Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Frippery Hair Clip: A Sort-of Tutorial

"Honey, what does this look like to you?" I asked hopefully, holding up a tangled wad of fabric and thread.
"A flower?" tentatively replied my husband, "It looks nice, I like it."
"Well I hate it. It's stupid and I think it should die."
"Don't you think that's a bit dramatic, dear?"

And so began my adventure in Improvisational Seamstressland.
This weekend I wore a new blue sweater, and it's the bluest blue ever. It needed a dramatic accessory. May I introduce the feathered hair clip!

Now that's what I call drama.
Since most of the rose tutorials online reminded me too much of the cheesy silk ribbon roses found at any craft store, I gave up and decided to play around until I came up with something I liked.
The blue fabric was found in the remnants bin at Joann's, and it was a perfect match to my sweater! I got the feathers there, too. One package of assorted spotted guinea feathers and one package of pre-trimmed black goose feathers. They were about $2 each. And that's pretty much all I needed, besides some thread and a piece of scrap felt for the back.

To make the rose, I cut a really long strip of fabric about an inch wide and threaded an embroidery needle with several strands of thread. I cut a circle the size of the rose I wanted from a piece of felt and tacked the bottom corner of the fabric strip to the middle of the circle with a couple small stitches. Then I wound the strip around and tacked down with another stitch every half turn or so. I just kept turning and stitching until it started to look flower-ish. If the ruffles/petals started to look too uniform, I'd make a tiny little pleat and stitched it down before I kept going. This method produced an abstract, dainty, ruffly-looking flower that can't really be called a rose, but still cute.

However, it wasn't the style I had in mind (see opening comments!) so I tried again.

This time I cut the fabric strip about two inches wide, and folded it in half before stitching it down, raw edges down. I did the turning and stitching the same as before, except I twisted the strip upside down and back again every so often to avoid a plain spiral. The double thickness produced a much larger, more substantial flower. It still wasn't quite what I'd pictured, but I liked it and didn't know how to improve it anymore.

I also had a bag of old broken costume jewelry found at a garage sale, so I picked through it to find some tiny little thing to add some sparkle. If the rose is going to be small, I think an old pearl or crystal post earring will work great- just stab it right through the middle and put the earring back piece on the other side. Otherwise, you'll probably need a dreaded glue gun. Why the negativity, you ask?
My only experience with a glue gun stemmed from a weird desire to cover all my clay flowerpots with brightly-dyed seashells. I painted the pots blinding tropical colors and got to work, happily encrusting away. I set them on my front porch for all to admire, not giving a thought to the melting hot sun working its melting hot meltiness on my glue-gunned masterpieces. I can just imagine the look of horror on the poor mailman's face as he stumbled through a graveyard of seashell carcasses covered in shiny slime.
The glue gun, who was clearly the party at fault here, was relegated to the bottom-most craft drawer as punishment some years ago. I really wanted to avoid using it, but the little jewel I chose didn't have anything on the back I could use as anchors for stitching. *sigh* And so out came the stupid glue gun. Here's the little cameo I decided to use:

Now I picked out the feathers.

These guinea feathers had fluffy down or whatever it's called at the bottom, which I did not want to include in my clip, so I stripped that part off. It was actually pretty gross, I felt like I was peeling the skin off a raw chicken *shudder*
It turned out to be completely unnecessary because I ended up gluing the bottom part of the feather behind the rose, so it would have been hidden and would've given the glue something to hang on to.

The back of the feather package gave instructions on how to trim and shape the feather. It sounded kind of like using curling ribbon, but mine kept breaking every time I tried. Grr.
That's ok though, because the black goose feathers were already trimmed and nicely shaped, and having a thinner shaft they were more bouncy so I thought they'd look prettier sticking out anyway. A few of the shafts even had some seed beads already threaded on. I assume you're meant to use the feather arrangement as it is in the package because the bottoms of the feathers are permanently glued to a semi-circle of canvas. I just snipped off a strip of canvas along with the feather because it made it easier to glue to the back of the rose.
When I chose the feathers and arranged them how I liked, I inserted them into the stitching on the back of the rose to make gluing easier. And let me tell ya, you'll want all the gluing ease you can get. Did I mention how much I loathe glue guns? Once I finally got them all turned nicely, I completely slimed the back with the hot glue. Probably a little overkill, but you can never trust those deviant glue guns.

I apologize for not having any photos of these steps. I was so frustrated with the stupid glue at this point that I wanted to toss the whole project (especially the glue gun,) in the trash. It kept making spiderweb-like strings which I somehow managed to stretch and spread all over everything, including my precious feathers. The more I tried to pick the goo out of the feathers the more goo I spread on them! Gah!
Ok so anyway if I had been smart, I would've stuck the last piece on while the glue was still hot and gooey to avoid stitching it on. The last piece is a second round of felt to which the metal hair snap is stitched. Kind of unnecessary, but it hides the back of the crazy thread-crossed, feather jabbed, glue slobbered mess. Since I wasn't smart enough to just slap it on, I stitched together the edges of the first and second felt round. This also reminds me that next time I'll avoid letting the glue spread all the way to the edge of the circle because then I won't be able to jab the needle through all that glue!

Myself and my craft corner now covered in chicken fluff and hot glue strings, I give you... the hair clip!

Any readers here like to make hair clips? Do you have any tips for us? (like.... making peace with the glue gun hehe)


jenni said...

This is soooooo pretty. Are you going to wear this lovely on New Year's Eve? ;)

SewSweetStitches said...

Nah I wore it last weekend to a special Bible convention. But considering I have a whole bag of bright feathers leftover, I could make one for just about every day!

Good Girls Studio said...

Darling! Kiss & make up with the glue gun because that's what I use too :) Love the peeling chicken skin analogy! When I make headbands my entire studio is covered in feathers {achoo}!

Jessica said...

I love your hair clip! I should've known you made it when I saw your wearing it Sunday. You're so talented :)

Anonymous said...

Im too lazy(read:impatient) to make one myself. MAKE ONE FOR ME! Ill pay you(better yet,sell them on etsy....I have some other things of yours Im jonesing for).....

Anonymous said...

Forget the glue gun. Use Aleene's Jewel It.

Anonymous said...

Use a hair drier to melt the glue strings away when you are done.Then you don't need to pick it out of the feathers.

Rainey said...

I'm just skipping through some jewelry making sites as i'm interested in the beaded hair clips with feathers and what ever else looks good on them. Love the blue vintage rose and the clues to putting one together, sans glue gun especially. i like Aleens glues too and the hair dryer trick is way cool,er hot. thanks, melissa...best, rainey