Making a Horned Headdress from Pink Brocade

Last week I found myself in a bit of a rut. I had finished a few projects and wasn’t feeling very inspired or motivated to move forward with any new plans. My progress was so slow that it was barely worth making the effort.

Usually when this happens it means it’s time for me to make something fun that is different from my recent projects and won’t take very long to complete. I didn’t have anything specific in mind, but during a trip to Jo-anns I came across a pack of framed stones that gave me an idea.

Isn’t it funny how you can have a room full of fabrics and beads and no idea what to make, but a four dollar pack of embellishments can give you a dozen ideas? I bought some seed beads to go with the stones, but I already owned the rest of the materials for this project.

Those materials include various gold brocades, a pink floral brocade, scroll print chiffon, fake pearls, and a few different types of glitter mesh.

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I planned on using these materials to make some sort of elaborate horned headpiece, with one of the stones sitting at the center front. None of the materials for this project are historically accurate, but I wanted to make the silhouette very close to the traditional heart shaped headpieces from the 15h century.

Like most of my headpieces (ecspecially the medieval ones – remember my escoffin?) this design was inspired by, and based on an image from Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles: Medieval to Modern*.

Here is my sketch, and some fabric swatches.

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Drafting this was…interesting. I started by making the cone since I thought that part would be easy. I was wrong. The cone isn’t a partial circle. To cup the head properly and cover the ears it has to have a totally different shape. And trying to fit the base those cones attach to was a challenge as well.

Eventually I ended up with something that looks like this. The original plan was for the horns to be sewn together at the center, which would give them an upright look. When I attempted to do that after assembling the horns I realized that would cause my ears to show, so instead they were sewn a quarter inch apart. That’s why my finished headpiece has a flatter top than what’s shown here.

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I transferred my pattern onto thicker paper, then traced the new pattern onto heavyweight interfacing and cut the pieces out.

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Three of the pieces were sewn together to create the domed back of the headpiece. Then wire was sewn into the edges of all the pieces.

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The wire caused the base of the horns to sit nicely, but the tops were collapsing inward. So I sewed two more bands of wire into each horn to make them stiffer.

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The horns were a bit bumpy at points, since the interfacing can have a weird texture to it when it’s forming curves. I covered them with quilt batting to fix this, then pinned them into cones and held them up to make sure the shape was right.

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They looked pretty good, so I went ahead and draped the striped patten that goes overtop.

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The pattern was cut apart, then transferred onto paper where I added quarter inch seam allowances to each piece.

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Then I cut all the pieces out! This took longer than I had planned since I ended up adding overlays to most of the tiers. To do this I roughly cut out the pattern from mesh, then sewed it onto the base fabric and trimmed the edges.

Trimming the edges afterward means you don’t have to worry about the mesh warping as you sew it and becoming too small to cover the base layer.

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Here are a bunch of trimmed pieces, ready to be sewn together.

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I started with the top tiers.

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Then did the rest! I wasn’t thrilled with the end result – the seams are a bit bumpy and I felt like the contrast between the fabrics was poor. But I wasn’t too upset since I knew beading would help differentiate the tiers and add a lot of texture to the piece.

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I stretched the fabric over the cones, then folded the raw edges under the interfacing. After sewing the edges down I did up the back seam with upholstery thread, which turned them into actual cone like horn things!

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And the beading begins! I decorated the second tier with iridescent sequins that follow the pattern of gold mesh. Then used two rows of pearls and seed beads to cover up the seam line.

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The forth tier has rows of gold seed beads spaced one inch apart. Once again each seam is covered by a line (or two!) or fake pearls that are framed by seed beads.

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The bottom tier has a quilted design created from pink seed beads, and the bottom edge is trimmed with piping.

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Here are the two horns finished!

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I covered the interfacing that makes up the back of the headpiece with quilt batting and gold brocade. Then I sewed the horns onto it. After doing this I could try it on and get an idea of how it looked. It was at this point that I realized the panel i’d cut out for the front was way too small.

I recut it from more interfacing, this time adding a half inch to the sides and a full inch to the back edges. Once again I sewed wire into the edges, then it was covered with pink chiffon and trimmed with piping. I sewed it onto the rest of the headpiece, and now I had something wearable!

