Friday, 29 June 2012

How to Make a Fascinator

I came across this beautiful hat while browsing Etsy for ideas. I really liked the design and had not seen anything like it before. It's their signature fascinator and very well made, mine is a "close enough" budget piece ;P

Anyway, I decided to make my own version, since I was feeling a bit crafty. The same basics apply to all fascinators, so you can just alter the shape of the felt and make any kind of hat you like.

You need:
Felt in the colour of your choice (if you coat it with fabric, the colour doesn't matter)
A bowl, balloon or anything that has basically the same shape as your head (this will be used as a mould)
Cling film
Water soluble glue (white glue) that's transparent when dry (like Elmer's or EriKeeper for Finnish people)
A disposable cup
A brush (it will get glue on it, so use one that's not too posh)
Fabric (enough to cover the hat base, more if you want to add rosettes or ruffles of the same fabric, I prefer stretchy fabric)
A hair comb or small hair clip (use two or more clips or combs if your hat is heavy or very large)
Hot glue and/or needle and thread
Decorations like rhinestones, sequins, lace applications, feathers, veiling, pearls, crystals, fabric flowers... the possibilities are endless! Basically anything you can glue or sew on to the fabric works.

1. Plan your hat's shape
Teardrop hats are very popular and nice, and round bases work well too. The half mask type that I chose needs a bit more work (to get it to fit) and has more surface to decorate.

Stuff you need to make the hat base. I drew my hat pattern free hand and just
tried it on to see if it fit. You can trim it later on, so feel free to leave some extra
on the edges. Notice how I used a pink skull as a mould ;P
2. Cut the shape from felt
Draw the shape on a piece of paper and cut it out so you can try it on your head and see how big the hat would be. Think of how much decorations you have; if you have tons of stuff, go ahead and make a larger hat. If you have very little decorations, a smaller hat might be a better choice since a large one might look too plain. My hat shape has a pleat drawn on the pattern, but I didn't cut it out in the end. I recommend making cuts as needed when you work the base.

Cut out the shape from the felt. I used thin felt, because I couldn't find the
thicker stuff. It worked nicely and isn't too heavy, but might not be as durable.
3. Prepare your mould
I used a pink skull so I carefully wrapped it in cling film to keep it clean. If you use a balloon or something else that's completely round, find a bowl you can sit it in and secure it with tape or by wrapping cling film over both. You don't want you mould to roll around when you are working!

4. Mix the glue with water
Mix the glue and water in a disposable cup. I used one part glue and two parts warm water. You need maybe a tablespoon's worth of glue, but you should rather make a bit too much mixture than too little, since the felt shouldn't be allowed to dry until you are done. Cover your working area so you don't make a mess while applying the glue, as it is quite runny. The felt will need about a day to dry thoroughly, so it's easiest if you can work at a spot where you can leave it sit until it's set.

I didn't make any cuts yet, since the fabric can stretch a bit when wet and it's
always better to go with as few cuts as you can, since a bumpy surface is
harder to make pretty.
5. Place the felt on the mould and add glue/water mixture
Place the felt piece so it won't fall off and brush the water/glue mixture on liberally. The felt should get thoroughly wet. You can take the felt piece off and check if there's enough water. Once the felt is wet, gently pull on it so the middle part stretches. It gives only a few millimetres (at least my felt did) but stretching makes the crown shape nicer. After stretching, check if you need to make cuts to make the felt lie against the mould. Mine needed, so I made three. You should rather make many small cuts than one large to avoid making the base angular. Don't worry if the edges don't look neat at this stage, you can cut them later on. The mixture will travel towards the lower edges and can make your felt look faded, but it will turn transparent when dry.

Felt wet with the glue/water mixture and cuts added to make the felt follow
the mould better.
6. Leave to dry and clean your equipment
Leave the felt on the mould to dry for about 24 hours. Thicker felt will take longer. Clean your brush if you want to re-use it, the glue usually comes out fine with warm water.

