Tala [userpic]

Positively Fascinating

February 25th, 2007 (05:50 pm)

Feeling:: accomplished
Listening to:: the Postal Service - Brand New Colony

For a super secret (!!!) reason I will not yet divulge to you, fascinators have been on my mind a lot lately. It was over a year ago when a kind Australian Craftster sent me a fascinator as a gift so I could figure out how to make my own. Not only did I figure out how to put them together, I swore to try and single-handedly bring them back into fashion. I seem to be making some strides towards that goal, and in the interests of pushing it even further, I'm going to give you all a nice little fascinator tutorial. One can hardly expect to bear the burden of resurrecting an entire fashion statement on one's own, after all.

I suppose the first step is to actually tell you what a fascinator is. It's a hairpiece, smaller than a hat, larger than a barette, and usually all sorts of fluffy and shiny and otherwise fascinating. Here's one of mine, by way of example:

Blue Moon
Blue Moon

I tend to pull my hair up into a quick bun at the base of my skull and then stick the comb into the base of said bun to wear the things, and have been known to make a fascinator in the morning to match an outfit for the night's festivities (which does not imply that they are quick to make so much as it implies that I can get a bit overexcited when it comes to wearing a fascinator). But enough about wearing! How about making?

First, you'll need supplies.

Zee Supplies!
Zee Supplies!

It all begins with what's referred to (for some reason I cannot fathom) as a side comb. Plastic seems to work best for fascinators because it gets along well with the glue and it's lightweight, though I do use the metal ones for beaded hair pieces. Lightweight is important because you're going to add a lot of weight- if it's too heavy, hair won't hold it. Next you'll need ribbon, then silk flowers (I like to have both a centerpiece or two and accent flowers), feathers of many different sorts (ostrich plumes, peacock eyes and swords, hackles of various colors, the big stiff curly ones whose names I can't remember), netting/lace, a needle and thread to gather the netting/lace, scissors and glue (I highly recommend E-6000). You also might want some variety of clip or clothes pin to hold things while the glue dries.

We're going to be gluing a lot here.

Step one is to wrap the plastic comb in ribbon. This makes the base both prettier and bigger- and big is good, because we're going to be trying to mount some pretty hefty things onto this little bit of plastic. Glue one end of the ribbon onto the back of the comb and then wrap it between the teeth from one end to the other, covering the end you glued on to start with.

Ribbon wrapping: it LOOKS easy, it IS easy.
Ribbon wrapping: it LOOKS easy, it IS easy.

When you get to the end, cut the ribbon with maybe an inch to spare, fold the spare over to hide the raw edge and glue it to the comb. This is where some sort of clothes pin really comes in handy -unless you want to hold it for a half an hour only to determine that you've glued the ribbon to your finger, not the comb. I speak from experience. It's a law of fascinator crafting: given a choice between its intended place and flesh, a given object will always secure itself to flesh.

Hair clips can stand in for clothes pins in a pinch.
Hair clips can stand in for clothes pins in a pinch.

While this dries, play designer. Gather the various bits for the comb and try out some layouts. You don't have to worry too much about what goes where until you're actually gluing it to the comb, but it helps to have an idea. If I don't try to figure out a gameplan before the heavy gluing begins, I tend to end up with an unbalanced, visually jarring piece of crap rather than a fascinator.

Dry run to determine a basic layout.
Dry run to determine a basic layout.

(Note: I do not think baby blue goes well with bright orange and black. For the purposes of this tutorial I put together two fascinators at once, so I could switch between them while waiting for glue to dry. I thought this would make things faster and more efficient. For reasons I have yet to determine, it made it take six hours. No, really, if you look at the pictures you can see how much the lighting changes as time passes.)

This is where it gets all sorts of fun and sticky. Pick up your glue, your design elements, and glue 'em on.

Then you just stick things on.
Then you just stick things on.

It is both that simple and that complicated. Here are some tips I've picked up over the past year:

-While logic would dictate you should glue elements on from back to front, I find it easier to glue on the back layers (feathers, netting), the main element/front layer, and then stick all the little middle bits in last. This is largely because the biggest flower is going to be the most difficult to secure to that tiny, narrow comb base, so you'll want to do it with as little stuff as possible piled between it and the comb. Also, if you get the main piece on and are disappointed, it's suprising what playing with accent flowers and feathers can do to a piece.

-Do not fear the glue. Do not get high off the glue (this is a serious hazard with E-6000), but do not fear it. Pile it on. Mound it on. It dries clear. Do not fear getting it on the teeth of the comb- you can peel it off once it's dry. I've tried wiring pieces together, tried sewing and tying them together, but nothing holds like E-6000. If you mound the glue on, your flowers and feathers will break themselves before they'll lose their hold on the comb. I tested this, to the ruin of my favorite fascinator (which I will one day glue back together, and thus resurrect stronger and faster and better).

