Diary started November 20, 2004
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Running cost of project:

Lampshade in lieu of buckram 30.00 kr
Wire "Najtråd" 25.00 kr
Bracelet, billiment 29.50 kr
Fake-pearls 19.00 kr
More fake pearls 49.00 kr
Velvet skirt (for veil-making) -- kr
Velvet tape, billiment 23 kr

Total: 175.50 kr
Wanting to finally finish the entire outfit of my Tudor court gown I started working on the French hood, working out what the deuce they are made out of, how they are constructed and then trying to make sense out of the patterns. Wearing this to the gown itself will be the final crossing of t:s and dotting of i:s.

Useful Links

Some handy links I've been frequenting:
Inspirational Images for the gown:

The Hood

Nov 20: Pattern ponderings - In the dress diary for the gown itself I have a bunch of links on cauls, coifs and caps as well as French Hoods, but I have now decided that for this splendid gown nothing but a French Hood will do. Of course, there does not exist any such item left from the 16th century so all patterns are purely conjecture at this point. To that end I gathered up the links and sat down to look at them.

Looking at specific images with French Hoods, I have found a few that are stunning, among others Ninya Mikhaila's creation of a 1530s Lady where you can see how her pattern works on the head; very useful for me as I had no clue. Ninya also has some good pictures of a 1540s Lady with nice detail of the hood showing. This is a style which I think would work.

I have also got Margo Anderson's French Hood pattern, but it has a "widow's peak" in centre front of the coif-brim bit, which I am highly sceptical of. It is much too late for the sort of look I am going for, but I may incorporate the brim bit to my interpretation.

I have also been looking at Clouet's sketches of French ladies, and other French portraits. To name a few:
Links pertaining to the construction of French Hoods: This is all good reading, each costumer has her own interpretation of how this hat might be constructed. Looking particularily at the picture of Beatrice Pacheco, and also the portrait of Princess Mary as a young woman which was one of the original inspiration images, I think I have pretty much decided to go with the structure I see there.
Beatrice Pacheco by Clouet
Princess Mary as a young woman
Key to the pictures:
Bright yellow = Billiments
Bright green = Pleated frilly lace bit
Black = Crescent
White = Coif brim

In the second image I have not marked out the lower billiments attached to the coif brim, but they are of course there.

Those are the lines I seem to see, which to me means that Ninya's pattern makes a lot of sense. I might, however, move the entire contraption somewhat forward as opposed to Clouet's drawing, it seems to sit precariously far back. Also, I do not think I have enough pearls and stuff for two rows of billiments, meaning I would only go with the one at the top of the crescent. The coif brim piece I want to make white, the crescent I want to use the dress fabric for, and the veil needs to be black velvet I think.

This leaves me a little short on supplies though. I do not have any metallic frilly lacy bit to pleat to the coif brim, nor do I have anything suitable for the veil that needs to attach at the back. I also have no wire for the billiments. These purchases are not vital just yet, as I must first make up a pattern to fit me and do a test-run with any bits of stiffening and fabric I can find.

Three pattern iterations for my hood brim
The toile, waiting for wire
Trying it on
Trying it on
Nov 21: Patterning - I had not read through Ninya's pattern carefully enough, which explains that the odd flirty thing is actually the rest of the headband of the brim which meet at the back. This then immediately brought to mind the muffin cap I did for the working class outfit (and wore to the court gown as well for lack of anything else) and I now understand why Ninya and Bess refers to it as a coif brim. Once this bit clicked I got to cutting and altering the pattern.

I looked again at my inspirational images, and more closely at exactly where the coif brim curls out over the cheek and altered my pattern for the brim a few times to get it just right. In the picture are three versions of it, the first drawn off Ninya's site to scale, the second I tried out in situ and then I perfected the angle and depth of the brim which I then made up into the proper toile to try on. I must say it was quite comfortable. Very nice to have on. With my hair up in a bun I do not think keeping the hood on will be a problem at all.

I am sort of wondering now how the brim will look made up out of something a bit stiffer than just my interlining material. At least I think this will be my interlining for the brim. I am a little scared to cut out the piece from my lampshade and putting it in there. I am forseeing troubles that might come though and am hesitant to try: How to attach the wire to the edge? Will the wire be able to bend the lampshade? Will it go the right way? Will it be uncomfortable? Will the hood squish my ears?

