Saturday, January 23, 2010

St. Birgitta's Coif - in 15 minutes!


UPDATE: This has turned into one of my most popular posts, which is very cool.  I have, however, gone on to create two new Brigitta caps (or "huvet" as I prefer to call them) that are more accurate.  Please check them out here and here. Thanks!

Do you remember when I created a St. Birgitta's coif almost a year ago? Then decided it was a bust? Then said I was going to try again, but never did?

Ah-ha! 'Never' ends today, my friends!

Now, here's my disclaimer. The following is not necessarily the correct way to create a St. Birgitta's coif, but it is effective. And SUPER easy. In fact, I created this in about 15 minutes with only 4 steps. (Plus an extra step, but more on that later.) If you'd like to create a more accurate St. Birgitta's coif, I suggest you start with C.L. Dahl & I. Sturtewagen's article, The Cap of St. Birgitta, in Medieval Clothing and Textiles vol. IV, pp. 99-129. Or visit Medieval Silkwork for a brief introduction.

Alright. Disclaimer over. Now onto my version. Here- I drew you a picture:

I used linen that I had. It doesn't take much- two-ply, about 8"-10" wide and 12"-14" tall, depending on the size of your head and how much hair you have.

Step One: Cut two pieces with a curve for the curve of your crown. The rest should be straight (pretty much a rectangle with a curve cut out of the corner.)

Step two: Sew along the top, curve and back, joining the two sides and creating a center seam. Then fold over the front hem and stitch into place.
Extra step: Finish the center seam- whichever method you prefer- to prevent fraying and provide a finished look.

Step Three: Fold the bottom edge up (and tucked under) to create a casing along the bottom. It doesn't have to be very wide, just enough for your ribbon.

Step Four: Feed your ribbon through the casing, bunching the bottom of the coif up, then sew the ends of the ribbon together. You can create a linen "ribbon", or use a manufactured ribbon. I still had the original linen tie from my old St. Birgitta's coif, so I used that.

Here's the finished coif:


I decided to go ahead and do this mainly because it's just makes sense to have it. It's very practical, especially because it can be used by itself or under another headdress. I haven't seen it too commonly in 15th century Northern Europe images, but there is evidence it was still worn. Most likely we don't see it too often because it was under the more common headdress. In fact, here's a great 15th century picture that shows a SBC tossed to the ground along with a red open hood.

Good stuff.