OK, so I’m a little late for the Derby, but here in New York we have the Belmont Stakes which is basically the same thing, only on Long Island, and just cause we ain’t in Kentucky doesn’t mean we don’t like to get fancy.
But then, because we aren’t in Kentucky, getting the right kind of fancy can be a bit of a challenge.
Men have it easy. Those who choose to get dressed up, typically don seersuckers. With the right kind of vision, a dude can put this together on the cheap at Marshall’s. But while women can find inexpensive dresses to wear, we have an entirely different dilemma when it comes to procuring the main accessory, the piece de resistance, the item that truly makes or breaks your Derby worthiness:
Now certainly there are millinery shops in the greater NYC area that would happily sell you headgear for well into the hundreds of dollars but let’s get serious. As much as I like to do it right when it comes to costuming, I’m not going to spend my retirement fund (HAHAhahaha! I don’t have a retirement fund) buying something that I will almost surely, never wear again. That’s why this year, I decided to make my own. Then I thought, why not share my nifty ideas with all six of my readers and call it a tutorial? So here you go:
The Official RheelDaze Guide To Doing It Up At The Derby
I wanted to keep the price of my hat under thirty dollars so naturally I went to Michael’s and spent nearly seventy on all the accouterments necessary to craft my masterpiece. I bought waaaay too much though, so you can save some coins by not falling into that trap. Really, all you need is four or five flowers of varying sizes, not a bunch that could make up the goddamn centerpiece at a royal wedding. Also I got myself a new glue gun which I didn’t need but this one is so much better than my old one, that it was totally worth it.
You can get the hat for under ten bucks at Burlington coat factory, which I might add had the best selection of old lady church hats out of anywhere I went. So if I hadn’t bought all the extra crap, this would have been right around $25 total. Not bad!
Looking at all of these supplies was rather intimidating at first, making me question why I embark on DIY posts when I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. But then I was struck by brilliance and thought to look up a video on YouTube telling me what to do. This entire article should really just be a link to said video but I didn’t spend an hour torching my fingers to the bone to give CraftEMagee all the credit.
Surprisingly, this turned out to be a really easy project.
I started by laying a white ribbon over a black one and gluing them together at the ends.
Then wrap it around the hat’s base and glue the ends together in the spot where you plan on having all of your flair so no one can see it.
Now get started making your bow. You might want to check that your health insurance is still valid (HAHAhahaha! I don’t have health insurance) before attempting this because you will most definitely have developed arthritis by the time you are done.
Here is a good video on the basics of bow making.
I was feeling pretty cocky, which is why I used two ribbons of different colors but you might want to start with one because this is the hardest part.
After I spent damn near twenty minutes trying to twist these things into the proper proportions using a heavy ass metal wire that I had laying around the house, instead of a pipe cleaner to secure them, and leaving two long tails at the end Vanna says to me “You know you can buy those pre-made at the store, right?”
Shut up Vanna.
Next I added these two little birds by threading their wire through the one I used to bunch the bow. If you’re like me, this stage of the process will cause you to have a category five melt down because it flattens out the archs and appears to ruin all of your craftsmanship, but don’t worry, you can reshape it after you’re done.
Now for the fun part! Gluing all your decorative elements.
I should mention that if you’re someone who likes to commit crimes, this is the project for you, because by the time you are finished making this hat, you will have burned off all of your fingerprints.
Start by placing a decent amount of hot glue on some long stems and then shove them in there behind your main ribbon. Then press the glue, whose temperature is only slightly warmer than what you would use to melt steel, with your bare finger against the hat’s fabric.
I’m just kidding. Don’t do that. Put on a rubber glove or something lest you end up like I did, doing the rest of the decorating with the freezer door open to give you easy access to the ice.
Next cut your silk flowers off of their stems. You might want to use wire cutters instead of scissors to do this because these silks stems are serious business as evidenced by what happened when I tried taking a hard line with them. After your done cutting off the stems, attach them any which way you want.
To fasten the bow, you can use the leftover wire that you used earlier to hold it’s shape, to puncture the brim of the hat and secure it on the underside.
I wanted to take a picture of myself wearing the entire getup, dress, pearls and all, to show how pretty my piece looks when it’s actually on my head but I live alone and my cat couldn’t figure out how to operate the camera, so I guess you’ll just have to wait until I’m around actual people at the races next week to see the full deal.
All things considered, when you figure that a hat as involved as this might go for six hundred dollars in a proper hat shop (am I giving myself a little too much credit here?) spending only around $76 starts to sound like a bargain, with the upside being that now you can take all that extra money you saved and blow it on a trifecta box.