The easy Gable hood guide

This is post in my Tudor cheats series.This post gives fairly easy Gable hood instructions .


It isnt overly hard and can be made with no costuming or sewing skills but unlike the other hoods takes a fairly long time ,it takes me around 6 hours sometimes more so its two or three nights work and needs more fabric so would be harder to make if you needed something quickly.

If you want a similar hood quickly from things you have to hand  then an transitional /intermediate hood such as the green one below would be better.

green finished trans hoold

This hood takes maybe an hour or two at most and can usualy be made with things you have in the house ,as you can see its not too different to the gable hood next to it.The transitional hood instructions are here


 How to make an English Gable hood

I will make a hood that’s roughly mid era in this basic shape. I often leave a gap in the back base of the hoods to make them more flexible as I use mine for passing around after talks so they tend to be worn by lots of different people.The gap doesnt show when your wearing the hood if your veils worn down

gable hood frontI also like the longer sided version of the gable hood ,the same instructions will make any shape so it best to decide which style suits you best.


The gable hood here is does employ more compromises than the French hoods  but it looks perfectly accurate  from the front and sides but does not have the more complex back shape that some gable hoods seem to possess .

holbein front and back gown

It does however look perfectly accurate if the back is going to be hidden under upturned veils.


gable hood gold



 You will need the materials below


needle and cotton ,scissors

a cardboard box and cellotape

gable hood flat cardboard


Fabric to cover it

4 kinds are needed

A small piece for the base , fabric from a cushion ,table runner,skirt  or off cut could be enough

fabric needed int hood

white cotton or linen for inside,a pillowcase or small table cloth would be enough

Fabric to make lappets,damask,silk,taffeta or brocade a fairly big piece a curtain ,two large cushion covers,a long skirt etc

Black fabric to make the back black lappets again ideally a generous piece,though you could make just a token veil if you cant get much black fabric.If you find a skirt with black lining you could use that.

Trim for the front, you can use upholstery trim or pearls or both or a long necklace.

fabric and trim gable hood

Ideally a piece of small striped fabric for the front under the front trim but this is optional.

Now  make sure that all the fabric you intend to use is as perfectly ironed as possible ,this doesn’t matter too much with French hoods where there is little visible and its pulled tight but it will be a major problem with gable hoods as much larger bits of fabric are visible and cant be ironed once the hood is made.You can use velvets ,damasks .brocades ,wool fabrics or thick silk

If  you can buy fabric or buy vintage curtains ,cushions ,long evening skirts etc specifically make the hood ,I have included some extra details below on fabrics and trims below ,if you already have the fabrics then please feel free to skip this paragraph and scroll down to the instructions.

With regard to fabric

If  you can buy fabric or buy vintage curtains ,cushions ,long evening skirts etc make the hood ,I have included some extra details below on fabrics and trims below ,if you already have the fabrics then please feel free to skip this paragraph and scroll down to the instructions.

Stiff taffeta works best for the back veils /tippets, Damask ,brocade or cotton curtain velvet is great for the base layer to cover your hood but dress velvet ,synthetic velvet /velor or velveteen will be too thin and show up any bumps in your hood base ,velvet does make the hood heavier to wear however. For the lining slightly off white cotton or linen is much better both visually and practically than pure white which is much more likely to show  marks and looks too jarring.If you have an old pillow case or similar thats perfect for inside the hood

For sources of fabric

Its not possible to make this hood with fabric from only a single cushion cover unlike the french and intermediate hoods .One small one for the base fabric and two large ones would be fine if you dont mind the lappits being slightly shorter and leave off the black veils this wont give you a compelty accurate hood but would do for the theatre or a childrens event.You might also be able to find an old evening or prom dress and use the dress fabric and lining for the hood.Idealy a small pair of old curtains would work best .

If you can afford to then you can buy fabric from ebay or fabric stores .This is likely to cost you around £20 for the black taffeta,lining fabric and damask/brocade.

