just call me alison…the headgear

I do love a bit of millinery,  I really do, and to prove it I’ve made some fairly ridiculous headgear over the years – if you don’t believe me take a quick look at the textiles gallery on threads of time. Maybe its because I’m a hat wearer in everyday life, but I’ve never understood why so many people skimp on this area of costume.

I’ve long fancied a late c15th truncated hennin. Not the fancy kind with a viel, just a simple black one with lappets. making a plain black one seemed very simple – ideal if, like me, you only have a day or so to finished the thing.

So obviously I didn’t do that.

I’ve seen quite a few people wearing this style of headress with a brocaded outer crown. Although this seems like a quick and easy way to inject some bling I’ve never seen any evidence for it in practice. I suspect it may be a re-enactment fashion that someone did because they thought it looked pretty but then everybody else copied without question. I could be wrong so feel free to point me at a piccie.

What I have seen though is a truncated hennin with a striped outer crown. Now, I can’t quite say for certain whether these stripes are woven in, applied, or embroidered, but my instinct told me they were slightly raised.

I started with the crown. My other hennin has a leather crown under the silk, but JOhn was a bit busy making shoes, so rather than bother him I made one out of paste buckram – I’ll just have to keep it out of the rain. I don’t recommend trying to sew paste buckram, its horrible, so bad that for once I used a thimble. Then I cut and shaped it.

Black linen would have been the most practical thing to use, but didn’t have any so I used black silk taffeta, which is beastly stuff to sew. I didn’t exactly have a pattern so I just draped it over – kind of looks like a Sith lord, don’t you think?

Then I laid cotton piping cord under the taffeta, pinned it in place at either end, and stitched down the sides of it to form a raised stripe on the crown.

I didn’t try to sew through the buckram, apart from anchoring the cord at either end, instead I just sewed from side to side through the piping cord, pulling the taffeta tight around it. The ends of the piping cord had to be trimmed down once I’d finished. I managed to only sever the taffeta once, which luckily I was able to cover up.

I was worried that it looked a bit too much like a Staithes bonnet at this stage though.

So I twisted some fine wool cords from the cochineal dyed silk I’m currently using for tablet weaving, and laid them either side of the black cords. It might be abit naughty using colour, some how it certainly feels naughty as I get the impression these things ought to be severe black, but its a subtle use of colour and I think it just finished the thing nicely.

I was worried that using taffeta would mean the lappets would lack body and be a bit flappy, so I interlined them with wool. It didn’t need to be red wool, but it just so happened that I had a bit about the right shape and size left over from my dress.

Once it was concealed within the silk you couldn’t see it, but it seemed to work for the structure thing.

I sewed the lining of the crown in first.

Then trimmed it and sewed on the outer bit

some of the cording is a bit wonkier than I’d like, but I think I could do better with a bit of practice

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~ by opusanglicanum on July 29, 2011.

6 Responses to “just call me alison…the headgear”

  1. beautiful!

  2. I so agree with you about head gear – it is really important. It is only in the last 50 years or so that any respectable woman would go out without a hat! Would love to see a picture of the whole outfit with you inside it, when you’re ready.

  3. Wow – I LOVE it!
    I’m a hat wearer! Old ones with netting, that sort of thing. Fits in with my vintage/Victorian/Goth look. And a glove collection as well of course – old ones with proper sequins and beading. And a lace handkerchief.
    I do regret not having a parasol.

    • I like a proper felted trilby or a straw on for summer, although on of my summer favourites is actually woven paper(its very smart and looks like straw). with gloves I like brightly coloured leather with a nice thermal lining, specially red ones – I haev a real perv for red leather. oh, and I have a gorgeous handwoven rush one for lower class medieval

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