When Ashley and I first started brainstorming the Loki outfit, I knew it needed an amazing hat — and I decided to try making one in a sort of atifet style, for a few reasons. For starters, I knew I’d be wearing this at a renaissance faire, and an atifet base was a good historical place to start. In addition, it was simply more feminine and flattering to me than a full face-framing helm would have been. The trick was that I had never made an atifet before, and certainly hadn’t made anything like this. As a result, the process was a lot of winging it, and a lot of experimenting. I had the forethought to take pictures of the process, though, and will share it with you here.
The raw materials.
This was the pile of materials I started with. The basic plan was to create the atifet base out of plastic mesh, edged in wire so it could be moulded. The heavy-guage gold wire would be used as a core for the horns, which I planned to frame out of the wire mesh. And then cover the whole thing in gold silk.
The constructed base.
Here you can see the plastic mesh base all finished. It wound up a little more pointy than I’d thought, where it bends over the forehead, I had envisioned a more skull-shaped curve. However, this turned out to be a happy accident, as I wound up liking the shape it gave to the finished hat.
You can also see how messy nice things sometimes look inside here. White mesh, red wire, and a whole bunch of dark green upholstery thread buttonhole-stitched around it all to hold it in place. Not exactly pretty yet, and still a little hard to see how it will look when it’s finished.
The first of the horns, before fabric has been added.
This is what the inside of the horns looks like. Shaped out of wire mesh, and covered in clear packing tape. That last is something I’ll change if I ever make something like this again. I had originally thought I could weave the edges of the mesh into itself to create a secure seam, but didn’t count on two things. One, the mesh is too soft and pliable for that — it never would have held well. And two, that mesh is SHARP! It cut my hands all up as I was trying that weaving-in method and I decided it wasn’t worth it. And since I had no duct tape in the house, packing tape was what I used. But it wasn’t as smooth as I’d have liked, and it sort of….crackles.
Atifet, with the back ridge added.
All of that said, though — I found the wire mesh was very nice to work with in terms of creating a three-dimensional object. And I decided that the atifet, as it was, was too….two-dimensional. So I used the wire mesh to create a ridge at the back, to give the hat more visual interest.
I used a strip of mesh folded in half, which was then malleable enough for me to shape as you see it here, with lovely curves to it. I stitched it to the hat the same way the original wire edge was stitched on, and then covered all of the mesh edges with hot glue, so that they wouldn’t be sharp — both to porotect my head, and to protect the silk that would eventually cover the hat.
The horns are covered and attached.
Okay, I know this is kind of a weird picture. The horns are all covered in gold silk, and have been attached to the hat, which was a process in itself. I splayed out the base of the mesh so that it could be flattened against the base in four directions, folded the wire mesh around the plastic mesh as much as I could, and then — more hot glue! Both to further secure the attachment, and to cover all those sharp edges.
As you can see, the horns haven’t been bent into shape yet at this point, and they are HUGELY tall. They also, as light as they are, made my poor styrofoam head too front heavy, and it refused to stand up under its own power while I took this picture. Hence the odd angle.
Covering the rest of the hat in silk was much trickier than doing the horns was. The bottom was easy, a little spray glue and a square of fabric, and it was done. The top was a trickier thing, since I had to work the fabric around the base of the horns. I wound up doing it in a few pieces, and using trim in the seams to make them look intentional and decorative. And did a lot of cutting-folding-hot-gluing as I worked my way around the hat, doing my best to keep the fabric smooth and taut as I went. It may be that there is an easier, more scientific way to do this sort of thing — but I was learning as I went, and it didn’t work out too badly.
Once it was done, I mounted the whole thing on a wide black headband to allow it to be worn. On its own, it’s not super secure — if I simply put it on my head, any forward or backward movement will send it toppling. But with hair from in front of the headband pulled over it and pinned behind, it’s so well anchored that I never was in danger of losing it, over the course of four faire days of use.
The finished Loki atifet, in action.
Photo by Lauren Dubois.
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