And now.....what I truly love....HATS!!
I have the wonderful honor of making a truncated Hennin with a butterfly veil for the elevation of a friend of mine, and I am really excited about it.
A little Hennin history:
It is thought that the Hennin was brought to France in the early 15th Century by Isabeau of Bavaria. There are tales of the Hennin reaching such great heights that the doors of the french palace had to be altered to accommodate them. Like most extreme fashion, there were sumptuary laws regarding the wearing of hennins, and the taller they were, the higher the status of the wearer. There was even a "hennin burning" sponsored by a priest to protest the sinful nature of this headwear, but by the next morning all the women who had thrown hats into the fire were sporting new hennins that were even taller.
The steeple hennin (princess cone hat) never became fashionable in England, but the truncated (cut short) Hennin did. The frontlets eventually became longer, the cone disappeared, and a gable was used to frame the face.
Unlike clothing, extant hats are rare if not non-existant and so are their patterns. The construction methods used are lost to history and one can only extrapolate based on modern-era techniques.
Buckram, as we know it, was not used as a base for construction in period hats. I believe that most women's hats were constructed using wire framing techniques and then covered in a wadding or Domette type of padding. There was no rigid base (men's hats were different). The wadding was then covered by the ornamented outer fabric. This makes for a lighter hat, and something that could be taken apart and re-worked easily. It is MUCH easier to achieve some of the elaborate shapes seen in period portraits and manuscripts using this method.
How I've made this Hennin:
Going on my theory of lighter being better, I first made up the wire frame. 3 wire circles of diminishing circumference, joined to 6 supporting spines.
Next, I have pinned the batting to the frame, ready to stitch on.
Next, I will drape the outer fabric onto the frame and draft the shape,
transfer it to a flat pattern and then finish the embellishment before I apply it to the frame. As you can see in the picture, the silk isn't enough to cover the wire shadows. I may need to add a second layer of batting. The silk isn't much to look at in this light, but it is a blue and black ribbed silk shot with gold. And you also have to imagine all the embroidery that's going to be on it....but you can't.....cause it's still in my head. :)
Since the outer fabric is a silk, I'll need to stabilize it with a bottom weight cotton before I start the embroidery. The interlining layer should add another layer of padding between the wires and make the finished product look smooth.
All of the embroidery is done, and I am now attaching the velvet bands and gold trim.
The vines were made using a corded stem stitch. The design is stitched to the silk using a stem stitch and then a gold (2 threads) cord was wound around the design to add a little sparkle. I put a little star design at the ends of the swirls and added a small pearl.
Next, I applied a 1/2 inch velvet trim to the spaces in-between the embroidery. I decided to use ribbon trim, rather than make my own because of convenience.
After applying the velvet, I realized that something else was needed to add a little texture, so I opted for a small gold trim. I think this adds just enough interest without going over-board, or taking away from the hand work.
Edit: August 16th, 2011
I finished the outer cover for the hennin. Here are some pictures of it pinned to the frame. Tomorrow I stitch it together and make the veil and wire supports.
Almost Last Edit: 8/17/11
I have temporarily attached the veil, to get an idea of what it will look like.