Making a Kentucky Derby Fascinator: A Quick DIY Guide

Different colors of feathers hosted in separate glass vases for the creation of a DIY fascinator

As the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby approaches, the excitement in Louisville, KY, is palpable, and what better way to celebrate than by donning a special and memorable Kentucky Derby fascinator? PinkTag, a women’s boutique nestled in the heart of Derby fashion, is thrilled to guide you through creating your own fascinator that will turn heads at Churchill Downs for the 2024 edition of the Kentucky Derby. Truly, if there’s a year to create your own special fascinator, this is the year to do it.

DIY Fascinator Summary

Creating your own Kentucky Derby fascinator is an engaging and creative process that begins with envisioning your ideal design, whether through sketches or inspiration images. Start by selecting a headband or hair clip as your base, attaching a saucer base of sinamay, felt, or straw to it for a sturdy foundation. Next, add volume and texture by applying a layer of tulle or netting, adjusting for your desired fullness. The focal point of your fascinator, the flowers, should be arranged next, starting with the largest bloom and adding smaller ones around it for a cohesive look. Embellish your creation with additional accents like ribbons, buttons, or feathers, placing them strategically to complement the overall design. Throughout the process, ensure each element is securely attached, using hot glue or needle and thread as appropriate. This methodical approach allows for a personalized fascinator that not only matches your vision but also stands out at the Kentucky Derby, embodying both your personal style and the festive spirit of the event.

Fascinator 101

What is a Fascinator Hat?

A fascinator hat is a decorative headpiece often worn by women at formal events. It is typically smaller than a traditional hat and is attached to the head using a clip, headband, or comb. Fascinators are made from a variety of materials including feathers, flowers, beads, and netting, creating an elegant and eye-catching accessory.

How to wear a Fascinator Hat?

To wear a fascinator, select a style that complements your face shape and attaches it to your head using the built-in clip or headband, typically on the right side. Position it at an angle for a more dynamic appearance and style your hair in a way that enhances its visibility, such as with a bun or an updo on the opposite side. This ensures the fascinator remains secure and prominently displayed throughout your event.

Can you wear a Fascinator to the Kentucky Derby?

Yes, you can wear a fascinator to the Kentucky Derby. Fascinators are a popular choice at this event, known for its fashionably dressed attendees and extravagant headwear. They offer a stylish and often more lightweight alternative to traditional wide-brimmed Derby hats, fitting perfectly with the festive and elegant attire typical of the occasion.

Why Make Your Own Derby Fascinator?

Creating your own Kentucky Derby fascinator isn’t just about fashion; it’s about making a personal statement. The benefits are many: from the joy of crafting something unique to the cost savings and the ability to tailor your fascinator to your exact taste. Plus, the process itself is a delightful journey into creativity and self-expression. At worst, creating your own fascinator is a memorable diversion from what you may typically do in putting together your Derby outfit: buying one that’s ready to wear. So, where do you begin?

Inspiration for Your Fascinator Creation

Before you gather your materials, it’s crucial to envision what you want your fascinator to look like. Whether you’re drawn to the elegance of floral designs or the boldness of modern art, having a clear picture will guide your creation process. Just see some of the images of fascinators included below to spark your imagination.


These are some of our personal favorites, but with subjectivity being a reality, we encourage you to look at other sources like Pinterest. Additionally, you can look at online stores that specifically sell fascinators. At PinkTag, for example, we host a collection that’s specifically catered to derby hats and fascinators. Perhaps one of these fascinators catches your eyes and ultimately serves as your inspiration. Better yet, you can plan on combining the elements of two different fascinators that you feel an affinity for. 

Consideration for whether you have a Derby dress picked out or not must also be considered. If you do, the fascinator must obviously complement your choice of dress in terms of color scheme and style. If you are in the alternative boat - without a Derby dress picked out yet - you must keep in mind that the fascinator you are set to craft may very well serve as the foundation of your to-be-determined derby outfit.

