We're so close to being done (or as done as these things ever are) with the Blue Bee dresses!
We've also come to the thing that I have been dreading the most - hats. In the past, hats have been Rachel's thing, so it was kinda my turn now. We looked at so many pictures of hats, but mostly took our inspiration from hats like these:
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to start with a proper buckram frame from a milinry supply store. In the past, we've managed to make head pieces with what we already had, but for the crisp lines of the kinds of hats we'd been looking at, I knew the expense of a buckram hat frame would be worth it.
From there, making the pattern to cover the frame is not unlike making an upholstery pattern, just in miniature. I turned the hat upside down and carefully traced around the top edge, then went back and added seam allowance. For the sides, I found the dress trim to be almost perfect in width. I trimmed off the gold edges of the trim, then cut lining pieces for the top and sides out of the cream dupioni silk lining of the coat.
With the outer pieces sewn together, I whip stitched/basted the edges down, just covering the metal hat band in the bottom of the buckram frame and hiding most of my stitches in the edges of the gold trim on the outside. I didn't have to worry about it being too pretty inside, as it would be covered by the lining.
Being a Renaissance hat, I added a large grey ostrich feather from Rachel. I had been making the coif and hat at the same time, so you can see it here on Ms. Foame with the plain coif. I ended up covering the end of the feather with a large button made of blue linen and a tree-of-life charm, but alas I didn't get a good picture of it here.
One more thing was definitely needed to secure the hats - a hat pin. I searched online to see if there were ones I could purchase - and there were. Except they were art pieces, or set with precious gems, or antiques. So, kind of at the last minute, I ordered supplies to make my own. Plus - hey another place to have a bee! I used glass beads in blue and yellow, a bee charm, and bits and pieces left over from other jewelry projects, all secured with E6000 glue. I also added a little chain swag to the side of the hat, just for that little bit of extra oomph.
The pin up close. I think it turned out great!
Full disclosure - I put this on Ms. Foame after the faire to take a picture to add to the bottom of this post. The day of the faire, the court asked us to bling out our garb as much as possible, so Rachel and I threw on our tiaras from our green German dresses. And although I wouldn't have come up with it on my own, I do think it's just the right amount of theatricality. I can't wait for you to see the whole show that is the Blue Bee Dress all together in the next post!
If you've ever paid attention to the wide variety of outfits, costumes, or garb at a renaissance festival, you may have noticed that the most complete looking costumes all have one thing in common - appropriate head-wear. We've written about this before. This was not something we were going to skimp on for our Blue Bee dresses either.
Choosing a more English Tudor look for our dresses meant that we were kind of starting from zero for the hats. Before, our costumes had been Italian or German, and the hats strongly reflected that! Not unlike the wulsthaube, steuchlein, and hat combo for German costume, most English Tudor costumes have a combination of coif, (sometimes veil), and hat.
Most coifs seem pretty similar at first glance, but they can actually vary quite a bit in the details. Some are meant to cover the hairline, and some sit pretty far back on the head. Some leave the ears exposed, some cover just the tips of the ears, and some completely enclose the ears. Some are fairly curved to follow the contours of the face, and some look more like a fitted kerchief, and some have a separate forehead cover (not unlike a renaissance version of a sweatband). They can be lined or unlined. While most are white or off-white linen, they can go from very plain, to trimmed in lace, to some blackwork embroidery, to heavily embroidered with metallic thread, pearls, and even jewels!
I found this blog post to be a good combo of easy-to-follow, and middle-of-the-road in style. I drew a rough pattern, and cut two layers - one out of a very fine and high-quality linen for the top layer, and one of a lightweight cotton lawn for the lining.
I added a strip of cotton lace for a bit of interest, and gathered the top point by hand, so we wouldn't look like little lawn ornaments if we were just in the coif and not the hat. I left the bottom edge open to make a casing for the ties.
The coif, 1.0 version is modeled by the newest member of my sewing room (insert introductory fanfare here): Ms. Styra Foame! If you think she looks a little, well - masculine - that's because I tried first with a female styrofoam head, and found the head to be waaay too small. Frankly, even the male styrofoam head is a little on the small side for my fat head, but it was an improvement for fitting purposes. As a concession, I gave Ms. Foame eyeliner and lipstick with magic markers.
One thing that most coifs have in common is that they rely on the wearer having a good deal of hair, coiled into a bun, at the back of the head for the coif to hold on to. The ties cinch the bottom of the coif, under the bun, into a little poof at the back of the head. Then the ties may be tied at the back neck, pulled forward and tied under the chin (not unlike later puritan bonnets), or drawn up and tied on top of the head. The latter was most common for our period.
After speaking with Rachel and looking at more coif designs, we decided that plain coifs were a little too plain, so I added a strip of embroidery at the front where it would be most visible. I also took the chance to use a little gold lame thread in with the honey-brown for the flowers. A little extra tasteful bling never hurt anything!
Because both Rachel and I have short hair, we knew we were going to face some challenges getting the coif to stay in place, especially if we needed to pin a hat onto it also! After muddling over the problem for a bit, I decided to give wig clips a try. After all, if they can be used to secure some of these luxurious and no-double heavy hair pieces, surely a little coif would be no problem! I stitched them on the underside, right next to the front edge. As we had decided on embroidery after the coif was assembled, this also meant that it would protect the back of my embroidery a bit from sweat and hair oil as well.
And there she is! Phase one of the head-wear done! It seems almost a shame that most of it will be covered and/or outshone by the second half, yet-to-come in the next blog post...
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!