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To finish it off I cut out the veil  (a partial circle)  from the scroll print pink chiffon. Then I turned the edges inward by hand so they wouldn’t fray.

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I sewed the veil onto the front of the headpiece, then covered its join point with one of the stones that originally inspired this project. The final touch was a line of pearls across the front, and that was it!

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The headpiece is currently unlined, since I’m not sure if I should partially stuff the horns before lining them or not. I’m also not sure if I should sew combs in to help keep it in place. I’d like to figure those things out before finishing the interior.

After trying this on I noticed the horns didn’t cup my my head as nicely as I wanted. This was fixed by gathering the center back slightly and bending the wire.

As you can see the back isn’t too pretty (or symmetrical – oops!), but the veil covers most of it!

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And here is a close up of the horns, look at all those different fabrics!

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I took some worn photos of this headpiece yesterday, but the lighting wasn’t the best and the only photos I like show it from a single angle, which sort of stinks.

I’m sure i’ll get more pictures of it in the future once I make a costume that matches it! In the mean time I’m wearing it with a brocade kirtle I made last year.

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After wearing it for a bit I’m pretty sure I need to add a ruffle to the back to cover my hairline…or maybe wrap my head with fabric before putting it on, so that isn’t visible. But since it’s quite tight that might be difficult. I’ll have to play around with it a bit.

Other than that, I really like this! I think the beading turned out nicely and I love all these fabrics together. It took me about a week to make, but I could have made it in half that time if it was my only focus.

It was a lot of fun, but unfortunately now that it’s done i’m back to feeling uninspired! I may have to make another one of these…

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Medieval Escoffin / Heart Shaped Headpiece

Last week I decided to make a Medieval Escoffin. They are a tall, usually elaborate, heart shaped headdress with a padded roll on top. I thought it would be a fun little project and unlike any of my previous headpieces.

The finished piece looks like this – I’ll be taking better photos of it when I have the matching dress finished.

Photo on 10-19-15 at 3.18 PM #4

I’ve seen these headpieces in a lot of paintings and etchings, though they are usually just called heart shaped headpieces or heart shaped hennin. Fig. 50 from the page below was my main inspiration for this, since I thought the slightly wider shape would be more flattering on me than the completely upright ones (like Fig. 51). I didn’t intend for mine to look so similar to the drawing, it just sort of worked out that way.

Also this isn’t to go with the Damask Medieval Dress I’ve been working on – I just borrowed some materials from that piece.

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Oh, and those drawings are all from this book. It’s really great for seeing the styles from various periods but it doesn’t have any information on the patterning or making of any headdresses. Which is totally fine with me – I like making that part up on my own.

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I started doodling what the pattern might look like flat. Once I realized the curves in the headpiece could be created by adding batting to a flat pattern this became way easier.

My first  few sketches kind of look like the Modius crowns from Ancient Egypt – in fact the shape of a lot of early European headpieces remind me of ones Egyptian Royalty wore. Which I wouldn’t have expected.

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 I started by drawing out the shape I thought it would have on newsprint. The right side is what it looked like originally and the left side is the one I altered. I took it in a lot, lowered he top arch, and raised the bottom. Then I drew out the various sections onto the newsprint so I could better visualize the proportions.

I kept holding it up to/putting it on my head and adjusting things until I liked the way it looked. It was surprisingly easy!

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This is the pattern I ended up with. But I ended up raising the bottom portion since it was lower than I wanted.

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I traced the pattern onto heavy felt weight interfacing and cut it out. I also drew on the separate sections so I would know where to put the padding.

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Then I hand sewed wire around each edge. This makes the headpiece a lot more durable and shapeable. For the lower edge I stitched the wire about a quarter inch away from the edge. This will help reduce the bulk at the there, which is good since a lot of fabric will be layered there.

I also tried it on at this point to make sure everything looked okay – and it did, so I carried on.

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Then it was time to pad the lower section (I’ve been calling these the “ears” but there is probably a proper name for it). I used circles of quilt batting which I cut up and layered until I had a nice rounded shape.

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Here they are pinned on. I whip stitched the edges down shortly after taking this picture.

