Welcome! Today I’ll show you some of my favourites from my historical wardrobe and give you my best advise on what to choose for your own outfit. Let’s start with veils.
My current favourite is the semicircle veil in different sizes. It is easy to drape and style, and the semicircle cut gives it a smooth and flowing drape. Here are some examples:
The measures on my different veils:
small: diameter 85 cm (the straight front edge) length 55 cm (from front head to the back).
medium: diameter 100 cm, lenght 58 cm.
large: diameter 140 cm, lenght 60 cm.
This is a larger semicircle veil in wool muslin fabric, worn over braids, cap and wimple. Pinned in place by the temples and in the back of the neck:
To make one: Use a thin tabby linen (90-120 gram/m2) with an even weave. Presoak and wash before sewing to avoid shrinking in the future. I draw the measures directly on the fabric; a semicircle shape following the measures above. The reason for not making a mathematical semicircle is more a matter of taste; how long you want the front edge to be and how much fabric you want in the back. Try it out and see what you like!
I make small double folded edges and whip stitch them with silk sewing thread or 60/2 thin linen thread, vaxed before sewing.
The rectangular veil is a very useful veil that can be worn in several ways. It has a straighter fall than the semicircle, but is ideal for wrapping or draping around the neck, like this:
If you make the rectangular veil longer it becomes what I call a Great veil:
The great veil above measures 55*250 cm and is great for creating turban styles seen in the 15th century.
The measures of some of my veils:
Simple rectangular veil: 55*150 cm
Veil with a decorative edge in linen: 50*150 cm
Great veil: 50*250 to 55*350 cm
Use the same quality linen fabric as above, and the same seams.
When sewing veils for wrapping, I find it easier to use them if they are not to wide. 50-55 cm is enough.
Square veils are the hardest to style in my opinion. This model was the first I tried out, but we never made a great team. I do have one left though; my silk veil with freshwater pearls. Silk veils are high status veils, and look great. They are also very light, so you barely feel them on your head.
If you want to make a silk veil for yourself, use a fabric with a heavy drape and thin enough to be a little transparent. Sew the edges double folded with running stitches or even better; make a rolled hem with invisible stitches. (Or buy one ready-made from me with an email/pm).
Measures for a square veil: 80*80 cm or bigger (the silk one above is around 90*90 cm.)
This style is actually two or three different pieces: a cap with a folded strip of fabric pinned on, and a great veil on top. It is a simplification of the large head dress the fashionable woman wore during a preiod of the 15th century. Painting shows headwear with many folds or layers, held in place with pins, basting (or some kind of magic). But since I live in a tent during summer events (and not a comfortable house with a maid) I need simplified ways to dress myself. This was one option that came out nicely, it is both easy to pack and manage during medieval camping, and easy to dress myself in. It should be more tightly pulled in the neck though- contemporary pictures shows no such fabric volume in the neck.
This is another way to style the Great veil, for that “I am hard working but yet fashionable” look. The veil is pinned directly around the head without any shaping braids, padding or cap, and wrapped around the head a couple of times. It is then pinned down to the layers below, and the end left hanging.
To avoid bulky fabric in the neck, I have found that it is better to pin all models of veils in place instead of tying them.
Veil measures: 55*250 cm, thin linen with double folded edges.
Buying fabrics for veils?
Thin linen 90-120 g/m2 with an even weave, a semitransparent and drapey silk, or a fine wool muslin fabric are the materials used above. There’s no find of wool veils, but I use the fabric when I need to stay warm, and for its beautiful colour tone and drape. It is hard to find linen good enough for veils today.
Threads: I use 60/2 thin linen thread for linen veils, and silk sewing thread for wool and silk veils.
Type of stitch: Hand stitching is a good choice for veils since they are very visible, and the drape will look very different with a machine seam. I always fold the hem twice, as narrow as I can before sewing. Whipstitching is always a good choice, but running stitching will do the work faster and create a more discreet seam. Perfect if you have a very thin fabric, or are in a hurry. Silk fabric edges I like to roll and sew with an invisble seam.
You can vary your veils in many different styles to fit different periods, fashion and status. Above is the rectangular veil with a decorative edge, folded twice and pinned onto a birgitta cap.
The best way to find your styles is to look at contemporary paintings and portraits and try to replicate the look in front of the mirror. When satisfied- take some photos to remember how you did it. I always end up in early spring wondering what veil style I should wear for which outfit…