I have been toying with the idea of making up a few wired buckram forms for headdresses. As I do not intend to do buckram bonnets, I have a bit of buckram laying about waiting to be used up. On the flip side, most people who want to make a simple head dress don’t want to buy a full yard of buckram or a coil of wire. This seemed like a practical use.
There are many head-dresses or coiffures found in nine-teenth century literature that call for a structured base.
1862 being the year a good many Civil War reenactors are looking at this year, let’s look at what 1862 head-dresses use a foundation:
In 1862, we see many head-dresses that wrap around the head, almost as a coronet of ribbon, velvet or lace, with a symmetrical or asymmetrical focal point landing center back. We also see a similar band with asymmetrical trims, though less frequently. “The most favorite cap of the season is formed of a round crown, set into a narrow band, which just encircles the head. This band is trimmed in various ways…” (Peterson’s, 1862)
This first pair of examples, from Godey’s, show a simple band on the right with two millinette pads/ovals to which flowers are stitched, and on left a wider, covered band to which lace and flowers are attached.
This next head-dress loops heavy ribbon or velvet around the wired base, a “circular frame.” The heavy ribbon allows for fuller body. The focal point in the back is asymmetrical with the lace quilled along one side.
Similarly, this Nerissa head-dress uses pink and black ribbon on a “band of millinette cut to fit the head, and which is stiffened with cap wire. (This is one of those cases where I wish the illustration better matched the written description. These do not look like box pleats to me.
Rather than ribbon, this next head dress is made with lace and rosettes. The base is made thus: “Take a piece of wire, twenty-four inches long, bend it in the form shown in the illustration, and fasten a piece of coarse, stiff black net at the back…”
This lovely arrangement recently came up on a FB group. I am amused by how they are the same, but not the same. On the right, Peterson’s Magazine, V41-42, 1862. On the left Frank Leslie’s Magazine, v 10, 1862. In both instances, the focal point is atop the head in front, rather than in back, though there is a knot or half bow in that location. The Peterson’s version specifically mentions being “on a foundation of millinette stiffened with a cap wire,” while both illustrations show the form in the illustration.
Also seen in 1862 are coronet style head dresses. These require a more substantial base, shaped for both the style and the head. This illustration from Godey’s, July of 1862, shows the same shape coronet embellished in two ways.
A similarly shaped coronet is seen here in combination with a ribbon net, with the combination of front and back images.
When I started writing this post some days ago, I had the idea in my head to make up a few foundations for making head dresses like these. Since then, I’ve mulled around the idea, I’ve even cut out several pieces of buckram and ordered additional crib tape. My thoughts have wandered from making up a bunch of plain buckram frames to thinking people aren’t going to want to pay the $20-$25 to cover the time and materials to thinking I have the materials it might be nice make a few fully decorated head dresses this year. Then I think I don’t need yet another distraction.
So, what say you…. plain buckram forms? Decorated head dresses? Or, stick to the straw?