French Hood: Actually making the thing.

Beloved internet, I am not late period. Aethelflied lived and died before the year 1000. Yet I am led to believe that some of you insist on living after I died, centuries after even. And a few of you even have the nerve, nay the sheer bold faced audacity! To be people I like and want to give textiles to.  So for the purposes of this post, and the one previous on how I made Donovan’s floppy topper, assume Aethelflied found a time machine for the sole purpose of going forward in time to make awesome folks hats. So without further ado I present:

Apprentice Sister’s French Hood

I’ve already posted a lot of documentation for what a French hood is/looks like. So if you’re confused on where I’m pulling this from feel free to check my archives to refresh your memory. I’ll wait.

Back? Awesome.

Ok so, I wove this. So there are going to be a lot of steps here and this is going to be a Long Post. Brace yourselves, get some snacks, maybe a tasty beverage, and buckle up. First we need to figure out how much fabric we need. From there we figure out how much string we need to make the fabric. Then we’ll move on to assembly.

I guessed and patterned off of myself, but if you’re being more meticulous: You want to measure the circumference of the head of the person who is wearing this complicated hat. That’s measurement A. (there’ll be a diagram in a minute ’cause describing this is neigh impossible).  Now, measure from the temple (roughly on level with the eyebrow) down to the cheekbone. That’s measurement B. Measure from just behind the cheekbone, up over the forehead where you want the hat to sit, over to the same point on the other side of the face. That’s measurement C.

Now we’re going to pattern the paste (that’s the bottom headband bit the crescent sits on). It’s going to be roughly this shape:


Measurement A is the long bottom curve, measurement B is how far those two doinky bits come forward, measurement C is that front curve. Plot those measurements on graph paper and rough in the shape. Do your best, we’re building a pattern for a freaky shape with no right to exist. It won’t be utterly perfect but it should be symmetrical. Keep adjusting the angle of the doinky bit until the center of that measurement and the front curve are right. Then draw in those little side curves,  they need to be deep enough to go above your ear comfortably.

Cut this out of paper, yes I know this is the first time I’d advocating making an actual pattern, that’s how you know it’s a big deal. So, cut this out of paper and lay it on your head the way the finished piece will lie. The two long arms get wrapped around your head to meet at the bottom back, where your skull and neck meet. The doinky bits should lie on your cheeks, with the arch above your ears. Once you’ve mastered that magic set the paste pattern aside.


(See? Arching up and over the ear)

Now we’re going to pattern the crescent (the flashy headband bit). Measure from just in front of your ear (where the paste we just made starts to arch) up along your hairline (where the front of the paste lies when you’re wearing it), to the same front of the ear point on the other side of your head. That measurement is the bottom of your crescent. You’ll need to curve it slightly. The deeper the curve the taller your crescent will end up after you sew it on.

Once you’ve got that measured/drawn out, measure 2.5 -3in straight up from the center point in the arch and make a little mark. Make a second curve from the outer points of your existing curve up to that center point. That’s your crescent. Pictured in the first photo right below the paste.

Now to determine how much fabric you need.

Fabric for stiffening:

Enough to cut out two copies of the paste, and two copies of the crescent. For my sister’s hood that was about 1/2 yard of heavy weight linen. Some people will advocate using buckram. I’ve never used it before and didn’t have any. I had linen. So that’s what I’m going to walk you through, if you want to use buckram there are plenty of tutorials that will assume that’s where you’re starting. I suggest reading through them then coming back here and ignore the stiffening step. But I’m not referring to it again, got it? Good.

Fabric for shell/fancy fabric:

Enough to cut out a copy of the paste (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance), a copy of the crescent (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance), and a veil 1in wider than the outer curve of your crescent, and 22-26 inches long. This is what I wove on a table loom, so my measurements are a bit weird. That being said I needed one length of fabric that was 15in x 12in for the paste and crescent and one 45in x 12in that I cut in half and seamed for the veil.

Fabric for lining/backing:

Enough to cut out a copy of the paste (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance), a copy of the crescent (plus 1/2 in all around seam allowance). I used the same fabric for this as I did for the stiffening and got out of the same half yard.

