Hey LadyNerds! How is your progress towards becoming living, breathing Downton Abbey LadyNerds coming? Is your ratafia steeping? Have you painted yourself a teacup? Have you tried your hand at some boozy marmalade? Great! You’re well on your way to being able to host a kickass Downton Abbey viewing party for the final two episodes!

But wait! You’re not quite ready yet! Because what kind of LadyNerd swans about without some sort of hat or hair fascinator on her head? No kind of LadyNerd, I assure you! But in case you don’t want to drop 14 bucks at Forever 21 buying something that will fall apart in a week and was made by starving, indigent child workers, we’re going to show you how to make a fascinator in the comfort of your VERY OWN HOME! You can even use your own children as child labor, if you want; that’s totally legal! (That’s totally legal, right?)

Now, before you freak out and think, “but Erin! I have NO CRAFTING ABILITY WHATSOEVER! I can’t do this!” please remember that you are speaking to the QUEEN of No Crafting Ability. If No Crafting Ability were a country, not only would I be your wise and kind ruler, but I’d probably put our country into irreversible debt by attempting to buy out half the products in the local craft store and then turning them into a giant glob of weirdly-sparkled foam, or whatever. Things go wrong when I touch them, is what I’m trying to say!

So we’re going to figure out how to do this together! Let’s all grab a drink (I guess that drink will have to be a Bloody Mary or a mimosa or a michelada or a bellini, so that we can meet the correct requirements for Day Drinking) and learn how to make fascinators together!

Supplies you need to make a fascinator, including fabric and scissors
I didn’t use all of this!

Supplies:

•  Fabric
•  Cardboard (I used shirt boxes left over from Christmas)
•  Tulle
•  Feathers
•  A Button, Brooch, Cameo or other kind of focal point
•  Ribbon (if desired)
•  A hair comb or alligator clip
•  A hot glue gun, unless you actually have skills, in which case, a needle and thread

PRO TIP! Don’t spend a lot of money on buying fabric by the yard! You don’t need that much and that’s expensive! Fabric stores usually have this basket called Remnants where you can buy, well, remnants of fabric that are left over from yardage that other people have bought. I scored two totally sweet fabrics: a grey wool and a pink and white houndstooth.

Grey wool and pink and white houndstooth fabric remnants
And I got ’em for cheap, too!

Okay! Let’s do this! Your first step is to create a circle out of cardboard. To do this, trace a small circular plate or a bowl on some cardboard. You may need to do some adjustments on the size here – it kind of depends on how gigantic your head is.

A plate upside down on a piece of thin cardboard
The tracing process

Then! Cut out your circle! After you’ve got a circle of cardboard, cut a small pie piece shape in the cardboard. You want to make the pie piece cutout fairly narrow.

Two cardboard circles with a pie slice cut out of each
The bigger the pie piece, the more conular your cardboard ends up being.

Using your hot glue gun, glue the cardboard circle together, so that you get a small cardboard mound.

Two cardboard circles with the missing pie piece closed over and glued
These fascinators are meant to be worn towards the back of the head. If you want something to wear near the front of your head, you need to just cut out an oblong piece of cardboard.

You might want to do a head check and make sure that your cardboard fits your head correctly. I typically pin my fascinators in on one of the sides of my head, sort of towards the back. (If I were in school, I’d say I pin it right at the crest of the parietal bone, but I don’t know how to say that in non-geek speak.)

Oh, never mind! Here’s a photo of the skull with an asterisk where I wear my fascinators!

A diagram of a skull, with a marker at the parietal bone which is near the top back of the skull
Science makes everything better.

But maybe you’d rather wear your photos closer to the crown of your head! It’s up to you! But measure your cardboard base against wherever that is!

Okay! Time to make this cardboard look pretty! Cut out a (larger) circle of fabric and then carefully hot glue the fabric to the cardboard by glueing the edge of the fabric onto the underside of the cardboard. There’s probably a better way to do this, but fuck if I know what it is.

Fabric pulled over the cardboard circle and tucked/glued underneath
Just make sure you pull the fabric taut.

Next, you can choose to put some type of ribbon or cording around the edge of the fascinator, if you’d like to. I put some white cording around the edge of my grey wool fascinator, because otherwise it looked too boring. I used hot glue to do this, too, because I use hot glue to do EVERYTHING.

Next! Prepare your tulle! I just measured how much I wanted by holding the tulle over my face at an angle and then cutting it accordingly. But that was only after my daughter and I ran around our apartment with tulle over our faces, screaming, “I’M THE WIDOW BRIDE!” We have issues.

Once the tulle is cut, you have to gather one end together to attach to your fascinator. Now, if you are a reasonable Lady, you will use a needle and thread to put a few stitches in the end of one side of the tulle. If you are a Nerd, like me, you’ll realize you don’t own a needle and thread (told you I wasn’t crafty) and so you’ll just gather one side of the tulle up and put a rubber band on it to keep it together. Stay classy, me!

White tulle bunched up and tied with a rubber band
Yeah . . . there’s probably something fancier I could have done here.

Hot glue (or sew) your gathered tulle end to your fabric-covered cardboard!

Next! It’s time for feathers! Feathers are a necessary component of any fascinator, otherwise you won’t look like a stuck up rooster. And if you don’t look like a stuck up rooster, WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT? I just sort of put my feathers into the rubber band. Again, there’s probably a better way to do this. I dunno. Can you tell I made all this shit up on the fly?

Now it’s time to hide all that mess you made by covering it with a kickass button or brooch! I hot glued (duh) mine, but if you are adept, I presume you could sew on the button in whatever way it is that people sew on buttons. (I just replace my shirts when they lose buttons. Sewing buttons is for people who invest more than three dollars in the shirts they wear.)

A silver brooch of a woman in profile over a bunch of black tulle
You can barely even see that bright green rubber band!

Once your fascinator’s all finished, you need to attach something underneath it that will allow you to keep it clipped into your hair. Lots of fascinators have little hair combs sewn in on the underside, but A) we’ve already established that I don’t sew and B) those combs never stay in my (super thin) hair. So I hot glued (obvs) an alligator clip to the underside of my fascinator. Alligator clips are those clips that your hairstylist uses to keep your hair pinned up. You can buy lots of little ones at a craft store or a beauty supply store.

A black alligator clip glued to the underside of the cardboard circle
The clip should be glued in so that the part that opens points inward, obvs.

Et, voila! Your finished fascinator!

A pink and white houndstooth fascinator with white tulle and black ribbon
A pink one.
A dark gray fascinator with a silver broach and black tulle and feathers
The grey one.

See, that was easy, right? Okay, so you probably can’t wear it to a Royal Wedding but you could certainly wear it on Sunday nights while watching PBS! And all the tulle and feathers will transfix your cat!

So you should hie yourself to the craft store and make your own fascinator! You are pretty much scientifically guaranteed to do better than I did, so just think of it as one of several ways to best a person you’ve never met! Have fun!

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Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink.