Two years ago, we wrote an article about going to locally owned Dee’s Crafts to make your own hat for Derby. This article has been so popular, especially during Derby season, that we decided to make our own fascinator this year. We called our partners at WLKY and asked for someone who already had her dress and wanted to make a custom fascinator. That brave, prepared woman was Christina Mora, weekend anchor at WLKY. Keep in mind that it was the middle of March, and she already had her dress. That is a level of preparedness to aspire to, ladies.
Christina knew that she wanted a fascinator, not a hat, for a few reasons. She finds it’s easier to read the news without the brim in her way. She also has bangs, and likes them to show. But what you probably don’t know is that she is tiny, we mean minute, and a hat would completely overwhelm her small stature.
We called ahead to get assistance from Dee’s owner, Kathy Olliges. Kathy’s family started Dee’s, and she has been involved in the business for 46 years, and has been making hats for 30 years. Kathy gave us invaluable advice, and this from a woman who has seen just about everything during Derby season.
After careful study of Christina’s dress, and a walk-through of the pre-prepared fascinator section of the store, we were ready to get down to business.
Here are the basic elements of a fascinator:
Use one or all of these elements — it’s up to your personal taste.
There are three sizes of discs, which act as the base for your fascinator. They come in small, medium and large, and in just about every color.
Headband or hair clip
Fascinators are attached to headbands or hair clips, whichever you prefer. If you don’t think you can handle a headband all day, and believe me some of them feel tight on your head if you are not used to it, then opt for a hair clip.
Feathers come in all shapes, sizes and patterns; also, you can customize the look of feathers by cutting them and cutting designs along their borders.
Silk flowers are an option. You can also substitute real flowers if you just need a temporary look.
Ribbon can be used in a fascinator to add a pop of color either on the disc or along the outer edges. Wired ribbon is always recommended, as it is easier to work with.
Netting comes in a variety of patterns and thicknesses; it can be very dense or very sparse. It can be used to hang down off the fascinator, over your head or used as part of the decoration on top of the base.
Otherwise known as “crin” for short, this is like the stiff petticoats of olden days. It is used to decorate the base of the fascinator.
We spent a lot of time in the pre-prepared hat section to narrow down what color Christina wanted. Kathy recommends not to be too “matchy” with your color selection. It is better to do a neutral or a complementary color. Christina’s dress is bright pink lace over a nude underlay. We looked at navy blue and neutral light beige for hats, not pink, for this very reason.
Christina picked the neutral fascinator disc and then Kathy set out to show her all of her options for adding texture and pops of color on that neutral background with the other elements.
Christina picked out beige and black feathers with beige netting on the large disc. Then Kathy showed us a creative trick, a great use of space, which is putting a flower or other element on the underside of the disc and letting that show, as well. I can say with confidence that neither Christina nor I would have ever thought of that idea, and it made the fascinator.
Once you have all the parts picked out for your fascinator, you have reached a crossroads in the craft world. You can make the hat yourself, with your own glue gun and other means of affixing said items. Or, you can pay Dee’s to do it for an upcharge. Christina opted for Dee’s to finish her hat, which they did in about five minutes.
Here is where customer service comes into play. There are several staff members at Dee’s who can take you all the way on this journey of designing your hat. They know what looks good, what will work and what fits your style. Whether you finish the hat off or ask them to do it for you is the final step. They help you every step of the way if you need it. (There were brave women in there doing the entire thing by themselves. It was obvious that they were professionals.)
Costs range from $139 to $239 to make a fascinator with all the elements. Kathy says the average cost is $169. Just purchasing the blank fascinator will run you $29.95, and that’s with no materials. Dee’s doesn’t take appointments; just walk in for expert help with your chapeau.
Advice when making your own fascinator (from Kathy Olliges):
- Bring your dress or have an idea of what you want your dress to be. It is easier to get the dress first, then find a hat to complement it. There are special hangers that hang down from the ceiling for your dress, so that it can hang next to you while you make your hat or fascinator.
- Walk through the area they refer to as the “inspiration section,” which is actually where all the premade hats and fascinators are located.
- Your fascinator needs to be comfortable. You need to be able to hug people and carry on a conversation without it falling off or getting in the way.
- If you have a side that you prefer, tailor your fascinator toward showing that side off, and have the fascinator on the opposite side (your bad side).
- Nothing is permanent. Everything can be fixed or taken off if you have made a mistake or change your mind.
- Do not come with an entourage. That means no husbands, mothers, friends or sisters, who generally steer you away from what you really want most of the time. Come alone, and get what you want.
- Do not wait until the last minute.
- Leave relaxed and with a piece that you love.
It was March when we did this article, and Christina Mora already had her Derby look completely done. I, on the other hand, will be finding a dress the day before and be the hurried, stressed one trying on fascinators at Dee’s at the last minute. Blanket apology to all the staff at Dee’s when that day comes!
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