Saturday, December 6, 2014

Creating a Dandy(lion) Hat

As promised, here is a post about the dandelion hats, inspired by the animated movie Epic. The hats are definitely the most interesting part of the costume. And the most challenging to make and wear. It's fun seeing peoples' reactions when I tell them how they are made. So finally the mystery will be revealed for all to see. I don't know if there is a better, faster way to make the hat but after a few experiments (and with a keen sense of "Safety First") this is what I came up with.

Three purdy flowers

Final materials list: straw hat, plastic canvas circle and rectangle, kid's foam construction hat from dollar store, bamboo skewers, brown and white acrylic craft paint, white floral tape, fashion eyelash trim, white school glue, brown bias tape. There are 80-100 sticks per hat. Over 5 yards of the eyelash trim was used on each hat. I did not track the amount of materials very well. The trim was the most expensive part and had to be ordered online since my local stores didn't restock it after I bought it all!

These are difficult to transport

I started with a circular piece of plastic canvas – the kind used for yarn work. I used a paper pattern to figure out how to turn a flat circle into a head shape. I cut slits in the circular plastic canvas piece and overlapped each edge of the slit, to make the circle into a dome shape. I used twist ties to hold the edges together until I could sew them together. I then cut strips of the rectangle canvas and sewed them into circles of 2 different diameters (to account for increasing diameter of the human head from the top down as well as the thickness of the canvas). The smallest circle was attached to the bottom of the dome shape. The larger circle was attached to the bottom.

Three canvas pieces (L) and final piece sewed together (R)

Each plastic canvas “hat” was sewn inside a purchased straw hat. I had to cut down the brim of the hat first.  The canvas needed to be very close to the hat, so the stitching had to be very tight. (My hands hurt like mad after sewing these all down). I used brown thread and a heavy duty needle.

Canvas base sewn into straw hat

"Eyelash" fashion trim
Each stick was cut to size from bamboo skewers, leaving the pointy end intact. For the fluff, I used white eyelash apparel trim.  After “detangling” each section of trim for maximum fluffiness, I cut the trim into 1-inch pieces. The trim was then wrapped around the stick and secured with white floral tape. They were then hand painted brown and white using acrylic paint – 2 coats each. We had “stick parties” for cutting the sticks, applying the fluff, and painting the sticks.

Sticks ready to be painted

The sticks were then inserted into the straw hat and through the holes in the plastic canvas. After a small area was full of sticks, I would trim the pointy ends and apply white glue at the base of each one and allow to dry before working on the next section. While the sticks are very snug in the canvas, I didn't want to take the chance of driving a stick into the head of my sisters or me.  

Starting to insert sticks into hat

Adding some white glue for additional security

To make the hats comfortable, I cut down a kid’s foam construction hat and inserted it into the straw hat. It makes our heads sweaty, but keeps the stick nubs from hurting our heads. I hand stitched brown double-fold bias tape around the inside edge of the hat to secure the foam hat and hide the messy edges. I don't have a picture of that detail since DragonCon was looming and I couldn't afford the time. Here's a pic of the hat on my foam man-head.

Feel free to ask questions if you plan to make one of these. Keep in mind that they are hard to transport and store. It's a challenge to get 3 of these into a hotel room with a bunch of other costumes! And beware of headaches as ours are pretty snug. Maybe next I'll take on a daisy hat!

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