Be careful not to get stoned off the glue fumes.  Bad for you.
Be careful not to get stoned off the glue fumes. Bad for you.

-If you're using heavy design elements, you'll want to keep it balanced not only for visual reasons but so it can be worn comfortably. My best friend makes fascinators a bit less overblown than my own (what can I say, I like things theatrically shiny), and she has a lot more room to play with balance and visual effect than I do.

-Gather the netting with the needle and thread before you glue it on. There's all sorts of ways to do this. Fold it in half and gather it along the cut edges for a poofy look, do the same but gather along the fold for a layered look, gather it like a bow, gather it along one edge for a very long ruff. Big gathers, little gathers. Use tulle, use lace. Tatter the edges for effect. I have no picture for this step because I couldn't find my sewing needle book and thus improvised with a bit of twisted jewelry wire. Not pretty.

-On the subject of netting, this is another good place to use your clips/clothes pins/what have you. Netting must be smushed into the glue and then held there until it dries. Notice the clip on the teal-and-white number in the above picture.

-Ribbon can be a fun design element to play with too. The feathers for one of the today's pieces are actually nothing more than a pile of feathery ribbon trim. I glued the trim together in a zig-zag to get something fluffy and tall enough to actually show up behind the centerpiece flower.

You may have to improvise a bit to get things to fit.  Remember: glue is your friend.
You may have to improvise a bit to get things to fit. Remember: glue is your friend.

That's all there is to it!

And presto!  Fascinators.
And presto! Fascinators.

Keep in mind that you can always come back with more glue and more glue-a-ble bits if you wake up the next morning and hate your fascinator. The first example I posted, Blue Moon, took months of tweaking before I liked it enough to admit it was my own.

I think I shall name the black and orange one "All Hallows". I may also come back and tatter the netting and feathers a bit, to give it the "Hi, I'm a ghost!" ambiance. The teal and white one is a belated birthday gift for my mother, so I leave it up to her if she wants it to have a name or not (though I tend to think that the certain caberet sparkle of my fascinators demands individual names). I suppose, until I think of something better, I'll call it "George".

Look, more fascinators!

Snow White and Rose Red
Snow White and Rose Red

The Peahen's Envy
The Peahen's Envy


Bringing Fascinators Back
Bringing Fascinators Back

This last one is also shamefully nameless. Any suggestions?

Also, anyone know how to get a good picture of the back of your head so I can show how very shiny these things are when worn by a human and not a table/lapdesk? I think I need an assistant photographer.


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 26th, 2007 03:57 pm (UTC)

I had another online friend refer me over to your blog. My british friend would love these things you are making. Totally her style when she goes to horse races.

They are all very pretty!

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: February 26th, 2007 05:07 pm (UTC)

I do sell them at my little store (http://corvuscorax.etsy.com), if your british friend or you want some and don't feel like making them. :) Otherwise, thank you.

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: February 26th, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)

Also: people are getting referred to me! SQUEE!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: October 2nd, 2009 06:21 am (UTC)

You should call the last one blossom, thats what came to mind. They're lovely

Posted by: Ine (villrot)
Posted at: February 26th, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC)

Fascinators are awesome! I have both bought and made some after you showed me yours. You are well on your way towards bringing them back. XD

I also request some pics of them being worn. :)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: March 1st, 2007 02:33 am (UTC)

I don't mind you adding me to your blog roll at all. I think you are the first person to add me. *blushes* Such an honor. I should get one of those things started. I just have everyone I visit on bookmarks.


Posted by: xochismallbear (xochismallbear)
Posted at: March 4th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC)
craft table

Could this work with a smaller comb you think? With just feathers?

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: March 4th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)

If you can glue it, it'll work. A friend of mine makes pieces that are less overblown than my own and they're lovely. I just have a yen for the extravagantly shiny.

Posted by: xochismallbear (xochismallbear)
Posted at: March 4th, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC)

That cn big good ^_^ may I add you as a friend?

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: March 4th, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC)

The more the merrier! I kind of hope to get a regular audience going, so (lacking a single local crafty friend- woe) I can have people to bounce ideas off of/share all the fun of creating with.

Posted by: banchomarba1 (banchomarba1)
Posted at: March 12th, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC)

I found you via Craftzine today. I LOVE the fascinators and was just thinking this past Saturday "I really need one of those posh things Aunt Skippy used to wear in her hair when she was going out!"

So fortuitous!

I like your other stuff too. Like you, I am in Craftster limbo in my neighborhood, so I friended you. I look forward to seeing more groovy stuff.

