Carmen Miranda is pretty much entirely about the fruit-covered turban. Once I found the dress, all that remained was the headpiece, really. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures as I went along, but the process went roughly like this:
Find the key ingredients
- Look in thrift shops for plastic fruit. Turns out, lemons and grapes are easy to find. Pineapples? Not so much. I ended up finding some plastic fruit at the dollar store (children’s toy food provided all the bananas), and a TON of plastic grapes from the thrift shop. Look in the “floral” or “craft” section, since people seem to want to make center pieces or wreaths out of fake fruit. I was unable to find pineapples, so I bought them online. Turned out that they were really just Styrofoam, coated with plastic or paint – which was perfect, as you’ll see.
- Find a brightly colored ball-cap that fits you, and that is adjustable (in case anyone other than you wants to borrow the headpiece at some point.)
Next, we build a solid foundation to hold the fruit.
- Cut the bill off of an adjustable ball cap. The fruit will need a stable base, and the brim-less ball-cap is the first element of that base.
- Bend a coat hanger around so that it wraps around the ball cap, and then extends straight up from the center of the cap, like a big radio antenna. Give yourself a nice long antenna – you can always cut it down later.
- Tack the coat hanger onto the ball cap. By this I mean to secure the coat hanger onto the ball cap at several spots. I sewed it on, because I wanted thing to be able to shift a bit. And if I needed to bend the coat hanger later, I didn’t want things to pucker up. But you could probably staple it on, or maybe even use heavy tape. I’d suggest using a method that both secures it to the hat, but let’s it slide. Here’s a picture of the ball cap and coat hanger underneath the turban. You can see how I used red thread to whip stitch the coat hanger in place, while still allowing the hanger to slide back and forth.
At this point, I have a solid foundation – a hat that will cinch tightly enough around my head that it will stay on and support some not-heavy-but-not-light-either fruit, and a post to which I can secure the fruit.
Now, I need to cover that base with a turban and fruit.
- Google how to craft a simple, brightly-colored turban. I used the tutorial here but if the link is broken, you’ll need to figure it out yourself. Sew it, or glue it together. Or buy a cheap, floral one. It will be the visible part of the headpiece, so it should match the dress – or at least seem fruity.
- Try the turban on. Make sure it fits. Then, put it over the ball cap, poking the wire hanger up through the middle. Cut a little hole if you need to – it will be hidden by the fruit. We’re just covering up the ball cap to make it look nice.
- Cut the wire hanger so that it’s no longer than your pineapple, then shove that Styrofoam pineapple down onto the protruding coat hanger. (Or oranges, I suppose, but the pineapple was really ideal.)
Now I have a nice foundation, and a center pineapple to which I can affix my other decorative elements.
From here on out, it’s about attaching things to the turban.
Before I attached ANYTHING to ANYTHING, I stuck it together with tape and pins and anything else I could find that I could later remove. I wanted the fruit arrangement to look balanced, but not symmetrical. I wanted a mix of colors and sizes and shapes, but I wanted it all to come together into a tall cone shape. I didn’t trust myself to get it right on the first try, so I mocked it up several times before getting an arrangement that I liked.
I also cut several of the fruit pieces. You can see in the pictures below (click on them to get a close-up) how I cut the Styrofoam orange in the left picture, and the plastic orange and strawberry in the right one. (In the right hand picture, you can also see another view of that cut Styrofoam orange.) I think that the lemon in the lower center of the right picture was also cut down a bit. This allowed me to really pack the fruit on, making it seem like a dense pile. You can also see how I hid some of the empty gaps with little white plastic flowers and leaves. I wanted it to look full and colorful, with a mix of textures and sizes. Cutting the fruit also allowed me to use the spare bits to test out methods of gluing or tacking the fruit in place.
I used a hot glue gun for most pieces, but did stitch the grapes onto the hat. They hung down to the side, and I wanted them to hang, rather than be fixed in place. So I tacked them down in a couple of places – just so that they lay where I wanted them to, but could still shift around as needed.
Test out the hot glue gun a bit so you get used to how it works with Styrofoam. Because the Styrofoam is an insulator, it takes a LONG time to cool. So be prepared to hold that lemon in place for a while to make sure it doesn’t slide around. This is a good use for those cut off ends of the fruit that I mentioned earlier.
Below are a variety of different close-up pictures, showing the headpiece from various angles – in case you need a closer look at how it was arranged or assembled. But basically, this is it. Voila. All we need to do now is put the two pieces (dress + turban) on together.