The annual Kentucky Derby is fast upon us, and a lady in the know knows that she will need a properly festive and festooned hat. Whether you will be attending a Kentucky Derby in person, going to a Kentucky Derby party, or simply want to make your television viewing of the event a bit more enjoyable, a traditional, beautiful Kentucky Derby Hat can be yours without spending a small fortune at a millinery.
Uncertain what proper Kentucky Derby hat looks like? Simply google “Kentucky Derby Hat images,” and you will soon have plenty of inspiration. If you find yourself needing still more inspiration, google “mint julep recipes,” follow the directions for the recipe and enjoy. Once you’re in a suitably relaxed, Southern Belle mood, gather your hat making supplies and get creative! Be careful, however. A hot glue gun is involved, so don’t overdo the good, old Kentucky Bourbon!
The Hat–Your Canvas
Of course, the first thing that you will need to create your Kentucky Derby hat is, well, a hat. Traditionally, a wide brimmed hat is what is wanted for propriety sake. A wide brimmed straw hat makes a good canvas for embellishment and is inexpensive. You can look for a wide brimmed straw hat for your Kentucky Derby project in many places. Target and Walmart are good places to start. You can also search online, were you might be able to find a more unique, older straw hat. Take a look on eBay, too. Decide whether you want a floppy hat or a stiff brim, then get shopping. It’s also handy to know what size head you have, especially if shopping on line. A big hat on a small head, or vice versa, can spell disaster.
Silk Flowers, Ribbons, Tulle, Feathers
Once you have your hat in hand, it’s time to go looking for your Kentucky Derby hat decor. If you’re the crafty sort, you may already have most of this stuff lying around. If not, then take a trip to Michael’s or another craft store. Walmart should also have what you’ll need, as well. Remember, it’s better to get too much decorative stuff than to have too little.
First you will want to choose your color scheme for the hat. You will want the hat to compliment your dress and shoes, or your t-shirt and jeans. Find a wide ribbon to wrap around the hat, make certain to get enough, two yards or so, in case you want some ribbon trailing, too. If you want to get extra fancy, choose another ribbon in a complimentary color that is narrower, so that you can layer ribbon for effect.
Once you’ve chosen your ribbon, it’s time to head to the silk floral department. Keep in mind that Kentucky Derby hats are not delicate, or understated. Kentucky Derby hats are meant to be noticed, so don’t choose a bunch of itsty-bitsy flowers. Pick a few large flowers, and you will want an odd number, as that is simply what looks best. Three to five large flowers would be a good number to start.
These flowers do not need to all be identical, choose three that are the same and two that are different and slightly smaller, or a two and one combination. Also, the colors don’t need to be exactly the same. Varying tones and depths in the same color along with some contrasting flowers will make a lovely Kentucky Derby hat. Once you have chosen the larger flowers, pick out several smaller flowers and sprays of little flowers to add to the hat. This is where you can be a bit dainty.
If you’re feeling especially ambitious, then pick up a yard or two of tulle to add to your Kentucky Derby hat. Tulle can be used to wrap around the entire brim of the hat, or a smaller piece of tulle can be bunched into a fan and glued to the hat over the ribbing, but before the flowers. I am getting ahead of myself, so get the tulle if you like. Also, feathers are often used in Kentucky Derby hats, so if you find some feathery adornments that you like, grab those, too.
If you do not already own a hot glue gun, now is the time to buy one, along with the glue sticks. Hot glue guns are incredibly versatile and handy, but they are HOT, so if you are a novice, be extremely careful, as the glue can burn fingers, and whatever else it might land on. They do make cool melt glue guns, but I haven’t had much luck with them, as you need to work even more quickly than you do with a hot glue gun-and you need to work quickly with a hot glue gun. Oh, and you will need a pair of wire clippers, too. Those silk flowers have thick wire that aren’t easily snipped.
The Assembly-The Fun Part
Now comes the time where you can let your creative juices overflow. With hope, you should have a vision for how you would like your Kentucky Derby hat to look. Will the flowers be in the back? Will they be on one side, all around the hat, or on the front? See it, then make it happen. Plug in the glue gun and get gluing.
Begin with the ribbon, wrapping a length around the base of the top part of the hat. Keep in mind the slight taper of the top of the hat, so your ribbon will need to be affixed in a way so that it will lay flat. Practice the ribbon placement before applying the glue. Carefully glue the ribbon, or ribbons in the appropriate place, having the ends meet where you plan to put the flowers.
If you going to use tulle, this will be your next step. If you are rather new to such projects, I suggest a simple, small piece of tulle, pleated like a fan and then glued to the hat with the gathered edge overlapping the area where the ribbon ends meet.
If you’re a more experienced crafter, then you might want to make some sort of effect where they tulle is wrapped loosely around the brim of the hat, in a sort of bunched manner. You may also choose to give the hat a bit of a veiled look. This is where looking at all of those Kentucky Derby hat images will really pay off, as a picture is worth a thousand word when trying to help you add such a fetching touch to your hat.
Finally, Flowers and Feathers!
Using the wire clippers, you will need to trim the stems of your large flowers so that they are almost flush with the base of the flower. Once you have done this, try arranging the flowers on the hat until you find the effect that you are looking for. Grab your glue gun again, and using large blobs of hot glue on the hat, attach each of the flowers to the hat, holding each one in place for a bit so the glue can set, until it’s florally fantastic. Use the smaller flowers to fill in gaps and to add contrasting color. Again, be careful with the glue gun, and don’t be timid with the design of your hat.
If you are also using feathery stuff, decide if you want that under the flowers, or tucked in around the flowers. This will decide in what order you affix what to your hat. Take your time and keep working until you have a Kentucky Derby hat that you can wear with pride. You’ll be surprised at how little time you have to invest, and happy with how little money you’ve spent. Then you can relax and enjoy the Kentucky Derby with style and a smile.