How to Make a Show Girl Headdress

(continued)

To cover the frame, it helps to have something vaguely solid inside to attach the covering to.  I’m going to make a base out of craft foam, then use the covering fabric to attach the foam to the headdress.  (I know this sounds bass-ackwards.  Watch….)

Mark out the length of the foam base, using measurements taken off the jig used to shape the wires for the frame.

Mark out the length of the foam base, using measurements taken off the jig used to shape the wires for the frame.

The frame is basically banana-shaped.  I've marked out an idealized version of the shape, based on the length of the frame and the width of the feather cage.

The frame is basically banana-shaped. I've marked out an idealized version of the shape, based on the length of the frame and the width of the feather cage.

Cut a piece of fabric to cover the foam and frame.  It should be roughly 2" larger than the foam on all sides.  I'm using silver lycra, to make my life easier.

Cut a piece of fabric to cover the foam and frame. It should be roughly 2" larger than the foam on all sides. I'm using silver lycra, to make my life easier.

You might be wondering how silver lycra is ever the option that makes life easier.  In this case, since I’ll be stretching it over a rather lumpy (blame the pipe cleaners) frame, the stretch of the lycra will actually make a multitude of sins into something that looks vaguely intentional.  Also, since this fabric doesn’t fray at all, I don’t have to find a way to seal all the cut edges I’m about to make.  That’s going to help a lot, especially when it comes to limiting the amount of ugly that occurs around the front and back braces.

Artfully glop hot glue onto one side of the foam...

Artfully glop hot glue onto one side of the foam, and affix it to the center of the WRONG SIDE of the lycra.

Center the foam/fabric construction against the frame.

Center the foam/fabric construction against the frame.

Carefully place both foam/fabric and frame back onto the styrofoam head.  The frame will hold the foam/fabric piece in place while you work.

Carefully place both foam/fabric and frame back onto the styrofoam head. The frame will hold the foam/fabric piece in place while you work.

Working in 2" strips, carefully wrap the lycra around the frame and hot glue it to the pipe cleaners and the foam.

Working in 2" strips, carefully wrap the lycra around the frame and hot glue it to the pipe cleaners and the foam. Try to be as neat as possible when going around the corners and the braces...

Continue all around, then trim back the lycra.

Continue all around, then trim back the lycra.

The lumpy of the pipe cleaners under the lycra looks a bit like some sort of embossed silver...

The lumpy of the pipe cleaners under the lycra looks a bit like some sort of embossed silver...

Now that we have something solid in the middle, we can glue down the feather cage.  Use a lot of glue - you don't want this to wiggle at all.

Now that we have something solid in the middle, we can glue down the feather cage. Use a lot of glue - you don't want this to wiggle at all.

The basic construction is done.... Now we just need to make it pretty.

The basic construction is done.... Now we just need to make it pretty.

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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