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How do I make a big showgirl-type headdress?

How do I make a big showgirl-typeheaddress?

I love your page and wish a had the chance to meet you when I was inAlaska. I recently moved from Eagle River Alaska to Orlando Florida. You have so manyhelpful links to me. I am in the need of some information on how to make showgirl stylelarge headdresses, any ideas? Any help you can provide would be appreciated. I use yourpage often now for research and help. Thanks Organza

Thanks Organza I've added your site to my

transgender links page. It was veryappropriate to my life just nowsince my student house-sitter (who hasn't found a place to move out to yet) is gettingready to go to the coronation of the new Empress of Alaska (Drag) and is planning hisoutfits as Lady Bracknell, a handmaiden to the Duchess of Fairbanks. He is most worked upsince he is running for Miss Gay Fairbanks (head handmaiden or some such thing), sewingthe gown of the present Miss, and is doing the gown and the 14'X20' silver lame cape forthe Duchess. If that weren't enough, his girlfriend (sort of) is going as Lord Bracknell.I need hardly say my time and my rhinestone collection is being plundered unmercifully.This is why my reply is not so prompt. (That and I return to work tomorrow).

As for such headdresses, there are MANY different ways to do showgirlheaddresses, each depending on one's time, budget, and intended look. Let us assume youwant to do one for almost no money, and no time. In that case I would exhort you to getsome kind of cap (fitted head shape base) that you can work from. A good cheap idea forthis is to go to Value Village or another thrift store and butcher an old hat for the partthat goes on the head. Trim this down to a sort of scull-cap cloche shape and hot glue abias tape edge to the cap if the hat you butchered was straw. Then get yourself some1" or thicker foam mattress pad type stuff. Cut it into a huge starburst, sun, orwhatever shape with a keyhole shape in the center for the head. Then cut up some wirecoat-hangers, and shove the wire up and into the points of the star (or whatever) from thecenter. Leave 2-3" of wire dangling into the center of the keyhole. With pliers, bendthe wire back sharply, at a 45 degree angle, then loop the wire at the end to preventinjury. Hot glue the foam and wire piece to the cap, with the cap inside the circle of thekeyhole. Be generous with the glue, especially on the wires on the rear. Fiddle and bendthe wires inside the foam, so that the points (or whatever) get the shape you want. Atthis point you can spray paint the whole thing gold and add spangles, feathers, and trimwith hot glue, or you can instead cover the whole exterior with fabric or decoration.

If you are wearing a wig, and you get your wigs cheap (Lacey CostumeWigs in NYC is good for this), you can also opt to use the wig as part of the headdress.In this case, make the cap piece as usual, but smaller. Put the wig on a form OVER thecap, this stabilizes the wig top. (Check on yourself to be sure it will fit youafterwards.) Make the foam and wire piece as usual, however, when you are gluing the foamto the cap, you will do so, on the form, through the mesh of the top of the wig. In thiscase use only enough glue to tack the wires in place behind, then use LOTS of heavy threadsewn through all the layers to hold the wires in place at the rear. If you want to usespray paint, obviously you will need to do this to the keyhole piece before attaching it.This method makes the headpiece seem to magically stay on the head in a stable position,without a visible cap.

Fancy showgirl headdresses in the real world are done with heaps ofwire, soldered into shapes and covered with thread or cloth tapes then decorated withrhinestones and ostrich. These are both expensive and time consuming, but I can give youthe basics on these if this is what you have in mind. For use for just a few occasions,rather than 2-4 shows a day, seven days a week as in Vegas, this foam, wire and feathermethod is more than adequate, looking well and truly large and spectacular, while stillbeing light to wear. If you want to make a really huge piece you can just use scrap foamto put up extra buttresses of foam in the rear, and the foam and wire will happily supportitself out up to 3' in any direction. To do a giant Carmen Miranda job, make a cone offoam that is attached to the cap. Buy folding paper party fruit (used for centerpieces)and glue it to the top of the cone, then wrap the bottom with a garish scarf print turban.This will let you make a 3' high number that weighs under a pound. Don't try to use rubberor plastic fruit, since it weighs much more and the headdress then flops about. If you havemore questions, write again. Good luck. ---Tara

"The Costumer's Manifesto"
by Tara Maginnis