The Helmet Fascinator
We’ve had youth show with us for a number of years, and of course, they have to wear an approved helmet at all times when on the show grounds (and when they are at home with us as well!). When our son was showing, I would just put a velvet helmet cover on his helmet and be done with it.
When we had a cute teenage girl showing with our phaeton cart, her helmet needed something that made it look a little more feminine and elegant besides just the helmet cover. So I went to work.
I did a web search for fascinator and decided that with a VSE (Very Small Equine) turnout and a teenager, we didn’t want something overly large. I have also looked at other Junior turnouts, and really didn’t care for the helmet decorations that added width to the helmet and made the head look bigger than the helmet already did. I wanted something small and elegant that wouldn't blow around profusely or get in the way. I had remembered when we were competing at the Walnut Hill Carriage Driving Competition in New York, a lot of the kids there had something that made their helmet look a little less “brain bucket” like. In our stash, I found this photo below of Kirsten Brunner and her daughter, Kilby.
Looking closely, I realized that the center of her helmet decoration was what is referred to as a yo-yo, so I searched how to make them and again went to work. I found some shiny blue fabric either already in my sewing stash or bought a square at the fabric store, I don’t remember. I made the yo-yo, sewed on a gold button (the turnout has brass metal), added a small blue flower, gold and blue ribbon, and viola…a helmet fascinator!
So how did I make our fascinators? I started with the yo-yo. I’m not going to spell out how to do that. There are a number of websites that explain that, but here is the progression of photos I took to make the latest one for a teal turnout.
When the yo-yo was done, I found a large, flat button in my button jar (who doesn't have a button jar?) the size of the center I wanted to make. I sewed the button on the center of the yo-yo, and then glued a piece of thin, stiff, white cardboard on the button.
Then, I played with some ribbon to see how it would look behind the yo-yo. The blue one above has three loops of the same color, while the teal one below has two loops. I think that is because I wanted to use the peacock eye at the center of teal one and that was quite a bit larger than the small button and flower of the blue one. I have a button with a peacock eye for a lapel pin on my teal coat (you can see remnants of it in the photo below), and the fascinator was made to match. After I tacked the ribbon loops together, I sewed the ribbon to the backside of the yo-yo. I glued the peacock eye to the cardboard after I curled the ends of the feather with the blade of a scissors.
Since the peacock eye feathers are fairly fragile, the teal fascinator is just pinned well to the helmet cover so I can take it off to store it and not have the peacock eye get beat up. The blue one is actually sewn onto that helmet cover.
I don’t know if there is actually any “rule” about on what side the decoration goes, but it seems like the hats that I have already have the feathers/ribbons/etc. on the right, so that is the side I put the fascinator.
I know people are concerned about whether wearing a helmet is going to be “appropriate” for a Turnout class, even though it is perfectly within the rules. I was a little bit concerned as well whether a judge would consider a Junior driver with a helmet over another turnout with a hat, but believe it or not, our girls wearing their helmets and fascinators have won every Turnout class in which they have shown against some pretty good competition! Of course, they were super clean and polished, their harness and vehicle fit, and they had great performances!
- Myrna Rhinehart