Sunday, November 8, 2015

Project Complete: Late 14th Century Transitional Open Hood

I think it might be clear at this point that I am a connoisseur of the open hood. I have an entire drawer full of them. Seven of them, in fact. Each with its own color and character. The seventh is the hood I'm sharing today.

A transitional style open hood suitable for the period between 1360 and 1420.

The open hood has a fascinating (to me at least) existence and evolution throughout the entire period they were worn (roughly 1320's through to the 1490's). I used to think it was a clear-cut transition, first from the short-nubbed hoods in the Luttrell Psalter to an awkward transitional style with a long tippet that faced forward, and ending with the brimmed, liripiped hoods of the 15th century (which have their own evolution). While this isn't incorrect, what I've come to see recently is what I previously thought to be a transitional style is transitional in form, but not necessarily in time. Maybe this graphic will help explain what I mean:

Notice how much those years overlap after the initial versions appear. There is a lot of variation in the imagery, so even this graphic is only a sampling of the very basic transitions. My educated guess is that each region had its own take, either derived from those of their regional neighbors or purposefully distinguished from them.

When I look at my own hood collection, it's dominated by the 15th century version seen in blue above, rightfully so. For my primary period (1400-1420), the is the more fashionable style. But open hoods are so amorphous and pervasive, it was not at all unlikely that all of the hood styles above would have been worn at a single point in time by three generations of women. The image below, from about 1410, is one of hundreds of examples I've come across where more than one hood style is shown, a woman's age and the style of her hood go hand-in-hand.

Comedies of Terence, BnF Arsenal MS664 reserve, fol. 138v, circa 1410.
So, when my friends and I hatched our plan last month to take a hike in our 14th century kits, I decided I had a problem. I have a hood inspired by the early Luttrell Psalter example, and all my other hoods are 1400 or later in style. I was missing a hood that fell into the transition period. After lots of looking, I came across the image below and decided to recreate it. The image is from The Roman de la Rose circa 1340, but the particular styling of the hood is seen all the way up to the 1420's in one way or another.


I started by using my early hood as the baseline. I had decided that I wanted to experiment with that short tippet-style liripipe being cut straight back, rather than upward, so I placed the early hood accordingly. You can see from my chalk lines that I lengthened it, widened it, and created a brim. The brim is a curve to create the half-moon shaping of my example image.

I cut the crimson wool (leftover from my new bag) and blue linen at the same time. The top is a fold, so there are four layers here.

I used a tight running stitch to sew the blue and crimson together along the front edge. Then I sewed the back seam of the wool and linen sides separately.

I got the idea to sew the hood in such a way that it could be reversible if I wanted it to be, so I needed to finished all the seams to keep things neat and smooth. So I tacked the seam allowances down with a running stitch on each side. When I got to the very tight liripipe, I used a piece of sturdy paper folded up a few times to be stiff and slid it all the way into the end of the liripipe. As I sewed the running stitch, the paper prevented the needle from catching the other side, and I didn't have to try to wiggle my finger all the way in there. 

I haven't used that type of seam finishing treatment in a while. I was reminded of how pretty it looks. I did not double fold either the wool or the linen. Those raw edges are inside the hood and should be fairly preserved. The whole point was just to smooth out the seams.

After positioning the linen inside the wool, I tucked the bottom seam allowances inside and closed them together with an overcast stitch.

Then the entire perimeter of the hood was finished off with a running top stitch. (You know how I love me that top stitch!)


I'm very happy that it turned out in line with the hoods of the transitional period. I'm not sure if the straight-cut liripipe, rather than the shaped forward cut, was the best choice, but it does fall forward with no problem. If I stuffed it and added a wire, I could easily get the more protruding look. For the hike, I tucked in under the brim, which is something I have seen in the period examples. In general, it looked a bit too phallic for my taste when it was just sticking out. Which, I'm sure, it exactly what it's supposed to look like.

I like that I get a break in the drape. That's evident in many of the images as well. I played around with where to pin it, and discovered that I can get really accurate with the brim shape and the brake in the collar drape.

I think I get too much outward folding at the front for what the style is supposed to have. Too much blue is showing. Again, pinning would adjust this, but I think it comes down to the shape I put in for the brim. I don't think it was a severe enough transition. I don't mind, though, since, once again, there was so much intermingling of these transitional styles, I don't think I would look completely out of place in 1390.

I like the hood. I like that it fills a gap in my hood collection, and I'm really happy with the general look and colors. It was very comfortable to wear on the hike. If I had to go on to making another transition period hood, I think I've gained enough insight with the shaping of the liripipe and brim to get a bit closer to what I think would be considered more fashionable and accurate. But I definitely don't think I missed the mark with this one.

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