For trim try Asian stores or use old necklaces ,You can use upholstery braids but personally I always feel they look wrong ,they can be made better by sewing jewels into the braid.

trim upholsand pearls

but if you can’t get authentic billiment looking trim its better just to use strips of plastic pearls as seen in the hood below ,you can always sew trims /billiments over this later .

 hood with pearlks

This can look really attractive as seen below

gable hood AOTD

The hood I have posted instructions for here is lined with vintage cotton ,but you can use anything ,cotton linen polycotton etc, if you cant find white or cream fabric you can just line it with any availible fabric though try not to use anything thats silky as the hood is harder to keep in place with a slippery lining fabric.The hood will still look accurate when on

purple gown 2


If you need the hood to be accurate for a re enactment event its better to find some kind of white fabric for lining it as a  painting showing a gable hood on the floor shows it has a white lining which extends down the sides giving the white edges shown in portraits .

inside gable hood
Finally and optional part  the strip of striped silk which is visible at the Front of later hoods

white band-Catherine_aragon

I think this is an optional piece of the hood as you do occasionaly see effigies or portraits where its missing .



First acquire a sturdy box such as those tins ,bottles ,electrical good come in.It ideally needs to be corrugated cardboard as this helps give straight rigid corners to the hood.

Cut out a  long wide strip from it big enough to make a hood  .

birdwatch and blog stuff 149

To get a rough idea ,measure either with a piece of fabric,your arm or a tape measure the width across your head front to back and add a bit to fold over at the back ,this is the width of the strip you will need ,then do the same over your head to below your chin and thats the length ,basically the hood is a box so imagine your making a  box that will perch on your head framing your face ,be sure to cut across the corrugations not along them  as you want to use the corrugations to make the hood sturdier and they must run from the front of your head to the back to be effective.This  initial cut should be a generous estimate .

birdwatch and blog stuff 154

It has to be long enough to fold over your head and go below your chin and deep enough to cover your head from just in front of your ears to the back of your head ,leaving at least another two inches preferably 4 ins spare to fold over and make the back part of the hood to cover your head and  leave space for any hair style such as plaits,,if you have long hair be sure to take this into consideration.

Now make the basic base

gable hood base

To bend the cardboard into the shape required put the piece of your head and work out where the centre peak needs to be ,remove the cardboard  and score the place,, not too deeply but enough to create a weakness that will allow the cardboard to fold in a neat straight line.Now work out how deep the hood needs to be and score the back of the hood so that it will bend over to create a  back.First fold the small front piece ,this is going to be the base to sew trim onto .

Next fold the back piece forward to create the sturdy box shape and the front inwards to create the peak shape.Use cellotape of parcel shape to keep it in its right shape .

birdwatch and blog stuff 169



tidy up the front rough edges and check the front folds are as long as needed the bottom of the front edge needs to be not folded foward as this will only be covered by white fabric and not trim.

gable hood shape fronjt

Now  check the shape and the angles and cover with cellotape or masking tape ,this will make the hood watetproof and more flexible.

gable hood back covered

For early gable hoods the sides are longer and the peaks are different so its best to  have a browse of  images below  and decide what style you want to have.

Some mostly earlier ones have high level bends above eye level and longer sides.

monkey potrait cat aragon

While others are similar but with shorter sides and a slightly lower bend.It also seems to me that later hoods sit just slightly further back .


For a wide range of styles and shapes check the painting below  of Sir Thomas Mores family.