Somewhat blurry look of stiffening, interlining and wire made up into the brim.
The brim finished minus shell fabric
Nov 21: Stage 2 of pattern testing - Well, after doing the update and pepping myself up with lunch, I tackled the lampshade. I did not quite know how, but I remembered my scalpels and cutting the pattern out was fairly simple, once I drew around it with pencil. I used my scissors for the straight bits across the head, but the scalpel was an excellent tool. With that done I only had to remove the wire from my interlining, wedge the lampshade bit in there, pin it closed around the backside and whipstitch the wire on along the front edge. It was actually not very difficult, and even before I added the wire the brim looked to hold up. With the wire I can somewhat easily change the shape of it and curl the edges in more. The lampshade is not strong enough to resist my puny wire, which is good.

Now all I need is the crescent done up similarly and somehow attach it to the brim; I have no idea how to do that bit. Ninya (I am referring to her page a lot I know, but that is the description I am basically following so it should not be surprising) says to stabstitch the crescent about an inch and a half back from the front edge of the brim. Wonderful, only I don't know what stabstitches are. The same kind of stitch is also recommended to attach the pleated frilly bit that sticks out the front and not to worry since the lower billiments will cover this - I will not have lower billiments, so I am worrying a little. I am forseeing alot of sore fingers, some bleeding and a lot of cursing before I get the pieces together.

I really can not do much more at the moment though - I could make up the crescent out of interlining and lampshade, but I have not yet decided exactly the shape of it. I can not cover the brim in its fashion fabric since that is meant to be a shiny white fabric that I need to buy. I am also considering not going with my fashion fabric for the crescent itself, but rather a nice shiny black. Or red. Or white. These three colours seem to be prevalent in the artwork. The good thing about making it black is I can reuse it for any future Tudor flash gown. Although planning for that eventuality seems to be a bit premature to me, and also I am sure to think of at least five things I can do to improve my next French hood which means I would not want to use this one for newer projects anyway.

Dec 5: A Crescent Rising - Last night at sewing circle I was the focus of much interest from the other 16th C ladies who are waiting to find out how my hood will turn out. I started out by measuring, cutting and testing a couple of different crescents out of paper. Finding one that looked decent I cut that out of my interlining and temporarily attached a wire to hold the shape.

I covered my brim with the polyester (silk look-alike). Actually what I did was cut out the pattern in the polyester, and again in the light blue linen I used to line the tudor court gown. I had to piece the linen instead of cutting on a fold, but whatever. I sewed up the front edge of poly and linen (by hand) and turned it inside out to drape it over my brim. This revealed my lack of thought, as I should have sewed the pieces up slightly larger to account for the lampshade, interlining and wire to go underneath. The poly has to be rolled slightly to the inside as well, to disguise the linen lining which makes it strain somewhat over the top, and leaves an odd pucker at the front-curling pieces. Not sure what to do about that, except pulling on the back edge when sewing it up to take up any bias stretch. If I get better pictures I will post those later.

I also figured out that I could just fit the crescent pattern on the scraps of my dress fabric. I want to make them match so I have opted to cover the crescent in the same fabric as the dress is made out of. I could make it black, and thus interchangeable for future gowns, but I will be able to make a better one next time, so I shall not make that effort now.

Jan 24, 2005: At last, some more progress - Deciding at last Saturday's sewing get-together that I was going all our flash to the next event (one week off) prompted me to pick up this project again. It needs to be finished so that I can wear it to look my spiffiest.

I had the coif brim all done, except the back edge which needed the fabric stitched down around the shape. A simple slip-stitch on the turned under seam allowance was quickly accomplished and I turned to the crescent.

Having tested out the shape and size I wanted before Christmas I simply had to cut out this pattern piece in my lampshade, interlining fabric and the shell brocade. I had had the forethought to check on the scant scraps of brocade I had left, from the skirt and bodice, that my crescent would fit. Unfortunately there was no way to accomplish any sort of pattern-matching on the fabric, I had to use the cuts I had and be happy with that. I think that my next hood will take more care with this aspect if I use a patterned fabric again.

