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March 4, 2013 / silvernswan

Medieval cap (coif) and veil

Every second year there is a medieval jousting event held in Upper Hutt ( which we like to attend. Two years ago I had a 3 month old baby and funnily enough this time I also had a 3 month old baby. I like to dress up, but I only have one medieval gown that I can breast feed in – a sideless surcote that I made to wear last time. This year, stuck with wearing the same gown I decided to work on more authentic headwear.

Cynthia Virtue has a very good selection of articles and I used her hood pattern to make a hood for my spouse. It was very roughly and quickly done so I don’t intend to blog about it. Her page how to wear a veil shows how to use two bands to attach a veil. I made a veil and these bands to try them out, but decided that a band under the chin would irritate me too much, and sadly I don’t have enough of an occipital bump to run the band behind my neck (and expect it to stay on!).

St Bridget Cap 1Enter Neulakko and her fabulous tutorials on how to wear a veil & wimple, she recommends a St Bridget cap as the foundation to attach a veil. This cap is also known as St Birgitta’s cap, and I used the information provided by  Maniacal Medievalist
to draft my pattern.

The pattern is basically a rectangle with one corner cut off/smoothed out into a curve for the centre seam. St Bridget Cap 3The base of the rectangle is fully gathered, in my case down to just 3 or 4 cm, and the side becomes the edge against the face. In the original (and other reproductions) the two pieces are not joined, but embroidered together to form a ribbon about a centimetre wide. I simply didn’t have time for this, but reasoning that the embroidered join might have a logical purpose like to stop the join from wrinkling or sitting funny,St Bridget Cap 2 I finished each of the centre parts with a rolled hem and joined them by butting together and zig-zagging. There is probably a name for this kind of seam but I don’t know what it is.

The dimension that I measured, the distance around my head which is the edge of the cap, is perfect – the split at the back abuts neatly when I put it on. However, even though I have a small head, St Bridget Cap & Veilthe cap is not really deep enough, and tries to slide off my head. Although I discovered when taking the photos of me wearing it that it sits much better when covering the ears.

On the day it was fine though as I also wore “Princess Lea” type buns so every thing was pinned in place and stayed there.  My hair is loosely smooched into the back view of the cap, so looks a bit messy.



I’ve been meaning to make a silk sleep cap for a while now, I have waist length hair and need to get it out of the way while sleeping. The only styles I had seen were ones that looked like shower caps. However, this style is a huge improvement (in my mind, anyway) and so I shall be making one for this purpose soon.


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