Homemade hats to star in the FSLT’s ‘Titanic’

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 195 views 

FORT SMITH — Nearly a dozen people worked for several hours creating early 1900s period hats during the Hats of the Titanic workshop held Sunday (April 15) at Clayton House.

The workshop was deliberately scheduled on the 100 year anniversary of the luxury liner's sinking in the North Atlantic Ocean and is in preparation for the costuming needs of the summer musical Titanic to be staged July 26 at the Fort Smith Little Theatre.

For a $25 fee, the workshop included all materials necessary. Hats were either brought by participants or purchased predominantly from garage sales and dollar stores said FSLT volunteer Clara Jane Rubarth. Ornamental birds, flowers, ribbons and fabrics were on hand to turn a plain hat into a fashion statement worthy of first class passenger status.

Janean Saunders and Leah Carter, a mother and daughter team from Van Buren, led the workshop as they are already excellent hat makers and sell some of their creations at Carter's business, Coffee and a Good Book.

Although no experience was necessary to attend, all the participants had some sewing skills or were excellent at faking it. The goal was for each person to make at least one fancy hat to add to the collection of about 15 already created by Carter and Saunders.

Many hats will be required for the production. The script calls for 20 women wearing the fanciest of hats. Rubarth said the cast will require headwear for first- through third-class passengers plus the crew of the Titanic. The crew and lower classes’ hats are much less elaborate and therefore easier to make or possibly purchase ready-made.

Hat makers were given the option to take their creations home with them or entrust them to the costume department for use in the musical. For those that opted to take theirs home, the understanding is that they lend them to the FSLT for the musical and get them back following the production.

"We're just looking forward to a great production this summer — It's not going to sink!," said Rubarth.