damp rag to rub away any marks you made on the fabric.
-If you’ve used a fabric that likes to fray, you can dab the edges with fray-check to stop that happening.
-If your fabric has a weirdly colored interior, run a permanent marker over the edges to hide it.
10. Put it in your hair, you sexy beast.
You can wear hair slides in a bunch of different ways, but if you’re stuck, check out this video for some ideas. Now go forth and show the world your new wings.