Hat Research & Construction Diary for Tudor flat cap for Henry VIII
My good friends, Mr. & Mrs. B. at Meet History in Person allowed me to make a cap for King Henry VIII while they were busy finishing his outfit. Both were inspired by this 1536 portrait of H8.
Check out that blackwork! Mrs. B., of Wyvern Productions, does professional machine embroidery, specializing in historic pieces. Check out her work here (that’s my favorite page, with lots of blackwork.)
It’s all about proportion, so I began by taking some measurements of the picture. After all, Proportion is the #6 biggest mistake costumers make (according to this great blog post by Historical Sewing.)
In my print-out of the portrait, Henry’s face -from chin to when the hat starts- was about 2″ long. The brim of his hat was about 1/2″ wide.
Using one of the few formulas I recall from high school math,
I figured that the brim was about 25% of the height. Then I measured Mr. B’s face and calculated 25% of that number. This gave me the depth for the brim on my version of the cap. One note, I may have used the width of the face, rather than the height. I really can’t remember!
I use whatever paper I have handy to make patterns. Many of my early patterns are drawn on several sheets of computer paper that have been taped together. I actually like how the tape makes them kind of sturdy. More recently, I’ve invested in a roll of brown craft paper. I like not having to piece it, but it always wants to curl up on itself.
I used my handy-dandy flex curve tool to measure Mr. B’s head and make the inside circle (headsize.) Then just measured out from that, using the brim depth I calculated above. Since this hat doesn’t have a separate crown and brim, that was most of the pattern! (Once you get a pattern you like, be sure to preserve it this way.)
I suspect that the original hat does, indeed, have a crown but we were on a time crunch. So I just sort of stretched more fabric over the inside. By the way, if you want a great pattern for an early Tudor man’s cap try this one from the Tudor Tailor or find patterns and instructions for many whole Tudor outfit in The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing Sixteenth-Century Dress
item #3262 from Fancifuls Inc., brass charms and embellishments
There’s actually not much more to tell. This was another over-night hat. Once I had the pattern, I just traced it onto PNC and cut out the base. Forgive me, but I can’t even remember if I whip-stitched a wire onto it! I covered the base in synthetic velvet and added brass charms and faux pearls.
I Highly recommend Fancifuls Inc. for brass charms. They opened up a whole new world of ideas for me.
Later, Mrs. B. (the king’s wife) added those great gems from Sapphire and Sage
The last part was stitching millinery wire to a maribou boa. The wire let me make and keep the exact curl I wanted. Any millinery supplier should carry millinery wire. See my links for some great suppliers.
Not too bad for a rush job with modern materials!