Add the white cotton lining , measure it first by pushing the fabric into the hood ,put a generouse side piece inside and fold it to a neat shape but dont sew it at this point ,your just doing a quick check to make sure you have enough for the folds you want.

birdwatch and blog stuff 176.JPG

Now tack the white fabric onto the folded front part of the hood ,turn it wrong side out so that its flopping over the inside of the hood.

gable hood lininng

Now pull the lining over the front fold and into the hood.

gable hood inner lining

For most hoods this white lining needs to cover only the front folded piece as its going to be what you sew the trim onto,but on some styles of  simple hood there is a broad white edge that is next to the outer fabric so if your making an undecorated hood for the middle classes  ,you might want to leave more of a rim.

gable hood outer white bqnd

Having created the lining  you need to cover the outer  basic layer with fabric ,velvet ,damask ,brocade or a heavy furnishing fabric all work well I was lukcy and found some beaded silk .Stitch it to the inner part of the front fold piece of the hood so the join is not visible.If the white fabric will end at the trim edge then you can stitch the outer fabric directly to the white as this will make it much easier because you wont need to push the needle through the cardboard for most of the stitching.If you use this method secure it at one of two points at the top and wides by adding tow stitches into the cardboard and through the other side.

gable hood outer fqbricNow fold the outer fabric as needed to make it sit flush and fold over the back as though your wrapping a parcel and tack it down lightly ,so if needed you can adjust it when your finishing the hood,this layer doesnt need to be overly neat as its going to be more or less completely  hidden ,by trim at the front ,lappits at the side and veils at the back.

If you can find a panel of decorated fabric it looks stunning peeping out from under the lappits but otherwise any fabric will work.

gable hood join

The next phase is the main part of the hood construction as you have now made the frame for the elaborate drapery .

Its the lappits veils and trim which will be most important for the finished  effect .As mentioned earlier if you can only find upholstry trim.Try sewing a pearl onto it at intervals.

birds foxcroft 225

or try adding a length of cheap plastic pearl trim over the top ,plastic pearl trim such as that belwo is around 99p a metre bought in shops ,sometimes cake decorating and craft shops will have this as its used around cakes and for cards etc ,its also availible online.(this is a panel from another headress a crespine but it does show the way to add the pearl layer)

birds foxcroft 164

The trim is sewn around the outer edge.This trim is Asian dress trim .

birds foxcroft 227

and you can use a old necklace or a string of pearls theres no set time to add this ,you can do it next or later if your still looking for something to use for trim.

The lappits look complex  and need to be fairly thick but can be made by  easily by folding  a panel  of fabric ,taffeta ,silk,damask or velvet into a long rectangle and stitching it along the long edge and one short edge turn it right side out then as neatly as possible stitch the remaing edge.

lappits for gable hood


You should ideally make one long one but if you dont have enough fabric you can make two shorter ones and join them at the top of the hood.

Now  tack this rectangle to the top of  the hood at both sides

lappits hood


To be entirely authentic the lappits need to be quite long as they must fold over before being pined or tacked down either on top or under the hood

folded lappit gable hood

I made this under as thats the easiest to wear and sew



Holbein_gable_hood_eng construction layers

Sometimes these also seem to be tucked over the back

white band-Catherine_aragon


In some paintings a white panel is visible at the  back edges of the lappits.


if you want this you can sew a panel of white fabric to the back of the richer fabric,this will also cut down on the fabric needed.

If you were unable to find any black fabric you can leave the hood as it is ,its not perfectly accurate but looks impressive if your using it for a theme day or the stage ,processions etc


likewise if you have very littleblack fabirc you could just add a token short veil

gable hood front

The Veils

The black veils are made using  two rectangles of black fabric ,taffeta or silk is best but you can use velvet ,These are stitched along the bottom and  most of the side leaving a slight gap to sew them to the hood.

birds foxcroft 158

veil hood

.Then these two pieces are  stitched to the back of the hood.Tack the fabric panels to the top and sides as below.

birds foxcroft 182

Sew on at each side leaving a slight gap at the apex as its easiet to sew the second panel on if theres a gap.


birds foxcroft 201

Once both panels are on and your happy they are straight sew the gap closed ,you can do this on the outside of the hood as if the stitches are reasonable small the stitiching isnt likely to show under the lappits

black veil back

How to arrange the Veils

The veil like the lappets can be worn in an assortment of ways either hanging down as above or with one or both parts folded over the top

lady_margaret_wotton_marchi frotn gown ,parltet hood

English_Lady_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger hood and brooch

I usualy sew one of the black veil panels onto the top of the hood ,though pinning it is probably more authentic. I then leave the other loose to arrange differently depending on how I want to wear the hood .

