How to Tie Nigerian Gele Head-Scarf Yourself (Tutorial)

Styles of gele head-scarfs are the highpoint of women’s fashion at every Nigerian wedding. For any traditional, native-wear lok, the slay is not complete without a gele head-toe. Brides wear them, and wedding guests wear them too. When preparing to attend a wedding, after choosing what to sew, next on every woman’s mind is the style of gele to rock. There are so many styles for tying gele by Nigerian women, each one is uniquely different and all of them look stunning on the wearer. While there are many gele-tying artists around every street in Nigeria, sometimes, one just feels like tying your own gele by yourself (to also save some coins).

Generally, tying a gele into a headwrap involves tying it around the head and making layers and pleats, and knotting it to keep it firm on the head. The finished look is a gorgeous hat. So, how do you tie a gele head-scarf (for a beginner)? Or how do you perfect your skills (if your gele-tying skills are below average)? The video tutorial below will guide you through, step by step to tying a gele yourself. Just get out any gele fabric and practice along while watching the video – just play, pause and repeat. Play the videos below for your gele tying lesson (and if you prefer to read the instructions, steps are down below):

How to Tie a Simple Gele for Beginners

  • Video 1 Above: Gele tying video tutorial using wired aso-oke headtie | Video 2 (down below): How to tie pleated sego gele headtie (scroll down to after ‘the explained steps’) 



In case you prefer to learn by reading steps than watching the video tutorial above, here is the step by step instruction for learning how to tie your own Nigerian-style gele:

Material Needed:  Any of these headtie fabrics in about one-and-half arm length width: aso-oke gele, sego gele, a few yards of Ankara wax print

STEP 1: Get your hair out of the way, by slicking/ packing it to the back. If you’re wearing weaves or braids, pack it up into a center-bun. Alternatively, or wear a wig cap or hair net.

STEP 2: Straighten one end of the gele’s width, and fold up a small part of the fabric’s edge.

STEP 3: Place the gele head-tie over your head, covering both ears; and hold both ends of the fabric until it is very tight on your head. Now, you are holding on to the ends of the gele with each hand (right and left).

STEP 4: Ease off pressure on one side of the fabric, so that one end is longer than the other.  The usual ration is to have one-third of the fabric (shorter side) on one hand and two-third or the gele fabric (longer side) on the other hand.

STEP 5: Now, both ends of the gele should be behind your head.  Next, pull the shorter side inward (to the back of your head) so that the longer side is out to the front, over the shorter end. If you’re right-handed, the longer end of the gele should be gripped by your right hand, and the shorter side should be gripped firmly by your left hand.

STEP 6: Next, wrap the long arm of the gele around your head, while holding firm to the shorter end. Ensure that the shorter end is wrapped into the inside of the back of your head, and have the long side wrapped outward to the front of your head. While wrapping the gele around, take time to make nice pleats and folds; and also smoothen the layers that are forming – although you can leave it until later, if you like. 

STEP 7: Pull the long arm around tightly to form a layer. If the gele fabric is very long gele, you should do another round of wrapping the longer end (of the fabric) around your head one more time. If not, move to the next step.

STEP 8: Next, bring both arms of the gele fabric to the back of your head and cross the ends of the headtie (to get ready to tie the ends).

STEP 9: Now, knot both ends of the gele arms together to secure the head-tie tightly. Tie it one or two more time to keep it locked down.

STEP 10: Next, make a clean finishing by using your hands to adjust the gele from side to side. Use your thumb and fingers to smoothen the folds and layers of pleats.  Adjust the top to make the gele fan-out.  Keep adjusting your gele until you like what see in the mirror.  Your gele hat is ready to wear. Congratulations, you just tied your first gele like a pro.

That’s the end of your gele-tying lesson. Be sure to come back to re-watch the video tutorial above and practice some more.

How to Tie Sego Gele With Pleats (Video)

  • Video 1 Above: Gele tying video tutorial using wired aso-oke headtie | Video 2 (above): How to tie pleated sego gele headtie

Why Do Nigerian Women Tie Gele Headties?

