Making-Hoods-art - 3/27/14
"Thoughts on the Making of Hoods" by Varakreivitar Kareina Talvi Tytdr, OL.
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.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
You can find more work by this author on her blog at: http://kareina.livejournal.com/
Thoughts on the Making of Hoods
by Varakreivitar Kareina Talvi Tytdr, OL
I am often asked for patterns to make hoods, and so I thought I'd take a moment to share a few thoughts on period hoods with the populace. When I was new to the SCA the hood pattern to which I was first introduced was the easy-to-find  pattern which appears in so many theatre costuming books (Figure 1). This pattern has one good feature: It is very quick to make. It has a couple of bad features: It wastes an awful lot of fabric. It isn't really very comfortable the way it sits on the shoulders. (I've got one in my closet if anyone would like to give it a try and see what I mean about the comfort!).
Figure 1: Hood pattern as seen in theatre costume books (Not recommended for use!)
These problems raise the question: what can we do to make a hood, which is both comfortable and doesn't waste fabric? The easy answer to this problem is one, which was frequently employed during the Middle Ages. One can create any number of complex shapes by combining rectangles, squares, and triangles. An example of this technique using triangular "gussets" to make the main rectangle of the hood fit better over the shoulders is shown in Figure 2 (museum number D10602), which is from an excavation in Herjolfsnaes Greenland (Ostergaard 2004).
Figure 2: Hood # 72 from the book "Woven into the Earth"
When using triangular "gussets" in your sewing projects you are limited only by 1) how much fabric you have available 2) how much time you are willing to spend on sewing and 3) your own sense of "that looks right" when deciding how many triangles and how wide they should be.
My personal favourite approach to hood-making is to make the hood as full in the mantle (shoulders) as I am able given the piece of fabric I have available. I generally start with a piece of fabric that is twice as wide as I want the hood to be (measure from the middle of the back of your head to as far forward on your face as you wish the fabric to cover) and four times as long. I cut this fabric in half lengthwise and cut one half of that into four equal sized squares (Figure 3). Each of the squares I cut into sets of three triangles, which then get stitched together to make four different gussets made of three triangles each.
When stitching triangles together (Figure 4) to make larger gussets, it is a very good idea (TM) to attach the straight-cut sides of the smaller triangles to the diagonal-cut (bias) sides of the larger triangles. This is because fabric stretches very differently when tugged parallel to the weave of the threads than it does when tugged on the diagonal (try it yourself with the nearest piece of woven fabric and you will see what I mean!).
When dealing with fabric it sometimes happens that the diagonally cut lines will stretch or shrink to appear, briefly, a somewhat different length than that to which it was cut. If this happens, do not despair! Simply pin each end of the diagonal to the straight piece of fabric to which it is meant to attach (taking care to put each end just where it is meant to be) and then adjust the diagonal until it is the correct length again (note: this phenomenon is much more evident when dealing with long lengths, like gores for a skirt, than for nice, small triangles like those in a hood).
Figure 4: triangles combine to make a single gusset
As you can see from Figure 3, I mark & cut the curve of the hem before I commence sewing. An easy way to mark that curve is to pin to the point of the triangle a string with a length the same as that of the triangle. Rotate the string across the arc, and mark its path on the fabric.
If you are starting with a different size and shape piece of fabric than the one I describe above, you may wish to approach your triangles for the gussets a bit differently. One option is to cut two triangles from a single rectangle and sew them together to make a symmetrical larger triangle (Figure 5).
Figure 5: alternative way to make gussets: one large triangle from two small
The hood-cutting diagram I provide above (Figure 3) does not include a liripipe, the long "tail" which hangs from the crown of many Medieval hoods (including the one shown in Figure 2). If you wish your hood to include a liripipe, simply cut a narrow rectangle of fabric and attach it to the top of the hood. If you wish your liripipe to be longer than the width of fabric you have available, simply cut a second rectangle at attach it to the bottom of the first. You are limited only by your own personal sense of fashion and your own need for practicability in your clothing. One which is long enough to wrap around your face like a scarf if it is cold out can be a good thing, but one which gets in your way while you are engaged in every-day tasks can be bothersome.
After the beautiful, but cold, weather at the Tournament of the Forest Gate, I hope these patterns and thoughts on the topic of hoods are welcome. I wish you all many happy & warm hours wearing your new hoods at up coming tourneys, feasts, and revels.
Ostergaard, E. (2004). Woven into the Earth: Textile finds in Norse Greenland, Aarhus University Press.
 In those days there was no internet, so "research" meant going to one's local library, which often had "not much" in the way of resources for making authentic Medieval clothing, hence the prevalent habit of the time of turning to theater costume books as sources, even though we knew even then they tend to be based upon dodgy research and many shortcuts.
Copyright 2008 by Riia M. Chmielowski, Rutviksrevln 59, 97596 Luleå, Sweden. <kareina.sca 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.