This is a quick and easy way to make a lot of fancy hats for Easter Bonnets, School projects or Theatrical presentations such as Music Man, Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady, Titanic or Mary Poppins. I made 10 hats over night for a high school play. They may not be as fancy as I originally intended, but they were finished in time for the Pick A Little Ladies to rehearse.
Step 1: Materials Needed
This project used bridal hat forms from Beauty and the Beast, retail $10 each. Any hat form or straw hat can be used.
Acrylic craft paint. Anita brand is normally less than $1 at any craft store.
1 inch soft brush for large areas, 1/4 inch stiffer brush for details.
Tulle ribbon by the spool, retail less than $5 per color. Often found on sale for 1/2 off.
1/4 inch elastic.
Purchased trim to match costumes.
Hot Glue gun.
Step 2: Paint
Paint the underside of the brims first with larger brush. Use the smaller one for detail work, like the ribbon trim on the edge of these hat forms if needed. Be careful not to let the paint get to 'wet' on hat forms as they can deform as shown here. Luckily, these hats are being made for a stage production and this little defect will never show.
Step 3: Ruffle
Fold the Tulle ribbon in half and gather along the selvage edges. The photos shows using a Ruffle Foot attachment on the sewing machine. I highly recommend purchasing one if you do not have a ruffling foot as it locks the gathers in place and yields a more uniform and stable product.
If you do not have one, you can run a basting stitch along the edge and hand pull the gathers as you normally would for making skirts or sleeves. You can also purchase pre-ruffled lace instead of gathering tulle, but that will be considerably more expensive.
Step 4: Glue Ruffles
Starting in the center back, use a thin line of hot glue, slowly and gently attach the ruffle to the edge of the hat about 4-6 inches at a time. You will need to press the tulle netting into the glue which WILL come through and get all over your hands. This can be quite painful if you are not accustomed to dealing with hot glue, so be careful and be prepared to clean a lot of glue off your hands.
When you reach the starting point, move in a fraction of an inch and add a second row of ruffles.
Step 5: Add Trim
Add purchased trim to the rough edge of the gathered tulle to hide all the 'ugly' parts and help cover up any mistakes. As these hats were made to match custom made dresses, I'm using the same trim that was used on the costumes.
Step 6: Chin Straps
Cut a piece of 1/4 inch elastic long enough to go under the chin to each hat. Use a more generous bead of hot glue along the last 3/4 inch of each end of the elastic bands. Press firmly into the middle section of the sides of the hat.
If you are making a hat for personal use, you may choose to skip this part. However, if you are making them for a stage production such as these, they are very helpful. When youngsters are moving around a lot on stage, singing and dancing, the last thing they need is for an unsecured hat to go flying off their heads in front of an audience.
Pro Tip: The straps are more attractive if worn under the hair at the back of the head.
Step 7: Ready to Go!
While the original idea for these hats was to have bows and feathers around the crown, there just wasn't enough time for that. A lucky side effect is the fact that the plainer hats stack neatly for transport and storage.
If and when I get around to adding bows and feathers, I'll be sure to post how that works.