Gele, in Nigeria, is a term for head-tie or scarf.  While gele scarfs are everyday-wear for older women, the gele headtie is also a fashion accessory that completes any traditional attire look for women, such as wedding guests aso-ebi dresses. Gele head-scarfs are worn with any style of women’s native-wear, like wrapper and blouses (iro and buba or lace blouse and george wrappers, skirt and blouse outfits, ankara aso-ebi gowns and more. If you’re a woman that is invited to a Nigerian wedding, probably you have bought the themed aso-ebi fabric the couple specified as dress-code. Your Nigerian wedding guests aso-ebi look will not be complete without a gele headtie, or you’ll look out of place. You can pay to have someone tie your gele headwrap for you, or you can learn to tie it yourself – which is what this post is about.


Why Nigerian Women Tie the Best Gele Styles in Africa

In many parts of Nigeria, women, especially the older and married ones, covered their hair by tying scarfs or head-ties, primarily as a form of modesty.  Many still do, but most younger women prefer to wear headtie as a fashion accessory, to complete their look for Nigerian traditional or native attire. Unlike the scarfs worn by European or English women, fabrics for the Nigerian gele head-scarfs are not soft but rather have some thickness and stiffness to its texture. It is the texture of the fabric that gives the gele headtie the flexibility to be maneuvered into different artsy styles and also gives it the ability to stay up, standing like a hat.

How to Tie Nigerian Gele Head-Scarf Yourself

A professional gele artist tying an aso-oke headscarf on a bride to complete her Yoruba traditional wedding attire look. [Credit: Atunbi Photography/ Instagram]

Head-ties or headwraps are called by different names by the people of Nigeria (gele in Yoruba language and Ichafu in Igbo).  Depending on the wearer’s preference or size of gele fabric, one can find women wearing small or huge gele head-scarfs.  Generally, small gele head-ties are worn for a casual, everyday look; while big and flamboyant gele head-scarf styles like infinity pleats ankara gele, are special styles for events and weddings (worn by brides and guests too). However, small gele styles still make it to big occasions and weddings, because they also look beautiful.

You can tie a gele with any fabric type and texture, but fabrics with some level of stiffness are better because the most beautiful gele scarfs are those that stand stiff like a hat.  Some popular headtie fabrics Nigerian women love to wear during events and occasions include sego gele, aso-oke gele, ankara gele.

In its original form, a gele head-tie is just a rectangular or square piece of fabric, but while tying it on her head, a Nigerian woman makes it into a beautiful, handcrafted hat. Nigerian women put some art into the way they tie their head ties, wraping it into several pleats, layers, and shapes.  Thanks to talented Nigerian gele artists and fashion designers, today, there are uncountable ways of tying gele headties. Since not every Nigerian woman is skilled at tying gele or have the time to do so, we also now have ready-to-wear gele scarfs (also known as auto-geles) that are simply gele hats for busy women who just want to throw on their headtie and go. Those are available in Nigerian markets.

For non-Nigerians, the art of gele-tying would appear impossible to master, laborious and time-consuming.  However, it’s ‘a normal’ that most Nigerian women can fix in a few minutes because it’s what they do nearly every day and have done for over 10,000 times in their lifetime. Hence, Nigerian women prefer to tie their gele head-wrap fresh every time they need it and deconstruct it after an outing.

Wrapping Up

That’s all on how to tie your gele (with sego, ankara or aso-oke). Did you practice along? Be sure to see our editor’s selection of the reigning, new gele and bead necklace styles in Nigeria. I’d like to hear from you – what is your favourite material to tie gele headtie with, and what new gele-tying style are you loving at this moment? Another question – have you worn a ready-made auto-gele scarf before? If so, do you prefer them to tying a fresh gele headtie?

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About Stella Anokam

Stella is the founder and Editor of this blog (NaijaGlamWedding). Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Submit your photos to be featured - it's FREE, because we love everything weddings, bridal showers, engagement shoots.