7. Felt is dry and has a shape!
Take your felt off the mould and trim the edges. Try it on to see if the shape is like you desired.

My felt when dry. It keeps the shape nicely!

The bottom of the felt is shiny because the glue dried against the cling film.
I just left it like that since it won't show. You can also line or paint the bottom
side if you like.

8. Decorate!
Basically from this step on you can just add whatever you like on the hat. You don't have to coat it with fabric if you like the look of the base itself. I have pictures of how to put some fabric on it, because most bases look nicer that way, and it allows for any kind of texture or pattern you desire.

I used a stretch velvet, it was easy to work with.

Use the same pattern as you did for the hat base. I you trimmed your hat on
later stages, you can cut the fabric smaller if you think you can remember
what parts were trimmed. I remade the whole eye hole, so I only cut it out
once I had glued the fabric on. I recommend this for any holes your hat
might have.

I used hot glue to attach the fabric to the felt. You should check if your fabric
can be ironed so you know if it can stand the heat. If it can't, just to be on the safe side,
you should use another type of glue. I stretched the fabric as I glued it on so there are
no cuts or pleads. Leave some fabric on the edges so you can glue it to the bottom side
to have neat edges. Cut out any holes when the glue is dry. 

Fabric cover is done! You can see that the stretching is fairly invisible in
the end. If you have a patterned fabric, be more careful with stretching it.

The bottom side, you could line the mask if you want to and the extra thickness
isn't a problem. I left it as is.

Beginning of decorating the hat. I got some fancy lace applications from eBay.

I also has a pvc kanzashi flower I made earlier, but ended up not using it.

Rhinestones are always nice!
9. Add comb or clip
Glue a clip or a comb to the bottom side of the hat. You should put the clip or comb near the edge of the hat so it's easy to put on and adjust. Keep in mind how you are likely to have your hair when wearing the hat. For more security, glue a piece of fabric to keep the side of the clip against the hat solidly.

10. Finished!
Enjoy your brand new fascinator! Do wait for all the glue to dry first, though, unless you want a more permanent head decoration piece ;)

And here's the finished thing. I'm still waiting for some black ostrich feathers to arrive, I might add them.
I feel like it needs more feathers but I didn't have more black ones at the moment!

For my hat I used sequin trim, trim with hanging beads, rhinestones in black, pink and purple, two lace applications and three bunches of feathers taken from and old hat the cats had feasted on. I might have to take the hair clips out and re-glue them, since the placing is a bit awkward, but otherwise I'm very happy with the hat! The pictures are not the greatest, having been taken at nine in the evening without touching up my makeup other than adding lipstick, but maybe I'll get better pictures later on!


  1. Such an amazing idea, I would never have thought to make my own fascinator.
    I love the shape of it around your eye too and lace is very pretty!

  2. Wow this is so cool! Thanks for an amazing and inspiring blog.


  3. Fantastic creation Karoliina, such a unique design. Looks fab :)

  4. LOOOOOOVE THIS!!! I'm pretty crafty but I'd never think of making one of these myself. You're brilliant :D

  5. wow that's so beautiful! never seen something like that before very mysterious burlesque feel!

  6. That's fantastic! I haven't been into fascinators but that one certainly has something, even I could wear it. (Okay, gives me ideas for a piratey one.) Very beautiful indeed. :>

  7. Thank you all so much, such lovely comments! I hope to inspire and please post links of your creations, I'd love to see them :)

  8. Neat idea! I like that it comes down over your eye, I've never seen one like that before!

  9. Nice! so going to make that for a my next masque i have. I'd love to do it with big roses red and black with some shimmer sprayed on the roses.

  10. This was great. I'm actually doing a burlesque performance and was looking for something interesting that would help disguise my, um, thinning hair. This will do the trick nicely. AND it's beautiful and I can make it with stuff in my stash, so cheap.


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