The Kentucky Derby is open to all, and Louisville residents have more opportunity than most to enjoy the event. But whether you’re going to a party or going to the track, there is one item you’ve got to have: a proper Derby hat. Use your crafting skills, and instead of spending on the hottest head accessory save money with a stylish DIY Derby hat.
The Perfect Base
First, you’ll need a plain, unadorned hat. Straw is a very forgiving and cool material, yet sturdy enough to give you some real use. A wide-brimmed hat is best, because you’ll be changing the shape somewhat, but pick something that suits your personal style and aesthetic. Look for cheap, plain hats at crafts stores and secondhand stores. You might even find plain hats at big box retailers and supermarkets in Louisville, particularly around Derby time.
Once you’ve got the perfect base, you’re ready to begin your DIY transformation.
Preparing Your DIY Derby Hat
First, prep your hat. Use a straight pin to fold back a piece of the brim. This is where your decoration will go, so you’ll want to put the fold somewhere near or in the front of the hat. Now your hat is ready to become an inspiring DIY project. Add a ribbon in the color of your choice, just above the brim, if you like. This is an easy, quick way to add color, and you don’t have to place the ribbon behind the fold (that saves on material). Use fabric glue or a needle and thread to secure the ribbon.
Dressing it Up, DIY Style
Next, assemble your materials. It’s the Derby, so don’t be afraid to have fun with it. Gather up some feathers (ostrich is decadent, horsetail is theme-appropriate) and faux flowers. You can literally add bells and whistles if you like without going overboard. Part of the fun of the Derby is wearing an extravagant, ostentatious hat.
If faux flowers prove too expensive (and they can be surprisingly pricey), make your own. It’s easy to make a large, sturdy hat flower using a dish towel. Pick out one that you like, make sure it’s clean and dry, and proceed.
Fold the towel into thirds. Trace out the flower shape you like, petals and all, on a piece of sturdy cardstock. Cut it out and use this as your stencil to cut the shape into the towel. You’ll end up with several flowers.
Cut out a circle, about 2 inches in size, in a piece of felt. Use hot glue to attach the back of a flower to the felt, then begin to stack. You want to rotate each new row of petals slightly so they don’t line up symmetrically. Take the last flower and roll it into a rosette. Cut about ½ inch of the bottom away and attach it to the center of the petals with hot glue. Now, the felt flower base can be attached to your DIY Derby hat with a pin or sewn into place.
Either way, place the flower in the very center of the folded-up area you created earlier. Now, slide feathers into the fold so they stick out or up. Secure the feathers in place with pins, then come back and sew them into place to keep them secure. Add more flowers and more decoration if you like.
When you’re finished, you’ll have a beautiful custom Derby hat that won’t look like anyone else’s. Now, you just need somewhere to go to show off your DIY style.