Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

Cloth-Circlet-art - 3/18/14


"Millinery Basics - Using Professional Millinery Techniques to Create a 12th -15th century cloth circlet" by Murienne de Corbeau.


NOTE: See also the files: headgear-msg, hds-liripipes-msg, snoods-cauls-msg, Simple-Wimple-art, turbans-msg, veils-msg, E-Period-Hats-art, silk-msg, velvet-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Millinery Basics -

Using Professional Millinery Techniques to Create a 12th - 15th century cloth circlet

by Murienne de Corbeau


               The cloth fillet can be traced in extant artwork as early as the 11th and 12th century to secure ones' veil. Because of the delicacy needed to preserve cloth, there are few extant pieces. One such surviving circlet, of silk wrapped wire was found in an archeological dig in London We can also rely on period secondary resources such as illustrated books, manuscripts, and statuary. The most well known of these sources are the Luttrell Psalter, which is what I am basing my design on, the London dig, and the statuary of the Magdeburg Cathedral in Germany.


               The materials thought to be used in period, based on household inventories include wire, silk, buckram, and thread. The buckram commonly sold at nation-wide stores is far too flimsy to be used for hats. The buckram I am providing is a heavy weight buckram sold by a millinery supplies website provided in the notes, as well as the millinery wire. The ribbon supplied is velvet and satin ribbon from JoAnns Fabrics and my personal collection of millinery ribbons.




               Buckram: Heavy-duty, open weave cotton or linen sized with water-soluble glue.


               Millinery Wire: Heavy-gauge malleable wire wrapped in cotton or silk thread, used for hat making.




·Measure your head. This measurement needs to be taken exactly where you want the hat to sit, as this is used to create the headband.


           Buckram and Wire:


·Using your head measurement, add 1/2" for ease, plus 2" for overlap. Measure out two lengths of millinery wire this length. Make sure to spring the wire out of it's coil, but do not torque or twist it. Try to keep the wire flat.


·Using heavy-duty thread and a half-hitch knot, lash the two wire ends together all along the 2 inch overlap, knot off the end inside the last half hitch.  Only at this point can you place the wire on your head and begin to mold it to your specific head-shape. Most people have oval shaped heads, not round. IMPORTANT: take the time to make this comfortable and fitted to you with both wires.


·Measure out a strip of bias buckram twice as wide as you think you will need for the hat band. (As this is a cloth circlet, SCA sumptuary laws do not apply). The length is your head-size plus 1/2" again, plus 2 inches for overlap. Overlap the buckram so that the head-size lines match up and zig-zag by machine or take a wide hand stitch through both layers of buckram.


·Fold the buckram ring in half around one wire, pinning the wire in place. With more heavy-duty thread, whip-stitch or blanket stitch around the wire and buckram. When you are finished, do the same to the other raw buckram edge. Don't worry if the stitches are sloppy at this point, it will all be hidden! Once the head-band is finished, set it aside.




·Take the material you will use for the outside of your circlet, measure the length you need (head measurement, plus 1/2" ease, plus 1" seam allowance).


·Fold your ribbon (or bias tape) in half to find the center, and pin it to the center front of your circlet (directly across from the back seam). Continue to pin the ribbon all around, leaving a gap at the back for the finishing seam.


·Sew the ribbon with a whip-stitch to the wire, just on the inside edge of the circlet. If your ribbon is wide enough, you can fold it all the way around and whip stitch it to itself. Focus on keeping the inside of the circlet as flat as possible for comfort.




·Pin your satin lining ribbon the same way you did the covering, but fold the edges inside. I chose satin or silk for the inside, as it slips onto my head easily. You can also use velvet if your hair is super slippery!


·Whip-stitch the lining to the inside edge of the velvet ribbon, taking care to hide your thread ends.


           Decoration! (optional)


At this point the basic circlet is finished! Congratulations! If you wish to, you may choose to add beads or charms to the outside of the circlet, or any combination you like. I like to add decoration only to the front half of my circlets so I can wear them under my veils without bumps. Be careful not to add pearls to the top edge unless you want to be mistaken for a Baroness!


This circlet can be worn several ways. In the Luttrell Psalter, the circlet is worn over braided hair and secures a veil. It can also be worn over loose hair by itself, or with a wimple and veil underneath the circlet. This circlet can also be worn with a veil over circlet and pinned to the buckram base. If you use pearls in your decoration, and pearl headed veil pins, the pins disappear into the design!


Supplies List:

http://www.fabric-store.com: Linen

Joanns Fabrics: Velvet ribbon

http://www.hats-supply.com: Heavy weight Buckram, bias tapes, millinery wire, ribbon

http://www.dharmatradingco.com: Silk habotai, silk bias tape, silk organza



Luttrell Psalter: Online Manuscript Database



Egan, Geoff, and Frances Pritchard.

Dress Accessories circa 1150-1450:

Vol. 3 of Medieval Finds from Excavations in London.

Archeological record of cloth and wire based circlets


From The Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking

By: Denise Dreher copyright 1981

Madhatter Press, Minneapolis, MN


Copyright 2014 by Morgan White. <blackfeatherswan at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org