Introduction: Elegant Cherry Blossom Fascinator

About: Where there's a will, there's a way! Never give up, never give in...BE the good you want to see in the world. :)

This gorgeous cherry blossom fascinator hat may be "silly" to wear out to your local grocery store, but it definitely serves a purpose at places like The Kentucky Derby, and other formal events!

It's surprisingly simple to make, and you will steal the spotlight the moment you enter a space!


To make this you will need:

  • 1/2 yard satin fabric
  • 1/2 yard lace fabric (complimentary color with the satin)
  • 1/2 yard sinamay (may also be known as millinery in some regions), or utility fabric that is similar to sinamay in its workability and stability (I had to use the alternative utility fabric)
  • Matching all-purpose polyester thread
  • Headband, elastic (the circumference of your head), comb, or ribbon (to attach the hat to)
  • Flowers of various kinds and sizes (in complimentary colors)
  • Sewing Machine with an Universal needle in it
  • Disappearing fabric marker
  • Iron
  • Fabric scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Binder clips
  • Hot glue, fabric glue, or super glue

Step 1: Why a Derby Hat?

There is nothing sillier, in my humble opinion, than some of the crazy hats at the Kentucky Derby! The hat-wearing tradition was started by founder Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. (what a name, huh!?). He wanted to model the race after the high-class European racing events.

Unfortunately, some of that "high-class" has gone missing these days. See the pictures above? I rest my case.

So, I wanted to bring it back! I wanted a "silly" hat that was over-the-top perhaps, but still glamorous and elegant. Who says "silly" can't be beautiful!?

Step 2: Start With Divine Floral

To make this hat absolutely breathtakingly beautiful, you need to start with divine floral.

Not all faux flowers are alike, this we know. Do you need to fill up this hat with only the best of the best? Not necessarily. You can still mix in some cheaper flowers, such as the smaller "filler" flowers. But the star of the show (the front rose, in this case) needs to be the best flower you can find. This one in particular, literally looks and feels real! It's amazing!

There are definitely ways to get the best floral cheaper. At my local craft store, they had some on sale, and I had additional coupons to cover the more expensive ones that were full price. Win-win! Be creative in your approach to finding and buying amazing faux floral, but don't settle. If you do, you'll find that your finished hat will suffer the consequences.

Step 3: Delicate, Elegant Fabrics

The next most important part is to make sure to pick fabrics that you absolutely adore. I saw this stunning lace fabric and knew it was just perfect! I couldn't put it back, and every time I looked at it, I was in awe. That's the effect great fabrics have! The beautiful, glistening satin was just the right fabric to compliment it!

The second picture shows that alternative utility fabric I used to mimic Sinamay. And it worked great!

Step 4: Inspiration

Lastly, make sure you have an inspirational photo that wows you! If you're saying "wow," others will say "wow" too!

Step 5: Cut the Top of the Pillbox

The hat base will be a flat pillbox. It's actually a super easy process!

Begin by cutting out the top of the pillbox. To get a final hat of about 5", start with a circle that's about 6". My plate I used to trace around was 6-1/4" exactly. Cut 2 from the satin fabric, and cut 2 from the sinamay/utility fabric.

Sandwich these pieces together with one satin piece on top RIGHT SIDE OUT, then two pieces of sinamay/utility fabric in-between, then the second satin piece on bottom RIGHT SIDE OUT. This will make it two shiny sides facing out, and the sinamay/utility fabric touching the wrong sides of the top and bottom fabrics.

Set this aside.

NOTE: In a future step, I am going to sandwich these layers together while sewing it to the rim of the hat (in one step). However, if you feel more comfortable sewing the fabric "sandwich" altogether first, then sewing it later to the rim of the hat (as two separate steps), then cut your circles to 7-1/4" to accommodate for the extra seam allowance needed to sew it twice (and still end up with the roughly 5" finished hat).

Step 6: Cut & Sew the Rim

Cut out two pieces of satin fabric that are each 20-5/8" long x 3-1/4" wide.

Sew these together, RIGHT sides together, along the long sides ONLY (keep both short ends OPEN).

Use 1/2" seams.

Turn it right-side out. You will end up with this wonky looking tube.

Step 7: Press the Rim

With your iron set on a "Silk" setting (#2 on my iron), press the tubes flat with a pressing cloth over the satin (or you can use a white tea towel or the like).

NOTE: Don't press it down for too long. Just long enough to flatten it and to force the seams to rest properly.

Step 8: Cut & Sew the Strengthener

Cut 2 pieces of sinamay/utility fabric to 19-1/8" long x 1-3/4" wide.

Sew these together with 1/2" seams on either side of the long sides. This is just to hold it together temporarily, so there is no need to backstitch.

Step 9: Insert the Strengthener in the Rim

Slide the sinamay/utility fabric into the tubes you made previously. This should be fairly easy. This will add the stability the rim needs to stay standing when the hat is worn.

Step 10: Sew & Press the Rim

Sew the two short ends of the rim together (1/2" seams), then flip it so the seam is on the inside of the rim, and press the seam open/flat.

Step 11: Sew the Rim to the Top

Add the rim to the top sandwich using binder clips (pins leave sad holes in the fabric, unless you have specialty silk pins).

As you attach the rim to the "top," you will notice it needs to fold over itself every once in awhile. This is perfect, allow it to fold over itself (use the pictures above as reference), and sew it with 1/2" seams right over these "pleats."

