Sunday, June 9, 2013

In Progress: Frilled Veil - 15th Century Hood Style

I had previously tried to make a frilled veil using a linen that was too heavy, so I stopped and tabled the project until I had the right material. A few months ago I purchased several yards of some 3.5oz. white linen for various veils, and finally decided to get back to the frilled veil.

The specific style I was looking to create is less a traditional veil that drapes from the head with a frilled edge, and more a shaped and tailored piece that has more in common with an open hood than a veil. One of my favorite examples of this type of frilled headdress can be seen in this illustration of the woman from Bath in a 1410 edition of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales".


These sorts of "veils" sport frilled (goffered, honeycomb, etc.) front edges that frame the face, as well as frilled bottom edge "collars" that rest on the shoulders and around the back on the neck. In order to achieve this fit, the main, flat body of the veil can't be flat- there needs to be curve introduced somewhere to remove excess draping and force the collar to land where it does.

I'd struggled for a bit to understand how that works, until Elina from Neulakko posted her frilled veil progress and mentioned that she used her open hood as a pattern. That made perfect sense to me, and was the missing puzzle piece I needed.

Initially I just made a new muslin version of my 14th century open hood, modifying the back to a simple curve, rather than sporting a nubby tippet. I made it a little longer, but didn't too to much more than that, since I really just wanted to experiment to see if I was on the right track. I also assembled a set of frills (just pinned into pleats) to attach.

I might be a little crazy.

Eventually, I switched to a different test fabric so that I could establish the collar. My first working toile looked like this:


I thought I had a good length on the front frills I was using for a test, so I made a second strip and attached both to the toile to see how things were going. Unfortunately, the frills were not as long as I wanted them to be (though they were still at a good, documentable length, they just didn't frame my oval-shaped face nicely.)


Now I'm thinking I might just be a psycho.

After measuring again, I decided to aim for a length somewhere between 21" and 24" (the test frills came in at about 19.5"). After playing around with the math, I settled on making 14 finished box pleats of 1.5" wide each.


I made a mini frill to test how I could finish the rows (below). The pleat between the purple and blue pins is a complete pleat with a 1.5" section over top two folded pleats. To the left of that (blue pins) I've used another 1.5" folded in half, bringing the end inward, ending the line on a fold instead.


I've learned the hard way that cutting before pleating is a bad move. So instead of calculating out how much starting length I need, cutting out the strips, and then crossing my fingers that they all turn out right, I measured out and folded each pleat, one at a time, until I got the 14 full and 2 half pleats I wanted, then cut. Just to be safe. It's a good thing I did that because the if I had cut according to the math, I should have ended up at a length of 22.5", but the imperfections of manually pleating brought the finished length to a smidgen past 23".

I wanted to get away from having to hem these lengths since hems add bulk, not to mention time. Instead, the lightweight linen is well-suited to just being doubled over to create a clean, folded edge along the front. My test frills were 2.75" in depth, unfolded, which was alright, but I started to worry that the final attachment to the veil would make the frills be a bit too stunted. A 4" depth, folded to give me frills of 2" deep, gives me more to work with.

Look- I can occasionally have a clean living room!

After pleating two lengths of frills, I decided to add a third length to bulk it up a bit more. They will be stitched together to give them a fretwork look, as well as starched before wearing, so they will certainly not be flat, but I felt that two was a bit meager.

Once the three frills were pleated and temporarily pinned together, I went back to my toile and determined that I needed to go with a different shape. I like how my 15th century open hoods hug my neck and sit nicely on my shoulders, so I went back to the drawing board using that type of shape instead. The new toile looked like this:


After attaching the frills I determined that the front angle might be a bit too much- sticking a little too far out. I decided to put the toile aside until I had the bottom frills as well to see if their weight would pull that line down were I wanted it to be. The frills are added to the edges of the font and bottom, so they extend about 1.5" past what you see above.

The frills along the bottom edge needed to be around 27" long, which works out to 18 full pleats. I decided to go ahead and also include the half pleats on both ends so that I would still have the folds at the ends. Sitting on my shoulders, the ends are visible from the front.

That's where I've stopped for now. After the collar frills are assembled, I'll finalize the veil shape, transfer it to linen, and assemble. I'm aiming to have this completed for Simple Day the first weekend of July, but I promised my husband that I'd have a tunic he's looked forward to having ready by then as well. Plus I need to correct my new blue linen dress. And possibly make a new tunic for one of my sons.

I might have a little too much on the stove right now.

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