Successes and ….Not Yet Successes

Mixed results on my last few projects.  Two successes, and one TBD- it could be salvaged, or it could be back to step 1.  Still working on it.

The earliest, a truncated hennin, was a success.

Medieval_woman 1470

Here’s the inspiration image.  I read through a few tutorials online to see how others had made them.  They boiled down to ‘find a basket that fits your head  and cover it in fabric’ or ‘make a paper cone pattern.’

I figured I’d try to come up with a draftable pattern, but nope- the best result really did seem to come from ‘put a paper cone on your head and cut it off where needed.’  So that’s what I did for the pattern.

The hat itself is made from two layers of stitched buckram, wired around the edges, mulled with wool to soften the edges a bit, then covered in cotton velveteen, lined in linen, and edged with a gold braid.  I wanted the hat to be as lightweight as possible, and also to breathe, as the person the hennin was said overheating was a concern.  The linen lining is replaceable- stitched around the edge of the hat, and tacked in a few places on the inside.

Here’s the frame, the interlining/mulling, and the finished result:


Unfortunately I don’t have a pic of it with the Burgundian it goes with- hopefully soon.

The next item is still a work in progress, a French hood for me.  I started with a Tudor Tailor pattern which was apparently meant for people with tiny tiny heads.  So I expanded it all around, then tweaked the shape to fit my head and face shape.

I cut the hood out and stitched together two double buckram layers.  Then I wired the hood all around, padded the front point and ear areas for comfort, interlined it to soften the lines a bit, then covered the hood in cotton velveteen.  I then followed the instructions for sewing the veil on around the circle in the back of the veil and just…. meh.  Wasn’t pleased with the drape of the veil at all, and it seems like the hood, even after all the sizing up I did, still isn’t the right size for my head in the back, as there was too much visible hair in the back.


I dug around a bit more, and found some 3d effigies that really made me question the pattern design.  Many of the mid 16th century hoods actually look as though there are two pieces- a caul covering the hair in the back, and a separate veil stitched on at the top that falls in folds down the back.  So I’m going to see if I can salvage this hood and turn it into one styled with the caul and separate veil look, or if I need to go back to the drawing board.


The final project I finished lately is a 1560s Florentine-inspired sottana for a dear friend.  This is only the second stiffened bodice dress I’ve ever made, and the first one for someone else.  The bodice is quilted layers of cotton and linen canvas, with a wool interlining, and the dress laces at the sides.  The sleeves are open at the elbows and tie on at the shoulders.  The trimming is modest, as the fabric is such a bold color.  There is another pair of more elaborate sleeves in the making as well.

On one hand, the dress creasing a bit at the waist bugs me, but on the other hand, the creases are exactly the same as those seen in portraiture of the time, so it does look ‘right’ and realistic in a way that an overly stiff gown often does not.

I didn’t get a lot of construction progress photos of this dress, actually- just a couple shots of the bodice interiors:

M bodice 1M bodice 2

And here is the final result.  All in all, I’m pretty pleased, though I see a few tweaks that need to be done.  😀

M dress

Other than attempting to salvage the French hood, I’m currently working on a blue wool kirtle and a black wool/silk blend English fitted gown for myself, and a 16th century pleated men’s tall hat for a good friend, like these others I’ve made:

F hatL hat

I don’t have a whole lot planned over the summer, so I’m hoping I can make some serious sewing progress.  Fingers crossed!


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