10th century Byzantine Hat

A peaked hat in white and blue wool, suitable for middle class Byzantine man during the Romanesque era.

This hat was made as part of the 2020 Lochac Largesse project – a skills swap, where we each made an item for someone else in the group. The request I was given was for “Byzantine, middle class, blue and white”, so naturally I thought of a hat!

Furnishing felt, wool, rayon ribbon, silver plated mounts and ball, linen lining.


The classic images of Byzantine headwear are based on the Ravenna mosaics, such as this image of the Emperor Justinian.  However, the request was for an everyday hat, rather than a noble ones, so I looked for simpler images. I found a good crowd scene in this mosaic from St Mark’s in Venice – the work was done in the 13th century, but was based on earlier models.

Although the overall form is similar to the royal headwear, these examples of Byzantine men’s hats show a simple style with a conical top. A gold ball can be seen on top of the peak, with bands edging the brim, and perhaps small decorations on the lower brim. Other examples show a different coloured brim and crown. 


I have no information on how these hats would have been made, but I think moulded felt is certainly a possibility. They might also have been made with fabric over a constructed base of some other material, which is how I approached this construction.

After padding up my headform, I made a test pattern in light card. Once I was happy with the proportions, I cut the base out in 3mm furnishing felt, and in the woollen fabric and linen lining (both with added hems).

I sewed the felt base together with waxed linen thread, using a simple overcast stitch.

I sewed the back seam on the white wool, then covered the conical tip, clipping and basing the hem onto the sides of the crown. Then I sewed the back seam on the blue wool, turned the top hem under and slip-stitched it to the white wool around the margin. I wrapped the bottom hem around to cover the base and basted it – the stitches will be covered by the braid.

I found a suitable braid in my stash to finish the top and base of the crown – the simple design would be plausible as tablet weaving. I added eight diamond shaped mounts (silver plated beads) around the base perimeter, as seen in the mosaics, and added a large silver plated bead to the top as a finial. Finally, I made up a lining in blue linen and slip-stitched this in place.

I was very pleased with the result – restrained, but elegant. I posted it off to the recipient, who was also very pleased!