Fascinating Fascinators and Summer Hats

Spring is well on its way and news of wedding invitations and royal visits to Canada is in the air.  If these events aren’t on your agenda, you might be surprised to learn that there are a number of occasions when you could still wear a hat or even a fascinator.  “Why a fascinator?,” you ask.  Fascinators became a focus of conversations this time last year. You will recall that even Peter Mansbridge, of CBC’s The National, was talking about this popular British fashion trend when hundreds were worn to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (AKA Will and Kate).

(Please see information posted below regarding fascinator and hat making workshops.)

Here are some of the occasions when you might want to wear one:

* wedding;

* outdoor daytime reception or tea party;

* evening reception or cocktail party;

* gala event or formal fundraiser;

* a day at the horse races when a special event is underway;

* cocktails at a luxury car event in a garden; and,

* a summer fete such as the Old Time Summer Festival celebrating 125 years at  St. John the Baptist Anglican church, Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island.

If you follow fashion trends you might still be thinking that a fascinator is over the top – best for Pippa Middleton and her single, party-focussed set.  With the advent of online videos, there are an endless array of fabulous tutorials that can show you had to make small, discreet fascinators that are not much more than fancy head pieces on combs and clips.  They’re large enough to make a statement without screaming “look at me!”.  This type of accessory can, realistically, be worn to many events. A fascinator is a headpiece that is typically made of mostly feathers but can also include lacy head coverings, flowers, beads, crystals, wool, lace, loops of ribbons and pearls and other items.   It is an alternative to a hat and is set on a band or clip. Sometimes it can be attached to a more structured miniature hat.  They can be worn to daytime events such as a wedding, or as an evening accessory, like a cocktail hat.   They are usually paired with more formal attire.  Brides sometimes choose to wear them as alternatives to veils, in particular with less traditional dresses.

Recently Mackin House Museum in Coquitlam hosted a fascinator workshop with talented hat maker Ilona Marshall.  Since the workshop took place around the Easter Weekend, many of the participants were keen to make more dramatic, statement head pieces equivalent to the idea of an Easter Bonnet.  Other attendees focussed on fascinators made of flowers and one woman made two delicate, discreet flower fascinators with loops of ribbon, craft pearls and tulle veils.

If you plan to be on Vancouver Island later this week, you are invited to stop by St. John’s the Baptists Anglican church, Cobble Hill for a day of hat and fascinator making with Ilona Marshall.  Attendees who live in the region are invited to return to the property at the end of June, wearing their head pieces, for an old-fashioned summer fete celebrating the church’s 125 year anniversary.  Local residents will already know that the congregation at St. John’s put on a full-blown, classic country fair each September that never disappoints.

If you won’t be in the Cobble Hill area but would love to learn how to make your own decorated hat or fascinator, do contact the friendly staff members at Mackin House Museum to find out when Ilona plans to hold another workshop at the museum.  The most recent event was free, with a suggestion of a donation to the museum.  This makes it a most accessible event that is perfect for an adult and pre-teen/teenager to attend.

Here are the details for the upcoming event on Vancouver Island.

Hat and Fascinator Workshop

St. Johns Anglican Church Hall, Cobble Hill, Vancouver Island (Near Duncan)

Thursday, May 3

11:00 AM.  – 4:00 PM (Parents and pre-teens/teens are welcome to arrive after school.)

Extraordinary hat-maker, Ilona Marshall, will be joining us.


–  an existing hat to decorate or a headband or strong clip or comb if you want to make a fascinator
– supplies (eg silk flowers, lace, ribbon,etc.  See video below for inspiration.)
– scissors, glue gun
– a brown bag lunch(coffee & dessert supplied).

Admission by donation.

For further information please contact Shirley Hardy: onthego3 via shaw.ca

While the former Kate Middleton is clearly a stylish and lovely women, British Columbian women have their own sense of flair and sparkle too.  Please do share photos if you decide to make your own fascinator or summer hat. We’d love to hear from you so don’t be shy! You can comment about this posting using the comment function below or visit us at our Facebook page.


“What is a fascinator?” video

100 Top Hats & Fascinators (British Vogue article)

How to make curling feathers for fascinators.

How to make wedding feather fascinators. (Keep in mind you can adjust the size.)

How to make a single comb birdcage wedding veil. (Note the helpful tip regarding preparation of a hair comb with tulle.)

How to a make a beautiful silky flower (for your hat or fascinator)

How to make paper roses

How to make a coffee filter roses

How to make handmade flowers

How to make rolled ribbon roses

Shabby chic pearl flower tutorial (A beautiful accent for a hat or fascinator.)

How to make a rosette pin broach (Another accent that could be used for a hat or fascinator.)

Ideas for layering flower roses with other material

This last rose project isn’t for hats or fascinators; however, once you become hooked on making flowers you might want to make giant paper ones for a party!

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