Introduction: Hat Not Hat - a Hat for People Who Don't Really Wear Hats, But Would Like a Hat Experience

I have always wished I could be a hat person, but have not ever found a hat that works for me. This "Hat Not Hat," or fascinator as it is called is an upper-crusty solution to my hat problem in which I might attend the Kentucky Derby, vacuum my living room in sweat pants or possibly meet the queen at one of her garden parties.

This project is actually a homemade "fascinator" for fancy occasions where you want to sparkle....I utilized a Circuit Playground express and MakeCode to create a little ornamental light up show as feature on my "Hat Not Hat," the perfect solution for people who are hat challenged (in my opinion). As follows you will find the instructions on how to create your very own "Hat Not Hat." Be careful, your dog may want you to borrow this fun accessory. Don't be fooled by Mojo, he totally loved this thing and he's a natural model.

Step 1: Things You Definitely Need

  • 1 Circuit Playground express
  • 1 micro USB cable
  • 3 AAA batteries
  • 1 AAA battery holder with JST cable
  • scissors
  • pliers
  • glue gun (+ glue sticks)
  • piece of vinyl, or shower curtain
  • foam sheet, or felt
  • needle + thread
  • coated wire 16 gage
  • headband
  • netting (In my project I have used black plastic safety netting I found a long time ago.)
  • clips for hair, or broaches

Things You Totally Want

  • wide ribbon (and a few different sizes as well if you like)
  • tulle
  • feathers
  • little gems, or beads
  • weird stuff that cries out "I need to become something!"

Step 2: Program Your Circuit Playground Express

I'll be honest, coding this was a tricky task for me, as I have little to no experience in this realm. However, where there's a will, there's a way. I did consult some online tutorials for programming my Circuit Playground express using MakeCode and also consulted my friend Gil at times and ran some different variations myself. You would be surprised how easy it is when you start playing around.

Above I have included a screenshot of my first sequence in which the lights change colors when you tilt your head different ways. I later investigated having the Circuit Playground react to shaking, because it seemed like it would cause the lights to color change more frequently without giving the wearer whiplash. You can be subtle and yet, still over the top. Why not...

Step 3: Starting the Physical Construction of Hat Not Hat

I started this project with sketches, which is always a good idea, especially if you are trying to fit a headpiece and 3 battery pack atop of a headband and want to have it all stay together and stay balanced. My original plan was a bit more elaborate than what I made, and while I did not get to execute it, I could still come back and play with it another time.

It really helps if you have an object to look at when you are building three dimensionally. I also like to start trying to put the simple working pieces together to investigate what kind of physical engineering will be necessary to make things work. In this case I took the Circuit Playground express and battery pack and tested it using the battery pack clip to hold it on.

Step 4: Building the Foundation for the Not Hat (or Fascinator)

  1. I used a white pen and a two inch cylindrical container to trace two circles of the same size on my felt.
  2. I cut the circles out.
  3. I then cut two 3/4 inch parallel slits in one of my felt circles, now it should look like a little black pig nose.
  4. Take a 3/4 inch ribbon and thread it up through one hole and down into the other.
  5. You are now ready to cut the edges of ribbon off from the sides of the felt and hot glue the strip on the lower side of the felt, so that there is a loop to slide a clip into this clip will hold the fascinator to the headband.
  6. Glue the two felt circles together with hot glue.
  7. When the circles of felt are glued together, you can trim the edge of the joined circles to neaten them up.
  8. The final step in this process is sliding the clip into the felt foundation.

Step 5: Constructing the Veil for the Headpiece

    The first step in this process for me was determining how much netting I could get out of what I had. I tested it out by holding it up over my head to figure out the exact size I wanted and later slowly cut away any excess. You will probably need a piece that is 1 1/2 feet wide by 10 inches high. The netting should hang horizontally.

    1. Gather up the netting and hot glue the gathered portion of netting (at the top) to a smaller felt circle.
    2. Sandwich this gathered portion between another circle of felt on the bottom basically making a netting sandwich with felt bread.
    3. It is a good idea to press together the two pieces to keep things in place where you want them.
    4. When you have finished this step what you will have should look like the last photo in this sequence.

    Step 6: Constructing the Flouncy Top Part of the Not Hat / Fascinator

    Things start to get a bit looser here, as this part is about your personal preference and aesthetics.

    1. Choose a wide (4 to 8 inches wide) ribbon, or tulle you would like to use to start with.
    2. Gather the wide ribbon, or tulle and cross it over itself several times like a star make sure your layers fan out in a circle.
    3. When you are happy with the number of layers (I suggest no more than 5, or 6), take your needle and thread and sew this fabric, or ribbon together, gathering it up like a flower. You'll want this shape to be at least a 10 to 12 inch circumference, don't cut the thread off, or tie it up yet.
    4. Once you are pleased with the shape you've made, use the same thread you were using to sew with to sew the top portion to the veil you created earlier.
    5. Be sure to leave the clip side down so that you may clip onto the headband when you are ready.
    6. If you end up feeling the shape is not full enough, you can always add more fabric into your shape sewing it in where you feel there are empty spaces.

    * A little tip about fabric choices: Not everyone likes glitter. or sparkles but I found it nice to have a little bit of sparkle in the material I was using, mainly because it brings out the colors of the lights on Circuit Playground. Why not have a little glamour in you life, a little film noir while you vacuum your living room in you sweatpants.

    Step 7: Making a Pocket to Hold Your Circuit

    You should approach this step with some ideas of your own engineering, but here's how I did it:

    1. I made a sketch for the shape I wanted for the Circuit Playground pocket holder carefully tracing the shape on my vinyl.Make sure their is enough space to hold the board. I used vinyl because I wanted the circuit disk to slide in and out of the pocket with ease and also because I wanted the light to shine through on the other side.
    2. Once you have your two circles cut out, cut one of the circles in half. This will help to create the pocket.
    3. I pinned my two pieces of vinyl together for sewing, so they would not slide around.
    4. I then wrapped wrapped two layers of the same tulle I was using, before around of the edge of the circle, sewing the layers together in a circle.
    5. At this point I created a flexible spring to affix my pocket holder to, so that the board would move around and the motion would cause light color changes. For this part of the project I used my 16 gage vinyl wrapped wire taking the wire and wrapping it around a pen to create the spring. You may have to adjust the shape a bit making it more funnel shaped, or even hourglass shaped
    6. Once you have sewn your pocket together and made your spring you should connect the two using hot glue on the inside of the pocket. Be careful not to use too much, the glue could melt the vinyl if you use too much and you will also want to avoid gluing the pocket together.

    * To make the red power wire less visible I used a sharpie to color it black.

    Step 8: Final Steps Before You Get to Make Your Friends Jealous With Your New Accessory

    1. You will need to attach the pocket and spring to a piece of felt and attach this to the center of the "poof" with the veil that is attached to the clip
    2. Tuck the Circuit Playground express board into the little pocket that you have attached to the floppy spring
    3. Place the "Hat Not Hat" on your head and...
    4. Flip the switch on the battery pack

    I hope you have enjoyed this instructable.