So total fabric shopping list:

-1 yard of 45in black silk (if you’re buying commercial)

-1/2 yard of black linen

Additional needs:

-Sufficient beads/pearls to edge the crescent and the front of the paste (around the doinky bits and across the brow) For me that was 3 15in long strands of cultured freshwater pearls.

– a length of ribbon long enough to box pleat along the front edge of the paste (45in for me)

-18 gauge jeweler’s wire, enough to edge the entire crescent and the entire outer edge of the paste (10ft for me)

-Super strong thread

-A curved tapestry needle (I didn’t use one. This made me sad and my hands hurt. Trust me. Get one)

-Plain school glue. I used the clear gel kind.


So now we know how much fabric we need. I wove the shell and veil, which came out to a needing a chunk of fabric 60in x 12in wide, as well as a 1/4in wide ribbon 45in long. Because I was going to have to seam the center of the veil anyway I warped the ribbon as one of the selvedges with intent to cut that off and use the raw edge as the center seam of the veil and tuck the raw edge of the ribbon into the paste.


50 epi for 12 in = 600 strands.

60 + 10% (take up) + 18 (loom waste) = 84in (I rounded up to 100 because I’m paranoid.)

600*84 = 50400/36 = 1400 yards of thread needed for the warp.

50ppi at 12in long for 60in = 36000/36=1000 yards needed for weft.

Total: 2400 yards of 60/2 silk thread.

Spend the next two – three months weaving the fabric. Then move on to the next step.


(sewing pin for scale)


Making the paste:

  1. Cut out the two pieces for the stiffened inners of the paste.
  2. Make a solution of 1 part glue, 4 parts water
  3. Soak the pieces in the glue water, lay them flat (one on top of the other to stick them together) on wax paper and leave them to dry. Set this aside for now.
  4. Cut out the lining and shell pieces.
  5. Stitch them together along the interior edge (the part that goes around your head.) Set that aside for now.
  6. Take your dry stiffened bit and sew jeweler’s wire along the exterior edge. (from the back point of one leg, along the sides, along the doinky bits, along the front, and to the back point of the other leg. Use an awl for this. Trust me)
  7. Gently bend the stiffened, wired, internals into shape. Keep putting it on your head until it’s sitting comfortably in the right spot.
  8. Slide this into the shell/lining with the lining on the bottom side.
  9. Carefully, using as invisible a stitch as you can, stitch the open edge closed, tucking the raw edges into the internals. Set your paste aside.

Adding the wire^^

Making the crescent:

  1. Cut out the two pieces for the stiffened inners of the crescent.
  2. Make a solution of 1 part glue, 4 parts water
  3. Soak the pieces in the glue water, lay them flat (one on top of the other to stick them together) on wax paper and leave them to dry. Set this aside for now.
  4. Cut out the lining and shell pieces.
  5. Stitch the shell and lining together along the upper edge.
  6. Stitch the jewelers wire around the entire dry, stiffened internal piece.
  7. Gently bend the internal into shape
  8. slide the internal into the pocket made by shell and lining (lining to the back)
  9. Carefully, using as invisible stitch as you can, stitch the bottom of the crescent closed, tucking the raw edges in.


Crescent shell, ready to have the wire innards stuffed in ^^

Final assembly:

  1. Thread and knot all your beads or pearls onto a length of silk (OR! use very thin floral wire for about 174% less frustration later. I didn’t. This was a hint I got after my pearls were knotted on the silk)
  2. Align the center of the crescent with the center front of the paste.
  3. Gently bend the crescent into place
  4. Using the hooked needle (you bought one right?) sew the crescent to the paste. This will be a difficult, pain the ass process. Just go into it expecting it.
  5. Hem your veiling.
  6. Stitch your pearls or beads (this is called a biliment for a random factoid) along both edges of your crescent and the front of the paste.
  7. Pleat and iron the ribbon
  8. Stitch your ribbon along the underside of the bottom of the front of the paste
  9. Sew on your veil.


Done! Finally! This is a lot of finicky handwork. But, if you’re fond of late period hats then it’s worth the work. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting back into my time machine and going back to 950 C.E. when clothes make sense and hats take less than 3 months to make.



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