The Making of a French Hood

The first accessory I made to go with my tudor costume is the most famous one – a French Hood. You can see these in pretty much every portrait of royal women that were painted in the mid 1500s. I used this painting, and this one as my major shape and color references. I also used this blog post to get an idea of what shapes make up the hood, and how they are assembled. It was a major help to me and I would suggest reading it!

I had a few resources in books too, which show the variations in hood shapes.


My first pattern was taken from the tudor tailor, unfortunately it didn’t work out for me. It was too small in some areas, too big in others, and all together not the shape I wanted. It took me a good hour of experimenting, but eventually I had a pattern I liked much better.


I cut the crescent out of buckram and the paste out of felt weight interfacing. I would have used buckram for both pieces but I didn’t have very much on hand.


Since I don’t have a sewing machine with a zig zag stitch option, I hand stitched wire around each edge of both pieces. I used a whip stitch for this, and though it was slow it turned out surprisingly sturdy! I’ve had some bad experiences with using wire in the past, but I was really happy with how smooth and easy to shape these pieces ended up being.


I decided to cover the crescent with my orange silk, which was used for the kirtle. I debated about using off white silk (which was more common) but I found several paintings with orange hoods so I figured why not! Since the silk is so thin and delicate I decided to cover the crescent with a flannel weight fabric to smooth out any bumps or ridges.

I actually did this with leftovers of the imitation wool suiting that I bought for my Civil War Era dress.


Then I pinned the silk overtop.


And sewed it on as tightly as I could. The back looked like this.


But the front looked a little better!


I covered the paste with dark brown velvet, the same fabric I used for the oversleeves.


Instead of making a ruffle or frill for the front I decided to use lace. This is the same lace I used on the neckline of the kirtle.


As suggested in the blog post I linked above, I added a bit of padding to the area that would press against the ear. I don’t think this was really necessary (I found the hood very comfortable to wear and it didn’t press at all, even in this area) but I guess it doesn’t hurt to add this anyway.


Before attaching the pieces together I cut out the lining. I used the same pattern I made earlier, but added half inch seam allowances so I could tuck the edges over. I cut my lining out of cotton gauze, since it’s very lightweight, a bit stretchy, and really easy to work with.


And here the pieces are with the lining sewn in. I didn’t extend the lining all the way into the corners of the crescent because I didn’t want to add unnecessary bulk in those areas.


The crescent got pinned onto the paste.


Then stitched on with upholstery thread. The hood looks really lopsided at this point, but I think that’s just because the wire wasn’t bent evenly around the brim.


I sewed a mixture of 6mm fake pearls and 5mm glass montees across the join point between the crescent and the paste. Each one is separated with a small orange seed bead.


Then I made up a beading pattern for the top of the hood. If I had more montees I would have made it more extravagant, but at this point I was running low on them.


With this part done it actually looked the way it was supposed to!


I sewed the back pieces together with a cross stitch. I used upholstery thread for this to make sure it was really sturdy.


Now it was time to focus on the veil. I decided to use leftover velvet so it would match the hood. I didn’t have very much velvet leftover so the hood ended up being narrower than I had planned, but it looks fine when worn!


I turned the edges over by a half inch and stitched bias tape overtop to cover them. The veil should probably be fully lined but I was already worried about how the velvet would hang and didn’t want to add weight. (It ended up being fine, lining would have also been fine I think)


Here is the veil with the back seam done up.


It got sewn onto the back of the paste and it’s done! Overall I’m really pleased with it. If I made another I would make the crescent a little taller and the veil wider, but those are simple changes. Considering this was totally different from anything i’ve made before I’m pretty proud of it!


I think the one change i’ll make is sewing combs into the sides or front. Below is my first “try on” of this costume and you can see the hood slipped really far back on my head. Traditionally they would be pinned to a coif or cap but I don’t see that working for me. The buckram is so thick that there is no way to secure it with pins, even if I had something other than hair to pin it to. So I think combs at the front are my best bet for keeping it secure!


And that’s it for today! Thank you for reading!

12 thoughts on “The Making of a French Hood

  1. tawg says:

    What kind of sewing machine do you use?

    Also, thank you for being so candid about making changes and mistakes and how you deal with running short on things. I’m quite new to making clothes, and it’s really encouraging to see someone who makes such beautiful and detailed garments say “well, that was a mistake, but here’s what I did next and it ended up fine!”

  2. Colleen M says:

    I love your blog, and this entire Tudor ensemble is stunning. Just curious why you don’t use a machine with a zigzag? I know you have an industrial machine, but why not get a basic sewing machine (you can find good-quality older machines (that are better than the entry-level Singers sold today) used for about $30-$40. I also wonder why you don’t get some specialty feet for your existing machine. The one I see in videos and photos looks like my zipper foot. A wider foot can give you a lot more control, and the cording, piping, rolled hem and gathering feet seem like they’d be great additions to your studio. The right foot can save HOURS over the course of a project. These aren’t criticisms, but as an experienced seamstress, I think I would die without my serger, zigzag and specialty feet. Thanks for your blog. It’s truly a joy to read.

    • Angela Clayton says:

      I intend on getting a cheap Singer Heavy Duty 4452 (I’ve owned one before and really liked it) at some point, so I have the option of a stretch stitch and zig zag, it just hasn’t happened yet. I don’t work with stretchy materials very often so it isn’t a need that comes up often.

      I have a variety of feet for my machine! But I frequently sew boning channels and 1/8th inch topstitching and I like the visibility the zipper foot gives me (my machine doesn’t work well with plastic feet). It’s sort of a pain to swap feet out on that machine which is why I tend to use it for everything, haha.

      I really don’t like gathering feet – I know people get a lot of use out of them, but I hate working with them and don’t really want one. I’d love to have a rolled hemming foot, but I do most of my hems by hand so I haven’t felt the need for one yet.

      Thank you – I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

  3. isabel says:

    me encanta su trabajo Angela, que divino es todo lo que hacer, una campana francesa para una niña, muchisimas gracias por compartir,es tan bonito todo lo que hace que disfruto mucho de su trabajo

  4. sewinggoddess says:

    What an amazing job, it’s beautiful. I’m thinking in older days the hood wouldn’t slide so far back because you would have long hair arranged in a bun on the head. Or what do you think? Anyways, it looks great this way too

  5. pinkpuss1234 says:

    My French hood is inspired by the same portrait of Elizabeth I. It looks quite similar to yours, but not as good! I put my hair into two plaits and then pin them at the top of my head, which is how I get the hood to stay securely in place. If I’m in a rush, a high bun is okay too.

  6. RLM (@pwillow1) says:

    Just love reading about your projects and seeing photos. You’re such a talent!

    I think you’re right about attaching combs to your headpieces, and I’ve seen a trick to secure the comb into the hair. Either braid or twist the hair in the area where you will intend to put the comb. Pin the braid or twist securely, then use the comb and slide under that braid or twist. Then the comb will be less inclined to pull out because it’s anchored in place.

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