How to Make a Show Girl Headdress

(continued)

Creating the wire base

The first attempt I made was a stunning failure: I tried to twist the hangers together like I’d twisted the pipe cleaners in the mockup.  Now, as dumb as that sounds, it’s clearly possible to get a tight twist on hangers, because they come with one.  So you can see where I might have made the assumption.  I was also cutting the wires into short lengths, which is really not easy on the hands.  Ultimately, the working technique went like this:

decapitated hanger

Decapitate a hanger. You'll need 2 for each headdress. You should be using heavy wire cutters for this. I like to make the ends into little loopsie-doos so that I don't cut my hands up with the sharp ends. Use a long nose pliers.

Use the jig to check the bend and length on the wires.

Use the jig to check the bend and length on the wires. I'm starting with the forehead piece and the front of the headband with my first hanger, then I'll do the whole band with the second. Both pieces will be used in the back V.

Use a long nosed pliers to make sharp bends in the wire, then check the angle against the jig.

Use a long nosed pliers to make sharp bends in the wire, then check the angle against the jig.

End the wire with a loopsie-doo.  You'll need it in the next step.

End the wire with a loopsie-doo. You'll need it in the next step.

Thread a pipe cleaner through the loopsie-doo.

Thread a pipe cleaner through the loopsie-doo.

Clamp the loopsie closed as much as possible, so the pipe cleaner is secure.

Clamp the loopsie closed as much as possible, so the pipe cleaner is secure.

Wind the pipe cleaner around the wires to secure them together, thereby completing the shape.

Wind the pipe cleaner around the wires to secure them together, thereby completing the shape.

Here's a better view of the newly created form.

Here's a better view of the newly created form.

Here we have both pieces of wire bent, and ready to be joined.  (The odd bits on the side are the ear pieces, which I ultimately won't use.  Oh, bother.)

Here we have both pieces of wire bent, and ready to be joined. (The odd bits on the side are the ear pieces, which I ultimately won't use. Oh, bother.)

Completed wire form.

The completed form, all nicely bound up with pipe cleaners.

At this point, I have a working base.  When it’s bent to just a little tight on the head (like a headband) it stays put – no wiggling or jiggling.  Given that, I abandoned the silly ear pieces.  As it turns out, these are a little rough on the hands to put together.  Did I mention that I had to make 6?  I went out and bought cloth covered florist wire for the upper cage structure that will hold the feathers….

17 thoughts on “How to Make a Show Girl Headdress

  1. The Cheap Chick says:

    Wow. You really CAN make anything, literally ANYTHING!!!! As usual, you are my costuming hero. And congrats on how fabulous Chicago looked – excellent work!

    7 years ago | Reply

  2. Please Please help me….I'm gong to a fancy dress party and? says:

    […] How to Make a Show Girl Headdress | Sempstress […]

    7 years ago | Reply

  3. missa says:

    Hi, Lulu,
    I’m sorry, but since I don’t know how it’s made and what sort of structure it’s built on, I can’t even guess. You should contact the maker and find out what suggestions they have.
    Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

    7 years ago | Reply

  4. Kathy Bee says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. I’m learning more about hat designing from from friend Josie Silva at http://learnhowtomakehats.com. She also wears big Show Girl Hats…I am going to pass this site on ton her!
    Thanks again!

    7 years ago | Reply

  5. That Amidala Headdress - Sempstress says:

    […] I decided to go with the two-hangers-and-some-craft-foam approach to millinery. […]

    3 years ago | Reply

  6. Rebecca Ermisch, The Costume Shop says:

    Hi, I am new to this site and I am so impressed! I needed to purchase some white collar sailor hats recently for a show and they asked what I was using them for. In this case it was to make cloches for a 1920s show.( If you fold down the brims they make a great base to build your hats.) Anyway I asked why they wanted to know . They said that this is what the Mummers use in Philadelphia to mount all of they’re elaborate headdresses with the many feathers. I tried it and they do make a very sturdy base if you can use a helmut -looking headdress. I have cut out the ears at times and added wire where needed. I also found if I cut out at the back of the neck it fits better. Anyway , just wanted to share.

    2 years ago | Reply

  7. La Cage Aux Folles - Desktop Backgrounds says:

    […] made the headdresses following this Sempstress tutorial. It worked out really well – some of the cast helped me make them assembly-line style.  […]

    1 year ago | Reply

  8. gbet63 says:

    Hair and headpieces do not mix unless it’s a Carnival type event. For a showgirl in Vegas, the hair is never shown.

    3 months ago | Reply

  9. How (not to) Make a Carmen Miranda Hat/Costume Thing - Sempstress says:

    […] be heavy.  You can only find so much light produce.  I know how to build a stable, heavy hat if I can anchor around the skull.  I know how to build one if I can permanently embed it in a hairdo.  I can’t do either, […]

    3 weeks ago | Reply

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