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How to Make Your Own Fascinator

December 14, 2011
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The holiday season is officially here and with it come the parties. Being even more financially strapped this year, a new party dress isn’t in the cards for me, so I’ve been focusing my strategies on accessories to make my (totally expansive) collection of dresses feel new again.  I figured a couple of statement-making pieces would get me through the season, and lately my attention has been completely drawn to fascinators. The craze this year was brought on by the royal wedding, and perfectly ties in to the old Hollywood glamour that I love to emulate. But I was having trouble finding one that felt right for me. Many went way over the top, or came as a headband or full-on hat. I wanted something simple, small, and tasteful. And it definitely had to have a veil – not a full birdcage, but something that ended right below the eyes to really push a femme fatale vibe.

But besides being stuck on the styles that were on offer, they tended to be way out of my price range costing anywhere between $30 and over $100. I might as well buy a new dress! But it hit me the other day that if all I want is something akin to a hairclip, that this could be done myself, and for cheap to boot. So I scoured my favorite sewing store in the city, PS Fabrics at 359 Broadway, and $5 (yes, five dollars) and an hour and a half later I had my very own fascinator:

Simple enough that it wouldn’t take that much guts to wear it, yet it would add so much more style to your everyday party dress. Here’s what you need:

1 piece of black felt ($.30)

What amounts to I’m estimating an 1/8 of a yard of black tulle with wide netting (a yard for $1.30)

1 hair clip (pack of 12 or $2)

A small piece of thin cardboard (I raided my recycling and used the box of a twelve pack of soda)

Embellishments (I chose black sequins – $.75 – but rhinestones or feathers would also be good)

Needle, thread, and pins (I assumed I had black thread, so I used silver, which wasn’t awful, but the whole thing would’ve been better with black)

Fabric scissors

A guide for your shapes: I used a can of cat food for the base of my fascinator, since I wanted the focus to be more on the netting than the piece itself. It was a good size for a hair clip, too. (Note: Using a can of cat food will make your cat go crazy, thinking it’s dinnertime even though he ate an hour ago, and then he’ll spend the whole time sniffing around, chasing your thread, and chewing on your tulle. But the can is still a good size.)

I actually never used the measuring tape that’s shown, but it could come in handy.

And here’s what you need to do:

  • First, cut out your shapes. Trace the can (or whatever your guide is) on the cardboard and cut it out. Then trace about a half inch larger around the can on the felt while folded in half, so you end up with two felt circles. (Note: My original idea was to just make one felt piece slightly larger and turn it down over to hide the cardboard and stitching, but that didn’t work out as planned. As I was finishing, I realized it would’ve been better to just conceal the cardboard between two slightly larger felt circles. So, the photos don’t show this.)

  • Next, make two small slits in one of the felt pieces the same width as the hair clip. Fit the clip through and close it, so it’s snapped over the felt. Pin this into place over the cardboard (it will be hard to get the pins through the felt and cardboard, and you will stab yourself) and then sew around the outer edge. This is the inside of your fascinator.

  • Now it’s time to figure out your embellishments. Play around with your design on the other piece of felt (I chose a starburst pattern) and once you’re decided on it, sew it in place. (Note: Sewing sequins is tedious.)

  • Next is the trickiest part: dealing with the tulle. It’s also tricky to take pictures of tulle, so hopefully this step will be described clearly. Cut a piece of tulle that’s a bit larger than you’ll end up needing. I did this by basically wrapping it around my face and cutting an inch or two larger than the width and height of that piece. Now, cut off the top two corners. Cut a long piece of thread, and loosely sew along the top half, starting from the bottom of the cutoff corner. Be sure to leave a tail of thread at the starting point that’s at least an inch long. Do not tie off at either end. Once this is done, pull the two ends of the thread to scrunch up the top half, creating a rounded piece of tulle that will frame your face. Tie each end off tightly, so the tulle won’t fall flat while you’re working with it. Pin in place around the front side of your base, and sew around the edge, making sure not to get the tulle caught in the needle as you go.

Sierra Mist did not sponsor this post.

  • Now take your other piece of embellished felt, pin it in place, and sew around the edge. Test out your fascinator, and trim the tulle to the desired size and shape. And just like that, your fascinator is complete!

Be sure to keep your eye makeup strong so they shine through the veil, and a red lip is a natural way to complete the look.

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