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.
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.
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.
I transferred my pattern onto thicker paper, then traced the new pattern onto heavyweight interfacing and cut the pieces out.
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.
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.
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.
They looked pretty good, so I went ahead and draped the striped patten that goes overtop.
The pattern was cut apart, then transferred onto paper where I added quarter inch seam allowances to each piece.
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.
Here are a bunch of trimmed pieces, ready to be sewn together.
I started with the top tiers.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The bottom tier has a quilted design created from pink seed beads, and the bottom edge is trimmed with piping.
Here are the two horns finished!
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!
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.
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!
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!
And here is a close up of the horns, look at all those different fabrics!
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.
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!
11 thoughts on “Making a Horned Headdress from Pink Brocade”
omfg, I love this! I also really like the colours you picked. I admire your work!
You have the most amazing ideas. That last image looks like a painting. Well done.
The veil just makes it perfect! Such a great job, I love your work!
this turned out beautifully
The most wonderful thing about your historical work is that I can look at something like this in a fashion plate and understand, but when you bring it to life, I’m can really see it. I can really envision people of that time wearing what you’ve made and think that it looks wonderfully, beautifully, strange.
I follow your work and you are unbeliavable! ( sorry for my poor english, i’m hungaryan )
I would like to ask you, tell me what you used for “interfacing”. I don’t know what is that stuff. I would like to craft headpieces, but i’m so noob 🙂
Thank you so much!
Your English is very nice; charming, in fact, and 100 per cent better than our Hungarian would be! You have no need to apologize.
I just love the way you always manage to combine different textures into one gorgeous piece. I need to try beading one day 🙂
I think you are a very talented and gifted young lady. In fact I often tell your grandmother, Sandra that I think you are a genius.
outstanding as usual.