A very easy Medieval headdress a circlet ,crespine and crespinet,a cheats guide

This is the first of my cheats guide medieval headdress instructions ,it will make two different headdresses which can be worn a number of different ways .

The first part shows how to make a simple band or circlet

crespine band

This very simple quick headdress can be worn a number of ways with a veil,coif or snood

(Apologies the headdress trim below is slightly off centre as this circlet was going to become the crespine so it’s just tacked on so I could adjust it to go over the side panels later)

crespine and veil

crespine and snood

coif and circlet

Or simply by itself

babette 1

This style of headdress or circlet often had a wimple of a chin strap or babett


The second style of headdress  is made using the circlet then making two smaller circlets for the sides.


This style can also be worn with a veil ,snood or coif,or with much wider side panels


Both are very simple and take just a cereal box ,scraps of fabric some pearls,old necklaces or  jewels or upholstery trimming .The circlet will take an hour or so at most ,the Crespine will take longer ,how much longer will depend on how much trim you add and if you add an inner part to the circlet ,but a simple crespine will take maybe two hours .

The circlet is shown worn with a snood or caul ,I have instructions for making this in the coifs and snood post here


but its very easy and is simply a piece of fabric gathered around the edges and takes around half an hour to make.

beaded silk caul russet

The coif

silk coif red

This is also very quick and easy to make ,takes maybe an hour and is two pieces of fabric a curved back and long front strip sewn together ,again I cover this in more detail in the coifs and cauls post.

coif stage one

To make both you will need

Strong scissors and a cardboard box any size for the circlet ,but large or ideally two boxes for the crespine

ready brek box scissors

Needle ,cotton  cellotape


and fabric

any fabrics plain white for a nun type circlet and veil ,or damask ,gold,silk velvet etc for a more ornate one

fabric needed int hood

Trim ,upholstery  trim ,an old necklace, jewelled trim etc the easiest trim to find is a string of pearls either bought as a cheap necklace or  online ,you can buy pearls such as those below from ebay for around £3 including postage ,or the trim shown could be bought from upholstery shops or found on old soft furnishings,the more trims you can find the better as these are primiarily what will make the headdress look authentic and impressive

trim upholsand pearls


These are optional

A veil or piece of tulle ,thin floaty scarf etc to add to the headdress

gold veil net for inside the top and sides ,also available from ebay

To make the Circlet

You will need a cereal box

cut along the sides so it can be flattened out

cardboard box front

Cut into strips ,these will be overlapped to make a strong flexible band.

cardboard strips

overlap the pieces and tape in place losely

cardboard box strips toghter

Its easiest to now put these on top of the fabric your using and cut a piece thats wide enough to fold over it and overlap.

Now make into a circle thats the correct size for your head and tape in place dont worry if its not circular yet

cardboard strip[s toghter in circle

Cover in cellotape

cardboard circlet base

You can  now try this on your head ,if it seems too wdie cut a little off anbd cellotape over the cut edge .If its still not quite circular make the circlet circular by using the cellotape ,to shape it  if you pull the cellotpae as you put it on the cardbaord it will help create the correct shape ,press a piece on then pull as you go ,you can further shape it by adding extra renforcing pieces if needed to cover any bends in the cardboard and help make it more circular

cardbaord circlet reenforced


circluar circlet cardbopard

Now sew on the fabric ,,sew the fabric to itself in side not onto the hood ,if your not add a top then try to make it fairly neat or close to what will be the bottom of the circlet where it will be hidden when its on your head.

fabric covering circlet card

circlet covered in fabric

Once you have the whole circlet covered tuck the ends in neatly ,this isnt too important if your adding trim to cover the whole band.

red black circelt fabric

or a back piece or veil but otherwise it needs to be fairly neat.

If your not adding a middle part then skip this step but if your adding a centre cut a big roughtly circlar piece of fabric and stitch inside,,if you dont have enough to cut a circle you can use a squire ,oblong or oval piece but it will need folding over abit

circelt inner

circelt inner finished

Now add your trim

either a wide band in the centre.

circelt decoratiob

or at the bottom

crespine band

or both

crespine and snood

If you only have uphosltry trim try overlapping it will a string or narrow plastic pearls ,you can find this in cake decoration ,flourists shops etc as well as craft and fabric stores

birds foxcroft 163

The circelt is now finished and wearable



adding more details though will add to the effect ,try buying gold lace and adding it to the top to give the effect of a crown and to hide any stitching.

gold top for circelt

adding gold ,silver or pewter net over the corwn will also give a more impressive headdress as seen below.

The Headress belwo is the crespine and made using the same first steps as for the circlet.


In addtion to making the circlet top ,you follow the same process use a cardboard box and cut into strips but in this case the strips are shorter and you need four .

cardboard crespine bits

cellotape two pieces together  overlapping as for the circlet but make these thinner

cardboard box strips toghter

now  cut a strip of fabric wide enough to go over them and  if the centre isnt being trimmed sew it into a tube,

tube fabric crwspine

If your adding a trim to the center of the crespine side it may be easiest to do it before tou sew the fabric into a tube

trim on crespine sides

Thread the strip of cardboard into the tube leaving each of ends unsewn so you can celloptape the cardboard

crespine side panel;

Now cellotape into either a circle or ovalpending on what shape you want the sides of your headdress ,check them against your head to see if they go over your ears and are the length you want ,tack the fabric over the cardboard join so it meets and add any trim you are using to the top or outside edge of the crespine side

crespine side finished

These are now just stitched to the sides of your circlet covering your ears if your planning the usual crespine.Sew the joined part of the sides to the inner part of your circlet for as far as needed to make the circelt flush and resting where you need it to .  now cover the stitching with some trim or pearls .


Your crespine in now finished .

I will add more photos of the finished crespine shown with snoods ,coifs and different trims shortly


About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
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