I did my very own DIY African juju hat knockoff! Oh I am so excited about this one! I am so happy to be sharing this project with you and showing you how to make one yourself too.
|This is one of my most popular posts and questions keep coming in so I decided to update it and answer all the questions from the comment section.|
But first things first let me welcome everybody that is stopping over from Lindsay’s Knocktoberfest and all the visitors from Alaska that are hopping over from Ana White in particular. You now have arrived all the way over in the Netherlands at my little nest where I like to show my adventures in DIY, decorating, crafting and everything else that makes life fun and interesting.
My project of the day is not a designer or brand knockoff. I knocked off a beautiful African tribal feather headdress called juju hat.
A couple of months ago Lindsay asked if I wanted to participate in her Knocktoberfest blog hop. Well with such a cute name, how could I ever say no, so of course I jumped and said yes .
But that posed a bit of a problem too. As I said I am not US based and I don’t receive the catalogs of say a Pottery Barn, or Ballard. And we don’t have those stores here either, nor can I walk into an Anthropologie and look for something to copy. What is a girl to do…..
Then it hit me.
A really long time ago I pinned this:
It didn’t take long and I saw these feather wall decorations popping up all over the place and at some point I found out that those wall decorations were in fact headdresses.
Beautiful African headdresses. Sadly at that very same time I learned that those original feather beauties were way out of my price range.
And then the thought occurred to me, what if…..
What if I try to make a knockoff……
And then came Lindsay with her Knocktober fest. And a plan was born.
DIY African Juju hat: the supplies
The most difficult thing about this whole project was finding the feathers. I wanted feathers in earthly natural color tones, and I wanted them strung, as in already sewn onto a ribbon.
I found some not too expensive ones on AliExpress (it is a kind of Ebay but populated with mostly little shops from China), and was happily surprised about how fast they got here. I bought the all white and the dark brown ones there. I think I bought three packets of the white and one of the brown. There are several shops on AliExpress that sell strung feathers, just shop around till you find ones that look good.
Update: You need feathers that are sewn onto a ribbon. Loose feathers or a feather boa will not work. For a lush effect you will need at least 20 yards, for one hat, but the more the better. The large white one is about half a meter in diameter (about 1.5 feet). The feathers are about 20 cm (10 inch) long. Look for something like this:
I have found strung feathers like this for as cheap as $2,50 per yard on Aliexpress (I am sorry I cannot link to a specific store there because things move around a lot on that site and links would break quickly).
Rooster tail feathers (like my beige ones) are the most beautiful, but ordinary stiff goose feathers work very well too and are much cheaper. If you can find them look for strung feathers that are sewn into a long strip, that works easier. Little pieces strung together will work too though.
Since I had so many different feathers I just went for it and made a whole bunch of DIY African juju hat knockoffs. The making off was very easy. And by the last one I had it down to a T.
DIY African juju hat: the steps
So here are the steps. You will need feathers that are strung. The rooster coque feathers are by far the most beautiful and easiest to use. But as you can see I have also used ‘regular’ straight feathers that are much easier to find and cheaper too. And my very white feather wall decoration might resemble the original juju hat a bit less but I think it is still very pretty.
You will also need cardboard and something to use as a template for your circles, scissors and a glue gun with lots and lots of glue sticks.
Update: I used a dinner plate as my template for the two larger wreaths, and a breakfast plate for the smaller ones. With the feathers sticking out that gives you a base size of about half a meter (1.5 feet). The feathers were about 10-20 cm (5-10 inches) tall.
And then it basically comes down to adding rows of feathers. I made the first juju hat with the pretty feathers. They have a definite curve. I alternated letting the curve fall up or down between the rows.
I made separate rows instead of spiraling inwards because that just worked better. With these fluffy feathers getting some volume was easy, it just required adding lots of rows.
And finishing the center off with a little tuft of feathers.
Getting the volume was a lot harder with the white feathers. As you can see the first row fell completely flat. These feathers were straight and stiff and didn’t have that natural flow of the more expensive coque tail feathers.
So for the second row I made a kind of pleats. I glued an inch down, backed up an inch glueing it down and again glueing while I moved back forward. I hope you can see but it resulted in ‘stacks’ of three rows of feather pleats an inch wide all around. I used some scissors to really push down the bottom of the feathers and this made the top pop up a bit, giving me some nice volume. The next row lay on top of this little ‘wall’ of feathers all by itself, so with just a little nod from the scissors it would pop up and out.
I made the smaller hats last and by then I just squished and squashed and pleated and ruffled the feathers as much as possible on each row until it all looked nice and full.
One final tip that I think made all the difference is that I didn’t use all of the feathers right away. I kept some and made little tufts that I randomly stuck into the hats wherever I felt it needed a bit extra. This made the rows less obvious and definitely gave them all a little extra oomph.
These are all just as light as feathers so I just used those drawing hanging thingies I remember from Kindergarten to hang them.
And there you have it. My DIY African Juju hat knockoff tutorial.
Update: I have had these feather wreaths for years now and I still use them in my decor to this day. I have schlepped them all over the place and I don’t think I have lost a single feather. They are quite sturdy. They hung on my bedroom wall for a while, the white one is featured in this Christmas vignette and the neutral one had a very specific spot for a long time.
If you are still in the mood for some more DIY knockoff gorgeousness I suggest you high tail yourself over to KariAnne at Whistlewood Farm. I have it on good authority that she will wow you with her knock off project too.
And you can find all the knockoffs that are being shared this week at Lindsay’s Knocktoberfest page.
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