Thursday, October 27, 2016

1790's Headdress -- a tutorial

Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say.  When making preparations to attend a 1790's ball, it occurred to me that I didn't have the proper accessories to wear with my Chemise a la Reine as I had styled it from a portrait from 1783.  I originally made a lovely straw hat to wear with it during the day which you can see in this post.  I thought a headdress of some sort plus 1790's shoes were in order to wear to a ball that included an evening of English Country Dance.   I envisioned something with plumes that could be worn with my hedgehog wig.  I looked at some portraits:

I was particularly taken with the last portrait.  I love the wispiness of the sheer fabric along with the darker band and pearls.  I used this for my inspiration.    

For my project, I used the following materials:  Silk taffeta, silk gauze,  batting, glass pearls, wire, felt, ostrich plumes.  The first task was to measure the size of the band needed.  I blocked my wig on a head block which matches my size and measured.  I tamed the wig a bit with bobby pins and used a measuring tape to determine the size of the band.  It measured around 30 inches.

I rolled the thin batting to make a long solid tube around an inch in diameter by 30 inches long then stitched the tube closed.

Next, I folded the cut edge of my silk in by 1/4 inch and rolled it around the tube, pinning it in place.

I stitched the silk in place, connected the ends and sewed the silk closed.

The band is complete.  I checked to make sure the fit was correct.

Next I strung my glass pearls on a piece of beading wire.  At this point I wasn't sure how many beads I'd need so I figured I'd cut the wire long enough to be able to add more beads if I needed them.

I wrapped the beads around the fabric tube and twisted the wire ends together, hiding them in the folds of the fabric.

I placed the band on the wig again and used my measuring tape to try to "guesstimate" the size of the circle I would need for the sheer part of the headpiece.  This was definitely a situation of making it up as I went along!  I determined that I would need a 30 inch wide circle in order to have enough fabric to manipulate it into folds of some sort.

I pressed under 1/4 inch around the edge of the circle and pleated it to the headpiece.  I didn't measure the pleats, but they were quite deep--over an inch deep. When I was pleased with the pleating, I whip stitched it in place to the headpiece.

Here is the result so far.  The sheer part of the cap is very tall--much like a chef's hat!  Now it's time to manipulate it!

This part is hard to describe.  I pushed the center of the cap down and made random pleats with the fabric while the headpiece was on the wig.  I pinned each pleat in place.

Here you can see the pleats from the top. These pleats were just invisibly tacked in place rather than stitched down.

I knew that I'd need a way to secure the plumes so I made a half cockade.  I cut a strip of silk 4 - 5 inches wide, folded it in half lengthwise and pressed it.  I pleated the strip to form a half of a cockade and pressed it.  The pleats were then stitched in place from behind.

The inspiration portrait has 3 plumes:  two white ones with a black one in the middle on top of the white ones--so I decided to do something similar.  The plumes were curled so they did not stand up straight and positioned them the way I wanted them.  I had cut two pieces of blue felt into half circles smaller than my cockade.  The plumes were sandwiched between the felt pieces and stitched in place.

The cockade was stitched on top of the felt pieces, stitching under the pleats and along the bottom.

The plume assembly was then secured to the headpiece by tucking it in the headband and stitching it in place to the band.  This does leave it somewhat lose when wearing but I use pearl headed hat pins to secure it better to my hair.  The pins can be hidden in the folds of the fabric.

Here's a view from the top.

I also decided to add some shoe clips to my American Duchess Pemberly shoes.  I had previously worn my chemise with 1780's shoes and I wanted to dress up my plain Pemberly pair.

Materials for this project were scraps of heavy Pellon, 1.5 inch double faced silk satin ribbon, shoe clips.

I cut pieces of Pellon to the contour of the shoe for the base of the ornament.  I then gathered the ribbon as shown in this post.

The ends of the ribbon were tucked under and the gathered ribbon was tacked to the Pellon base. Three shoe clips were attached to make sure that the clips would be secure during a night of dancing.


Here are some pics from the ball showing the finished items!  

The complete outfit included the items made plus a blue silk sash, a lover's eye pendant (tutorial in this post) and white leather gloves.  Chemise a la Reine is worn over 18th century stays, Regency chemise and two white linen petticoats. Ties were added inside the side backs of the Chemise to draw up the train. Earrings are by Dames a la Mode.

I love having several sets of accessories to make this gown work for two different decades!

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