: )

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: March 12th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)

Let me know if you make a few- I'll link to them. :) Otherwise, they do periodically show up in my etsy store.

Posted by: Super-Di (_diane)
Posted at: March 20th, 2007 03:31 am (UTC)

Hi! I saw this link on the Craftzine blog and was immediately enthralled. I am an amateur ballroom dancer, and I could totally see these being very posh for costumes and such. Unfortunately, because of finals, I couldn't do anything about it until this weekend. Then I went crazy and made five of them, staying up way late last night and denying my boyfriend his cuddling privileges.

Mine aren't nearly as neat as yours - they're all mono- or duochrome. Where do you get all of your supplies? My local Michael's and Joann's didn't have nearly the variety of feathers that you have there.

I will try to take some photos tonight - if I do, I'll comment here with a link.

PS, I friended you. :)

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: March 20th, 2007 04:00 am (UTC)

I never mind more friends.

I get my feathers from a collection of stores, including Michaels, JoAnns and Hobby Lobby. They don't tend to stock them very often and are frequently out, so I'd advise checking back later. There's also a lot of online feather retailers.

And, of course, I sell most of the fascinators I make on my etsy store. :)

Posted by: Super-Di (_diane)
Posted at: March 20th, 2007 04:36 am (UTC)

Ah, so I guess the solution to my supply-finding problem is to look for more places to find supplies. Gotcha.

Anyhoot, I just took some photos of the fascinators I made:

More in my crafts gallery

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: March 20th, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Pictures!

Oh wow, those are gorgeous. Mind if I ask how you get such good back-of-the-head shots?

Posted by: Super-Di (_diane)
Posted at: March 20th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Pictures!

I have a roommate. :D

In your case, though, I would find a bookshelf or table or something to set your camera on, set the timer, and try to stand/kneel/sit where your camera is aimed. It might take a few tries, but it works.

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: March 20th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Pictures!

I've managed to get a successful shot that way in my old apartment, but the areas with good lighting in this apartment are limited. Still, I suppose I can get creative with it.

Yay, roomates. :) Mine are just rarely available.

Posted by: Gaia (gaia_vedai)
Posted at: April 3rd, 2007 03:33 pm (UTC)

Loved the Creamsicle one...

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: April 3rd, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)

Thanks! That was one of my favorites too.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: June 18th, 2007 11:20 am (UTC)

These are absolutely brilliant - thanks for this tutorial, I can't wait to get started. Have you done any with the sort of hessian circle bases that you get? Or other hessian type bases?

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: June 18th, 2007 11:22 am (UTC)

These are absolutely brilliant - thanks for this tutorial, I can't wait to get started. Have you done any with the sort of hessian circle bases that you get? Or other hessian type bases?


Posted by: lydia (lalalydia)
Posted at: June 29th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)

Thank goodness for you, missy! I really wanted to do a birdcage veil with some sort of fascinator thing for my upcoming wedding and DO NOT want to spend the money that some of these couture places (I am looking at you, leahc.com!) want for their pieces. Thank you thank you for this tutorial. I am not normally super crafty, but this is definitely worth attempting!

By the way, as someone who lost their kitty to old age in January, I am so sorry for the loss of your cat! I had to make a similar decision (mine had had, over the course of about 3 yrs, hyperthyroid, internal mast cell tumor, THEN kidney failure ARGH!) and it was AWFUL! My thoughts are with you. :)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: September 17th, 2007 06:13 am (UTC)

Those are just incredibly gorgeous! I would sure love to wear them with my knitwear!

Thanks for the inspiration!


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: November 6th, 2007 02:17 am (UTC)

thanks so much for your wonderful tutorial. i've been looking everywhere!

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: November 11th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)

Glad to be of service!

Posted by: misbehaveinca (misbehaveinca)
Posted at: February 9th, 2008 08:18 am (UTC)
Huzzah to bringing them back!

Stumbled upon your website while looking for pix for fascinators--didn't even know that was a word! These are awesome! I totally am a throw up in bun and run gal. I saw some simplified ones in London but couldn't justify paying $60 for a freakin' hairband so am attempting to make some for friend's birthday. Thanks for your posts--they are really helpful.

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: February 10th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC)
Re: Huzzah to bringing them back!

Glad to be of service!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 19th, 2008 10:06 am (UTC)

Thank you so much for publishing these very useful instructions! I left my wedding veil fascinator project for the last minute and your construction and design tips were a godsend. Your designs are beautiful and your instructions are hilarious and simple to follow. I wish you were in Portland Oregon so I could buy you a drink!

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: February 19th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks!

Glad to help! And hey, if I'm ever in Portland I'll let you know. :)

Posted by: khyuu (khyuu)
Posted at: May 28th, 2008 04:03 am (UTC)
About the materials...

