Easter Bonnets Part Un: Coffee Filter Fascinators

So I’m at home last Saturday morning minding my own business when what do you know, a Judy Garland movie comes on the color TV: Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade. Honestly, who is going to do laundry and vacuum when Judy Garland is there all fresh faced and stomping her little heart out with Fred Astaire to When That Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabam. Ain’t nobody got time fo that.

Let’s be honest, Judy Garland always takes priority, but Judy Garland in hats is like the ultimate trump card. You can’t turn away.

What’s that? Your college basketball team is two points away from winning the elite 8? You’re going to click over to ESPN to see the end of the game? NOT WHEN JUDY IS ON YOU’RE NOT.

Judy’s headgear in this movie was so awesome, so chic, so frilly, I was inspired to make some last minute Easter bonnets. Seven to be precise. Do I need an Easter bonnet, much less seven Easter bonnets? No.

This is the power of Judy and Irving Berlin. This!

Modeling provided by my beautiful friend, Kiki Bird.

I decided to split this up into 2 parts: This week, Fascinators. Next week, full out Easter bonnets. Get ready people!

Note: I have covered coffee filter flowers on this blog a lot. For fear of being redundant, skip ahead to the assembly part.


Tools on hand:

  • Scissors.
  • Stapler.
  • Hot glue gun and 5-10 glue sticks.

The base:

  • 6oz paper cup. I’m using a cup/bowl used for serving frozen yogurt. If you don’t have one laying around, use a regular paper cup and trim off the top 2” or so. Free.
  • 10” of elastic trim. If you don’t have this in your sewing kit, use one of those elastic headbands, or trim off an inch thick tube from an old pair of nylons. Under $1.
  • 10-15 hot glue sticks. Under $1.

The flowers:

  • 50 dyed and dried coffee filters.  I’ll do a refresher on how to dye coffee filters with a few drops of food coloring below, but you might want to check the archives for alternatives. 50 cents.
  • Green paper cut into rough leaf shapes. I’m using crepe paper, but tissue paper or green filters works fine. $1.

Total cost: Under $5
Total time: 30- 45 Minutes, minus drying time

Dying coffee filters pastel colors is easy as can be. Start out with easy-to-achieve pastels and work your way up to more saturated colors.

1. For every 100 coffee filters, you will need a few drops of liquid food coloring and one cup of water.
2. For a basic pastel color, squeeze 4 drops of color into the water and mix (see dye recipes below).
3. Keeping them in a stack of 30  (or so, this is very approximate), insert the filters in the bowl and let them soak up the color. You may want to punch on them with your fingers a bit.
4. Squeeze out excess liquid.
5. Divide into stacks of 5-10 filters and hang them over your shower rail to dry over night. You can speed the process by throwing them in a dryer, or a warm 200F oven for 10 -15 minutes (check frequently). There is no reason to separate the filters into individual pieces, in fact, it will make the next part harder so I would discourage it. Short stacks are best.

Note, same as with Easter eggs, dye formulas can be found on the side of most boxes of liquid food coloring (usually found in the spice section at the market for around $2). Here are some basic formulas to get you started:

Aquamarine = 2 drops of blue + 1 drop of green
Chartreuse = 1 drop of green + 1 drop of yellow
Magenta = 2 drops of red + 1 drop of blue
Gold = 3 drops of yellow + 1 drop of red
Deep Purple = 4 drops red + 7 drops of blue
1.  Working in stacks of 5-10 filters, fold the filters in half and cut 2″ fringes around the perimeter. Leave the center 3″ (or so) uncut. Sharp, heavy-duty scissors are going to be helpful right about now! If yours are dull, try cutting a folded up piece of tinfoil to sharpen them a bit.
2.  Form a stack of 5 filters and a lay a leaf shape on top. Staple FOUR TIMES creating a box like shape in the center.
3. Turn the stack over so that the underside of the staples is facing up.
4. Use your fingers to pull the filters up toward the center and pinch them slightly. Some people like to twist a bit, but for simplicity sake, only pinching is needed for the filters to keep their shape. If you have never worked with filters before, you will be surprised how easily they hold their shape.
5. Grab the next layer down, and pinch toward the center.
5. Grab the next layer down, and pinch toward the center. You get the idea…
6. Tada! A coffee filter flower.  Repeat as desired. Both hats here feature 9 flowers. I could have gotten away with five, or packed as many as 15. But 9 seems a healthy bunch to me.
 1. Turn on your hot glue gun. If you have never worked with hot glue before, relax. Keep some ice water nearby in case you burn yourself.  If you are doing this project with kids, you might want to look into a low-temperature glue gun. They run around $15 whereas standard mini glue guns like mine run $3-$5, and glue sticks average around 10 cents a piece.
2. Squirt a quarter sized patch of glue toward the bottom of the cup. 
3. Quickly adhere the bottom of a coffee filter to the glue, hold ten seconds, and move on to the next. Assembly will be a lot easier of you work from the bottom, forming a lose spiral along the outer wall of the cup.
4. Wear on a slight forward angle. Because you are jaunty like that.
How cute is that?  And easy too. Once you have the filters dyed and ready to go, it’s easy to form an assembly line and make a bunch! 