Turn the hat "right"-side out (technically speaking, I mean the right side of the finished hat--not of the fabric--as both sides have fabric that's "right" side out). You should end up with a beautiful, flat pillbox hat!

NOTE: I chose not to worry about adding a lining into the hat to cover up the seam (as it's the inside of the hat, and no one will be looking that close, I hope!). But, if the seam bothers you, you can trim it back before flipping the hat "right" side out, or you can glue in a liner that you made by making a second "hat" (without any strengthener fabric) that has a top and a rim sewn to it, and gluing it in, or sewing it to the bottom of the rim.

Step 12: Add the Lace

Oooohhhh...this lace REALLY makes me swoon!!! I love it so much!!

To add this to the hat, set the lace down--use just a square or circle piece that is about 4" extra on all edges around the hat--(right side facing AWAY from you, wrong side facing you), and align your hat so the design on the lace sits perfectly on the top of your hat where you want it.

Pull two opposite sides up around the rim and clip in place. You want this to be evenly pulled on both sides, and pulled taut (but NOT stretching the lace). Think of this process like how you would upholster a chair seat, if you've ever done that.

Then work around each side from the clips outward, pulling the lace inward and clipping until the entire hat is perfectly covered, with no sagging fabric.

Sew the lace down to the very bottom of the rim by hand. You will need 2 full arm lengths of the thread from your machine, folded in half around the needle, to accomplish this. I used an in and around motion to sew it down.

When you have sewn the lace down, simply cut away the excess, leaving roughly 1/4" excess so that it naturally sits up into the hat, and doesn't hang out of the hat or look like a raw edge.

Your hat should look something like the last picture of this step.

Step 13: Mark & Sew

Place the headband on the person who will be wearing this hat. Place the hat on top of it where you want it to sit. Mark where the two meet on the hat with a disappearing ink fabric marker, and on the metal with a little dot of permanent marker (which will come off later with hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, or by simply rubbing it off).

Hand sew the headband into the hat, matching up these marks, and also in the middle of the hat wherever the headband sits naturally against the hat (this won't be dead-center). Make sure you only sew from the inside to where the strengthener fabric's layers are, and NOT through them, when you are sewing the center part. This will ensure you don't sew onto the outside of the hat.

OPTIONALLY: You can sew in an elastic band, a comb, loops for bobby pins, or a ribbon that you tie under your chin instead of a metal headband.

NOTE: I highly recommend adding a small bit of super glue on the INSIDE of the hat to connect the hat to the headband permanently. The finished hat is top-heavy on the one side (because this design sits on an angle), and this will cause the hat to slide around on the headband even after you've sewn it down. So this little bit of glue will make sure it doesn't move when wearing it.

Step 14: Prepare the Floral

Prepare your floral pieces (so they're easier to work with) by using heavy duty wire cutters to trim off the heads of the flowers (leaving excess stems to glue them down), the "stalks" of cherry blossoms and any other flower that may need to be longer, and separating the leaves.

Set up your workspace to accommodate these cut pieces, arranged into similar-piece groups.

Have your hat and inspiration photo ready.

Step 15: Garnish the Hat

This is the part I've been waiting for! Also, it's slightly nerve-wracking!

Now, I tried super glue originally for adding the flowers. But, the wait time (for it to even set up) was insane and the flowers would move all over the place. Not to mention, I later found out the mysterious globs of super glue everywhere was actually the result of my container having a big hole in it! Ugh! So, I resorted to hot glue, and it worked better than expected!

First, glue down the main attraction -- the rose, in my case. This is what everything else will be based off of and will sit around, so it must be exactly where you want it! Make sure to use a big enough glob of glue that it will stay put properly. Don't worry about the globs of glue here, these will be covered up later with "filler" flowers.

Next, add the standing up cherry blossom "stalks." These are key to the overall look and need to be spaced out correctly. I wanted mine to start in the middle (above the rose) with the tallest piece, then work around the one side of the headband until you get to the shortest piece near the ear. This will take a good-sized glob of hot glue to keep them in place, and you will need to use the TIP OF THE GLUE GUN (everything else will pull the glue, or take it off entirely) to keep pushing the glue back into the place you want it as the glob will want to spread everywhere and you can't let it! It will also take a little bit of you holding these in place (maybe even 5 minutes) for the glue to dry and hold it up itself. This is super important to do, though, because these pieces set the stage for the elegant shape of the entire finished hat! So take your time, and be patient. It's worth it!

Then, you will want to add in all your other specifically placed flowers that add layers, like I used the little crabapple (?) pieces to add depth between the super tall cherry blossoms and the lower-to-the-hat rose. These add a middle layer of transition.

Lastly, add in filler pieces around the back, sides, and top. Whatever angle you can see the globs of glue from, you need to add a little something there to cover that up. NOTE: Not all filler pieces must be flowers. You can use leaves, the crabapples (what are they exactly?), or even gems or other decorative touches. Whatever you use, keep in mind STYLE, and PURPOSELY place these filler pieces. You don't want to have come all this way just to mess it up by not thinking through the colors, sizes, and styles of each filler piece and just randomly placing them in. Make sure they each have a DESIGN ASPECT for being where they are.

Step 16: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

That's it! You're done! Isn't this fascinator hat JUST STUNNING!?!?!?!? I love it so much!!!

Now, it's off to the races! Or to whatever event you feel like looking extra fancy for!

Step 17: Photo Shoot

Flaunt it off! It's worth it!!!

Silly Hats Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Silly Hats Speed Challenge