diy project: faux cameroonian feather hat

There are few more dramatic pieces of art for your wall than the bold, brilliant traditional feather headdresses from Cameroon. Unfortunately, the price for these intricately woven, handmade pieces can be quite high, which is why I’m thrilled to share this “faux” feather hat DIY from graphic designer and blogger Rosa Pearson. She’s not only captured the vivid color of the original pieces but also some of the incredible texture of the feathers. Her version is a bit smaller than the giant Cameroonian hats, which can be as large as 31″ in diameter, but it’s still a wonderfully eye-catching addition to your wall decor, and for a mere fraction of the cost. Thanks for sharing, Rosa! — Kate

Have a DIY project you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

When I first saw an African Juju hat on TV, I was a hooked. I wondered where these fabulous things had come from, and I was determined to find out. I was drawn to their eye-catching beauty, but not their high-end price tag. I searched online for a DIY or tutorial, and when I came up empty-handed, it seemed like the perfect time to tackle a DIY project on my blog! I love the bold pop of color that the hat brings to the room and how the wool mimics the texture of the feathers that are used in the traditional headdresses. For people that aren’t DIY-inclined, I made some for my Etsy shop, too. — Rosa

Materials

  • thick wool yarn (approx. 1/2 ball for a small hat, 1+ for a large hat)
  • scissors or X-Acto knife
  • poster board or thick card stock
  • stapler
  • double-sided tape
  • popsicle sticks or chopsticks

Instructions

1. Trace and cut a circle out of the poster board. Then cut out a 1/2″ to 1″ hole in the center of that circle, depending on whether you’re doing a large or small hat. Next, cut from the outside edge of the circle to the inner circle, as shown. I used a dinner plate as a template for tracing my circle, with a 10.75″ diameter and 1″ center hole.

2. Cut the yarn approx. 1″ longer than the diameter of your circle backer.

3. To figure out how much yarn you need to cut for the first layer, just hold it on top of the circle, spread it out like a fan and see if there are any hollow areas. If so, cut some more until you like the fullness.

4. Once you’ve established that you have enough yarn to fill your circle, use a piece of yarn to tie the bundle in the middle.

5. Divide the sides of the first bundle in half so that it’s the shape of an X. Cut a second bundle of yarn into shorter lengths than the first (mine were 4″ shorter) and tie. Place bundle vertically onto the X and tie around the sides of the X shape. Repeat with a third, even shorter layer, if desired. (I did.) Just make sure that you tie on the third layer horizontally this time. You don’t want all the ties in the same place, or it will naturally want to separate in that area.

6. Turn yarn upside down so that the knots are facing up. Overlap the edges of the poster board to the desired cone shape. Staple in place. Pull the ends of the ties through the hole, and tie a knot with the ends to create a loop for hanging.

7. If your hole ends up being a bit too big and the knots themselves don’t hold the yarn in place, then tug on the yarn ends and stick some popsicle sticks under the main knot to secure in place. They will also help stabilize the hat so that it sits flatter when hanging on the wall.

8. Stick the double-sided tape onto the back, peel off the red layer and press the yarn down into the desired position.

THE END! My favorite part of this project is that Juju hats cost around $600, but this wool one cost around $10!

Shones

I like the idea and I’m thinking of different ways I could use this in my home. Perhaps I could group several of these on my very naked living room wall in a range of blue/turquoise hues. It could also make for a textural addition to a plain pillow, if backed by felt instead of card stock.

Kim Wike

HOLY SMOKES!!! I’m not sure when the new site launched but it’s AMAZING! Great job Grace and DS* team. It really looks wonderful and clean. I love the color combo!

meenal@maison marigold

This is so cool and easy ..thanks for sharing, grace..just wanted to let you know that ever since your new site came up I have not been able to comment using my explorer browser as the submit button doesn’t show…I can only do it using safari?? Has anyone else faced a similar problem or is it specific to my browser alone…xx meenal

Lindsey

This would also be adorable in miniature as quirky hair accessory to accompany a high bun or topsy-turvy ponytail!

Christy

Oh my! I was just researching these headdresses online & thought I would have to put them on my “maybe someday” list. I can’t wait to try to make one myself! Thank you so much for the post!!

Ann

I just love your new look and layout – fabulous! Well done on putting together such a great look to match your superb content.

Malena

That is brilliant! And just too cool, but not for school! I am showing this to a school teacher friend of mine. Thank you so much for sharing <3

M.K.

Dear Kate, Thank you so much for creating this DIY. I have loved these hats for many years and yes the price tag is very high. You’ve just given me the inspiration for table centerpieces for a benefit I co-produce every year. It’s too late for this year but next year it would be so cool!

kay*

very very clever – looks wonderful!

i’ve wanted one for years now but the high cost has kept me from buying one…luckily a friend is working in cameroon so i’m hoping they’ll bring me one back! if not – i’ll definitely be giving this DIY a try!

tamara

i love the idea of this and it looks cool, but all i can think of is all the dust that would collect.
also, i gotta say i love the new layout of the site. it looks really great! what can i say, i love grey and ribbons (tough & girly), but i don’t understand why the adds on the right are taking up more than one third of the page. is that just my computer?

Andrea

YAY!! I’ve been wanting to try my hand at a DIY for this myself, but just the cost of the feathers will add up quickly. And there’s other textures that could work for this – jute or twine? Wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

Rosa @ flutterflutter

Thanks for all your sweet comments on my DIY everyone! Heather, I used Loops & Threads Horizon Tweed, which is 90% wool. Worked much better than acrylic yarn. I just posted (http://flutterflutter.ca/) some examples of the other colors available in that line of yarn.

MB@YarnUiPhoneApp

This is definitely a kid-friendly item to have in your living room. If it knocks over, it won’t be break. If someone spills on it, it will dry up OK. If someone’s turns it into a broom, well, just shake out the dust and reuse. And btw, this is a great way to use that oddball skein that wasn’t needed for the sweater project!

Mustang Sally

Such a clever idea – thanks so much for sharing this. I too have lusted after the headdresses. Perfect choice of color too.

I love the new design Grace and D*S team!

outofafrika

Great idea, wondering about using colorful raffia… The really sad part about these items is the absolute price gouging going on. Cost of a Juju hat in Cameroon? $50 Bamileke stools? I bought mine in Senegal from a Cameroonian artist for a whopping $60. Not bad compared to the price tag of easily $1000 in the US.

Haute Paige Designs

Can’t even tell you guys how happy I am to find this on here. I always wanted a Cameroonian headdress, but never felt like shelling out $250 + for one. This is a great alternative. Can’t wait to give this a try!!!

John Briner- Arts

Hi, I’m glad you post this one. This is simple fab projects! Will definitely do this once I have time. It’s also an easy to do projects. Even kids can make this with their parents supervision. thanks for sharing :)

Tiffany

I love this. The other day I was watching Dear Genevieve and they had a real one. I want one so badly for my living room. Thank you for sharing this!!!!

Denise, Elise and Rachel Rhodes

Thanks soooo much. I am a single Mom and my girls need a project to raise money to go to camp/ mission trips. I think this may work for them! They are 10 and 12 and this may be something they will like to make and sell! I will let you know! outofrevers@ yahoo.com Denis, Elise and Rachel

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