My best friend's little sister got married last fall - best wishes, A.! We feted her with a bachelorette party in September - a weekend at Harrah's in Atlantic City. Now, I was reluctant to go back to AC, since I had gone before and was not impressed - between the ciggie smoke and feral cats, it was a bit sketchy. I have to say, though, that Harrah's was very nice. Our rooms were gorgeous and the hotel was fairly high-end. It rivaled some hotels I've seen in Las Vegas. Our weekend consisted of some pampering at the Red Door Spa (I had a body scrub and it was worth every penny), cocktails as we lounged by their fabulous pool (so chic - and the passion fruit margaritas were to DIE for), and a fancy dinner followed by gambling for the younger girls and a PJ's and junk TV for the, ahem, more mature ladies (I just can't party like I used to - and incidentally, you know you are getting older when you chat up the bartender to 1-figure out the best drink value for your buck and 2-compare notes on bifocals because neither of you can read the drink descriptions on those tiny menus).
Anyhoo, the fancy dinner came with a dress code - little black dresses for everyone. But we still wanted to do something extra to identify ourselves as part of a special group (bachelorette party) but while still looking classy. My solution? Fascinators. They are huge right now and so much fun to wear. The options are endless and I knew that I could make a ton for a small amount of money. Here's how I did it...
Alligator Hair Clips - found at Joann's (12 for $2 with coupon!). They are lightweight and almost flat with a good, strong grip.
Felt Triangles - I had felt on hand (free!), but you could make a ton from one sheet from any craft store - they are usually about $0.25 around here. Just cut several small triangles. The color doesn't really matter since you will be covering it up.
Needle and thread - again, color doesn't matter. You are only using it to tack the felt onto the clip.
Hot glue sticks and gun - THE craft room essential
Feathers - I had sticker shock from the price of the "fancy" feathers. There are tons of kinds, but you pay a premium for ones with designs, or from rare birds, or with different textures. I couldn't afford that, so I bought a big bag of multicolored craft feathers for $3 and committed to trying to modify them to look special and not like a kindergarten Thanksgiving craft project.
Bling - I was initially looking for brooches or sparkly buttons to mount on the fascinators and then I realized how much that would cost. So, I made my own brooches using a big bag of cheap, assorted rhinestones from Michael's ($8 with coupon). You get a TON in those bags. Some are goofy looking, but a lot are really nice. I just hot glued them onto some paint chips from the hardware store that I had laying around. Additionally, I wanted to make some beaded wire for more movement and interest. I had some iridescent plastic beads on hand (from Walmart), and I also splurged on some swarovski crystals for the bride ($4 with coupon). I wanted her to really sparkle! I all ready had beading wire on hand.
1. Sew the base
Double up your thread and tack a felt triangle onto a clip. Be sure to open the clip before you start sewing. I would stick a pencil in the "jaws" to hold it open as I sewed. Some tutorials out there have you hot glue the base onto the clip. That didn't feel secure enough to me. Sewing took a few minutes longer, but it was worth it. I'm pleased to report that we didn't lose a single bit of bling all night.
2. Choose your colors and layout
For mine, I put the big feathers on the bottom and built up from there, inserting smaller accent feathers and beaded wire next, and topped the whole shebang off with rhinestones. Whatever you want to do, now is the time to decide, not when you have a hot glue gun in hand!
3. Pre-make accents
Now that you know how you want it to look, take the time to make your special accents
Feathers - craft feathers can be modified in several ways. I recommend practicing with colors you have a lot of 1st and once you feel comfortable, then move on to the feathers you intend to use in your fascinators.
-CURLS: feathers can be curled by sliding the central rib over the edge of scissors (like you do with curly ribbon) - go over it several times until it starts to curl. Be gentle with the 1st couple passes to avoid snapping the rib.
-STRIPPING: The fluffy feathers at the bottom can be stripped off the rib, leaving the more uniform feathers at the top. Just grab the fluffies and pull against the direction of growth and they should strip off neatly.
-SHAPING: You can trim the feathers into oval shapes, diamonds, zigzags, whatever. It just takes some patience. You can also combine curling, stripping, and shaping to give yours an even more unique look. The turquoise feathers above, for example, were stripped of lower feathers, shaped into diamonds at the tips, and curled slightly.
Brooches - Cut out a base on sturdy paper or paint chips like I did. I did some in circles and some in rectangles, but I liked circles the best. Glue on your rhinestones as desired. Let dry before trying to attach to the fascinator. The turquoise one above has a brooch that I made.
Beaded wire accents - Snip off a length of bead wire about 10 inches long. String a bead and slide to the middle of the wire. Bend the wire around the bead and feed both ends through the bead once more. This keeps the bead in place. This is now the tip of your wire. Repeat this process, spacing your beads a few centimeters apart.
4. Get glue-gunnin'
Once you know how it's going to look, start hot glueing. Go one layer a a time and give it a few minutes to set before moving on to the next layer. I always have tweezers and a chopstick or pencil or something handy when I'm hot glueing - I'll use it to place small accents or to maneuver items without burning myself.
5. Enjoy turning heads in your fabu fascinator!
Because I love to craft and I tend to go overboard AND I don't know when to stop, I also made some little gift bags for the girls. Simple brown paper bags dressed up with fabric rosettes and ribbons in the bride's palette of peridot and teal. I filled the bags with treats, snacks, tiny bottles of wine, and personalized water bottles - just the thing to make our hotel rooms more comfy. I thought it would be fun to contrast our bachelorette party hijinks with images of proper 50's housewives, so I made some tags for each bag juxtaposing these ladies with modern sayings. They were a hit!