A rich, multicoloured headdress from the early 15th century, with a padded roll fashioned as a turban, based on several portraits.
I made this for my friend Anne, to wear with her red houppelande, as an alternative to the red capuchon. The Escoffion style has many variation, and many names including heart-shaped headdress, padded roll, turban….
Research and Design
This style of padded roll, or heart-shaped’ headdress was popular in the early 15th century. It was worn by noble women across western Europe, although more common on the continent. The roll could be worn over dressed hair or an undercap, often with a caul or lattice over the fabric.
There were some requirements for this headdress – it would be worn alone, but also with a coronet and needed to hide short hair. The main colour should be red, with blue, purple and silver.
Anne has short hair, so I could not simply have the heart shaped roll. I planned to make a velvet wrapped roll, attached to a silk cap with some padding over the temples to imitate dressed hair.
After padding up my headform, I tried several mock-ups to see how thick and long the roll needed to be. After calculating the diameter, I reduced this a bit to allow for the thickness of the wrapped covering.
I made the roll cover using a bias-cut rectangle of cotton, stuffed it with wool fill and threaded a piece of strong wire through. I overlapped the wires by 5cm, tied the overlap securely with waxed linen thread and sewed the open ends of the cover together to make a ring. This will make it possible to shape the roll – the wire will hold the shape in place.
Next, the cap lining. I cut and sewed a 3 piece liner in black linen. I shaped the roll and put it on the headform to check where the padding should be, then padded up the temples with loose wool covered with fabric.
I planned to wrap the turban in bands of red, purple and blue velvet, with small hanging mounts, so I did a mock-up to see how it looked, and what the spacing should be on the wraps. Not enough contrast between blue and purple, so I moved to a 4-wrap pattern, with red every second turn. Now I could calculate the length and width of the fabric strips for each colour.
The ‘Portrait of a Lady’ above shows a twisted turban with rounded wraps, so I tried various paddings – thin strips of wool batting sewn into tubes worked best. I cut all my strips of bias velvet and the endless wool padding strips, then started the first round of wrapping, tweaking to make sure the ends lined up.
Once all the velvet wraps were on, I put it on the headform. I did not like it – too bulky and clumsy.
Time for a rethink…
I wanted a rich result, so silk was the next choice. Another mock-up, using the same wool padding strips and bias cut silk – much better, Onwards! I re-did the turban in silk, and sewed 3 tiny quatrefoil spangle mounts on each red stripe.
With the turban sorted, time to finish the cap. I covered the padded liner in red silk, then used metallic veiling to provide the metal caul effect. The veiling is not very wide, but most seams will be hidden by the roll. Where the seams were visible, I matched carefully and sewed down with silver grey silk thread. Then a row of braided metallic silver trim to finish the edge,
I pinned the roll on to check placement, and tried out the card circlet to see if the coronet would fit. Nope. I would need to flatten the roll out – more like the Nove Prodi fresco. Well, rats – I liked the look of the higher roll, but needs must…
Finally, I sewed the roll in place on the cap, careful not to distort anything.
This was a frustrating project to work on, but also really interesting. I was pleased with the result and have enjoyed seeing it in use.