December 23, 2008

Bird of Paradise hat

One of the hats I made for the Hat Week exhibition was this Bird of Paradise  in felt.

I’ve been thinking about having birds on my hats for a long time, and after having a lot of sketches done I decided to try and give it a go. My idea at first was to cut a silhouette of a bird to then appliqué it on a hat, but once I had designed and cut out this bird I decided it deserved to be on its own.

It’s made with one of the felt cones I bought during my escape to Kopka in Germany. It’s a beautiful peach bloom fur felt cone off white in colour. With the idea of making the most out of the cone I folded it in four selctions and then traced the shape of the cone into a piece of paper. I drew the shape of the bird within that space, using up as much of the felt as possible. The result is pretty good, and the curvature of the cone is ideal because as a result the bird sits very nicely on the head (with the help of a metallic Alice Band).

The tricky part (one of the very many) was the cutting of the felt. I traced the shape with a pencil on the wrong side and used small curved scissors for the intricate parts. Once I had my first bird cut out, is when I decided I wanted it to be a hat on its own, which meant that I would have to cut another one identical and sandwich them together with some millinery wire in the middle to allow me to adjust the position of the wings and tail.

I must confess that I didn’t expect this to succeed, so I stopped taking pictures altogether (no one really wants to document a complete disaster), but here is what I did:

  1. I wired the bird following the contours, and sewing with a curved needle without going through the felt.
  2. I cut the second bird, but this time I cut it slightly outside the line, so later I could trim it to exactly the same contour as the other one.
  3. I cut a section of narrow tubular ribbon and inserted the thin metallic Alice band into it.
  4. I tried on the hat and decided on the position of the Alice band, and I pinned the ribbon in place (the idea of the tubular ribbon is to allow the band to be adjusted, and even to replace the band with one of a different the colour).
  5. I glued the two birds together section by section. I used a glue called Copydex by Pritt. It’s nice because it comes with it’s own brush attached to the cap, which minimizes the mess, and it makes a great bond.
  6. Once it was glued together and dry I trimmed the edges of the felt to even them out, and I sanded the edges slightly.

This hat (and I call it a hat because I do not like the word fascinator) had a lot of attention during the exhibition, and one of the visitors, a young lady, unpinned it from the chair and tried it on (see picture below)…  next time we will have to chain them on!


  1. Absolute GENIUS! This is my favorite.. The way you approached making the pattern and how you sandwiched the “alice band” beautiful finish!

    Comment by Montez — December 23, 2008 @ 7:50 pm

  2. Cristina.- este casquete es fantástico, de veras. Felices fiestas para tí y mis mejores deseos para el nuevo año. Un abrazo y hasta pronto, Paco

    Comment by paco peralta — December 24, 2008 @ 5:44 pm

  3. El resultado en vivo y en directo es fantástico!!! Enhorabuena por tu trabajo y Feliz Navidad para tí y los tuyos.
    Un abrazo Cristina

    Comment by nila taranco — December 25, 2008 @ 11:54 am

  4. The view from the back is magnificent to! Truly a lovely creation, and so unusual. Next perhaps a blue bird of happiness version?

    Comment by jill — December 27, 2008 @ 3:52 am

  5. PS: Thanks for your thoughts on kitchen planning! FYI: Granite around here at least needs to be sealed yearly. I just got tired of seeing houses with massive slabs of granite, and want something not quite so “grand” and that is also less work to care for. Quartz is the plan! You are right though that it is nice to be able to roll out stuff on the countertop.

    Comment by jill — December 27, 2008 @ 3:54 am

  6. Awesome!
    I get access to the workshop I use to make hats tomorrow, Maybe I’ll steal some ideas from you.

    Comment by Kristoffer Lindh — January 19, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  7. Hi Kristoffer, I look forward to seeing what you create…

    Comment by cristinadeprada — January 19, 2009 @ 11:16 pm

  8. Have been neglecting my blogging pals as I’ve been hosting Grandbaby. How adorable is your Bird of Paradise hat!! You are no longer a Wannabe, Cristina!
    K Q:-)

    Comment by Kate — January 22, 2009 @ 10:26 pm

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