The finished hood should look like this.

finished gable hood 1

This is a long early style hood


Picture 498

I used taffeta for all parts of this hood and a pearl trim for the front


Optional stage

If you want the front striped panels cut two short pieces of striped silk the right lengths to go under the front of the hood at the top sew them together as for the lappits and tack to the inside of the hood .

(sorry I dont have a photo of this stage yet but I will add one as soon as possible






,Please email if you would like more details.

For anyone who feels the Gable hood may be too hard I have a post on the easier French hood here

I will also add a post on how to make a similar but much easier head dress called an intermediate hood

purple tudor hood

 Finally ,I thought it would be helpful to have a  image reference guide ,I have chosen a cross-section of images and sources but I have missed out details on the person in the portrait ,country ,date etc as there are several great guides with more details available and this is just meant to help those new to costuming who are after visual references before they put the final touches to their  hoods.I will mention any interesting details in the images and give rough dates etc,Also where I have made a similar hood I will mention how comfortable it was .There is some repetition from earlier posts but I hope costumers will bear with me as I did not have the chance to comment fully on the images in the earlier posts without making the posts too long for anyone just wanting instructions on construction.Its important even when making a easy version of any period costume to know what you are copying as it gives a mental image that will guide you in deciding what short cuts can be made and what is essential to create the right look.I also hope this will inspire more  advanced costumers to reconsider the structure of the gable hood

eli york

This is probably the most familiar Gable hood image ,it’s a very early hood ,with the lappets down which is great for giving and idea of length for anyone making a later hood ,I have not yet made one of these hoods so I dont know how comfortable they are .I thought this might be a great version for fancy dress as this image of Elizabeth of York is usually held to be the source of the queen on modern playing cards.

The trailing lappets on this gable hood are extremely similar to those on later henins,the tall pointed medieval head dresses  and though rather annoyingly I can’t find the image There is at least one image of  black front lappets  with a definite peak ,Here is side view of  a medieval head dress  that also shows a part black henin,Chop of the remaining top  part and fold up the lappets and you have a gable hood.










lady_margaret_wotton_marchi frotn gown ,parltet hood

purple tudor gown
white band-Catherine_aragon
English_Lady_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger hood and brooch
Holbein_gable_hood_eng construction layers
More by follower of Hans Holbein (private collection) bottom
purple gown 2

For anyone wanting  historically accurate  costuming instructions for buckram versions

please check out the following sites..

or the excellent book , Tudor tailor ,available off Amazon or directly from the Tudor tailor website

For a very extensive record of Tudor tomb effigies check this excellent site

About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
This entry was posted in 16thc/17thc, costume research, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The easy Gable hood guide

  1. mrs pauline carter says:

    love history my all time fav takeorite being the tudor era and have for some time thought i would love to be part of a reanactment group thing is i am aged seventy years old so if you would need a oldie at some time i would be thrilled to be abie to take part

  2. Pingback: French Hood: Quick & Easy & Almost No-Sew | costumecrazed

  3. Pingback: Olivia Longueville

  4. I teach German and Czech kids English through drama and I love dressing them up in various historical costumes, so they can practice English in historical role-play! The Tudor era is my favorite and I was, until now, challenged in my quest to create a gable-shaped headdress, as part of my Catherine of Aragon costume. High-quality headdresses cost a fortune so thank you so much for this post. Your work is amazing. When I am done with my headdress, I will send you a picture. Most gratefully yours, Eurydice (Evie) Prentoulis, US expat in Bonn, Global Kids Through Drama and English

    • Hello
      I am really glad its been useful ,I especially wanted it to be good for schools who as you say cant afford expensive items of costume,it would be lovely to see your finished result ,many thanks for commenting ,its encouraging to know the posts are useful

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