Monday, 25 May 2009

Fascinators - how to and how not to.....

For ages I have been hankering after fascinators. After my friends wedding, where I was the (ooh) matron of honour, when I remember the Grooms father saying that he thought a facinator was some kind of sex toy - (dissapointed - much?) I have been thinking - we survived for god only knows how long without fascinators - but now no wedding outfit would be complete without one! how does this happen?

My fascination (bad joke, I know) began when I wanted to have something different for my wedding veil - not having the typical wedding dress - mine was a 1950's style gold silk dress I had made by a lovely lady in camden market. I loved the idea of a birdcage veil, a simple one which would cover my face slightly, but wouldn't get in the way or make me feel uncomfortable - but at the time I looked everywhere for help about how to make my own, trying to find the feathers, the veiling - but struggled so much I ended up having to order it from America. I loved it - and it made my simple dress feel so much more special. I have even worn it since, with a bit of adjustment, to go with outfits for weddings and one 1930's party!

But I don't think I would struggle as much now - it seems everyone and her dog are making fascinators - there is veiling and simanay (the stiff fabric used as a base, and for curls and other shapes on the really expensive ones you see) available freely, as are feathers and everything else you could possibly want to adorn your pretty head with!

So I set about making my own for a wedding coming up in a few weeks, for which I am recycling a dress I last wore about 5 years ago. The dress has pink and black in it, so I decided to go for a slightly mad black and shocking pink combo. And, as everyone who knows me knows I am mad about butterflies, I wated to add these too. So my creation is pictured.

Now, I thought - I am making this myself, there really is no need to go making something anyone could buy in any shop - so why not have a bit of a story going on. Now it just happens that whilst browsing t'internet, I happened upon these slightly scary but sparkly birds. In true SATC fashion (well, I like to think so...) I added those to my creation. Well, my husband may say that it looks a bit like the butterflies are attacking the bird, (one is sneaking up to launch a surprise attack) but I don't think thats a problem. It really doesn't do to have things looking too cute, now does it?

So, onto the main reason for this post - I really struggled to get any advice on how to make a fascinator, so just dived right in and had a go. Which is fine as this one is for me, but I have had orders for two others from friends, and I would like to do things differently for them I think. I have learnt a few things along the way, which I will share with you.....

The simanay discs are easily found on ebay - I think I paid around five pounds for three of them. Next I bought merry widow veiling, and some simanay bias binding. My advice would be to use the sheets of simanay - I think I will order this next time, because it would give me a lot more control over the size and shape. The bias binding was fine, but I did have to turn in the edges and iron them flat with a lot of steam - seemed to work ok though. I didn't have any idea what the simanay would be like to use, and strangely enough I couldn't find any advice on using it anywhere - so with a bit of trial and error, I figured that if you loop and secure it, thats fine for the big loops which attach to anything else. However, I really wanted a spiral coming off to one side - for this, I wound the simanay around an old plastic mop handle, secured it with masking tape, and got the steam iron to it. (helps if you have one that does upright steam). Left it for a bit to dry, and the curl was complete - it works really well, and hasn't shown any signs of uncurling yet! (its been a week).
A few other tips, or things I would avoid doing - I attatched my veiling first, and then got in a major tangle as I was sewing all the other bits on. I would do this last next time. Also, whilst everything is sewn on, and I wanted to avoid using glue, I think for some things - the bird in particular, which has a polystyrene base, whould need glue, as I think with any pulling, the thread would cut through the body. And he doesn't need that, not after a vicious butterfly attack! I also think invisible thread might be a good idea, and that feathers would be good to help cover up any stitching which is visible. However, adding feathers to mine might be going a tiny bit too far I think.....
So, for what it's worth, I think the best advice is just to keep trying things and holding the facinator up to see how it looks. If I were going to make more, I would probably get myself a polystyrene head to help me figure things out. I hope my advice helps...although there are probably loads of things I did wrong, I am still pretty pleased with the outcome!
Will post again when I have it all finished - have to pop a layer of felt underneath, and a simple thin black satin hairband, which I am struggling to find, before I can try it on. When I am all in my finery I will pop a photo on!


JD By Laura said...

love your blog the background looks really good and your fascinators are stunning and make a interesting read.

niftyknits said...

interesting description of your process - I am looking forward to seeing the finished fascinator!

Electric Dynamite said...

I loooove your fascinator, it's gorgeous!
I'm a little bit in love with fascinators too. I've made several but I've never used siminay before, I've always sewn a base out of fabric. I think you might be onto something though, using a pre-made base probably takes alot of the fuss out!
If you can't find the headband you're searching for have you considered buying a small clear comb to sew onto the under side of the fascinator so you can just slide it into your hair? That worked pretty well for me :) And they're very cheap too hehe xx