Fascinators & Hat Pins

It’s not just hats that are coming back into fashion. So are hat pins!

Starting before the Civil War, hat pins took the place of bonnet or hat strings and were used to secure straw hats. When ladies piled their hair up high, the pins secured their hats to their hair (not to their head). They were very popular around the turn of the century and became longer and more ornate. But many ladies continued to use hat pins.

As toddler (late 1950s) sitting on my mother’s knees on a rail car, I was fascinated by an ornate pin on the back of the hat worn by the lady in front of us. I reached out and pulled the pin all the way out when my mother hissed “Karen Berthine!” She startled me and I shoved the pin straight back in the lady’s hat – and into her head. (The beautiful hat pins and the hat pin holder in the picture above are available on eBay.)

While not usually used to pin a hat to a towering hair do, nowadays they are used as lapel pins, scarf and shawl pins, and hat decorations.

Fascinators are also making a comeback. According to Nancy Friedman’s blog, in “the 19th and early 20th centuries a fascinator was a lightweight knitted or crocheted headscarf.”

They reappeared in the 1960s. At that time, the towering upswept and teased “do’s” women wore (see pic to the left, source) simply didn’t allow hats to stay on well – for obvious reasons! So fascinators – little
hat-like objects d’art – perched on their hair. And they are making another comeback!

Fascinators can be charming and flirty, fun and elegant, as illustrated by the picture of Kate Middleton (now Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge) to the right.

Fascinators also can be whimsical and arty, as demonstrated by the picture of Sarah Jessica Parker to the left. (To my knowledge, she’s still just Sarah Jessica Parker.)

And, as the world recently learned at the wedding of Kate Middleton to Prince William of England, fascinators can be pretty darn scary too. (Pic at right – which I think of as a “Fascinator Gone Wrong” – comes from UK’s Daily Mail. )

Making your own:

Hat Pins: YouTube has videos on making hat pins. Check out Hat Pin Tutorial and Victorian Hat Pins. I think hat pins make great accessories for knit and crocheted hats and scarves!

Fascinators: On Craftsy, you can see an example of a pretty crocheted fascinator. Knit on the Net has a pattern for a knit fascinator that will, according to its site, soon be up for purchase. Knitting the Experience provides a pattern for a knitted and felted fascinator. Your Knitting Life has a preview of a beautiful knit fascinator called the Infinity Fascinator. Knit and Purl Stitch has a nice one for you to make, though it is neither knit nor purled. 🙂

Buying: Check out Etsy – for instance Georgina’s makes fun fascinators, and you can take a peek at some very pricey fascinators at Hatagories, including some made by Philip Treacy – one of the big names in fascinators who, I believe, designed the “Fascinator Gone Wrong” (my name for it – not Mr. Treacy’s) above. He has some amazing designs; you make want to look at his website. Another source for vintage facinators and/or hatpins is used clothing stores, antique stores and good hat stores! And, of course, there’s eBay – a another great place to look for antique fascinators and hatpins.

I bought a fascinator and a hat pin at Goorin Bros. The fascinator is attached to a thin head band and its decoration (feathers) hugs the side of my head. (It is similar to Knit and Purl Stitch’s fascinator.) I wore it only once before my daughter borrowed it. And she just had to have my hatpin. I haven’t seen them since.

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19 Responses to Fascinators & Hat Pins

  1. I haven’t seen them in children’s stores but I have seen pics of teenagers wearing them … usually to something fairly dressy.


  2. Ahhh, I would imagine that your daughters are more concerned that others might think you don’t look good in hats and thus that would reflect on them. Start without them! Pave the way! Attitude plus hat = (positive) attention getting. 🙂 (I speak from experience.)


  3. I have only one hat pin and wear it in my winter wool hats … I think they’re great on berets if you pull the under brim out and wear them slouched on your head (my favorite way to wear berets).


  4. Deanne says:

    I’ve seen a few fascinators being worn (at opening day of the races here is where I remember most recently) but not hat pins. I have a hat pin, but so far all I do is admire it. http://obsoproject.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/day-138-hat-pin/


  5. Tracey says:

    I actually recently saw a child wearing a fascinator at a school graduation. I thought. Whoa. That is one fashionable kiddo!


  6. I’ve seen fascinators in stores and thought they were beautiful. I’ve always wanted to get into wearing hats (my daughters discourage that kind of thinking) but I may just start up without them. Maybe a facinator is the way to start. And, of course, I may have to knit a few! The ones you cite are simply amazing! Ok, that one was definitely wrong, but the others … lovely!


  7. Curiously I was trying on fascinators this afternoon! Yes I agree – fun!


  8. Curls & Q says:

    No. They are so long and sharp. I do wear hats a lot. Maybe I should try one! 😎


  9. marlyselaine says:

    I was at a party recently where we passed around a fascinator worn by one of the guests. All of us tried it on (with her encouragement), both men and women. All of us assumed a different personality with it on, and all of us wore it differently, it was a true window into everyone’s character. The fascinator was black, and like those little lacy flowers they put in floral bouquets. As a culture we need to start re-indulging our fascinator urges. Also hat pins and hats! Thanks for the posts.


  10. That sounds like she’s using it for some interior decorating purpose! 😉


  11. Yes – I have seen a lot of them in antique stores over the years. Would be fun to wear!


  12. Lucky you! Do you wear the pins in any fashion?


  13. Thank you. I wore my fascinators only once – and it was quite tame compared to the pictures in this post” and i barely noticed it. But my daughter really liked it so It’s now at her house.


  14. Yes! They make great lapel pins. 🙂


  15. I don’t wear enough hats to justify a proper hatpin, but it seems like the fancy hairpins they come up with these days are pretty similar. I definitely like playing with those!


  16. Fascinators always look like they’re the quickest route to a headache and sore neck! I’d like a hatpin to keep my hat on in the wind though. Fascinating series. 🙂


  17. Curls & Q says:

    I am the lucky recipient of my great-aunts’ hat pins and the beautiful cushion they had them in. 😎 I do not ever remember seeing them wear them. Great post! I want a fascinator! Darn daughters! 😎


  18. Tina says:

    What a great post! I love hat pin and have often thought about collecting them over the years, simply because they are quite beautiful and so unique.


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