I'm just wondering where did you get the flowers? ^^; I know it's a silly question, but I'm not exact sure where I can get them from. Do you buy the kinds which come with stems? Detachable stems?

Posted by: Bethany-rose (befffffoooo)
Posted at: August 19th, 2008 10:37 am (UTC)

wow! those are amazing!

i came across this on craftster(someone reccomended the tut) and knew i wanted one.

i had ribbon and some fake flowers from a sombrero(i am in a lot of plays...) and got some combs when i went shopping with my friend.

Later on when watching lord of the rings i made a nice simple one which i am wearing today.it is simpler than i would have liked(dark green ribbon with a big leaf and 4 little purple flowers) but tha means i can wear it with anything!(i am wearing it with jeans and a checked shirt to go shopping again!)but i wear mine at the side of my head with curls

i am thinking of making another,fairly simple, blue black and white one for school(the only specification is that hair things must be black white or blue.this is ever since i wore a tiara to school...)

ill post some pics!

Posted by: Bethany-rose (befffffoooo)
Posted at: August 19th, 2008 11:13 am (UTC)

ok, so here are the pics i promised!


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: September 15th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)

Instead of flowers, try buttons or brooches.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: October 7th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)

You could name it Summer Sunset

Posted by: She who is Polly (0remedymalahide)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)

thanks so much for this tutorial - I'm going to grab my sewing kit and glue RIGHT NOW :)

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)

I'd love to see the results!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 19th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
Fascinators and Thanks

These are really kewl. Now that I have hair again I should make one. Thanks for the kind comment on the Jayne Hat. It was fun to make and the comments it get, LOL Regards, Leslie aka FiberPirateKniter..

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 6th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC)
how to get a pic of the back of your head

if you want to get a picture of the back of your head while wearing a fascinator the best way i can think of is to take a picture in a mirror that should work!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 25th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
"bringing Facinators Back"

..."Tickled Pink" ? or "Pretty In Pink" ?

THANK YOUUUUU!!!! Yhey're lovely, & I'm so excited to start my own. You're a God Send!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: September 28th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)

These are great, thanks so much for the tutorial! I'm hoping to make one to wear at my wedding.

Also, to photograph the back of your head -
I've had the same problem when I want to take pictures from the back of things I knit. Do you have a digital camera, or a camera on your computer? Most of them have a timer option; I just set it for about 10 seconds, and put the camera on a bookshelf, then just stand in front of it :)
But when I got sick of doing that, I just bought a mannequin head off of Ebay for about $25. They have lots of mannequin heads with hair (real or fake is available, I think) for sale, you could put the hair in a bun and then use it for your photos.


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: October 14th, 2009 09:02 am (UTC)
french net veil

soooooo good!!!! i am about to do my own DIY fascinator for my wedding... this tutorial is great! but the only problem now is where to find the french net veil..... hmm do you have any suggestions ? webshop would be great though I am Swedish! ;) thank you so much!!! Kindly//Elise

Posted by: Tala (corvustristis)
Posted at: October 15th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
Re: french net veil

Etsy.com may well have a good source which will ship to your location. To get supplies, and not finished products, make sure to change the menu next to the search bar from "Handmade" to "Supplies" (also, on the left, there's an option to limit the search to sellers which ship to your country). Ebay is another possible source.

In this tutorial, I didn't actually use French Net fabric; I used tulle, which is available from most fabric stores both online and in person (I believe both denverfabrics.com and fabric.com ship internationally, though it may not be cheap). I've also used different kinds of lace before.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 7th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Beautiful! Thank you!

I'm going to several weddings this year and admittedly my in-laws especially view me as a bit of a snob, so obviously it's impecable that I live upto the steriotype! Anyway, I was looking at various facinators online and to say that they're overpriced in UK is to say that there's a few calories in a 3 tier chocolate cake! I'll definately be trying out your tutorial...and who knows, they could make a regular appearence in my daily wardrobe ;o)

Posted by: beadydani (beadydani)
Posted at: March 16th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)

This is fab, like the previous writer. I am going to a few weddings this year too. You have inspired me, here is hopefully it is not taken off my head!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 30th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)

Thank you so very much for sharing this. I have recently cut my hair to a very short style and would love to make a few of these to add some sass to my hair. I will be helping you in trying to bring the fascinator back. Much appreciated!


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: August 16th, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)

Hi there!

Thanks to google, I came across this. Love your work, I recently became aware of the amazing-ness of hair fascinators this year, and have attempted one. Your tutorial was very helpful...the ribbon will be a god send!

Im including a pic of mine below, I used an Etsy stores photo as inspiration to try my hand at it, Thank you so much for posting these tips!

Vanessa, sapphire714 on etsy and fellow artist/crafter =)

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