Materials Needed

The journey to creating a stunning fascinator begins with gathering the right materials. For the purposes of this guide, we will specifically focus on crafting a floral fascinator from scratch. The reason being that the floral fascinator is an extremely common variety (or theme) of fascinator that most derby goers (or watchers) opt to wear. Not to mention, the steps in creating a floral fascinator may translate to the other types of fascinators you can create. With that, for a floral fascinator, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Headband or Hair Clip: The foundation of your fascinator, ensuring it stays securely in place.
  • Saucer Base (sinamay, felt, or straw): This acts as the canvas for your design.
  • Flowers (artificial or authentic): The centerpiece of your creation, adding beauty and flair.
  • Tulle or Netting: Adds volume and a touch of whimsy to your fascinator.
  • Other Embellishments (ribbons, buttons, etc.): Personalize your piece with unique touches.
  • Scissors or Wire Cutters: For shaping and cutting your materials.
  • Hot Glue: Ensures everything stays together.
  • Needle & Thread: For delicate attachments that require sewing.

The Creation Process: Step-by-Step

Creating your own Kentucky Derby fascinator is a delightful journey into the world of DIY fashion. Alas, here’s a detailed guide to bring your vision to life:

1. Consider Your Initial Vision: Before diving into the creation process, take a moment to envision the fascinator you want to create. This could involve sketching your design or gathering inspiration from images. Whether you're aiming for a floral masterpiece or a modern chic piece, having a clear idea will serve as your blueprint.

2. Prepare & Attach the Base: Your fascinator starts with a solid foundation. Choose between a headband or a hair clip based on your comfort and the weight of your design. Attach a saucer base—sinamay, felt, or straw are popular choices due to their lightweight and versatile nature. This base will act as the canvas for your design, so ensure it's securely fastened using hot glue or needle and thread for a more durable hold.

3. Apply a Tulle or Netting Layer: Tulle or netting adds volume and an element of intrigue to your fascinator. Cut a piece large enough to cover your base with the desired amount of pouf. You can gather the tulle at the center and glue it onto the base, creating a cloud-like effect. This layer can be as subdued or dramatic as you like, setting the tone for the rest of your embellishments.

4. Arrange the Flowers: Now comes the fun part—adding flowers to your fascinator. Whether you choose artificial blooms for their lasting beauty or fresh flowers for their natural elegance, arrange them in a way that complements your base and tulle layer. Start by placing the largest flower first as the focal point, then add smaller flowers around it. Use hot glue to secure them in place, ensuring each flower is positioned to create a harmonious look.

5. Add Additional Embellishments: This is where your fascinator truly becomes your own. Ribbons, buttons, feathers, or even small jewels can add that extra sparkle to your design. Place them thoughtfully to enhance your fascinator's theme and colors. Each embellishment should be attached securely, either sewn in with needle and thread or glued down.

6. Ensure Adherence: Once all elements are in place, give your fascinator a gentle shake to ensure everything is securely attached. If anything feels loose, reinforce it with additional glue or stitches. This is also the time to step back and ensure your creation matches the initial vision you had in mind. Adjust as necessary to achieve your desired look.

By following these steps, you'll craft a Kentucky Derby fascinator that's not only beautiful but also a true reflection of your personal style. Remember, the key to a successful DIY project is patience and creativity—don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with the process!

The Fascinator as Part of Your Derby Outfit

Your fascinator is not just an accessory; it’s the crown jewel of your Derby outfit. Ensure it compliments your dress in color and style, whether it’s the centerpiece or a harmonious addition to your ensemble. Read more about crafting the perfect Derby outfit here.

Fascinator Fridays at PinkTag

At PinkTag, we are excited to be launching a new workshop that we’re calling Fascinator Fridays. As part of Fascinator Fridays, which will occur every Friday during the month of April, we will be providing all the materials needed (i.e. feathers) to create your own fascinator. That is, with the expertise and crafting ability of our team present. Additionally, our team will provide you with style recommendations according to the derby dress you have picked out in advance. And if you can’t join us in person, our derby fascinator and feather bundle is available online for at-home assembly.


Register for Fascinator Fridays

Shop Our Fascinator Collection

If DIY isn’t your style, explore PinkTag’s curated collection of over 80 ready-to-wear Kentucky Derby fascinators. From elegant to edgy, find the perfect fascinator to complete your Derby day look.

Shop the Fascinator Collection

Author Name

About the Author: Kayla Hafling

Kayla Hafling is the acting General Manager of PinkTag Boutique. Like her sister Britney - owner and founder of PinkTag - Kayla is a proud mother with a 'sixth sense' for women's fashion and style. On a normal day, you can find her assisting with the day-to-day operations of PinkTag at their physical storefront in Louisville, KY.

Recently Viewed