Making a French Hood


During a discussion on Margo Anderson's Yahoo group about making hat brims out of various things, I suggested Timtex as a good thing, as it's washable, so hats made with it should not become badly distorted or floppy in the rain.  Several people though this might be a good idea, and after a little thought, I kind of liked the idea of trying it for a French Hood.  So here we go...


This is what happened on Monday 8 February...

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First I downloaded a pattern and printed it.  This is one of the ones from The Elizabethan Costuming Site: one of the best resources for this period on the net.

Then it was traced onto the Timtex, and cut out.  You can see how thick it is!

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I went a little mad and tried sewing the wire round the edge on the machine!  It worked, but was a right old fiddle, and I still had to sew the ends down by hand.  Next time I will do the whole thing by hand, and I might not try to bend the wire round the corners at the sides of the shell...  That was tough on the fingers, and not as good as it might be!

I experimented with sewing some bias tape on to cover the wire, but this didn't work...

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So I dug out some fusible glue tape and the Mini Iron, and fused some wider stuff on!  That did work, very nicely!
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Next I went back to the pattern, and cut out the covering fabric.  This is a linen weave poly cotton blend, in a skirt weight.
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The outer side gets pinned in place first.  Where the curve of the base is too steep for just folding over, a little snip eases things nicely.  Here you see why I wanted the bias tape: it gives me something to pin to!
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The outside all gets pinned on, and then the lining.  This is the same fabric as the outside.  I folded it in just a tad more than the outer, so that the stitching will be on the inside.

You need LOTS of pins!

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Once everything was pinned to my satisfaction, I stitched it down.  I like to use silk thread for hand stitching, as it makes fewer loops and tangles...  Actually, what created the greatest annoyance was getting my hair caught in all those pins!
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Then it was time to apply that silver lace...  Pinned first and then stitched!  All the points of the lace had to be caught down, or they poked up in the air, looking daft!
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Once the lace was stitched in place, I bent the wire carefully to get the best looking and fitting shape!  Now all I need to do is find some light weight black for the veil section at the back...

I'm quite pleased with it so far.

Tuesday 9 February...

Today I go Stash Diving in the 29 or so boxes of fabric in the loft, hunting for something to make the veil part of this ensemble.  I also want to find that bit of cotton velvet/velveteen (very plush and yummy) for the next version.  Somewhere I think there's a bit of gold or silver mesh that might make a good snood to fit the back of one of these...

One thing I did notice in my research for this was that there is some controversy about how they are fixed to the head...  I only found reference to one portrait showing a strap under the chin, and that might have been for a close fitting caul under the hood.  I find this one fits quite close, almost like an Alice Band, but the weight of the veil might drag it off.  If I find this is so, I shall make some worked loops on the front underside, for pinning it down with hairgrips.  No-one will see them in use, and it's less painful than nailing it to my skull.


Friday 11 February

Well, I finally got back to The Hood!  I thought that to avoid dragging it off the back of my head, it would be a good idea to make the veil part out of something light.  Various people suggested various things, and after not finding what I wanted in the loft, I had the brilliant idea of using a bit of Joshi's Silky polyester Habotai fabric.  I usually buy this by the roll, and use it as a light weight dress lining.  It looks enough like light weight silk to do for this job.


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My first veil attempt was too narrow...  I wanted to avoid the Mad 1960's Wedding veil look that you see on too many modern interpretations.  I cannot find any portraits of  women in French Hoods with millions of miles of tulle stuck to the back of their heads!  But making this half the width of the fabric was just too narrow.

I doubled this for the second attempt, and used the full width.  Both times I cut the fabric into a sort of sleeve-head shape to fit better round the back of the stiffened bit of the hood.

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Having measured round the back of my head, under my hair, I thought allowing 18" across the back would be about right.  I put in a gathering stitch round the top.


Once pulled up and pinned in place, it was a bit fuller than I really wanted, but way better than the first time!  I then stitched it into place, and as I did so, I thought about the underside...  How WERE these things held on?

 I thought about it, and then it occurred to me that maybe there would have been a drawstring round the back that would both gather up the slack and keep it secure on the head.  I couldn't be bothered with a drawstring that someone else would have to tie every time, so I cheated madly and used elastic cord!

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Once I completed the stitching, it looked quite fine to me, so I took a few more pictures...  I don't have a hat stand, but one of my little side lights for putting extra light on my work stood in for one as I photographed back and front.
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These are the Vanity shots - me in the hood!  A three-quarter shot, and a profile.  This was good, as I had to learn to use the timer on the camera!

I parted my hair and brushed it out, catching it in a band on the back of my neck.  This allowed me to put the elastic under my hair, and arrange the front more like the portraits than I usually wear it.

KareasConcorde.JPG (81618 bytes) Oh - Kate with nose in the air!  At least I've lost enough weight to show I own collar bones!  I was trying to avoid displaying a double chin..  Trouble is, it shows the grey in my hair!

Sorry about the scruffy background - I'm sitting on my sewing chair in the corner of the sewing room, and that's all the junk on the shelves.

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