  1. adukbabe says

    wanna view the video but kinda having problems doing it………pls help cus i wanna share my testimonies like others

  2. nice tips..very useful n interesting..thnx

  3. alexandrina says

    All i could say is wow its simpily easy to learn and understand. Great thanks

  4. It’s really good but would love to learn more

  5. joy okafor says

    Hi d gele tutorial was amazing, Tnks for sharing with us…pls will I have to sew together two different gele to get dat two different colors of gele tying?tnks

    • Hi Joy. Yes, you can – I have seen ladies do that, and have even seen some Geles sold ready-made like that. Fashion is all about exploring the creativity that comes to your head – so, rock on, girl!

  6. God bless u for ds tutorial. I feel helples wen I av 2go 4occasions bt cnt tie my gele myslf.I wl always com bk. 2ds post wen am lost.

    • You’re welcome, Wunmi. You’re not alone – most women suck at tying Gele, some can manage but spend hours doing it. I’m glad that the Gele video tutorial has increased your confidence that you too can get better at tying your Gele yourself. Do come back as many times as you like to re-watch the Gele tutorial.

  7. love u,tnks.God bless u for teaching. Am not really a gele person but I wld start trying it now

  8. Thanks, Temmy.

  9. This is really awesome. I love it die. Please teach us some more. Twoderful.

  10. Bello aishat says

    pls,i cnt view d gele tying tutorial, i exhausted my data plan& could only view d headgear styles. pls,ma kindly direct to d site well as i can view ur other diy.Thanks in anticipation

    • Hi Aisha, sorry about that. I just checked now and the ‘How to tie Gele’ vidoe tutorial is showing okay. Please try viewing it again, and let me know how it goes. Thanks for visiting NaijaGlamWedding.

  11. After watching the video, all I have to say is thank you and God bless.

  12. It’s very helpful, what about people with low cut, will it still work out d same way?

  13. Oh my God,this is realy nice and easy to know.have been looking forward to this.Thank you,it realy help

  14. Thanks 4 d lesson,but pls I need 2 know more on d finishing it’s important

    • You’re welcome to NaijaGlamWedding, Commy. Don’t worry, your finishing will become perfect with time – just keep practicing with different headties, and the above video.

  15. Thanks so much Stella for making it easy for me,now I can tie my gele perfectly, all thanks to u, love u

  16. adesayo atinuke says

    i really love the vedio on how to tie gele thanks for teaching me

  17. That was a nice one. I have been trying to get the layer style but never did. Thank you for making it simple. Once again thank you.

    • You’re welcome, Aisha. I am happy to hear that.
      Thanks for sending us your feedback. Please keep coming back for more, and invite your friends too.

      • helen benedict says

        after watching d video,i think tieing of gele is not dat difficult as it seems.

        • I know that feeling, Helen. I am sure you’ll become a Gele expert in no time, if you practice along with the video a few times. We have heard many of our readers tell us that. Thanks for stopping by, be sure to check out our other helpful Fashion and Beauty Video tutorials for beginners.

  18. I was unable 2 watch the video on how to tie gele and I would like to watch it

    • Hi Taiwo. I just rechecked and the ‘Gele Tying’ tutorial video works perfectly. Try using another device (phone, tablet or computer) to browse this page again. I am sure the fault was from your device. Let me know how that goes.

  19. I really love to see dis video but it wasn’t showing on my phone, pls can I buy it on vcd by paying,have waited so long to meet who will teach me how to tie gele.pls will be waiting 4 ur reply.thanks

    • Hi Yetunde. Sorry about that. The video is free, not for sale. The problem is with your phone – because the video plays on most devices (I just retested it now). I suggest you find a time to use a laptop/ desktop computer or a tablet or another device to look at this post again – that will ensure that you see the video.

  20. You made it so simple and nice even though I know how to
    wrap yours is easier to learn.


  21. I luv dis.Tnx so much, though I didn’t get d finishing..#covers face# lol

    • You’re welcome, Dayo. The finishing will become perfect for you if you practice more with the video. Apparently, the backside of Gele is harder to learn, and this video shows it well.

  22. Thank you so much!!! you’re a life saver, although i’d like to see a vid of you doing the same for someone else! thanks. bye!

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