The crescent, finished In any case, I cut out the lampshade, covered it in simple white cotton as opposed to the sturdy old sheet I used for the coif brim, thinking to keep it as light as possible. I did not want to add too much bulk to the shape which would grow quite enough with just the brocade on top. With the interlining stitched into place I wired the top edge and covered the whole thing with my blue brocade. The ends took quite a bit of fiddling to get neat, and they are a bit chubbier than would be ideal, but the rest went fairly smoothly. I also threaded pearls and froo-froos onto a piece of buttonhole floss (not silk) to the length of the top of the crescent which I mean to stitch on as billiments. I will need another strand of billiments which I will put at the bottom of the crescent, following the front edge of the coif brim like in the portrait of Mary. She of course has some sort of red stone in between the pearls, but I have nothing of the sort, only the silver-fake stuff that used to be a pair of bracelets.

The crescent mounted I then wanted to see how the entire thing would look, so with some very large and crude basting stitches I attached the crescent to the coif brim and tried the whole thing on. It looks almost like I want it, I think, only the ends of the crescent need to move forward a little on either side. This will also make it angle further back than it is now. I think this will be a good thing. As it looks in these images, I think it shows too much of the white coif brim underneath. However, I did not have the veil on in these images either. With that added alot of white behind the crescent will disappear.

This of course led me to ponder how and exactly where to attach the veil. Asking helpful and knowledgeable people (Bess Chilver mainly) for clarification helped me enormously, and I will be making up the veil complete, using the basic sleeve-like pattern from Ninya Mikhaila, before trying to attach it. The finished veil will then be slipstitched into place right behind where I will put the crescent and hang loosely around the bottom. Into this sleeve all my hair can happily hide. I have a few things to purchase to be able to finish this hood though, the chief among them is the pleated trim which needs to go on the underside of the coif brim and stick out in front (the pleated frilly lace bit of the inspiration images above).

The finished hood
The finished hood
Feb 1, 2005: And we have a hood - The event which was the deadline for the hood has come and gone and I did wear it despite the veil being only pinned into place, the crescent coming too far forward nullifying the effect of moving the points forward were to have (namely to tilt the crescent further back), the billiments ending at the end of the crescent rather than continuing on down the neck into flirty bits, and some drops of blood staining the white coif brim.

The veil about to be cut out From that you may deduce that I did not quite arrive at a satisfactory end result. The billiments in and of themselves look good. The fake-ness of the pearls is not noticeable since I am usually one of the tallest persons around and the hood comes up even further. The veil looks about as splendid as it could, and I have nothing to complain about there, except possibly it is a little too long (See first image to the left).

The veil was made from the back panel of a velvet skirt I had bought with this purpose in mind. The panel was a bit wider at the top than Ninya's pattern called for, but I figured a little extra fullness at the head would harm noone and could easily be taken in with more pleats at the fastening. I cut out the "sleevehead" shape and used the old sideseam lines to stitch it into a tube. I used the flat tube as a pattern for cutting the lining material out (a horrible synthetic lining material stolen from another ex-skirt). This is attached very simply by folding over a seam allowance of the velvet and hemstitching that down all the way around.

For attachment to the coif brim, Bess suggested laid pleats along the back of the crescent, which would blend down the veil. I did as she suggested, but had to use pins to secure it, rather than thread. The crescent was then stitched into place infront of the line of the veil. This was extremely fiddly and I got bitten by pins several times, leaving drops of blood on the coif brim in the process. The fact that I was stressed out of my mind at the time, some three hours before I was due to be picked up for the event, did not help me either, and probably caused the faulty placement of the middle of the brim.

The last half of my billiments were still unattached to the crescent when I was picked up, and I had to sew them down at the event. Wearing the hood also proved to be a bit tricky. My hair was not made to cooperate, and not long after I was put into my hood it had started to slip back out of position. A chin-strap may have helped there, but I was given several other hints for next wearing:

Another few points that I will fix/do better next time are: These are all avenues I must explore. I wish I could braid my own hair. Anyway, I wore it and with the dress and pearls and brooch I felt like the prettiest girl in the world. Therefore I must conclude that the hood is a hit, even if I will rework it.

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