(completed 7 June 2013)

An important step in developing a dress based on Flemish tapestries of the period 1500-1520 is getting the headgear right. A survey of Flemish tapestries shows the women wore a decorated coif under another decorated hood. Specifically I looked at the Honors Tapestries purchased by Charles V in the 1520s

Not the best example for this article, but the best one I could find online

So stage 1 of this outfit and over all challenge was to made a decorated coif.

After chatting with a friend I warped some red silk I had in stash onto an embroidery frame, using some white linen also from stash to stabilise the silk. I sketched a circle with a 14 inch diameter onto this and then drew a diamond pattern onto this. Then, over a couple of months, usually while at a friend’s place on Wednesday nights I couched two strands of gold wrapped cord onto this circle.


This was then attached to a shaped brim, based a little on a pattern from The Tudor Tailor, but shaped with a square edge and a deep cut through the crown of the head. It was also informed by the work of Genoveva, who had recently built and published her reasoning and pattern for a German goldhaube.

Cutting out the brim. The top, where there's no seam allowance is cut on the fold.

In the end I didn’t need the entire circle. I wanted a smooth fit through the crown, as seen in the tapestry images, and a tucked in look, like the caps seen in some of Lucas van Leyden’s sketchesthis one in particular. After playing with fitting and the pleating I attained a shape that felt right. Similar to Genoveva’s work it is more of an ovoid than a pure circle, so I am glad that I couched such a large amount of silk, so I had enough to play with.

In the end it was a spectacular, simple and elegant piece of headwear. It’s also lightweight and stays on my head easily with hair pins caught through two bits of cord attached to the edge of the brim, or by two hair combs sewn into the crown.

Karinne - SCA - DressingUp - 20130705_182249

The completed red coif, worn with the black gown