Early Tudor Project — Katherine of Aragon’s Portrait dated 1502 — Part XVII
No outfit is complete without the right headgear and now that my gown is finished, I need to start work on Katherine of Aragon’s black veil. Here’s the picture I’m working from:
The darkness of this picture doesn’t help in our quest, but there are a lot of other pictures of this time period showing similar headdresses.
Clearly not all of these headdresses are exactly the same. One might argue that they show the evolution from the truncated hennin with side lappets of the late 15th century to the French hood of the 1530s. I see a definite relationship between the heavily starched veil on Joos van Cleve’s “Woman” (the picture immediately above) and the black headdress with white underlay on Agniete (the woman in grey, above). Of course, they are both Netherlandish. Katherine of Aragon is not. The woman in red with her back turned (detail from David and Bathsheba) wears a headdress that I think looks most like that on Katherine in the portrait from which I’m working. It appears that she has some kind of fairly stiff gold-coloured cap on her head over which the comparatively soft black wool (or velvet?) is worn like a veil. The stiffened undercap gives the veil its structured look on the head, but at the crown of the head, the veil becomes soft and drapey.
I have decided to make an undercap from gold silk tissue, an 80% metallic 20% silk blend imported from India. Here’s a picture:
The metallic content of this fabric makes it fairly stiff (although not as stiff as millinery buckram). I will construct a cap out of this material that balances on the crown of my head, secured by pinning through a bun (pressed flat so it doesn’t disturb the shape of the headdress). Over this I intend to drape a piece of the black cashmere from which I made the black underlayer. Hopefully this will make the shape we see in the pictures above without needing any further shaping.
Come back later today and see what happens!
Next… Trial and Error
10:51 am — I did some experiments with a 1680s linen cap that I thought was about the right shape. I chose my 1680s cap because it has completely rectangular sides. Seeing where rectangular sides fell on my head would inform me how to cut the curve to get the shape for the 1502 cap that goes under the veil.
Here’s me in the cap:
When worn under a veil, the side piece sits farther forward. But still the point is at about the horizontal midpoint of my neck depth. Compare this to the pictures above. The bottom point in those pictures covers the point of the jowls, so the bottom points of this cap will have to tip three or four inches forward.
Here’s the veil pinned to the cap and also pinned at the nape of my neck. You can see how it makes the right shape without any sewing at all!
11:40 am — Before I go constructing the undercap, I wanted to play around with the placement of the cap on my head. Maybe it’s just tilted too far foreward on my head and that’s causing the bottom points to sit too far back.
WAY too far back.
Now we’re getting somewhere! Page up and look at Katherine’s gold undercap. See how it curves close to her face. Bob things that if I wired this cap and bend it close to my cheeks, I’d have that shape without having to actually cut a curve. Since my fabric is 80% metallic, I may be able to do this without the aid of wire.
Next… More on the Gold Undercap!
6:26 pm — It took me longer than expected to pleat the ruffle onto the gold undercap. I also sewed a wire into the edge so I could shape it. The cap isn’t really done yet, but it’s done enough that I can see if the shape works and take pictures.
The cap from the front, the cap from the side (unfinished!) and the cap with me looking like Katherine of Aragon:
Then I pinned the veil at my crown and under the nape of my neck:
I went and cut the veil to size and then figured, “Why not try it all on now?”…
Next… The Whole Shebang! (as soon as I can download the pictures — come back in a half hour)
6:49 pm — By Jove, I think she’s got it!
What do you think?
How about some full length shots?
Full length with train down:
Full length from the back with Sebastian winking at me:
Happy its DONE!
Happy without flash:
Now go out and have a great weekend. We’ll have a new project next week!
© 2009 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice, the author’s name and website, and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.