The cheats guide to Medieval head dresses part one ,choosing a style a time and materials guide

I will continue my cheats costuming guide by giving very easy instructions on how to make authentic looking medieval head wear .Most head dresses are covered including the tall Henin headdress which is the pointy one that most people associate with the middle ages.

med clothing

I have added  detailed  instructions on making the  simple circlet head dresses and coifs in the next few posts  ,though unfortunately I wont be able to add instructions for the Henins as I can no longer sew  but  I thought it would be most helpful to describe the different types and the approximate time and resources needed .I will  also add instructions on making the dress in a later post as  its surprisingly  easy and quick  to make ,by far the simplest of gowns.

henin gown

The quickest and easiest but least authentic head gear  is a band made from twisting fake flowers together ,this could be used were authenticity is not a problem and fake flowers are easy and cheap to find ,often poundland or bargain stores will have them ,also fake ivy or flower strands could be simple tied together

headdress rep

This  style of head dress does unfortunately require long hair that is  a reasonably authentic looking colour ,but  most  medieval head dresses  dont ,the circlet  and Juliette cap are  the only headdresses which do.the others completely hide all your hair so it can be long  or short and any colour ,a cropped blue cut could be hidden under a truncated henin or crespinette ,a tall Henin idealy needs either medium length or long hair to keep in place (it needs to be just long enough to make a small  ponytail on top of your head ) but again your hair  colour and style dont  matter.

The most simple and by far the quickest authentic headdress to make is a simple band or circlet with a seperate chin strap or barbett  ,or a wimple or veil ,the circlet also forms the basis of many other m0re elaborate head dresses.I have details on this style with the full instructions here



The circlet can be made using an empty cereal box of any size ,or a  later more complicated version can be made from a vintage hat  decorated as  the below is with pearl necklaces or trim ,it will take around a half hour to two hours depending on how much decoration you add and needs very little fabric or trim .You can pin a veil to the top of a hat or wear one under the circlet style Barbette.A small piece of fabric needs to run under your chin and onto the top of your head for complete authenticity but is not essential

babette 1


The next easiest is probably a truncated  Henin which can be made using a box and a fairly small amount of fabric.It covers all your hair ,the loop at the front is not hair but a band of fabric.

truncated henin

The instructions for the truncated  Henin headdress can also be used to make a Napoleonic Shako ,by simply angling the hat as its made and  adding a crescent across the front at an angle otherwise the process is identical.


The more complicated looking Crespine/ crespinette is an attractive easy to make and comfortable Head dress which is essentialy two cauls attached to a band or circlet

The simplest version has no veil


While more complicated versions have veils which seem to rest on wires,I dont include instructions for this version as it requires more specialist materials and much more time.


To make a  crespine is slightly more complicated  than a circlet but not difficult,it has two bands added either side which are then covered in fabric,a caul can be added at the back


This takes around two to three hours depending on decoration but like the  circlets use very little fabric and scraps can be used.It can also be made using one large or two small cereal boxes and cello-tape.I have the instructions for making a crespine here.

If you prefer a more Italian style head dress you can make a “Juliet cap”.


by either cutting off the top of almost any hat to make a circular one  or by cutting an oval again from a cereal box and curving it to create a more pointed smaller cap .


My version below used a cheap childs straw hat top for its base and scraps of dress fabric and trim.

juilette cap

You could also make a very simple  coif using  two pieces of jewelled fabric


or fabric with detailing already applied

silk coif red

or scraps of fabric you have decorated

jeweled coif

Coifs take between half an hour and an hour and need nothing but some small peices of fabric and a needle and cotton

The next piece of head wear which can be made quickly is a caul which is merely a circle of fabric gathered and stitched ,theres no need ot add elastic ,the caul also forms part of some more complicated head wear

beaded silk caul russet

Instructions omn how to make botjh snoods or cauls and coifs are here

The most complicated Head dress covered is the Henin which will take around three to four hours and use two boxes or one box from a household appliance .This is not overly complicated but is harder to wear as it rests on a bun or plait of hair to keep it at an angle .It also needs more fabric and a decent veil or piece of thin organza or tulle.

henin gown

Other head dresses are combinations of either a  coif ,circlet ,caul barbette and ,Henin  The one below would take maybe two to three hours and is a coif worn under a  simple jewelled band .

jeweled coif painting

Lastly you can use a vintage hat to make a medieval hat ,this needs much more fabric and time but very little skill.


The only head dress not covered is the heart shaped  head dress which I have as yet found no simple and economical way to make.


It may be possible to make a similar head dress  for the stage or for proccesions etc where you wont be seen close up by cutting a wide heart shaped band as for a circlet but this would not look good close up and is very hard to keep on.

To read more detailed descriptions of medieval head wear and for some amazingly detailed and authentic looking recreations take a look at Kat Hats .

The gown styles I will cover are an early medieval fantasy style gown


A similar but more authentic style


medieval gown 3

A close sleeved high waisted gown and a wide sleeved version

bluebells woods

and a chemise

restoration chemises


About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
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One Response to The cheats guide to Medieval head dresses part one ,choosing a style a time and materials guide

  1. Pingback: The cheats guide to Medieval head dresses part one ,choosing a style a time and materials guide | Hathaways of Haworth

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