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Then I covered the ears lower section with a damask print fabric. To jazz this fabric up a bit I covered it with a gold mesh – the damask fabric is from NYC and the mesh is from Joanns.

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Then I sewed some home made brocade piping across the bottom edge. And I covered the lower edge of the felt interfacing at the centerfront with a scrap of red fabric. This part will eventually be hidden by a ruffle but I didn’t want the felt to be visible from any angle.

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Here you can see the textures of these materials together, I really, really, love the combination.

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I decided to line the interior before doing anything else. I used some red suiting for this.

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Then I tried it on. I was happy with the way it was looking but I thought the lower panels looked a little empty.

Photo on 10-13-15 at 2.33 PM #2

So I started fiddling around with some beads and I realized I had enough of these gold glass beads to embellish the lower panels with a cross pattern.

I got these from Michaels (or maybe Joanns?) the pack of gold ones was on sale for $2. I also decided to stitch fake pearls across the bottom of the panels. For that i’m using super cheap 6mm ones by darice, I think these are 99c a strand.

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I made up a paper template for the cross pattern, which looked like this.

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I pinned them on and traced the edges of each strip with a yellow copic marker. If I did this again I would definitely draw this pattern onto the fabric before sewing the fabric over a dome. Because that make it way more difficult and the design isn’t even on both sides, which is a bummer.

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Taking the fact I was trying to draw straight stripes on a dome into account, I think this looks pretty good!

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But I still wanted it to have more details. So I decided to add a little ruffle. I had pink, red, and ivory chiffon, but none of them looked quite right with the damask material. I found this orange chiffon at the bottom of the stack and thought it was perfect, so I cut it into strips which got folded in half to create a finished edge.

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I gathered that down and sewed it onto the escoffin. It looks a bit silly, but I was happy with it.

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I started doing a little bit of the beading, as you can see on the right side. But the major difference here is the addition of batting to the top portion of the headpiece. This is seriously just a giant rectangle of quilt batting that I folded three times. Then it was pinned and draped inside the guidelines I had drawn.

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Here it is after being sewn down!

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Now I came to a little roadblock. I had no idea what fabric to use to cover the top portion. This is a spontaneous project, so I didn’t buy any materials with it in mind, I’m just using things I have around.

I figured if the fabric stretched that would give a smoother finish, and the only stretch fabrics I have are stretch velvets. So I raided that bin and luckily came across scraps of red velvet that I used for the cloak on my Christmas Costume in 2013.

I had just enough to cover the top portion. It took a lot of pins, stretching, and pricks to get it to lay smooth but I managed!

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I had to cut centerfront to get it to lay flat. I didn’t want the raw edge to show so I covered it with a scrap of velvet.

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With the assembly done I went ahead and finished the beading.

(I did this well watching American Ninja Warrior – that show is really addicting)

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The last thing to do was add a gem to the front. I don’t actually have any gems, but I do have glass montees. I used a clear one and painted it with alcohol inks until it was a rich gold that matches the other materials used. Then I glued gold beads around the edge and set it into one of the brass cameo frames I got in NYC a few weeks ago.

I think it’s super pretty!

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That got sewn onto the center front.

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Then I did up the back and it was finished!

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I love how this turned out. It’s one of my favorite pieces i’ve made in a while.  That is probably  because it’s so different from any of my other pieces. But I also really like all these materials together, I think they look quite stunning.

And this was really fun to make, which  raises my opinion on it. I love figuring stuff out without any information other than what the finished thing should look like, and I definitely got to do that with this. So that was great.

No photos from the back yet. I think i’ll make a veil to hide my hair, because right now it’s visible from the back and doesn’t look great.

Photo on 10-19-15 at 3.18 PM #4

Photo on 10-19-15 at 3.20 PM #3

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Cost Break Down:

1/4 yards of:  velvet, damask fabric, gold mesh, chiffon, and suiting = $6

1/2 yard of interfacing & quilt batting = $5.00

Beads, cameo frame, glass montee = $6.00

It probably has fifteen hours of work into it. Maybe twenty. I was pretty damn focused on it for three days, and by the fourth day it was finished. But all the work was fun, I really enjoyed this project!

Thanks for reading!