Saturday, April 10, 2010

Making and Wearing a Medieval Veil

Crown Tourney is coming to my beautiful province of Québec! Really! Now for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a bi-annual SCA event where the new king is chosen through combat known as heavy fighting (full armour and rattan weapons). It’s a big deal! Usually it happens in the USA, but this may, it will be held in St-Hernénégilde, QC and I have every intentions of going.

Now ladies, if you do wish to go to a medieval event with a proper costume you should include a veil: it is not only period, it is practical a practical head covering. I’ve had my hat fly off in the wind more than once, but it has never happened to my veil.

First things first, you’ll need your own veil. You can buy one if you like, but they’re really easy to make. Start with one metre (100 cm) of light fabric (I prefer cotton veiling, but linen and silk are of course more historically accurate). Fabric usually comes in 115 cm width which is perfect for this project.

"Cutting Diagram for a Medieval Veil" by Gwenyver

Following the cutting diagram I lovingly made for you, cut a circle which is 100 cm in diameter; that will be your veil. You will be left with a band of fabric measuring 15 cm by 100 cm; cut it in half to get two pieces measuring 15 cm by 50 cm. These will be the headband and barbette (should you choose do wear one).

Next comes sewing. For the veil, use whatever edging technique you feel comfortable with; it could be the “foulard” point on your serger, a special edge point on your modern sewing machine, a narrow rolled edge, or my favourite, using a narrow zig zag point to satin stitch the edge.

For the head and chin bands, take one piece, fold it in half and sew the open side and one of the ends shut. Flip the piece inside out, press it and close the opened end. Repeat for the second piece.

You are now ready to put on your veil. In addition to the items you have just made, you will need some straight pins to put everything on. You can use regular pins from your trusty old pin cushion, or you can get fancier ones. Some medieval stores sell some lovely decorated extra long veil pins. Me? I use these faux pearl studded pins I got at the dollar store (50 for 1$!).

Here is how I do it:

First, if you have bangs, you should pin them back; if you have long hair, I suggest braiding it – two braids long braids on each side of your head is absolutely period for the 12th century! Now, take one of your bands of fabric and fold it in half length wise.

Folded Veil Headband

Wrap that folded band around your head horizontally, keeping it straight on your forehead.

Veil Headband - Front View

Join both ends one on top of the other and pin them together (I know it sounds dangerous, but just have be gentle and you’ll be fine).

Veil Headband - Back View

Then, grab your veil, put it over your head and bring the edge level over your eyebrows (as if you were measuring to cut your bangs). As long as it is level, it will be straight and centered. Flatten the veil over the headband and pin it to the headband at your temple. You want to insert the pin from top to bottom, at an angle, with the sharp end pointing away from your face

Pinning the Veil On

Repeat on the other side and you are done!

Medieval Veil

There you are, you look gorgeous, your veil is just the perfect size, neither too long nor too short, and are ready to pass for a Medieval lady from the 12th century.

Gwenyver as Mórag filia Scayth

But what do you do with the other band of fabric you prepared? You would normally use it as a barbette, or chin band, but it is optional. If you did choose to wear it, you would fold it length wise just like the headband and you would put it on before the headband, wrapping it around your head vertically, passing it under the chin and pinning it at the top of your head.

Of course, there are other ways to put on a veil. One great site is
Medieval Clothing Pages: Articles by Cynthia Virtue. Cynthia has a page called Simple Steps to Look Great in a Veil, or Veil-and-Circlet where she shows not only another way to wear a veil (including barbette and circlet), as well as some historical sources.

So should I expect everyone in a veil at the next Medieval event?
Nancy-Raven? Marie-Ange-the-Celt?

1 comment:

  1. I guess I'm the one who inspired you this post.I promess I will wear the veil for next medieval fair and I will try to make a new dress , well it's not really an option in my head I want a new one or at least to repair an old one.Excellent idea to show how to wear the veil and why.