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How to Make or Decorate Hats and Fascinators

Updated on June 16, 2015

Queen Elizabeth II Wears Them Well

Why Wear Hats? Why Make Hats?

Hats may be worn for protection from the elements, as part of a uniform, for observance of a religion, or for decoration of the head. This lens will be primarily concerned with hats of the decorative sort. Hats go in and out of fashion, but there are always those who choose to express themselves through a fashion hat.

Casual beach hats, wedding hats, church hats, and Kentucky Derby hats are just a few of the varieties of headwear you may have seen. There are ethnic variations such as the Turkish fez, the French beret, and the African head wraps worn with matching dresses. I will present the best resources I've found for anyone who wants to express their creativity through the art of millinery.

Now that hats are no longer required of all proper ladies on social occasions, a hat is more of a bold fashion statement. Wear a hat in this century (other than a ball cap or knit cap) and you are asking people to notice you. Make sure your hat is worth looking at by using the best materials and learning proper techniques.


Nobody sports a hat like Queen Elizabeth II. Picture from Wikimedia Commons via NASA

My Main Resources for Hatmaking Ideas and Techniques

The Hat Book: Creating Hats for Every Occasion
The Hat Book: Creating Hats for Every Occasion

Sewn hats, knitted hats, feathered fascinators, and more with clear and complete instructions


Decorate a Plain Hat

Craft stores such as Michael's and Hobby Lobby have plain straw hats that are just begging to be embellished. Ribbons, feathers, and hot glue are all you need for a quick, casual hat. Tacky glue is an alternative to hot glue if you prefer not to use heat with your particular decorations. Look for straw or milliner's needles (long, sharp needles with large eyes) if you want to sew on your ribbon, feathers, or silk flowers instead of gluing them. Sewing is recommended if you want to be able to remove a decoration and rework your hat for another outfit in the future.

For more dressy hats, a millinery supply shop like Judith M is your source for hats in a variety of colors and materials. Horsehair braid hats come in many colors and can be decorated as you please with tulle, beads, silk flowers and more. Straw, silk, and wool felt are other basic hat materials available from millinery suppliers.

Bead work and other jewelry techniques can be used to create ornaments for hats. A beaded hat pin or coiled wire ornament may be just what your hat needs.

For Really Serious Hatmakers

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking
From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking

This is another great book, although it is more technical and assumes access to some sophisticated hatmaking equipment.


Hate Hats? Try a Fascinator Instead

A fascinator is a headpiece that needs to be pinned to the hair or attached with a comb or barette. Those who don't want the full coverage of a hat might still enjoy having a fascinator to go with a very special dress. Fascinators can be elegant, whimsical, or even ridiculous--whatever suits the occasion!

Let your imagination run wild. Try different combinations of leftover dress fabric, beads, pearls, fethers, sequins, or flowers. When you have an arrangement you like, glue or sew the pieces together. Then attach the fascinator to a barette or comb or pin in place with bobby pins or hairpin.

Make Your Own Fascinator

Please Share Your Comments about Hats Here

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    • Babbyii profile image

      Barb Johnson 2 years ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      Hats are so much fun and sometimes it's that one thing that's missing from that look you want. Thanks for the ideas Kimberly!

    • profile image

      getupandgrow 3 years ago

      Super lens! I decorated my own bridal hat, so I *might* be a bit biased about this, but it's great to let people know that they can save a ton of money (and end up with *exactly* what they they want) by decorating their own hats.

      Note to anyone considering hat decoration: Outside of the digi-art sphere, I'm a bit "craft-challenged"...If I can decorate a hat, anyone can.