I really want someone to make these for their bridesmaids. Or have your bridesmaids over and let them make them. Maybe at the bridal shower. Maybe everyone makes them as a bridal shower craft activity. Oh Hell, screw the bridal shower and have your pals over for pizza and margaritas AND HAT MAKING. Y’all can watch The Real Housewives of Somethingorother and take pictures of how cute you look wearing these awesome things. I mean really, is that the cutest thing you ever did see?
Now you say, Why yes, yes indeed, that IS the cutest thing I ever did see!

And don’t restrict yourself to the ladies. Gentlemen love a good hat too, as do cats. My Lolabelle loves a good hat. Can’t get enough.

Stay tuned next week for Easter Bonnets Part Deux: The Big Kahuna.



  1. says

    You win at Internet cat pictures. That picture of Lola just makes everything else pale in comparison.

    • says

      This is true. Lola wins all cat photo competitions. She can’t help it. I didn’t want to say it, so I’m glad you did.


  2. says

    Crap, I missed Easter Parade this year. My team is in the NIT so there was no chance I’d be switching over to catch the score. Plus, I refuse to pay for TV so I only get free stations and Svengooli wasn’t showing Easter Parade last weekend. I watched Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Were-rabbit. That’s close, right, since it has rabbits in it.

  3. says

    Whoa, Kiki truly does look like something straight out of a movie. Just gloriouski! Lola looks ready to keel you. (But beautiful.)

    • says

      Doesn’t she though? Kiki is movie star beautiful.

      I caught Lola when she was waking up from a catnip nap. She gave me a good ten seconds of photography time before the beast claws came out to fight.

  4. says

    What did you have to offer Kiki to get her to model your fascinators? If you got married, would you have the nerve to have paper flowers? I remember in the old days that crepe paper stretched, so you could form the petals of different flowers. . These are beautiful. Well done. Ann

    • says

      I bribe Kiki in peanut butter bars (See Newsies cake topper post from last September).

      I would love to see a wedding with all paper flowers! How amazing would that be? At least there would be mementos for the guests. I have a bunch of friends getting married in the next six months, I am going to see if one of them wants a paper flowers as the toss bouquet. One less thing they have to pay for and maybe I’ll get a nice photo. We’ll see….

  5. says

    absolutely love. lovely love! can i have a party even though the wedding shindig happened many years ago? i love how you use household objects. a gal after my own heart! thank you!

  6. says

    Oh dear! Oh god! I think I just died a little bit. Those are THE MOST FUN. We’re gearing up to have our 3rd Seersucker Social bike ride next month and these would be perfect. I smell a craft night. And then a lot of jealousy.

  7. says

    Brilliant, just brilliant! Could see doing some great centerpieces like this too, or maybe wearable centerpieces? thanks for the great tutorial!

  8. Anonymous says

    I’m getting married next week and all of my bouquets are made from coffee filters. I made the bridesmaids bouquets using food coloring and they turned out alright but used tye-dye on my two. They are gorgeous!

  9. says

    I was sure I left a comment here. Hmmm? Anyway just wanted to ask how you attach your fascinators to the person’s head? Absolutely LOVE them and so perfectly over the top. 🙂

  10. Anonymous says

    Ditto…Mine looks fabulous, but just not with the string under my neck. PS: Also, in love with coffee filter flowers b/c of you and Lola!


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