Coifs ,cauls and snoods ,easy headdresses or caps for most eras ,Medieval and Tudor to Victorian

This is a very short post on how to make the quickest and simplest head coverings ,coifs,mob caps  and cauls,these are items that dont really change much in style over the centuries so are very useful and in addtion very cheap and quick to make ,they are need just  small piece of fabric  a cushion ocver ,pillow case, skirt ,blouse ,dress ,tray cloth would also provide enough fabricand can all be made in almost  any fabrics .The  basic coif is a syle of head covering  worn by men ,women ,children and babies.

For snoods/Cauls

a piece of fabric big enough to cover the hair you want covered .If your just cover a bun that can be a few inches or for a full head caul a 12 inch or more piece ,you want it to be generouse enough to puff out slightly when your wearing it.It doesnt need to be circular any shape will do just cut curves to any rough or square edges to make it as curved as possible ,the shape works better if its slightly flatter at one end but its not essential .

snood fabric flat

The fabric you choose will create the historical context ,medieval,Renaissance, 18thc ,victorian etc

You can use net

diamonte caul


beaded silk caul russet

Or some jewled or beaded fabric,this was a beaded  vintage bodice /blouse

black caul

or a small piece of fancy fabric

snood back

gather the edges ,thread a needle and use it with the cotton pulled through and knotted at the end so its double the strength and do a length of stiches ,running stitches ,,then pull then tighter to make gathers.

snood inner

You can stitch over the running stiches to make it sturdier if you feel its needed or sew a  a couple of little loops of ribbon to use for hair pins but otherwise the snoods now finished .

gold trimme caul

You can add trims to the front if your wearing it in a way were the front will be visible or leave it plain

I dont use loops to attach the caul to my hair as clips work fine .You can also sew the caul onto a headdress

crespine and snood

To make a Gauldhaube type snood ,or a more elaborate headdress you can stitch a panel of fancy trim or jewled trim to the front and gathered the caul around it rto make this design needs a little more fabric

gaulbhaube caul

To make a cap

To make a little regency or 18thc /Georgian /colonial cap is extreeemly easy and takes 5 minutes.

back saque back

Simply buy a vintage or new white cotton mat /doily thats edged in lace

lace doily

Gather the edges with a running stitch so it fits neatly ontop of your head and its finished

gold and purple 044

18thc pl cap


These are also very easy and use two two pieces of fabric

coif stage one

First cut the back the curved top peice needs to be long and enough to cover the back of your head .

linen coif det

Now cut the long strip ,this needs to be long enough to go around the curved back panel and deep enough to cover at least part of your hair.Most coifs go almost to your face

black worked coif

but medieval styles are shallower,the shallower ones may need some ties to keep them on.

silk coif red


Now stitch the two pieces together  wrong side to wrong side,,ie inside out

red coif inner

The hem the edges

red coif inner 3

red coif hem

The coifs now finished and wearable

silk coif red

purple dresscoif

The fabric you use for a coif will help make it look authentic for the era you need and for the class of person your playing

so you can make peasants coifs

this fur one could be for a man or woman

rabbit fir coif

or poor womens coifs

antique lower orders coif mark

or medieval royal coifs if you can find jewled fabrics ,maybe abn old evening gown or blouse


If you only have plain fabric to create a much more impressive coif try adding trim ,the trim choosen will help create an authentic  feel to the coif ,the main difference between medievbal ,18thc and victorian coifs are the fabrics and trims

For example heres a aqua silk coif with medieval or early renaissance trim

aqua sill coif

and the same style and fabric with later 18thc style trim

floral coif

More trims

A jeweled medeival style trim

jeweled coif

or a blackwork tudor style trim

black worked coif


or you can add frilled lace trim to give a Victorian feel ,the coif below is an acutal victorian coif as I dont currently have a frilled coif

white childs coii

Ypu can make a more elaborate coif

this is slightly harder but is basicaly a snood attached to coif front,you then also need a peice of the coif fabric a few inches long and one inch wide for the back

To make the snood cut a long strip of fabric as for the coif ,but you dont cut a coif back piece instead you will sew the snood to the fabric as though it were the coif back.Because the coif front strip is not shaped to go around your neck you sew the little strip to each side and tck the snood onto it ,sorry I havet yet got photos for this coif but I will try to add some soon but if you look at the green velvet part of the coif below you can see the little back strip.

coif 1

You can use different fabrics for the snood and front for this style or add more trims.

golden coif 1

I hope this post has been useful



About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
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2 Responses to Coifs ,cauls and snoods ,easy headdresses or caps for most eras ,Medieval and Tudor to Victorian

  1. Deborah Lee says:

    Thank you for sharing your work–it is a revelation for me, you have some of the very finest looking oeriod clothes I have seen.

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